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K I„ M I R A, TvT. Y. 


3 1833 02547 8410 

»c 979.5 B22hi, v. 1 
Bancroft, Hubert Hohe, 1B3! 

History of the Northwest 

M. U 









Vol. II. 1800-184G. 



Fort Wayne, IN 46801-2270 

Kntercd according to Act of Congress in th< Seal 1884, by 


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 

.1 7 Rights Reserved. 





1804-1805. page. 
Soldiers as Forest Travellers — The Great Unknown Region— John Led- 
ynrd in Paris— Exploration Proposed— Andre Michaux— Jefferson's 
Plan — Meriwether Lewis — William Clarke — Instructions — rendez- 
vous on the Mississippi— Outfit— Ascent of the Missouri— At Coun- 
cil Bluffs— The Mahas— The Mandan Country— The Expedition 
Winters There— Return of Part of thi id -At the Yellow- 
stone—Wild Animals— About the Headwaters of the Missouri- 
Nomenclature — The Dividing Ridge 1 

lewis and clarke's expedition— down the Columbia. 

Among the Shoshones— Council Held— Purchase of Horses— The Journey 
Continued — Difficulties and Hardships— Lewis River — In the Moun- 
tains—The Clearwater— The Xez Perccs — Purchase of Dogs for 
Food— Fork of the Columbia— The Walla Walla Country— The Great 
Falls of the Columbia — Hood River and Mountain — The Cascades — 
At the Mouth of the Willamette— Sauve Island— Cowlitz River— The 



lewis and clarke's expedition — the pacific and the return journey. 

The Estuary of the Columbia— Storms— Lewis and Clarke's Reconnois- 
sances — Cbinooks — Crossing the River — Winter-quarters— Salt-mak- 
ing— Clarke Visits the Coast— White Traders— Clatsops— A Whale— 
The Xeah-Hoxie— Killamook Head— Spring-time— Farewell to Fort 
Clatsop — Return up the Columbia — The Willamette— Wapa to Isl- 
and — Snowy Mountains— Buying Horses— The Walla Walla— The 




Toucliet— The Clearwater— Xez Percys— Horse-stealing — Indian Di- 
plomacy—Address to the Nez Perces— Hunting and Fishing Camp— 
The Expedition Divides— Lewis' Party— Hell Gate River— Departure 
of the Guides— The Water-shed— Maria River— The Minnetarees— 
A Skirmish — The Missouri — Clarke's Party— The Jefferson River — 
The Yellowstone— Horses Stolen — Pompey's Pillar- The Big Horn- 
Herds of Buffalo— The Missouri— Expedition Reunited — Mandan 
Country — End of the Journey — Colter and the Indians — A Race for 
Life — Review of the Expedition— Honors and Rewards —Death of 
Lewis— Subsequent Career of Clarke— Conclusion 51 



James Finlay Ascends Peace River — He gives his Name to its Upper 
Waters— James McDougall Penetrates to McLeod Lake— Fraser's 
First Expedition— His Character— Manuscript Journals of Stuart 
and Fraser — The Northwest Company Push Westward — Stuart at 
the Rocky Mountain House— Fraser's Journal— Preparations for the 
Journey — Fraser and Stuart Explore Westward — Arrival at Finlay 
River — Fraser's Tirade against Mackenzie — They Reach Trout 
Lake — And Follow Mackenzie's Track up Bad River — Cross to 
the Fraser — Descend to Stuart River > s 7 




Ascent of Stuart River— Fort St James Founded— They Explore i 

Lake— And Build Fraser Fort — Fort George Established— Voyage 
down the Fraser — Spokane House — Flathead House and Fort Koo- 
tenais Established — David Thompson Appears in New Caledonia — 
Discovers Thompson River — Desertion of his Men — Winters on 
( 'anoe River — Descends the Columbia to Fort Astoria 108 





Big White's Visit to Washington — His Escort Home— Ezekiel Williams 
on the Yellowstone and Platte — His Party Cut in Pieces by the Sav- 
ages — Two of the Party Reach Los Angeles — Alexander Henry Builds 
a Fort West of the Mountains— La Salle's Shipwreck at False Bay — 
His Journey from the Pacitic Ocean to the Red River of Louisiana — 
Project of the Winship Brothers — The 'Albatross ' Sails from Boston 
and Euters the Columbia — Winship and Smith, his Mate, Survey 


r.i :e. 
the River— Choose a Site for Settlement on Oak Point— Begin Build- 
ing and Planting— Their Garden Destroyed by the Flood— Move 
down the River— Hostile Attitude of the Natives— Abandonment of 
the Enterprise 12 6 



Astor Arrives in America— Engages in the Fur-trade— Scheme for 

nopoly West of the Rocky Mountains— The Great Mart on the Co- 
lumbia — Rival Companies — Partners and Servants— The 'Tonquin' 
and her Commander— Quarrels en Voyage— The Falkland Isles— The 
Hawaiian Islands— The Columbia River— Fatal Attempts at Cross- 
ing the Bar— Baker Bay— Choosing a Site for the Fort— Friendly 
Chinooks— Comcomly— Building of the Fort and Warehouse— The 
'Tonquin' Bound Northward — Episode of the 'Boston' — Jewitt 
among the Savages of Nootka Sound— Destruction of the 'Tonquin' 
and Massacre of her Crew— Strange Indians — The Northwest Com- 
pany—David Thompson— A Fort on the Okanagan— Expedition to 
Okanagan Lake— The Chinooks at Astoria— Threatened Attack— 
The 'Small-pox Chief— Expedition up the Willamette— Christmas 
Festivities, 1811-12 136 




The Overland Party— Wilson P. Hunt— Rendezvous on the Missouri- 
Partners— Ascent of the Missouri— Manuel Lisa— Horses Pur- 
ed at the Ricaras' Village— The Cheyenne Country— The Big 
a Mountains— On Green River— The Shoshone Country— Head- 
waters of the Snake— Unfit for Navigation— A Dissatisiied Part- 
ner—Dangerous Rapids— Party Divided into Four— The Devil's Scut- 
tle-hole— A Terrible Journey— Famine— Horses Bought— New Y 
Dance of the Canadians— Feast on Dog-meat— The Blue Mountains— 
Among the Tushepaws— The Columbia — Arrival at Astoiia ITS 



Dissatisfaction at Astoria— Departure of Reed for St Louis— Wahowpum 
Treachery— Failure of Reed's Expedition— Arrival of the 'Beaver'— 
Astor and the Russian Fur Company— He Courts the Russian Minis- 
ter at Washington— Stuart Leaves Fort Astoria with Despatches- 
Trials of Stuart on the Overland Journey— The "Isaac Todd' and H. 
M. S. British Interests in the North Pacific— The U. S. S. 

viii CONT] 


'Adams' — The 'Enterprise' — Astor and Secretary Monroe — Wreck 
of the 'Lark' — McKenzie on the Sahaptin — Clarke's Company — 
Kamloops — Boullard and the Indian Maid — The 'Beaver' — Mc- 
Tavish and McKenzie — Deliberations at Fort Astoria — Preparations 
to Abandon the Post — McKenzie and the Nez Perces — The Stolen 
Cup 193 




McTavish at Astoria — A Royal Marriage — The 'Albatross' — Adventures 
of Hunt — Captain Sowles, neither Warrior nor Trader — Defence of 
McDougall — Commodore Porter, U. S. X. — McDougall holds Coun- 
cil — Fort Astoria in British Hands — King Comcomly to the Res- 
eue — H. M. S. ' Baccoon ' — John McDonald in Command — The 
Black — Fort George — Failure of Astor's Pacilic 
Scheme 21-4 




The Northwest Company Masters of the Situation — Expedition to the 
Upper Columbia — The Toll-gatherers of the Cascades — Division of 
the Party at Walla Walla — Reed Traps in the Shoshone Country — 
Doings at Okanagan and Spokane. — Keith and Stuart Set out from 
Fort George for Lake Superior — War at the Cascades — Alexander 
Henry in the Willamette Valley — Xcw Site Surveyed for Fort 
rge — First Northwest Brigade from the Mouth of the Columbia 
to Montreal — Destruction of Reed's Party by the Shoshoncs — Thrill- 
ing Tale of Pierre Dorion's Wife— Arrival of the 'Isaac Todd ' at Fort 
George — The First White Woman in Oregon— Death of Donald 
McTavish the new Commander at Fort George '237 




1 ventures in the Yakima Valley — Attempts to Reach the Pacific — 
Affairs at Spokane — Perilous Position of the Okanagan Brigade — 
The Spokane Brigade — In Council at Fort George — Keith in 
Command — Ross Surveys the Entrance to the Columbia — Adminis- 
tration of Justice — Hostilities in the Willamette Valley — Sufferings 
of the Eastern-bound Brigade — Ross Examines the Country between 
Shushwaps and the Rocky Mountains — Donald McKenzie Estab- 
lishes Fort Walla Walla. 255 




1810-1818. PAGE. 

Life and Character of Harmon— His Stay at Montague a la Basse, Stur- 
geon Lake, Chipewyan, and Dunvegan — In Company with Stuart He 
Enters New Caledonia — Quesnel Reestablishes Fort Fraser — A Chief 
Chastised— Harmon's Travels — Stuart's Management— First Arrival 
of Supplies in New Caledonia by way of the Pacific— Harmon Re- 
turns Home— Affairs at Fort George— Dastardly Attack of Keith's 
Men upon the Cowlitz and the Umpquas — Donald McKenzie — Resto- 
ration of Astoria, or Fort George, to the United States -77 




Title of the Hudson's Bay Company to Rupert Land— Boundary, not 
Title, Qui ion in Dispute — Jurisdiction of Courts — Ruin from 

Rivalry Imminent— The -Northwest Company's Opposition to Lord 
Selkirk and his Colonization Scheme — The Two Companies before Par- 
liament— The Ministry Interpose Mediation — The Question of Com- 
promise Debated- Terms of Union— Passage of the Act Empowering 
the Crown to Grant Exclusive License of Trade — The Grant of 1S21 — 
The Assignment in 1S24 of the Northwest Company— The Deed-poll 
f 1834— The Renewal of License in 1S3S— The Settlement of the 
Boundary Question in 1S4G — The Grant of Vancouver Island in 1849. 290 




Introduction — Chronological Resume of Title-foundations — Epochs of 
Discovery, Exploration, and Fur-Trade — Overland Occupation — 
Treaties, Controversies, and Comments— Merits of the Case before Dis- 
cussion—Statement of Claims, 1817 — Rush and Gallatin versus Rob- 
inson and Goulburn— Treaty of 1818— Joint Occupation— Its True 
Meaning — Boundary Treaty of 1819 between Spain and the United 
States— The Northwest Coast in Congress, 1 S20-2— Debates of 1 823— 
Mr Benton's Warning in the Senate— United States and Russia- 
Treaty of 1824— Statement of American Claims— Congressional De- 
bates of 1824— Bill for the Occupation of the Columbia— Monroe Doc- 
trine 310 



the oregon question continued. 

1824-1829. page. 
Xegotiations of 1824 — Huskisson and Canning — Adams' Instructions to 
Rush— Statement of the American and British Claims— Propositions 
Rejected — Merits of the Case — Monroe Doctrine— Occupation of 
Oregon in the Senate, 1825 — Views of Benton and Others — Key-note 
of American Sentiment — Baylies' Report, 1826— Xegotiations of 
1820-7 — Gallatin versus Huskisson and Addington — Claims and 
Counter-claims — Exclusive Title of the United States, with British 
Objections — Discovery — Settlement— Contiguity — Spanish Title — 
Xootka Convention— Cumulative Title— United States Offer 49° and 
Navigation of the Columbia — England Offers the Columbia and 
Southern Shore of Fuca Strait — Xot Accepted — Joint Occupancy 
Indefinitely Extended — Gallatin's Suggestions of Policy — Congres- 
sional Discussion of 1828-9 355 



A Popular Question— American Trappers — The Missionaries— The ( rov- 
ernment Seeks Information — Reports on the Oregon Territory — The 
Agitation Renewed in Congress, 1841 — Senator Linn's Efforts— Pres- 
idents' Messages — Congressional Debates — Patriotic Faith in the 
Title— Political Campaign of 1844— Polk's Policy— The Question in 
Parliament — Hostile Rumors — Speeches and Bills of 1844-5 — Final 
Debate— A Resolution Passed to Annul the Treaty— Pamphlets Cir- 
culated—Diplomatic Settlement— Great Britain Yields— Treaty of 
1846— Authorities Cited— Greenhow, Twiss, and Other Writers on 
the Oregon Question , 389 



"Is Oregon Worth Having?" — Configuration, Soil, and Climate— Rela- 
tions with China — A Terra Incognita— England to India, by way of 
the Columbia River— Irreconcilable Opinions— Preparing to Emi- 
grate—Proposal to Make Over the Territory to the Indians— The 
Whale-fishery— A School for Seamen— Conflicting Statements— A 
Hesitating Government— Why the British Monopolized the Trade— 
McLoughlin Succeeds Keith at Astoria — Personal Appearance and 
Character of McLoughlin — His Administration of Justice — He Ex- 
plores for the Site of a Xew Post — Fort Vancouver Founded — 
Agriculture and Commerce — Amalgamation of Fur Companies — 
Perils of the Fur Trade 417 



explorations of united states trappers. 

1821-1830. page. 

Ruddock's Journey — Ashley's Operations — Green on the Colorado — Great 
.Salt Lake — Utah Lake — Beckworth's Adventures — Jedediah Smith 
Enters California and Journeys thence to the Columbia River — His 
Discomfiture at the Umpqua — How Black and Turner Escaped the 
Massacre — Jedediah Smith at Fort Vancouver — McLoughlin's Treat- 
ment of Distressed Strangers — Return of Smith to the Shoshone 
Country — Peg-leg Smith — Tarascou's Trip — Joseph L. Meek's Adven- 
tures — Pilcher's Expedition — Jackson, Sublette, and Smith Send the 
First Train of Wagons to the Rocky Mountains — Rendezvous 44G 




Forts Established— Alexandria — Thompson — Chilkotin — Babine — Wife- 
lifting and Revenge — John Tod Appointed to New Caledouia — .James 
McMillan Journeys to Fraser River — John McLeod at Thompson 
River — Establishing of Colville — James Connolly — First Eastern Bri- 
gade from Fort Vancouver — James Douglas Destroys a Murderer 460 




Advent of the Schooner 'Cadboro' — Her History and her Captain— Occu- 
pation of the Northern Shore — McMillan Proceeds to the Mouth of 
the Fraser — Enters the Stream — And there Establishes a Fort — The 
Fort Routine — A Notable Call — The Salmon Trade — James Douglas 
Explores Connolly River 470 




Governor Simpson Visits his Northwest Dominions — Character of the 
Man — His Antecedents and Personnel — The Party Sets out from 
Norway House — The Transit at Peace River — Grand Entry at Fort 
St James— Arrival at Fort Langley — He Returns the Following 
Year to Canada— John Work Journeys from Colville toOkanagau — 
Wreck of the 'William and Ann' and Murder of the Crew — Punish- 
ment of the Offenders — Incipient Ideas of Settlement— Era of Epi- 
demic — John McLoughlin Occupies Willamette Falls 489 




1830-1832. PAGE. 

David Douglas, Scientist — His Adventures in the Northwest Coast — 
Quarrel with Black — Challenge— Notice of Samuel Black — His Assas- 
sination— John Work's Journey — Conspiracy to Murder McLough- 
lin — Wreck of the 'Isabel' — Walla Walla — Xew Caledonia — "Work's 
Snake River Expedition — Raids upon them by the Blackfeet — They 
Visit the Missouri — Results — Ermatinger — A Yankee Britisher — 
William McXeill and his Brig 'Llama' — Enters the Service of the 
Hudson's Bay Company — Building of Fort Umpqua — Hawaiian 
Island Agency 507 




Founding of Fort Nisqually — The Coming of Gairdner and Tolmie — 
Intermittent Fever Rampant — Work Explores the Umpqua Region — 
The Spring and Autumn Brigades of 1835 — Journeys of Douglas and 
Ogden — Anderson's Expedition— Asiatic and Island Junks Wrecked 
on the West Coast — Advent of the Missionaries — The Methodists — 
The Presbyterians — The Jesuits — The Episcopalians — John Tod — 
Voyage of Douglas to California 52-4 




The Hazards of Security — The Boston School-master — Incorporation of 
a Society for the Settlement of Oregon — The School-master Writes, 
Lectures, and Buttonholes — And Finally Goes to Oregon by way of 
Mexico and California — Ewing Young Joins Kelley — His Tribula- 
tions at Vancouver — The Cambridge Ice Man — A Boston Astor 
Adventure — The Ship ' Sultana' to Meet an Overland Party on the 
Columbia — Wyeth's First Expedition— Failure and Return — Wreck 
of the ' Sultana ' — The French Captain — What He did not Do 542 


wyeth's second adventure. 
The Columbia River Fishing and Trading Company — The ' May Dacre ' 
Chartered and Freighted for the Columbia — Wyeth with an Over- 
land Party Starts from Independence — Science and Religion en 
route for Oregon — Townsend— Nuttall — Jason Lee and his Brother 



Missionaries — The Journey — Building of Fort Hall — Arrival at Fort 
Vancouver — The 'May Da ere ' Enters the Columbia — Establishment 
of Fort William ou Wapato Island — Fort Boisi Built to Oppose 
Fort Hail — Failure of Wyeth's Enterprise — Sale of Effects to the 
All-powerful Monopoly u7t< 




The Steamer ' Beaver ' — Small-pox — United States Secret Service— Will- 
iam A. Slacum, Agent — Captain Bancroft — His Hunting Voyage 
upon the Coast of California— Killed by the Kaiganies — Building in 
the Valley Willamette — The Oregon Provisional Emigration Soci- 
ety — Farnham, and the Columbia Fiver City-builders — Sir Edward 
Belcher's Visit — Cowlitz's Plains and Xisqually Settlements — The 
Puget Sound Agricultural Company — William Fraser Tolmie — Rod- 
erick Finlayson Arrives 600 




Treaty of St Petersburg — Building of the first Fort Simpson — North Coast 
Commerce — Policy of the Company in regard to Opposition — Found- 
in;: of Fort McLoughlin — Indian Disturbances — Fort McLoughlin 
Removed to Fort Bupert — Expedition to Stikeen — The Russians 
Interpose Forcible Objections — Abandonment of the first Fort Simp- 
son — Founding of the Second Fort Simpson — Port Essington — Fort 
Mumford — Fort Glenora G. 



Captain Dominis — The 'Llama' — The 'Joseph Peabody' — Steamer 
' Beaver ' — Indian Battle — Mutiny — War — The 'Thomas Perkins' — 
Ingenuousness of the Aboriginal Skin-seller and the European Bum- 
seller — First Trip Northward of the Steamer ' Beaver ' — Lease of a 
Ten-league Shore-strip from the Russians — Expedition to Take Pos- 
session — Founding of Fort Durham, or Fort Tako — Finlayson's 
Encounter with the Takos— Abandonment of the Tako Post— Com- 
parative Savagism of White Men and Red— Murder of John Mc- 
Loughlin junior by his Men G36 



two notable visitors. 

1841-1842. page. 
The Monarch Moves — Sir George Simpson Circumnavigates the "World — 
The Journey across the Continent — Surveys the Northern Posts — 
Drops down to San Francisco Bay — Monterey — Honolulu — Sitka and 
Fort Simpson again — Then Asia is Honored — An Irascible Gaul — 
French Curiosity — Eugene Dunot de Mofras — Himself and his Book — 
From Mexico and California He Proceeds to Honolulu and Fort 
Vancouver — Simpson does not like his Looks and Snubs Him — 
Whereat He is Irate, though in his Book Charitable— After Calling 
again upon the Californians, whom He Scourges to his Complete Sat- 
isfaction, He Returns to France 654 



Object of the Movement — Ships Employed — Officers — Commander 
Wilkes — Bibliography of the Voyage — Pound Cape Horn — Ha- 
waiian Islands — Cross to Admiralty Inlet — Case Surveys Hood 
Canal — Ringgold Examines Admiralty Inlet — Excursion of Johnson 
and Party to Colviile and "Walla Walla — Wilkes Calls on McLough- 
lin — And Visits the Valley Willamette — Wreck of the Peacock at 
the Mouth of the Columbia — Emmons' Overland Expedition from 
Oregon to Calfornia — The ' Vincennes ' Proceeds to Yerba Buena. . . 6GS 



i and Fort Vancouver Vessels — McLoughlin in England — Tolmie's 
Road — Couch's Salmon-fishery — Murder of Kenneth McKay — The 
Ship ' Thomas Perkins' — Spaulding — William Glen Rae — Post Estab- 
lished at Verba Buena — Walla Walla — The Gunpowder Story — 
Ermatinger's Expedition — Abolition of the Licpior Traffic — The 
Umpqua Country— Fremont's Expedition GS5 



Catalogue of Passing Events — Americanization of Oregon— Attitude of 
Opposing Parties at Fort Hall — Is it Right to Kill Americans?- -Tol- 
mie"s Report on the Willamette Plains — American Settlement Begun 
on Puget Sound — Immigration — Ship 'Modeste' — Board of Manage- 
ment — Commissioners Warre and Vavasour — Retirement of Mc- 
Loughlin — James Douglas in Command — Ingratitude of Certain 
American Settlers — The Schooner 'Shark'— Possessory Rights of 
the Hudson's Bay Company — What Became of the Fur-trading Es- 
tablishments — Removal to Victoria G97 


, OF 





Soldiers as Forest Travellers— The Great Unknown Region— John 
Ledyard in Paris— Exploration Proposed — Andre Michaux — Jbf- 
on's Plan — Meriwether Lewis— William Clarke — Instruc- 
tions — Rendezvous on the Mississippi— Outfit— Ascent of the Mis- 
souri—At Council Bluffs— The Mahas— The Mandan Country- 
Tub Expedition Winters There— Return of Part of the Expedi- 
tion — At the Yellowstone — Wild Animals — About the Head- 
waters of the Missouri — Nomenclature — The Dividing Ridge. 

The second expedition made by white men west- 
ward across the Rocky Mountains to the shores of the 
Pacific, north of California, was that of Lewis and 
Clarke, who were the first to descend the Columbia 
from one of its sources to the sea, being in time 
twelve years later than Mackenzie, and in latitude 
five hundred miles and more to the south of his route. 

The first was the excursion of a fur-trader, made in 
a private or a commercial capacity during a short hyper- 
borean summer, in light canoes; the second was a 
government affair with all its unwieldy accompani- 
ments, and occupied two years. In the course of the 
narrative we shall see that army captains and soldiers 
were no match for Scotch fur-traders and Canadian 
voyageurs in forest travel. 

Vol. II. 1 


When Lewis and Clarke set out on their expedition, 
the great Unknown Region, as it was called, equiva- 
lent to one thousand miles square and more, between 
the headwaters of the Missouri and the Pacific Ocean, 
was, if we except the interior of Alaska and the 
Stikeen country, further removed from civilization 
than any other part of North America. The Hudson's 
Bay Company had explored its borders north. Eng- 
lish ships had sailed through many channels in search 
of Anian Strait and a northern passage, and Hearne 
had pursued his grumbling way from Fort Churchill 
to the mouth of the Coppermine. The Canadian 
merchants had taken possession of the Canadian 
north-west, and had planted their forts from Lake 
Superior to Athabasca, while the determined Mac- 
kenzie had followed the river which bears his name to 
the Arctic Ocean, and had crossed from Peace River 
to the Pacific. New Mexico was known; California 
was known; and so were portions of Alaska. Only 
this central temperate tract remained yet hidden in 
shadows primeval. 

Thomas Jefferson was the father of United States 
explorations. While lesser minds w T ere absorbed in 
proximate events, his profound sagacity penetrated 
forests, and sought to reveal the extent and resources 
of the new nation. To this he was moved not less 
by circumstances than by his broad and enlightened 
judgment. And chief among the incidents which 
aroused in him a more than ordinary interest in the 
subject, was the appearance, in 1786, at the United 
States legation in Paris, while Jefferson was minister 
to France, of that most remarkable man, John Led- 
yard of Connecticut. 

Ledyard was an ardent, reckless, and always impe- 
cunious enthusiast, with a brilliant mind and winning 
manners. He was a kind of Yankee George Law, with 
the Northwest Coast for his Mississippi bubble ; but 
with this difference, his well founded schemes were 


often regarded as bubbles, whereas George Law's 
bubbles were treated as well founded schemes. Led- 
yard had accompanied Captain Cook in his voyage to 
the Pacific, had been the first in Europe or America 
to propose a trading voyage to the Northwest Coast, 1 
and was now in Paris panting for fresh adventure. 
The French having been ever foremost in the 
American fur-trade, he sought to enlist French 
enterprise and French capital in a mercantile com- 
pany, having for its field the region beyond the coast 
of California. 

In this he failed, though ever hovering upon the 
confines of success; once having begun in France the 
purchase of goods for the Northwest Coast traffic, 
and once having actually embarked in a vessel for the 
Pacific, he was in every instance doomed to disap- 
pointment. But though himself one of the most 
luckless of enthusiasts, his failure bore rich fruit. A 
constant guest, while in Paris, at the table of Jeffer- 
son, that first of American statesmen became in no 
small degree inspired by the ardent aspirations of this 
commercial adventurer, whose mind was absorbed in 
the one idea of the Northwest Coast in its relations 
to China and to the Atlantic states. 2 

PXence when Jefferson returned to America in 1789, 
his imagination was filled with brilliant pictures of 
the far west, whose early discovery his judgment pro- 
nounced of the highest importance to the common- 
wealth. In 1792, while secretary of state, he proposed 
to the American Philosophical Society that some com- 

1 Tliis was in 1783, in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, and at the 
very time the Montreal merchants were organizing their great Northwest 
Company. Robert Morris went so far as to promise Ledyard a ship, but tail- 
ing to find one disengaged the project was abandoned. 

2 'I die with anxiety,' writes Ledyard from Paris, 'to be on the back of 
the American states, after having either come from or penetrated to the 
Paciiie Ocean. There is an extensive field for the acquirement of honest 
fame. A blush of generous regret sits on my cheek when I hear of any dis- 
covery there which I have no part in, and particularly at this an 
period. The American revolution invites to a thorough discovery of the Con- 
tinent, and the honor of doing it would become a foreigner, but a native only 
can feel the genuine pleasure of the achievement.' Sparks' Life, of .'. 
172. See also BuljincKs Or., 14-16. On Ledyard, see vol. i. 3i9-53, this work. 


petent person be engaged to ascend the Missouri, 
cross the Stony Mountains, and follow the nearest 
river to the sea; and he suggested that a subscription 
be set on foot to defray expenses. Meriwether Lewis, 
a captain in the United States army, then on recruit- 
ing service at Charlottesville, hearing of the proposal 
earnestly solicited the appointment. Jefferson ex-' 
plained to him the plan, that to avoid alarming the 
natives the explorer was to have but a single com- 
panion; 3 yet nothing daunted Lewis continued to 
urge his request. The choice of the society, however, 
fell upon another, Andre Michaux, 4 the botanist, then 
in the service of the French government, who im- 
mediately started westward, but was arrested in his 
journey before passing Kentucky by the French min- 
ister, who ordered botanical inquiries elsewhere. 

Taking his seat as president in 1801, Jefferson 
never lost sight of his pet project. The rapid change 
in the ownership of Louisiana, as the great wilderness 
west of the Mississippi was then called, transferred 
by Spain to France in 1800, and by France to the 
United States in 1803, stimulated still more the ardor 
of the president. But no suitable occasion seemed to 
offer until eleven years after his former attempt, when 
the act for the establishing of trading-houses among 
the aborigines was about to expire, and some modifi- 
cation of it was deemed desirable. By a confidential 
message of January 18, 1803, the president recom- 
mended to congress the extension of the commercial 
facilities embraced in the former act to the tribes on 

8 Though conceived by the author of the Declaration of Independence it 
•was a most hare-brained and impracticable scheme. Any fur-hunter might 
have informed him that travelling from nation to nation was a very different 
affair from the establishing of amicable relations by intermarriage or otherwise 
with a single people; and that while it was well not to frighten the savages, 
force sufficient to carry gifts, and in places provisions, was necessary in order 
to command respect, and consequent good treatment. The idea probably sug- 
gested itself to Jefferson's mind from Ledyard's fantastic plan of penetrating 
the continent alone from Nootka Sound, in which he might have progressed 
half a league before being captured and enslaved by the savages, as were 
Jewett and Thompson in that same spot a few years later. 

4 The distinguished author of Flora Boreali Americana, and Histoire des 
CJiemes d'Amirique. 


the Missouri; and in order to make more plain the 
way for the contemplated changes the message pro- 
posed that an expedition be sent to explore the Mis- 
souri to its source, and thence crossing the continental 
highlands to the westward tlow of waters, follow them 
to the Pacific. The measure received the sanction of 
congress, and an appropriation was made to cover 
estimated expenses. 

Again Captain Lewis, who had now been private 
secretary to the president for two years, preferred his 
request. He would command the party. <) i 

knew him well. He knew that his firmness of pur- 
pose and undaunted courage were equalled only by his 
truthfulness and discretion. Bold adventure was born 
in him. It had been his custom when only eight 
years of age to rise at midnight and go alone to the 
forest, hunting the night-feeding raccoon and opossum ; 
and now will) firmly knit sinews and maturer judgment 
he sought a broader field of adventure. His request 
was granted; indeed, it had been understood for years 
by him and his highly influential friend, that command 
of the expedition when ready should be his. 5 

Like Mackenzie, Lewis felt a deficiency in scientific 
attainments such as would enable him to take astro- 
nomical observations, and properly place the bo' 
and geography of his route before the learned world. 
Hence no sooner was his appointment secured than he 
proceeded to Philadelphia and applied himself with 
such determined industry to a course of technical 
study as soon made him master of the knowledge 
necessary to his purpose. In order to place the suc- 
cess of the expedition beyond the risk of accident, he 
requested that some competent person should be asso- 

5 His patron is extravagant in his praise. After reciting a long list of 
high ami absolute virtues, ail of which it would be difficult for any one not 
blinded by friendship to find, he concludes: 'With ail these qualiiic: 
as if selected and implanted by nature in one body for this express pu 
I could have no hesitation in confiding the enterprise to him.' Jefferson's Life 
of Lewis, in Lewis and Clarke's Ex., Am. ed., i. xii. For a biography of 
Lewis and an account of his election to the leadership, see Perkins' Annals of 
tlie Wed, 75o-6. 


ciated with him as second in command, and named 
Lieutenant William Clarke, also of the United States 
army, who was consequently appointed to that post 
with a commission of captain. 6 

Captain Lewis was now ready for his instructions ; 
and these, drafted by the president's own hand, were 
signed the 20th of June, 1803. 

By them he was directed to provide himself with 
arms, ammunition, provisions, boats, tents, and medi- 
cines for ten or twelve men, who were to be selected 
from such soldiers as volunteered for the service, and 
over whom he should have the usual authority of a 
commanding officer. He was likewise to provide him- 
self with instruments for taking astronomical observa- 
tions, and articles for presents or barter with the 
natives. 7 

Part of the company's proposed movements being 
beyond the limits of the United States, passports were 
obtained from the ministers of France and England, 
in order to secure the friendly consideration of traders 
owing allegiance to those nations. Besides obtaining 
a geographical knowledge of the country, they were 
to enter into conferences with the natives with a view 
of establishing commerce with them. They were to 
study the moral and material interests of the natives, 
who were at all times to be treated in the most con- 
ciliatory manner possible. " Should you reach the 
Pacific Ocean," continue the instructions, ''inform 
yourself of the circumstances which may decide 
whether the furs of those parts may not be collected 

6 As a matter of fact Lewis was chief, and had precedent been followed it 
would have been called Lewis' expedition, Captain Clarke being subordinate 
throughout the whole of it. The London Quarterly Review, xii. 318, thinks 
they lacked scientific assistants. 

7 ' The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri River, and such 
principal streams of it, as by its course and communication with the waters 
of the Pacific Ocean, whether the Columbia, Oregan, Colorado, or any other 
river, may offer the most direct and practicable water communication acros3 
the continent for the purposes of commerce. . .The North River, or Rio Bravo, 
which runs into the Gulf of Mexico, and the North River, or Rio Colorado, 
which runs into the Gulf of California, arc understood to be the principal 
streams heading opposite to the waters of the Missouri, and running south- 
wardly.' Jeil'erson's Listructions in Levns and Clarke's Exped. i. xiv. and xvi. 


as advantageously at the head of the Missouri — con- 
venient as is supposed to the waters of the Colorado 
and Oregan, or Columbia — as at Nootka Sound, or 
anv other point of that coast; and that trade be con- 
sequently conducted through the Missouri and United 
States more beneficially than by the circumnavigation 
now practised." 

On reaching the coast two of the company were to 
return by sea, with a copy of notes taken, either via 
Cape Horn or the. Cape of Good Hope. Or if the 
return overland should be deemed dangerous, then the 
wdiole party were to return by water; and as they 
would be without funds, letters of credit authorizing 
drafts upon the United States to be made from any 
part of the world were furnished them. On return- 
ing to the United States those of the men who had 
served well and desired their discharge should be en- 
titled to it with full pay and a recommendation each to 
a soldier's grant of land. And to provide for leader- 
ship against the accident of death, the commanding 
officer might name in writing his successor, who in 
like manner might determine who should command in 
the event of his death. 

A journal was to be kept in which notes and ob- 
servations were to be accurately entered. 8 

8 In this, as in other respects, the leaders of the expedition performed their 
duty well. Their journal, though painfully diffuse and overloaded with irrel- 
evant matter, is clearly written and exact. Their forms of expression, though 
not so elegant as those of Mackenzie, are more distinctive and precise, and 
much of that which to-day is wholly worthless, was interesting and vahiable 
when first printed. Besides the official narrative of Lewis and Clarke, jour- 
nals were kept by Patrick Gass and six others. The leaders encouraged the 
men to keep diaries, so that what one omitted another might record, and if 
some were lost, others might be preserved. Jefferson recommended Lewis to 
write on 'the cuticular membranes of the paper-birch, as less liable to injury 
from damp than common paper. ' Several ediuons of the official narrative ap- 
peared both i;i America and in Europe, of which I have used the following : 
commands of Captains Lewis and Clark to 
the, Missouri, thence across the Rochy Mountains awl down the River 
Co ' :to (he Pacific Ocean, performed durinr/ the years 1804-5-6. By order 
of the Government of the United States. Prepared for (he press by Paid Allen, 
. Svo. Philadelphia, 1814. The first volume of this edition 
a life of Lewis by Thomas Jefferson, and the second volume an appen- 
dix by < '..r tain Lewis. An abridgement, with introduction, notes, and maps, 
was printed in 2 vols. lGmo, New York, 1842, edited by Archibald McVickar. 


Ten days after the instructions were signed by 
President Jefferson, information was received of the 
consummation at Paris of the treaty placing the 
United States in possession of the eastern part of 
the region to be explored, which greatly heightened 
the interest in the expedition. 

On the 5th of July Lewis left Washington for 
Pittsburg, where a portion of his outfit was to be 
provided him; but prevented by delays in his descent 

Under title of Travel* to the Souree of the Missouri J?irer and across the Ameri- 
can Continent to the Pacific Ocean appeared two editions in London, one in one 
volume, 4to, 1814, and the otherin 3vols. 8vo, 1815, both of whichare without 
the Life of Lewis by Jefferson, and the appendix by Lewis. It is the quarto 
English edition I have used for ordinary reference. The notes of Patrick Ga s 
were published in one vol. 8vo, Pittsburgh, 180S, and reprinted the same 
year in London, six years before the appearance of the official report, under 
title of A Journal of the Voyages and Travelsofa Corps of Dis overy, under the 
('■>uu miii'l. < be. Mr< ';> -s received the highest commendations of Captain Lewis 
after the return of the expedition to St Louis, and his work may fur the most 
part be deemed accurate. Nevertheless the critic who, in theLoii'- m Q :ri rly 
Beviewoi May, 1809, i. 294, calls it 'a shabby octavo, the production of a mere 
underling' instead of a 'magnificent quarto, with maps, plates. . .as we had 
a right to expect from a plan executed under such auspices, ' is not far out of 
the way. 'It is curious,' he continues, 'to observe how ingeniously Mr 
Gass has avoided whatever could interest or amuse. All he says, we have no 
doubt, is strictly true: at least, if intolerable dulness be a symptom of truth 
in narration, he has amply vindicated his veracity. There are so many facts 
that we care not to know, and so little detail on those we do ; and the two 
kinds arc jumbled in so heterogeneous a compound, that we have seldom under- 
gone a severer trial of patience than in attempting to separate them. The ap- 
pearance of a volcano a thousand miles from the sea, and the death of a gray 
horse are recorded in the same breath, and with equal faithfulness, brevity, and 
indifference. ' The day and hour are carefully noted when Captain Lewis issued 
a glass of old whiskey to all the crew ; and when ' Captain Clarke gave the sick 
a dose of Rush's pills, to see what effect they would have,' and yet this book 
is no worse than thousands of others from which our history must be extracted. 
In reviewing the official report of Lewis and Clarke in January 1S15, this 
same journal somewhat ungraciously says: 'Had the expedition been exe- 
cuted under the auspicies of the British government, it would have been fitted 
out with characteristic liberality ; draftsmen and naturalists would have been 
attached to it, and the official publication might have vied in beauty and ex- 
cellence with that of Cook's voyages. It is both ungrateful and unjust to cen- 
sure an individual traveller if he fail as an artist, or be deficient in those 
branches of science which would have enriched his observations : every man 
who contributes to the stock of our knowledge is a benefactor to the public, 
and entitled to our respect and gi-atitude. But when expeditions for the 
purpose of discovery are undertaken by a public body, that body is censurable 
if anything be wanting to render the information full and complete. ' This 
crusty critic might have displayed a little more generosity and justice by re- 
membering that the United States government was then young and impover- 
ished, and that it was entitled to praise for what it had done rather than blame 
for what it left undone. Political and other duties caused the postponement 
of the publication of the official journal until 1814, at which time Captain 
Lewis died, as the work was passing through the press. 


of the Ohio, he deemed it imprudent to attempt the 
ascent of the Missouri until the ice should break up 
in the spring. Besides this the Spanish commander 
at La Charrette, the highest settlement on the Mis- 
souri, and where it had been their intention to pass 
the winter, having no official notice of the transfer 
of the country to the United States, felt obliged to 
deny strangers admission to the territory. The party 
encamped, therefore, on the eastern side of the Mis- 
sissippi, opposite the mouth of the Missouri, and the 
winter was spent disciplining the men. Beside four- 
teen United States soldiers, there were in the party 
nine young Kentuckians, two French voyageurs, a 
hunter, an interpreter, and a negro servant of Captain 

An escort, consisting of six soldiers under a cor- 
poral, with nine boatmen, was detached to accom- 
pany the party to the territory of the Mandans, which 
was considered the most dangerous part of the jour- 
ney. The stores, packed in seven bales and one box, 
each containing portions of all as a guard against 
accident, consisted of clothing, tools, and arms; also 
ammunition and liquors for themselves and the sav- 

There were besides, fourteen bales and one box of 
presents for the natives, divided in like manner, and 
consisting of laced coats and ether rich articles of 
dress, tomahawks, knives, medals, handkerchiefs, and 
flags, besides a variety of such luxuries as beads, 
looking-glasses, and paints. 

The 14th of May 1804 the party embarked in 
three boats; one a keel boat, fifty-five feet in length, 
drawing three feet of water and carrying one sail and 
twenty -two oars, the bow and stern covered by decks 
of ten feet, forming forecastle and cabin, and the mid- 
dle enclosed by lockers which, when opened, formed 
a breastwork valuable in case of attack. The other 
two were pirogues, or open boats, of seven and six 


oars respectively. Along the bank were led two horses, 
to be employed in hunting. 9 

The first commercial transaction with the natives 
was the exchange of two quarts of whiskey for four 
deer, made the eighth day. Ascending the river at 
the rate of from ten to fifteen miles a day, some- 
times twenty, notes were taken on climate and soil, 
and on the people passed, but nothing of importance 
transpired until the 12th of June, when two rafts 
from the Sioux nation were encountered, one loaded 
with furs and the other with buffalo tallow. They 
now succeeded in engaging one of the party, Mr 
Dorion, who had lived with the Sioux for twenty 
years, and was strong in their confidence, to return 
with them, and see the party safely through the ter- 
ritory of these blood-loving savages. Much trouble 
was experienced from the constantly shifting banks 
and bars of the river. There were occasional rapids, 
and frequently they were obliged to tow the boats. 
The meeting of rafts and canoes loaded with furs was 
of common occurrence. Game was plentiful, and easily 
taken. Elk were seen for the first time two months 
after leaving the mouth of the river. Some of the 
men were troubled with dysentery and boils, but the 
health of the party was generally good. 

To the nations along the river the change of gov- 
ernment was announced; whereat some were as pleased 
as children would be at any change, others were angry; 
for as a rule eastern savages hated Frenchmen less 
than either English or Americans. 

Passing the river Platte the 21st of July, on the 
seventh day thereafter their hunter encountered three 
Missouri Indians dressing an elk. They were all 
friendly, and one of them accompanied the hunter 
to the "boat. These Missouris were living with the 
Ottoes, and their camp was about four miles distant. 

9 In U. S. Gi og. Surv., Whe< ler, Progress Rept., 1872, 42. is a map purporting 
to show the route of Lewis and Clarke ; sec also Johnsoyi's R. J>. to Pox., I! 1-9, 
and map : tt am n't Mem., m Padfit 11. J?. J'cpt., xi. 17-10; U ant's Her. Mag., 
vi. S13-14; Sytnons 1 Sept. L'jptr Columbia, 89. 


Next morning he was sent back with an invitation 
to his friends to meet the explorers on the river above, 
where a council would be held. 

Proceeding, the stream takes a northern bend, with 
a highland on the south, above which traces of a great 
hurricane are visible ; ten miles further bring them to 
a wood on the north. There they spend the night. 
Early next morning they ascend the river three and 
a quarter miles, and encamping on the south bank 
await the appearance of the Ottoes. Round them is 
a fertile plain covered with grass from five to eight 
feet high. Small, light pink flowers cluster here and 
there; hone}^suckles sweeten the air, and from the 
tall waving grass rise copses of plums and currants, 
all musical with stinsdner insects and rattlesnakes. 
Behind them, separating a lower and a higher prairie, 
is a woody ridge seventy feet in height, at the end 
of which the explorers pitch their camp. 

From the bluffs adjoining, river and prairie, low 
sky and glistening landscape, dappled with the pass- 
ing cloud-shadows, unfold a magnificent panorama. 
Winding amid groves of cottonwood, sycamore, elm, 
and ash, sprinkled with oak, hickory, and walnut, 
purple with wild grapes, and folding in its nourishing 
embrace little shifting willow-islands, creeps the river 
from the long grass through two parallel highland 
ranges, whence, in ever varying curves, it wends its 
way on toward the ocean. 

Awaiting here under the bluff with some anxiety 
the result of their message to the Ottoes, their hunt- 
ers bring in turkeys, geese, deer, and beaver, while 
the river supplies them with an abundance of fish. 
At length, about sunset on the 2d of August, is seen 
in the distance a party of fourteen Ott I Mis- 

souris. They are accompanied by a. Frenchman who 
lives with them, and acts as interpreter. As they ap- 
proach, Captains Lewis and Clarke advance to meet 
and welcome them. A place is selected for their 
camp, and a council appointed to be held next morn- 


ing. Meanwhile the explorers send them flour, meal, 
pork, and a portion of their roasted meat, receiving in 
return a present of watermelons. 

Preparations are then made for the morrow. The 
main-sail is brought from the boat and spread as an 
awning, under which the presents to be distributed 
arc paraded. In the morning the exploring party are 
all drawn up for the occasion. The Indians, six of 
whom are called chiefs, then present themselves, and 
are requested to be seated under the awning. A 
white man first speaks, informs them of the change 
of government, promises protection, and .ice. 

Then each in turn the six red chiefs reply. They are 
glad of the change ; they hope their new father will 
give them arms and rum, and help them to kill the 
Mahas. The white men assure them of trade and 
mediation; then they distribute the presents. The 
real or principal chief not being present, a medal, a 
flag, and some trinkets are sent to him. The medals 
are of three grades, and denote the estimation in 
which the wearer is held abroad. Placed round his 
neck it is the token of the white man's recognition of 
the wearer's chieftaincy. 

To one Ottoe and to one Missouri medals of the sec- 
ond grade are given, and to the other chiefs present 
medals of the third grade. Paint, garters, and dress 
ornaments accompany the medals, and for the whole 
a canister of powder, a bottle of whiskey, and a few 
trinkets. These ceremonies concluded, the explorers 
call the place Council Bluffs, and remark upon the 
situation as one favorable for a fort or trading-factory, 
the soil being good for bricks, wood being abundant, 
and the climate good. It is likewise a central resort 
of the Ottoes, one day's journey distant; for the Paw- 
nees, one and a half days distant; the Mahas, two 
days distant; besides being convenient to the Sioux, 
and only twenty-five days from Santa Fe. Then 
deemed convenient for Indian traffic, time has proved 
the place as suitable for a railway centre. In the 


afternoon the party set sail, and encamp five miles up 
the river on the south side, where they find the 
mosquitoes very troublesome. All this on the 3d of 
August 1804. 

Arrived among the Mahas a fortnight later, another 
council was held with the like results. All of this 
nation that the small-pox had left were willing to die 
of blankets, tobacco, and whiskey. Up to this time 
one of the expedition had deserted and one had died. 
To the river on which they encamped they gave the 
name of the dead soldier, Floyd. 

The 30th of August the Sioux were received under 
a large oak standing within their territory, and near 
which the United States flag was flying. Speeches, 
counsel, and cheap presents were the return for i 
dominion; but the best of the exercises were the eat- 
ing, drinking, and smoking. The Sioux complained 
bitterly of their poverty, and Captain Lewis advised 
Mr Dorion, their friend and interpreter, to take a 
party of their chiefs to Washington to see the presi- 

Councils were likewise held with the Tetons, the 
Ricaras, and the Manclans on entering their respec- 
tive territories. A little impudence with some show 
of violence was displayed by the Tetons, but without 
serious results. The Ricaras on being offered liquor 
declined, saying they w T ere surprised their father 
should offer them drink which made men fools. As 
regarded the chastity of their women they were not 
so particular, for here as well as elsewhere along 
their route the expedition had no difficulty in pro- 
curing companions for the night. The negro was 
an object of special favor amongst the fair sex, who 
often quarrelled for him. When the white men 
stopped to execute the sentence of court-martial 
on a soldier by corporal punishment, an Indian chief 
sitting by was affected to tears. " We kill men for 
wronof-doinor," he exclaimed, " but we will not even 
whip our children." 


The expedition reached the Mandan country the 
last of October, and as the weather was becoming very 
cold they determined to winter there. Some heavy 
log-houses of cottonwood, elm, and ash were built, 
being completed about the middle of November, when 
the party moved into them. During the winter the 
Mandans were threatened with an attack by the Sioux 
living on the Missouri above the Cheyenne River; their 
visitors promised them protection from all their ene- 
mies, and offered to lead them to battle; but as the 
snow was deep, the Mandans declined fighting that 
winter. This was bad policy, for the sons of the Great 
Father to involve themselves in the quarrels of his 

The 16th of December Mr Haney arrived from the 
Assiniboine with a letter from Mr Charles Chabouilles 
of the Northwest Company, offering any service within 
his power. From Mr Haney Captain Clarke obtained 
much valuable information regarding the country 
between the Missouri and the Mississippi, and the 
various branches of the Sioux family inhabiting it. 
Corn raised by these natives was freely supplied the 
expedition. Among others of the Northwest Com- 
pany who visited them, there were Laroche and Mac- 
kenzie. The former wished to accompany the party 
westward, but his proposal was declined. While at 
this place the blacksmith of the expedition put up a 
furnace and made knife-blades, spear-points, and other 
implements as the easiest method of procuring corn. 
The savages were specially taken with the bellows, 
and thought it a very great medicine. Some horses 
were stolen during the winter by the Sioux, who 
were pursued by Captain Clarke, but without recovery 
of the animals. 

As spring drew near, preparations were made for 
moving; the escort, back to St Louis, the expedition, 
on toward the Pacific. The large boat was to return 
down the river, so six canoes were made for the upper 
waters. The articles which had been collected for the 


president were packed in boxes and placed in the barge. 
They consisted of stuffed specimens of the animals 
of the country, together with birds, insects, and 
plants, specimens of earths, salts, and minerals, and 
native implements. 

Simultaneously at 5 o'clock in the afternoon of the 
7th of April 1805, the two parties embarked, the 
westward bound consisting of thirty-two persons 10 in 
six canoes and two pirogues, and the St Louis party 
of seven soldiers, two Frenchmen, and a pilot, Mr 
Gravelines, in the barge. The Sioux having openly 
declared war against the whites, it was expected that 
the return party would be fired on in passing through 
the Sioux country, but they were ten well armed, de- 
termined men, with provisions enough in the boat to 
last them to St Louis; and before their departure 
Captain Lewis had exacted a pledge that they would 
not yield while one remained alive. By this boat 
journals and despatches were sent to the United 
States, as the eastern country alone was then called. 11 

On the 10th the overland party overtook three 
Frenchmen who were hunting beaver. They were 
meeting with fair success, having trapped twelve thus 
far ; but fearful of the Assiniboins they kept near the 
exploring party until they reached the Yellowstone. 
Navigation was here better than on the lower Mis- 
souri. The country consisted of irregular ranges of 
hills interspersed with low smooth plains, with here 
and there timber. Fish, geese, prairie-hens, swan, 
antelope, white bear, and elk furnished abundance 
of food. 

Passing the Little Missouri and the Yellowstone, 
both of which streams they ascend a short distance, 
about the first of May they enter a salt-frosted coun- 
try with bluff hills and scattering foliage. Game be- 

10 For their names see Hist. Oregon, i. 45, this series. 

11 Accompanying the president's message of the 19th of February 1S06 is 
a letter from Lewis dated Fort Mandan 7th April 1S05. See also Annals of 
Cong., 1S0G-7, app. 103G-114G. 


comes yet more abundant. The white bear is found 
a terrible creature. Lewis is chased seventy yards by 
one which had been wounded. Brown bear are very 
large, and exceedingly tenacious of life. The black 
bear are smaller. 12 Buffalo are very plentiful. Wolves, 
coyotes, and prairie-dogs appear. Geese begin to 
lose their wing -feathers, which prevents flight. To 
a stream whose waters possess a peculiar whiteness 
they give the name of Milk River. Upon river-beds 
recently emptied of their waters, the vocabulary of dry 
names is exhausted. There are Big and Little Dry 
rivers, and Big and Little Dry creeks, until one won- 
ders at the leathery brains out of which could not be 
beaten more distinctive terms. And as appellations 
of aridity become exhausted they fall back upon the 
names of their men by which to designate streams; 
and last of all they honor a creek by giving it the 
name Rattlesnake. A female elk swims a swift river, 
and the place is called Elk Rapids. Musselshell River 
was also among their brilliant selections of names. 

Yet loftier elevations are interspersed with fertile 
plains as the party proceeds. The air of the adjacent 
highlands becomes singularly dry and pure, annihi- 
lating space and bringing distant objects near. Again, 
the country becomes barren, with little timber save 
pine and spruce thinly scattered on the summits and 
hill-sides. Appearances of coal are evident. And now 
the river becomes rapid, the wind strong, the air cold, 
and game for a time grows scarce. But on emerging 
from the dreary Black Mountains nature puts on 
more cheerful robes, and sits on hill and plain in gor- 
geous repose, while birds and beasts and creeping 
things sound their notes of universal joy. 

Ascending a hill on the 26th of May, Lewis caught 
the first glimpse of what the narrative calls "the 
Rock mountains, the object of all our hopes, and the 
reward of all our ambition." They camped at an 

12 By white bear is meant the grizzly, and by brown bear the cinnamon; 
of course there are no white bear proper in this latitude. 


early hour the 3d of June at the junction of the 
Missouri with another large river, though which was 
the main stream and which the branch they could not 
tell. They deemed it important to know. The Indians 
had told them that the sources of the Missouri and 
the Columbia were not far apart. The season here was 
short, and two months of it were already gone. The 
wrong stream would lead them off their course, and 
cause delays which might demoralize the men and 
jeopardize the success of the expedition. Exploring 
parties were therefore sent out, but returned no wiser 
than they went. Others were despatched, and re- 
turned in like manner. Why had not the natives 
told them of these two large rivers? "The river 
which scolds at all others" was not a term applicable 
only to the Missouri, for both streams scolded alike. 

Finally, next day, Lewis with six men and Clarke 
with five set out on a more thorough exploration, 
the former ascending the north and the latter the 
south branch. Lewis was absent four days examining 
the stream, crossing ravines, and ascending moun- 
tains for observation, travelling meanwhile some eighty 
or ninety miles, and narrowly escaping destruction with 
one of his companions by coming unawares upon a 
precipice. Though his men were of a different opin- 
ion, Captain Lewis pronounced the north branch not 
the Missouri, and named it Maria River. Clarke 
was three days out accomplishing a distance equiva- 
lent to forty-five miles in a straight line. He saw 
the river rolling in for a great distance from the south, 
with high ridges to the south-east, and he believed it 
the Missouri, though his men held with the others 
for the northern branch. 

On Sunday the 9th a consultation was held. Cru- 
zatte, long a boatman in these parts, was sure the 
north branch was the Missouri. The men would 
cheerfully follow their leaders, they said, but they 
could not but hold with Cruzatte. Arrowsmith's map 
had been studied at Fort Mandan, and Mr Fidler's 

Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 2 


discoveries noted. To these their own observations 
were added, and the two captains pronounced in favor 
of the southern branch. Caching at this point part 
of their cargo with one of the boats, on the 11th 
the party proceeded, Lewis with four men going by 
land in advance of the now lightened canoes. Seized 
that night with dysentery and fever, and having at 
hand no medicine, with eminent success Lewis experi- 
mented with choke-cherry twigs, boiling them, and 
drinking the decoction. 

The party had not proceeded far on the morning 
of the 13th when the sound of falling water greeted 
their ears, and rising above the plain a column of 
spray was seen, which quickly vanished in the dry 
transparent air. Lewis went forward, travelling seven 
miles after first hearing the sound before reaching 
what proved to be the great falls of the Missouri. 
Seating himself upon a rock, he gazed upon the stu- 
pendous spectacle until saturated with the sublime; 
after which he looked about him for the best portage, 
which was found to be eighteen miles in length. 
These falls, though different from any others, may be 
classed among the grandest in the world. The entire 
descent of the river in sixteen and a half miles is 
three hundred and fifty- seven feet, separated into 
four cataracts of twenty- six, forty- seven, nineteen, and 
eighty-seven feet respectively, with rapids between. 
Plunging down this uncertain channel between per- 
pendicular abutments three hundred yards asunder, 
the distracted stream rends the sky with its resounding 
boom, and sends upward from its boiling bed of white 
foam fantastic mist-forms and spires of spray, which 
blush to rainbow hues on meeting the searching in- 
quiry of the sun. And with the clouds of moi^t Lre 
our clouded thoughts ascend. How long had been 
this river roaring its anthems in the wilderness? 
Were these magnificent water-works, these grand dis- 
plays of so many forms of liquid beauty, made for 


man's enjoyment, or for the benefit of beasts, and 
trees, and stolid rocks? And if for man, for what a 
time had they been waiting his coming! O patient 
north and west ! But stop ! I hear a voice from out 
these hallelujahs of waters, saying, Man, though wild, 
is none the less man than when grown cunning with 
arts and devilish theologies. 

To drag the boats up a creek and there unload; 
to mend moccasins with which the prickly pear made 
havoc ; to cut roads and build wagons, using a large 
cottonwood tree for wheels and the mast of the 
pirogue, which was left behind, for axle-trees; and 
with the aid of two such vehicles to drag canoes and 
cargo above the falls: to cache more goods; to hunt 
elk, and with their skins construct a boat which, 
proving a failure, necessitates the making of new 
canoes above the falls — all this occupies a month. 

In a furious hail-storm the men were knocked clown 
and bruised to bleeding. So suddenly the torrent 
filled a ravine in which Captain Clarke was caught, 
that he narrowly escaped with his life. Strange noises 
in the mountains attracted their attention. Stretching 
southward above the Missouri, the sky presented a 
broad, bright line alive with wild-fowl. The country 
here literally swarmed with large and small game, 
which regarded these white-skinned bipeds as impudent 
intruders upon their domain. A buffalo was wanted 
one night for supper; a thousand presented themselves. 
of which Lewis shot one. Before he had reloaded, a 
large brown bear stole upon him. The captain ran, the 
bear followed, gaining on him, and the man saved his 
life by taking to the water. That same clay, which 
was the 14th of June, returning from a visit to Med- 
icine Biver, after having shot what he supposed to be 
a tiger, three buffalo bulls deliberately left the here! 
where they were feeding, and came toward him, as if 
to see what kind of new strange animal it was that 
had ventured among them. Flight was impossible; 
so Lewis made toward them, when they turned and 


went back to their feeding. As if even the reptiles of 
this region had conspired against the intruders, a large 
rattlesnake coiled itself round the tree under which 
Lewis slept that night, and there kept silent watch. 
White and brown bears chased the men wherever they 
went, and even invaded their camp. To a cluster of 
three islands the name White-bear Islands was given, 
and their portage resting-place was White-bear Camp. 
Gloats, terrapin, gooseberries, and currants were now 
added to their bill of fare. Fifty buffaloes could be 
shot almost any afternoon when wanted. All this 
time not a word was said of Indians, by which one infers 
that they were not numerous in these parts. 

Christmas last, at Fort Manclan, the explorers 
drank and danced all day and far into the night, telling 
the savages not to come near them as that was their 
great medicine clay. Now on the 4th of July, though 
foot-sore and fatigued, they likewise drank and danced, 
drank the last drop of drunk-producing liquid they 
had, leaving none for the poor savage beyond the 
mountains. Blessed faith ! but for which patriotism 
would be simply stomach. 

In eight canoes, on the 15th of July, the party con- 
tinued its journey above the falls. Passing a pleasing 
river they gave it the name Dearborn, in honor of 
the secretary of war; another stream they called 
Ordway Creek, because their sergeant's name was 
Ordway. Potts likewise had his creek, John Potts, 
one of the party, not a great man, but then the creek 
was not a great creek. Wood becoming scarce dried 
buffalo clung, or bois de vache, called later by the 
emigrants ' buffalo chips,' was used in making fires for 
cooking or other purposes. 

High mountains now approach the river on either 
s ide, until for a distance of five miles black granite 
rocks rise eight, ten, and twelve hundred feet sheer 
from the water's edge, black at the base, but hghter in 
color toward the top. The channel here is three 
hundred and fifty yards in width. Entering between 


these perpendicular mountains, seemingly boding dark 
destruction on curious searchers of their secrets, they 
call the place the Gates of the Rocky Mountains. 13 

Passing through the gates they found the sky dark- 
ened with smoke, the natives of that region having 
taken to the mountains in alarm, after firing the 
plains. The weather now became warm, 80° in the 
shade. To Joseph Whitehouse, one of the company, 
was given a creek, to Patrick Gass another, to Howard 
another, to Robert Frazier another, and so on. Cla 
preceding the boats by land, reached the three forks 

Route feoji the Missouri to the Columbia. 

of the Missouri the 25th of July. This place having 
been mentioned by the Indians, had been anxiouslv 
looked for. He ascended the north branch thirty- 
seven miles, and then crossing over to the middle 
branch descended to the forks, severely suffering 
during the journey from illness. Meanwhile the main 
body came up the river and arrived at the forks. 
Here the country seems suddenly to expand, and the 
hills to fall back and subside into meadows and plains. 

13 The 'gates of the Rocky Mountains' are 145 miles above the falls, and 
about 400 miles from the source of the river. ' This name,' says Thomas P. 

is, in Montana. I! ib., •_'-'">0. 'may do very veil, t 1 

several other "gates," but none so grand, intervene between it and the final 
exit of the Missouri river from the moun tains, thirty-six miles below.' 


It was on the morning of the 27th that the main 
party paused at the mouth of the east branch. Land- 
ing, Lewis walked half a mile up the stream, and from 
a limestone cliff could trace the courses of the three 
branches for several miles. Descending to breakfast 
he called this east fork of the Missouri, Gallatin, 11 in 
honor, he observes, of the secretary of the treasury. 
Reembarking, he proceeded to the middle and west 
branches, where was found fastened to a stick a letter 
from Clarke, who had not yet returned, stating that 
the west fork offered the superior attraction to voy- 
agers westward. Lewis agreeing with him, ascended 
the west branch with his party for a mile, and there 
camped, waiting for Clarke, who joined him at three 
o'clock, well nigh exhausted with fever and fatigue. 
The middle and western branches being so nearly 
alike, each ninety yards in width, and in depth, cur- 
rent, and character so similar that it was impossible to 
tell which was the main stream and which the branch, 
it was determined to drop the name Missouri at the 
fork, and give the name Madison to the middle chan- 
nel, and the name Jefferson to the west branch. 15 

For two days Captain Clarke remained ill, but on 
the 30th of July, being quite recovered, he proceeded 
with the party to ascend the Jefferson River; at noon 
they came to a place which the Shoshone wife of 
Chaboneau recognized as the spot where she had been 
taken by the Minnetarees of Knife River. 16 All were 
now exceedingly anxious to fall in with some of the 
Shoshones, or Snake Indians, whose habitat is here- 
about, for through the friendship of the woman whom 
they were now returning to her relatives they hoped 
for information and assistance. To this end Lewis 
set out in advance of the party, lost his way, and at 

14 On the plain near the fork now stands the town Gallatin. See Montana 

frib., i. 231 i. 
'-See Lewis and Clarke's Travels, 235 and 240; Ga -' Journal, 16S. 
10 V,'. II. Sanders, president of the Historical Society of Montana, says, 
:.,< 'ontrib. . i. 1 00, that this woman 'was captured at the Three 
of the Missouri, about the year 1S00.' The place she here pointed out 
was on Jeh'erson Elver a short distance above the fork. 


night was obliged to sleep alone in the wilderness. 
Next morning he found his friends, and again left them 
in search of natives, this time accompanied by three 
of the men. 

Meanwhile nomenclature mounts' Pegasus. To a 
stream flowing in from the south the name Philoso- 
phy 17 is given; to a largo crock, a little above, the 
name Frazier, 18 from one of the men. A creek yet 
higher, flowing in from the opposite side, is honored 
with the name of another of the men, Fields. 19 But 
as the river is ascended the minds of the explorer,; 
soar aloft, and to a river coming in from the north 
the name Wisdom is applied, while one on the oppo- 
site side is called Philanthropy." 

Continuing up the north side of the Jefferson, 
Lewis on the 1st of August reached the South Bowl- 
der; taking it for the main channel, he followed it, 
but on discovering his mistake he crossed over to the 
Jefferson and continued its ascent, making seventeen 
miles the first day, twenty-four miles the second, and 
twenty-three each the third and fourth, but meeting 
with no natives. This brought him to Wisdom River, 
Clarke with the main body following a day or two 

Although the Wisdom branch presented the more 
open front, the others wore warmer and more turbid, 
whence Lewis inferred that the waters of the latter 
had travelled farther and through a more open country 
than those of the former. He therefore left a letter 
at the fork, placing it on a pole, directing those below 
to take the stream to the left. 

17 Now Willow Creek. 

18 Known at present as the South Bowlder. 

19 The North Bowlder. 

20 ' The puerile pedantry of calling rivers Independence and Philosophy 
is inexcusable; but the consummation of absurdity and loyalty occurs when 
they arrive at a place near the head of the Missouri, where it divides into 
three pretty equal branches. It is resolved here that the name Missouri shall 
be dropt, and the central branch being baptized Jefferson rolls on its presi- 
dential course between the sister streams of Wisdom and Philanthropy. ' Lon- 
don Quarterly Review, i. 296. Another name for the Wisdom is to-day Big 
Hole River, and the Philanthropy River of old now rejoices iu the refined 
appellation of Stinking Water. Above Beaver Head Iiock the Jefferson is 
now called Beaver Head River. 


But a beaver happening to pass that way shortly 
after, and seeing the pole so neatly trimmed, be- 
thought himself how good a rafter it would make 
for his house; so he cut it clown with his teeth and 
carried it away, letter and all. The consequence 
was the party below took the wrong course, and 
when set right by one of the men in advance they 
turned back; but "in descending the branch the swift 
current caught and upset one canoe and filled with 
water two others, thus entailing loss, while one man 
barely escaped with his life, and all owing to the im- 
pudence of the beaver. 

On the 8th of August the canoes reach Philan- 
thropy River. 21 Next day Lewis and two men travel 
sixteen miles up the Jefferson, here called to-day 
Beaver Head River, from Beaver Head Rock, 22 which 
point Clarke passes in the canoes the 10th. Lewis 
meanwhile continues along the left bank until he 
reaches the upper fork of the Beaver Head, 23 from 
which point both branches are pronounced not navi- 
gable. He therefore fixes upon a dry willow pole a 
note recommending the party to remain at this fork 
while he proceeds up the north branch to explore. To 
this point the canoes slowly approach, passing a creek 
coming in from the south on the 13th, to which they 
give the name of one of the men, McNeal, 21 and 
next clay another on the north side which they call 
Track Creek. 25 Willard Creek, 26 named after Alexan- 
der Willard, one of the men, is passed on the loth. 

21 At this point they were about forty miles north-west from Virginia City. 
-A steep cliff ' on the right side of the river,' the narrative says, meaning 
the left bank, and about twenty miles below Rattlesnake Creek. 
2J The junction of Horse Plain Creek and Red Rock Creek. 

24 Black Tail Deer Creek. 

25 Rattlesnake Creek. 

2,3 The town of Bannock now stands on this stream. ' In 1862, Mr Charles 
Rumley, not knowing that the stream had before then received a name, 
christened it Grasshopper creek, from the large numbers of that insect found 
upon its banks. When it had been identified as the Willard creek of Lewis 
and Clarke, the vanity and effrontery of Mr J. S. Willard. then living at 
Bannock, so offended the denizens of that town that the stream is known as 
"the Grasshopper" to this day.' Montana Jliit. Sue, Contrib., i. 100. 


Meanwhile Lewis is on Horse Plain Creek, looking 
for a pass and Indian guides, and for horses to trans- 
port the baggage. The domain of the buffalo is left 
behind; deer and antelope, beaver and otter, with 
geese and ducks, and some elk and mountain goats 
are here provided by nature as food for bears and 
men. A rich-bottomed grassy valley is found and 
entered. Scattered among the underbrush that bor- 
ders the river are willow, birch, and cottonwood, with 
pines upon the elevations. Vegetation here cannot be 
called luxuriant. 

For two days after Lewis was fairly within the 
territory of the Shoshone nation not a soul was to be 
seen. On the 11th of August, however, to his great 
delight he perceived across the plain two miles dis- 
tant a man on horseback 27 coming toward him. By 
the aid of his glass he could distinguish the dress and 
equipment of the warrior, which were different from 
any he had hitherto encountered. The man was well 
mounted, and armed with bow and arrows, but rode 
without a saddle; and for a bridle a small string was 
attached to the horse's under-jaw. He was surely a 
Shoshone. The question was how to catch him, for 
he was exceedingly shy, and the woman they had 
brought so far to unlock these savage hearts was 
back with the boats. 

The white man and the red both continued to ad- 
vance until within a mile of each other. The latter 
then halted, whereat the other stopped, took from his 
knapsack a blanket, and opening it out, held it by the 
two corners, and in that manner brought it to the 
ground, a signal common in these parts of spreading 
a robe on wmich to meet guests preparatory to friendly 
intercourse. This was done three times. Unfortu- 
nately Lewis had failed to order his men to remain 
behind, and these now coming up frightened the wild 

27 Though of the equine type America seems to have heen the original seat, 
yet -when discovered by Columbus there were no horses in America. Those 
here found among the natives were from wild southern bands formed by the 
multiplication of animals which had strayed from the Spaniards. 


man, who thereupon showed signs of uneasiness. 
Then Lewis laid aside his gun, and taking some beads 
and a looking-glass advanced unarmed until within 
two hundred yards of the savage, calling out mean- 
while tabba bone, white man, that he might know the 
stranger was not an enemy from some adjoining tribe. 
But when within a hundred yards of him, the com- 
panions of Lewis continuing to advance, the Shoshone 
suddenly wheeled, leaped his horse across a brook, and 
vanished among the willows. 

It was a disappointment, but they must try again. 
Mounting a hill they made a fire and breakfasted, 
placing some trinkets on a stick when they left, that 
the curious eyes which they felt were not far distant 
should see that they were white men and friends. 
Then giving one of his men to carry, as a signal of 
friendship, a small United States flag fastened to a 
pole, Lewis again went forward with overtures to 
whatever in human shape he should meet. Thus civ- 
ilization first wooed savagism in these western wilds. 

All next day, the 12th, they hunt, following ^ the 
tracks of the mounted warrior until no longer visible, 
following the river's course until it dwindles into a 
brook so small that one of the men with a foot on 
either side of it calls out to his companions to behold 
a man bestriding the Missouri. Less and less grows 
the rivulet and narrower its bounds until a small gap 
denotes its puny path ; and here these first of civilized 
men to see its littleness drink of its chaste waters to 
its mightiness below. Then, full of glory, they rise 
and mount the ridge near by that divides the waters 
of the Atlantic and the Pacific. Almost these little 
Colossi can bestride this ridge and touch at the same 
time the sources of the Missouri and of the Columbia, 
can bathe in moisture which, had it a snowflake's 
weight of brains, might trickle to west or east at 
will, and determine the river's long, long course. 

But where are those first undecided drops so soon 
to manifest western proclivities? Where, hereabout, 


is this source of the Oregon, the mighty River of the 
West? In little more than a mile from where spring 
the modest drops whose destination is the Mexican 
Gulf, down a steep descent on the western side is a 
rivulet already proud to be called a tributary of the 
Columbia. Stricken with ambitious thirst the ex- 
plorers stop to drink again, so great in their minds 
were these little beginnings!' 28 

28 'It is not more than a mile from the head-spring of the Missouri, to the 
head of one of the branches of the Columbia.' G<i88' Journal, 174. ' It is 
expected to bring the boats of the Missouri and Columbia within live hundred 
miles of each other.' Victor's River of the West, 578. 




Among the Shoshones — Council Held — Purchase of Horses — The 
Journey Continued— Difficulties and Hardships — Lewis Eiver — 
In the Mountains — The Clearwater — The Nez Perces — Purchase 
of Dogs for Food — Fork of the Columbia — The Walla Walla 
Country — The Great Falls of the Columbia — Hood Eiver and 
Mountain — The Cascades — At the Mouth of the Willamette — 
Sauve Island — Cowlitz Eiver — The Ocean. 

Following a well beaten Indian trail next day, 
toward noon a man, two women, and some dogs were 
sighted upon an eminence a mile distant. Ordering 
his party to remain behind, Lewis made his approach 
warily, and when within half a mile laid aside his rifle 
and unfurled his flag. He then advanced to within a 
hundred yards, when the natives incontinently fled 
and took shelter behind the hill. On gaining the 
summit not a trace of them was visible, so Lewis 
signalled his party to rejoin him, and they all started 
in pursuit. About a mile further they overtook the 
women, coming upon them so suddenly that only one 
had time to make her escape. The other, who stood 
prepared for instant death, was persuaded to conduct 
them to the Shoshone camp. 

When about two miles on their way they met a com- 
pany of sixty mounted warriors, to whom the woman 
made known the quality of the strangers, whereupon 
Camcahwait, their chief, and two of his principal men, 
threw themselves from their horses and embraced the 
white men, besmearing them with grease and paint, and 



shouting their delight. The other Indians then dis- 
mounted, and seating themselves in a circle, each drew 
off his moccasins preparatory to smoking the pipe of 
peace, which is as much as to say, "May I walk the 
forest forever barefoot if I break this pledge of friend- 

It was with exceeding difficulty that Lewis suc- 
ceeded, after spending four days in anxious and har- 
assing attempts, in enticing a company of these 
savages to his boats, so suspicious were they of 
treachery. But this difficult feat once accomplished 
all was easy, for no sooner had the Shoshones beheld 
among the strangers their countrywoman, Sacajawea, 
than a mutual recognition took place, followed by the 
wildest demonstrations of joy. A council was then 
held, during which the white men made known the 
cause of their coming and their necessities. It was 
for the especial good of the Shoshone nation that 
their great governor and friend at Washington had 
sent to give them arms, and blankets, and rum; and 
the simple savages believed it, and promised horses 
and guides, for which, however, they were to be well 
paid. The usual presents were distributed, and all 
were well content; still the Shoshones would have 
preferred the good Washington man's benefits to his 
mere promises. 

They were so well pleased, however, with twenty- 
five dollars' worth of trinkets in exchange for four fine 
horses, that they immediately started for more animals 
with which to trade on such advantageous terms. 

From native reports the explorers feared the descent 
of the Columbia would prove more hazardous than 
they had anticipated. But the geographical knowl- 
edge of these Indians, beyond the limits of their 
restricted migrations, was characteristically vague, all 
unfamiliar mountains and rivers being impassable. 

Their northern neighbors, the Nez Perces, had in- 
formed them that this stream, on whose bank their 
village rested, led to a large river which discharged 


into a lake, bad-tasted, where white men lived; for 
themselves, they had never passed the mountains 

It was on the 16th of August 1805 that Captain 
Lewis, accompanied by his new friends, returned to 
the fork of the Beaver Head, where Captain Clarke 
and the canoe party joined him next day. There at 
the junction of Horse Plain Creek and Red Rock 
Creek the canoes were left, and on the morning of the 
18th Clarke set out with eleven men for the Shoshone 
village, 1 where he was to leave Chaboneau and his 
wife to collect horses; he was to proceed thence to 
the navigable waters flowing into the Columbia, and 
there construct canoes, while Lewis brought forward 
the remainder of the party and the baggage to the 
Shoshone village. 

Clarke carried with him tools for boat-building, 
and Avas accompanied by Cameahwait and his band of 
warriors. Ascending Horse Plain Creek fifteen miles 
through a wide valley, woodless but for a few shrubs, 
the party encamped near a narrow pass where the 
creek was but ten yards wide. 2 Noon next clay brought 
them to the source of the tributaries of Horse Plain 
Creek. 3 They had now reached the great divide, the 
crown of the continent, near the spot since chosen for 
a national park, where in a knot of ridges and peaks 
culminates the Rocky Mountain system ; a birthplace 
of mighty rivers, whence spring the Columbia, the 
Colorado, and the Missouri. 4 

J Xear where since stood Fort Lemhi, on the Mormon branch of Salmon 

2 This, according to them the highest navigable point of the Missouri, was 
set down in latitude 43' 30' 43", which does not speak very highly for their 
scientific attainments, being nearly one and a half degrees too far south. 

3 '_' ne o'clock we dined at the head-spring of the Missou i and Jeffer- 
son rivers, about 25 miles from the place where we had left the canoes, and 
from which the course is nearly west.' Gass' Journal, 174. 

4 Several abridgments of Lewis and Clarke's journal have been made, but 
no one of them is what it should be. A condensation, thoroughly and in- 
telligently done, is better to the reader than the original; for the explorers 
put down much that was not only superfluous but confusing, and with the 
additional light of three quarters of a century we know better where they 


Arriving on the 20th at the Shoshone village/ a 
council was held in which Cameahwait enforced 
Clarke's request for horses and guides. An old man 
attempted to draw a map of the country, but his 
ability was not equal to his will. The river on which 
they then were flowed toward the north-west, so 
Clarke was told in answer to his most searching in- 
quiries, and was joined ten miles below by a branch 
from the south-west. 6 Below the junction the river 
continued north-west one day's march, after which it 

were, and what were their surroundings while on this expedition, than they 
themselves knew. Neither McVickar s abridgment nor Bulfinch's is a sum- 
mary, or anything mere than a collection of clippings. Each has an inti 
tion, which, however, throws little light on the history or condition of affairs 
at the time. The book which Bulfinch calls Oregon and Eldorado, Boston, 
1866, is only a slovenly arrangement of extracts from Lewis and Clarke's 
journal, sup] i I fi >r the Oregon part. Were all such authors burned 

with their books tin; v, .rid would be the gainer. The wonders of the Yellow- 
stone, and the establishing of a national park, as well as the discovery of 
gold in Mont I er explorations and consecpient publication. A i 

others was • lolds of the engineer corps, who examined the Yel- 

:id it less difficult to cross the dividing ridge between 
the head-wa Missouri and those of the Columbia, and back again, 

than to pass in a direct route from the source of the Missouri to that of the 
Yellowstone, altic upheaval live thousand feet in height, between 

which James Bridger affirmed a bird could not fly without carrying with it 
a supply of i ten years later, Cook and Folsome ascended the 

Yellowstone to Yellowstone Lake, and thence crossed to the Geyser basin 
of the Madison, and in 1870 General Washburn, Surveyor-General of Mon- 
tana, accompanied by a small escort of United States cavalry, under Lieut. 
G. C. Doane, explored the canons of the Yellowstone. An account of this 
expedition, by Langford, in the second volume of Scribner's Monthly, and the 
official report of Doane, £lst Congress, 3d 8es ite Ex. Doc. No. 51, 

threw new light on the region. Next year John W. Barlow surveyed the 
Yellov. i. and after him P. V. Hay den. United States Geologist. 

In that direction William A. Jones made an excursion in 1S73, and Ludlow 
and Forsyth in 1875. Besides Hayden's superb report, many able and im- 
portant wo] '. igion have been issued. Among them may be men- 
tioned Doane's 1 ■ wgh's From Ev<rn> 
's Wonder Landj Richardm 's W r> ' r of 
connaissance of Western Wyomin '•syth's 
Bept.M ■ mce, 1875 ; and Great Divide. 
About on a par with Bulfinch's Orego rado is a compilation by 
G. W. Pine, called Beyond the West, which is made up, without credit, from 
Mrs. Victor's River of the West and similar works. Among interesting and 
valuable reports bearing upon this part of Lewis and Clarke's route con- 
■ilic Railway Reports, may be mentioned that of John 
Lambert, in i. 100-177. See also Pacific /.'. U< pt., xii. pt. i. 234-50. 

5 On the night of the 19th, following Gdss' Journal, 171--"), Clarke's party 
was 36 miles west of Beaver Head Fork, where the canoes were left. Four 
miles further next morning brought them to a village of Indians on the bank 
of a branch of the Columbia River, about ten yards wide and very rapid. 

6 This was the main channel of Salmon River, flowing from the south, and 
into which Mormon branch enters about twenty miles below Lemhi. 


turned westward and flowed through mountains im- 

There happened to be at this village a Shoshone 
of another tribe, who lived twenty days' inarch to the 
south-west. Clarke likewise closely questioned him, 
and was told that the country in that direction was in 
places rocky and without game, and in other parts 
desert. 7 

The Indian recommended this route, provided the 
travellers would wait until spring; but Clarke thought 
it too much to the south of his course; and besides, 
notwithstanding Lewis boasted he could live any- 
where an Indian could, wintering in that region 
without a supply of provisions was almost certain 

Clarke now inquired where the pierced-nosed 
people, their next neighbors northward, crossed to the 
Missouri, and was told that their route was some dis- 
tance north of there, and that it traversed a rough, 
rocky, thickly timbered country devoid of game. 

Accompanied by a guide, the party set out, some 
on horseback and some on foot, at three o'clock that 
afternoon, and followed a good path down the Mor- 
mon branch of Salmon River some eight miles, where 
they encamped. Next morning, the 21st, another 
village five miles further on was reached. Here was 
a fish- weir, composed of trees thrown across the river, 
with willow stakes to drive the fish into baskets. 8 
Continuing their journey, the party encamped below 
the fork after a day's march of twenty miles. As 
Lewis had rambled hither a few days previously, and 
-vas the first white man to behold these w T aters, 

7 'He said that his relations lived at the distance of twenty days' march 
from this place, on a course a little to the west of south and not far from the 
whites, with whom they traded for horses, mules, cloth, metal, beads, and 
the shells here worn as ornaments, and which are those of a species of pearl 
oyster.' Lewis and Clarice's Exped., 2S6-7. From his country to the Stinking 
Lake, as he called the ocean, was a great distance, to reach which they had 
to cross to another river than that on which his people lived; from all which 
the explorers inferred that he spoke of the Colorado Liver and the gulf of 

8 For description of salmon fishing, see Native Races, i., passim. 


Clarke called this Lewis River. 9 Captain Clarke's 
examination of the country amply bore out the asser- 
tion of the natives. So rough was the way with sharp 
fragments of rock that the feet of men and horses 
were badly injured. Owing to frequent rapids the 
river was not navigable for laden canoes, and this 
character was maintained until it penetrated the 
mountains by a narrow gap, rushing between perpen- 
dicular rocks impassable by land or water. 

Fifteen miles were made on the 2 2d. After five 
miles' travel on the morning of the 23d, the track 
proved beyond the power of the horses, which were 
left behind, while Captain Clarke with the guide and 
three men proceeded down the river twelve miles fur- 
ther. Finding the route impracticable, he retraced 
his steps next day, and with the entire party returned 
to the lower Indian village near the forks of the river, 
and encamped with the Shoshones, sending word of 
the result of his reconnoissance to Lewis at the upper 
village, who having already received information that 
canoe travel in that region would be impossible, had 
begun the purchase of horses. By the 30th twenty- 
nine animals were procured, on which the baggage 
and goods being packed, the expedition set out afresh 
to explore a way to the Columbia. 

By the advice of their guide they now took a course 
down the north side of the river until they came to a 
creek at a distance of thirty miles from the Shoshone 
village, up which they proceeded four miles and en- 
camped, the weather being frosty and cold. At this 
point the trail left the creek, and led by a north- west- 
erly course across a rough country for a distance of 
eighteen miles to another stream, which they named 
Fish Creek, on which they encamped, ten miles from 
its junction with the Salmon River, September 1st. 

Following up Fish Creek three and a half miles on 
the morning of the 2d, they reached the fork of the 

9 They Mere now on the Salmon branch of Snake River, called the Sa- 

Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 3 


stream, where the trail led away to the east. As 
their course was toward the north-west they were 
forced to attempt opening a trail up the west branch, 
through dense thickets and over slippery rocks, where 
three of their animals were lost from falling down 
precipices. After crossing and recrossing this creek a 
number of times, they continued five miles, encamping 
on the east bank, and sending back next morning for 
the horses crippled by the accidents of the day before ; 
after which they proceeded eleven miles along the 
creek to a point where the mountains came down so 
abruptly that they were compelled to leave it, and 
to cross the steep and high ridge where again 
several of the animals were injured by falling upon 
the rocks. Their progress on the 3d was fourteen 
miles, when camp was made on a small branch of Fish 

On the 4th, the ground being covered with snow, 
the explorers found themselves at the foot of a high 
ridge, crossing which, at a distance of six miles they 
came upon the head-waters of a stream 10 running in 
the direction of their course, which the}^ followed 
six miles, crossing a branch from the east to its junc- 
tion with a stream also from the east, 11 upon which 
thejr found an encampment of friendly Ootlashoots. 
With these they remained a day and a half, trading 
for fresh horses, and making a vocabulary of the 

On the afternoon of the 6th they continued, and 
after a mile and a half crossed the west or Nez 
Perce branch of the Bitter Root, which they now 
jierceived to be the main river; they named it Clarke 
River, Captain Clarke being the first white man to 
"behold it. A march of six and a half miles across the 
valley and over a pine-covered mountain brought them 
again to the river, which they followed three and a 
half miles, crossing it several times on account of the 

10 Middle branch of Bitter Root River. 

11 Horse branch of Bitter Root River. 


narrowness of the valley, and camping on the right 
hank ten miles from the Ootlashoot village. 

On the 8th their course was along the river, clue 
north eleven miles, and a little west of north twelve 
miles, which brought them to a large creek with four 
channels, to which they gave the name of Scattering 
Creek. Crossing this on the 9th and travelling till 
noon, making only twelve miles, they halted on a 
small rivulet to cook and eat the game killed during 
the morning, and to take an observation. 12 About 
four miles from this halting-place, after crossing the 
Bitter Root to its left bank, they emerged from its 
wooded bottoms upon an open plain threaded by a dis- 
tinct trail, which according to their guide led to the 
Missouri, distant only four days' journey. That night 
they encamped on a branch of the Bitter Boot, 13 
having come fifteen miles; and learning from the 
guide that their route now left the river and led 
over a rough country, they remained one day in 
camp preparing food for their journey. To this place 
and stream they gave the name of Traveller's Best. 
On the afternoon of the 11th they made seven 
miles over a good trad. 

Next day the road proved very difficult, being 
through fallen timber, and over high hills, for eleven 
miles, to the fork of the creek, where, ascending its 
western branch to a large bend, they once more di- 
verged from it and travelled eight miles over a ridge 
to the creek again. ±216699 , 

On the 13th a distance of two miles brought 
them to some hot springs. Here were so many 
trails made by Indians, and elk, and deer, that the 
guide became confused, and led them several miles 
astray. On regaining the right track, after twelve 
rough miles, they emerged from the mountains in 
which rise the waters of^Loulou branch, striking the 

12 This observation, giving the latitude 46° 41' 3S" 9"", agrees very closely 
with that given on the latest maps. 

13 Loulou branch of the Bitter Root River. 


head-waters of a stream flowing in the opposite direc- 
tion among some small open levels, or glades, whence 
they named the stream Glade Creek. 

The travellers were now among high mountains, 
where at that season snow falls. On the 14th, in a 
storm of rain and hail, they proceeded down the right 
bank of Glade Creek, and crossing a high mountain 
came, in a distance of seven miles, to another stream 
equal in size which joined it from the right. At this 
point they crossed to the left bank of the main stream, 
and passing another high mountain for nine miles 
came to a larger stream, which seemed to flow from 
the snowy mountains to the south-east and south. 
Two miles farther down they encountered another 
branch on the right side, at the mouth of which they 
encamped on a small island. The fatigue of this day's 
march was emphasized by the want of meat, and to 
stay their stomachs a colt was slaughtered, a direct 
consequence of which was the evolution of the eupho- 
nious name of Coltkilled, to designate the stream re- 
cently passed. 

Finding the river they were following to be at this 
point eighty yards wide, with a rapid current, the ex- 
plorers inquired its name of the Indian who accom- 
panied them, receiving in answer the words koos koos 
kie, u which they accordingly adopted as its name, 
calling it the Kooskooskie River. 15 The difficulty of 
proceeding was now very great, accidents, hunger, 
and sickness being common; the first from the rough- 
ness of the country, the second and last from scarce 
and inferior food. Twelve miles were made this day, 
when the party encamped near an old snow-bank on 
a mountain-top. Pushing on next day in a snow- 
i torm which obliterated the trail, they made thirteen 
miles, reaching a stream from the north where they 
once more indulged in a supper of horse-flesh. 

14 The Indians have no arbitrary names for rivers in this country; not even 
for the Columbia. The expression koo* koos kle was used to explain that this 
was not the river they sought, but only a branch of one larger than itself. 

10 Clearwater River. 


On the 17th, after a day's journey of ten miles, 
Clarke resolved to precede the main body with six 
hunters and look for a more level country, while 
at the same time seeking game. Making an early 
start and travelling some twenty miles with the 
utmost rapidity, he was repaid by the discovery of a 
great plain stretching toward the west and south-west, 
beyond wdiich was a high mountain. His hunters do 
not appear to have met with success, for though the 
march was continued twelve and a half miles farther, 
the stream by which they encamped was baptized 
Hungry Creek, the appellation obviously originating 
from an empty stomach. 

Resuming his march early on the 19th, he came 
upon a small plain where a horse was grazing. This 
was quickly killed and served for breakfast, what re- 
mained after the meal being hung in a tree for the 
benefit of the party following. Clarke's course this 
day led him nearly out of the mountain country, the 
temperature becoming sensibly warmer, and on the 
following day, the 20th, he emerged upon a level 
country, dotted with scattered pines, and reache! a 
village of the Chopunnish, or Nez Perces. By these 
he was kindly received and furnished with ample pre- 
visions, some of which were sent to meet the party 
of Lewis who arrived on the 2 2d. 

Clarke meanwdiile had not been idle. Gaining the 
friendship of a chief, he collected information touch- 
ing the Clearwater . River, which was fifteen miles 
from this village. He learned that it forked a short 
distance below a second village, and united with a 
larger river yet lower, after which it continued its 
course to the sea, obstructed only by one great fall. 
The information he gained, though not wholly correct, 
was still valuable, as showing that the object of the 
expedition was attainable, and that within a reasonable 

Here the change of diet, acting upon frames ex- 


hausted by the hardships they had endured, produced 
a sickness which nearly disabled the whole party; 
both leaders and men being so reduced in strength 
that on reaching the river it was deemed advisable 
once more to betake themselves to canoes. A camp 
for canoe -building was therefore established at the 
confluence of the north branch with the Clearwater. 
At this place large numbers of the Nez Perces 
gathered, proving with the exception of some petty 
thieving amicable enough. To the chiefs were given 
the medals provided for the occasion, and to the women 
suitable trinkets, while other articles were bartered 
for dried roots, fish, and berries. By the 7th of Oc- 
tober, five canoes being finished, the explorers were 
ready to proceed upon the last stage of their journey. 
Having branded their horses they left them in the 
care of two brothers and a son of a chief, 16 who with 
another chief was to accompany Lewis and Clarke 
down the river. The saddles and some ammunition 
were cached. 

On the first day one canoe sprung a leak by striking 
on a rock, and on the second one was sunk from the 
same cause, the occupants escaping only by the assist- 
ance of those in the other canoes and a friendly Indian. 
A creek 17 which was passed on the right was called 
Colter Creek, from one of the men. Frightened by 
these accidents or from some unknown cause, their 
faithful Shoshone guide deserted them # before they 
embarked next morning without claiming payment 
for his services. 1S Many natives were seen along the 
river and at the encampments, all appearing friendly. 
On the 10th, having travelled sixty miles from the 
forks of the Clearwater, the explorers encamped just 

16 The good faith of the Nez Perces in taking care of the horses belonging 
to Lewis and Clarke has ever since been a matter of reference and pride among 

people, and Lawyer, their present chief, is fond of boasting that his 
father was one of those to whom they were intrusted. 

17 Potash Creek. 

18 When they proposed sending some one after the Shoshone with his pay, 
the Nez Perce chiefs very frankly informed them that it would be of no use, 
as the goods would all be stolen from him before he got out of their country. 


below its junction with the Lewis or Snake River, 
which they called the Kimmooenim, where they met 
a number of natives from whom they purchased some 
dogs for food. 19 Continuing down Snake River, the 
contrast was noted between its yellowish-green waters 
and the purity of the Clearwater. It had frequent 
rapids, and was bounded by high cliffs, with here and 
there a narrow strip of bottom-land. On the 13th 
they passed a small stream on the left, which they 
called Kimmooenim Creek,' 20 and about four miles 
further another stream, naming it from one of their 
men, Drewyer River, at the mouth of which were 
some bad rapids. Indeed, the navigation of this river 
proved exceedingly hazardous, especially with inferior 
canoes. On several occasions one or more of them were 
filled and some baggage washed away; though to 
guard against accident as much as possible, one of the 
commanders continually kept in advance in the smallest 
canoe. 21 

By the lGth the explorers reached a difficult rapid, 
or "rather a fall," near the confluence of the two great 
branches of the Columbia. While the men were em- 
ployed in making the necessary portage, the leaders 
went on to the mouth of the river to apprise the 
natives of their approach, and to convince them of 
their friendly intent. 

The aspect of the country at this meeting of the 
waters was low and flat, vast treeless plains extending 
on either hand, and most extensive in the great tri- 
angle between the Lewis and Clarke branches above 
the junction. The Indians, who were found in large 
numbers, proved well disposed toward the travellers, 
and made no difficulty about permitting their passage 
through their territory. The scarcity of food had 

19 The Nez Perces are not dog-eaters, and ridiculed the strangers for so do- 
ing. For their habits in this respect, see Native Races, i. 317. 

' 20 Tu cannon River. 

21 The needless caution and want of skill displayed by Lewis and Clarke's 
men contrasts most unfavorably with the boldness and dexterity of the French- 
Canadian voyageurs, or with that of the Indians of the lower Columbia, whose 
address was both admired and envied by the United States soldiers. 


been such that the explorers were driven to open a 
number of caches along Snake River belonging to 
the natives, who at this season were absent hunting. 
Arrived at this camp, however, a market was soon 
established and a plentiful supply of clogs secured, 
which with the hares and sage-hens brought in by 
the hunters, once more replenished their shrunken 

Soon the advent of visitors was announced, and the 
chiefs of the Sokulks and Chimnapums 22 made their 
appearance in camp. They were received with cere- 
monious friendship, and having smoked the calumet 
were decorated with medals and ribbons like any well 
curled carpet-knight or political partisan in these clays 
of boudoir chivalry and backstairs intrigue. These 
Indians, though inferior to the Nez Perces, resembled 
them in appearance. 

The expedition remained in camp until the 18th. 
A measurement was made of the rivers at their con- 
fluence, when the Snake was found to be five hundred 
and seventy yards wide, and the Columbia nine hun- 
dred and sixty; the latter a short distance below 
widened to from one to three miles. An observation 
being taken at this place, the latitude was found to 
be 46° 15' 13" 9"". Captain Clarke on the 17th 
ascended the north branch to an island whence the 
mouth of a river called the Tapteal 23 could be seen, 
visiting en route many lodges, and returning to camp 
with a quantity of clucks and prairie-fowl. 

On the following morning they took leave of their 
Nez Perce guides whom they no longer needed, and 
set out relying upon a chart of the river obtained from 
one of their newly found friends; still accompanied 
however by two Nez Perce chiefs. Sixteen miles 
down the stream the mouth of the Walla Walla was 
observed, that stream being logged as "a small brook;" 
the stupendous bluffs that border it also came in for 

22 Walla Wallas and Yakimas. 

23 The Yakima River. 


their share of notice, as did a conical snow-capped 
mountain to the south-west. 

The voyage down to the John Day River, which 
was named the Lepage in honor of a member of the 
crew, occupied four days, the whole river being 
represented as full of rapids and shoals. 24 Many 
Indians appeared upon the banks, sometimes exhib- 
iting a dread of the strangers, but oftener inviting 
them ashore. Great numbers of horses were seen; 
and fish were abundant, scaffoldings for drying them 
being everywhere visible. Fish, indeed, appeared 
the staple article of commerce among these tribes, 
who dried and pounded it, making it into conven- 
ient packages for transportation below, where it was 
exchanged for roots and other commodities. This in- 
dustry was promoted by the explorers, who made 
some purchases of fish, giving in exchange fish-hooks, 
ril >bons, and other trifles. European manufactures had 
penetrated even thus far; scarlet and blue blankets, 
and European clothing, were by no means uncommon 
objects on the banks of the Columbia. 

The surrounding country was a repetition of the 
broad rolling plains of the Snake River, covered at 
this season with grass converted into hay by the sun. 
On the 19th Mount St. Helen was made out and 
recognized from Vancouver's description. On the 
2 2d the canoes arrived at that place in the river 
where there would be, according to the Indians, the 
greatest difficulty in passing. 

After quitting their camp on the John Day River, 
they next reached the mouth of a stream which 
Lewis calls the Towahnahiooks, and Gass the Kim- 
mooenim. 25 Navigation from the mouth of this river 

24 From the frequent mention of shoals in the channel of the Columbia, it 
would appear cither that the season had been a remarkably dry one, or that 
it has sine ; ;i volume. Steamers constantly navigate both the 
Columbia and the Snake rivers where Lewis and Clarke's canoes were hindered 
by shoals. 

25 Throughout the whole region from the Shoshone country to the Wil- 
lamette, the Kimmooenim seems ubiquitous. The river to which that name 
is here applied is that called by the French voyageurs twenty years later La 


was for six miles extremely difficult; below there the 
stream became impassable, for the great falls of the 
Columbia now confronted the voyagers, and a halt 
was called to examine them. Consulting with the 
natives who as usual flocked about them, and to 
whom they made trifling presents, they learned that 
the first rapid was three quarters of a mile long, and 
that the best portage was on the opposite bank. The 
canoes were accordingly run across to the north bank 
and unloaded. The portage of the baggage occupied 
the remainder of the clay, the camp being pitched at 
the lower end of the rapid and a guard mounted over 
the goods, for it was observed that the savages who 
assisted in carrying them repaid themselves for their 
labor as they went along. 

The task of bringing down the canoes was begun 
on the 23d, under the superintendence of Clarke. In 
pursuance of aboriginal advice, to avoid a sheer de- 
scent of twenty feet the boats were hauled over a 
point on the left bank of the river for a quarter of a 
mile to another fall, eight feet in height, down which 
they were lowered by means of elk -skin ropes. At 
the foot of this fall, the day being far advanced, the 
party encamped. 

Here an attack was apprehended, and the Nez 
Perces showed the greatest alarm, requesting permis- 
sion to return home, but were eventually persuaded 
to remain on the assurance that no harm should befall 
them. Weapons were put in order, and a hundred 
rounds of ammunition served out. However, their 
valor was not called in question by any more serious 
assault than that of myriads of fleas, a pest not to be 
escaped during their wanderings along the Columbia. 

Riviere des Chutes, and now known as Des Chutes. Gass, in his journal, 
says: ' This is the same river whose head-waters we saw at the Snake nation,' 
and Lewis also says that this is a large river, ' the first village of the Snake 
Indians on that river being twelve days' journey on a course about south-east 
from this place;' from which it would seem that he entertained the same 
idea. The truth probably is that they were misled by the similar words used 
to convey the idea of a swift river, and also by the frequent mention made by 
the Indians on the Columbia of their immemorial enemies, the Shoshones. 


Having gained an acquisition in the shape of an Indian 
canoe in exchange for the smallest of those brought from 
the Clearwater, the voyage was resumed on the 24th. 

The current ran swiftly for three miles, when the 
channel turned to the left, around "a high black rock, 
which, rising perpendicularly from the right shore," 
seems to run entirely across the river and so block the 
passage. They could not see where the water escaped, 
though a great roaring was heard.' 26 Landing near 
some Indian huts, they went forward to reconnoitre. 
The channel beyond was only forty-five yards wide; 
but indications on the rocks showed that when the 
Columbia was swollen by the spring flood from the 
mountains, the waters confined within these rocky 
barriers rose to a great height. 27 Even at that low 
stao^e the channel was a mass of seething, tossing;, 
broken water. 

However, the labor of carrying the canoes was so 
great that finding there was no danger from sunken 
rocks it was determined to risk the passage, which 
to the surprise of the natives was safely accomplished, 
the distance being half a mile. Only a mile and half 
of comparatively smooth water intervened before an- 
other bad rapid confronted them, caused by two rocky 
islands in the middle of the channel. Here the valu- 
able baffffa£e was disembarked, with the men who 
could not swim, when the canoes were brought through 
in safety, two only shipping water. Six miles was the 
distance overcome this day, and the camp was located 
near a native village. 23 

26 All that the chiefs of this expedition say concerning their voyage down 
the Columbia goes to show that the river must have been lower in 1805 than 
it usually is now, or than it was in ordinary seasons twenty-five years later 
than Lewis and Clarke descended it. The bateaux of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany used to run the narrows, and the rapids between, but only after exam- 
ining the stage of the water. And as for the river, Sir George Simpson says, 
in his Journey Round the World, ' We reached Les Chutes, where we made a 
portage, after having run nearly four hundred miles without even lightening 
our craft. ' In seasons of high water, steamers are sometimes run completely 
over all the dangerous places, to Celilo, at the mouth of the Des Chutes 

- 7 At the narrowest part of the passage the water in some seasons reaches 
one hundred feet. 

28 A small village of these same Indians still marks this spot, though a 
railroad passes within a few yards of it. 


Lewis and Clarke improved the occasion presented 
by the visits of these natives to convince them of the 
evils of warfare and the blessings of peace, and urging 
them to make friends with the Nez Perces chiefs. 
This after some hesitation they consented to do, and 
amicable relations were established, which have con- 
tinued to the present time. These Indians were called 
by the explorers Echeloots. 29 

This village possessed ten thousand pounds of dried 
fish, some of which was purchased by the exploring 
party. To the chief was presented a medal denoting 
his rank. 

On the morning of the 25th, the Nez Perce chiefs 
took leave of Lewis and his followers, who now pre- 
pared to pass those long narrows termed subsequently 
by the Canadian voyageurs the Dalles. 30 

29 Different writers and travellers have used different names for the same 
people, which are given with their manners and customs in Native Races, i. 
319-20. To modern writers these Indians are known as Wascos. 

30 The word d </, or dcdl, or (Idle, in the signification of trough or gutter, 
is somewhat obsolete, and is not found in many modern dictionaries. Yet it 
i not in this connection wholly Canadian or patois. The present popular 
meaning of dalle is a stone pavement, s.uch as is frequently found in cathedrals. 
But it was likewise early applied to slices of fish, instead of the more suitable 
word darne. It was anciently employed as a technical marine term fur tin- 
outward wooden covering of a metal pipe; and again as water-conductors 
round roofs. In the Arabic we find dalla, a conductor of water; in the 
< lerman d la, gutter; in the Spanish dalla, tubo de cobre por el cual pasa el 
aziicar desde la caldera de refinar a la de cocer; and in the French dalle, tin 
pipes, troughs, water-ways, or canals. The first voyageurs on their way 
down the great river of the west, found many little dalles, but this was as 
they said, Le Grand dall de la Columbia. McKay in the Dalles Mountain* < t, 
%8th May, 1S69. What a happy way a certain class of writers, tourists 
particularly, have of disposing of knotty questions ! It is so easy to dash off 
an origin, a legend, or the signification of the names of places as one whirls 
by them on the train ; fur instance, like the meaning of the word Dalles given 
by John Codman, one of the many wise men of the east, who in his Round 
Trip, 152, coolly tells us that 'dalles is an Indian word, signifying a deep, 
narrow, racing, roaring, boiling, swirling, seething, leaping rush of waters.' 
The rude unlettered west must'be glad to know its meaning, and to know it 
means so much; for it is seldom we find Indian words, even in French 
dictionaries, with so broad a significance. We are grateful, likewise, to the 
learned John Codman for not leaving us in darkness as to the reason of em- 
pi lying this foreign word in pix j ference to an English one, which was because 
'it 'must be a more expressive word than is afforded by our language, and it 
is wisely retained.' The natives called the place Winquatt, and the island 
below the rapids Kapooks. The Wascos— signifying literally horn-basin — 
the aboriginal owners of this country, and at their chief village of Win- 
quatt periodically assembled for purposes of fishing and traffic with the tribes 
contiguous. On the north bank below the falls stood the village of Wishkam. 


After examination, the men who could not swim were 
sent by land with the goods a distance of from three to 
four miles, when the canoes came through very well, 
only two as before taking in any water. Five miles 
below the river became smooth, and widened to half 
a mile. Camp was established under a point of rock 
near the mouth of a small creek, 31 where the explorers 
remained until the 28th, drying the wet baggage, pur- 
chasing fish, roots, and dogs, cultivating the good-will 
of the natives, and taking observations. Mount Hood, 
in all its grandeur and beauty, now appeared in full 

On the 28th they proceeded, making frequent land- 
ings at the villages and huts of the natives, and pur- 
chasing food whenever opportunity presented itself. 
European goods were more common upon the lower 
Columbia than among the natives above, the trading- 
ships supplying British muskets, cutlasses, teakettles, 
blankets, etc. 

On the 29th a stream was passed which they termed 
Cataract River, 32 and on the same day an island on 
which was conferred the title of Sepulchre Island 33 
from the Indian graves upon it. Thirteen miles be- 
low they discovered a river on the left 34 coming down 
from Mount Hood, which now appeared no more than 
five miles distant, and to which they gave the name 
of La Biche from one of the men. A mile beyond 
was another stream, 33 called Canoe River from the 
number of canoes lying there, the owners of which 
were engaged in fishing. They were now among the 
mountains, whose foot-hills rose gradually from their 
camp at the narrows. Some of the highest ridges 
were covered with snow; beautiful cascades precipi- 
tated themselves from mighty cliffs; all nature was 
luxuriant with verdure; tall trees clothed the hills; 

31 Mill Creek, which traverses the township of Dalles. 
8 - Kliketat River. 

33 Memelose Island, an ancient burial-place of the Kliketats, called by 
them Memelose Illihie, or Land of Shades. 
3 ' Hood River. 
3i White Salmon River. 


all was in charming and powerful contrast with the 
country they had recently passed over, and the local 
influence of the mountains manifested itself in the 
weather, which became cool and rainy. 

In the afternoon of the 30th the expedition arrived 
at the lower falls of the Columbia, 36 and encamped 
on an island at the head of the rapids. The river 
here was a mile wide. To a stream on the right, and 
two and a half miles above the rapids, was given the 
name of Cruzatte River, in honor of one of the crew. 

Clarke set out to examine the river below the island 
and determine its character. After going three miles 
he returned to camp, continuing his reconnoissance 
next morning, when he found the stream compressed 
between rocks a hundred and fifty yards apart, with 
high mountains on the left, and on the right a hill 
rising from the water's edge. 

For the first four hundred yards the river rushed 
swiftly over sunken rocks with a fall of twenty feet, 
after which its width increased by about fifty yards, 
and for a mile and a half its current became less rapid. 
Below this again was another bad place, the stream 
dashing over and amidst large rocks, both above and 
below the surface. Having now discovered the^ place 
where the Indians made their portage, Lewis de- 
spatched his chief boatman to ascertain whether the 
canoes could make the descent, or would have to be 
landed and dragged over by hand. 

Keeping along the river bank he found, a mile below 
the portage, that the hills on the right receded, leaving 
an open level between them and the river. Five miles 
below this spot was the last rapid. Passing some de- 
serted huts and a burial-place, he returned with this 
intelligence, and found active preparations in progress 
for making the portage. This proved extremely la- 
borious on account of the high rocks to be climbed, 
and the state of the weather, which continued rainy. 
The baowaofe and the lightest canoe had to be carried 

36 Popularly known as the Cascades. 


over the portage, a distance of four miles, while the 
other canoes were floated down in side channels and 
shoved over the rocks with poles, sustaining so much 
injury in transit that it was found necessary to halt 
and repair them. At the first attempt only two boats 
came through, the remainder being managed in the 
same way on the following day, November 1st. Next 
day the last rapid was overcome by a partial portage, 
and the party halted for breakfast on a small island, 
called from the abundance of that fruit, Strawberry 

The explorers had now reached tide-water. Reem- 
barking and descending between grassy meadows and 
narrow lowlands at the base of high mountains down 
whose declivities rushed frequent cataracts, they soon 
passed on their right hand a perpendicular rock, eight 
hundred feet in height, and rising abruptly out of 
sandy flats, to which they gave the name of Beacon 
Rock. 37 Below this the river grew considerably 
wider. Two miles lower they passed another rock, 8 
rising from the middle of the stream to the height 
of one hundred feet ; six miles beyond they encamped 
at the foot of another high rock. 39 

Their departure on the morning of the 3d was de- 
layed by a dense fog. By ten o'clock, however, they 
were afloat, passing low meadow-lands and islands, and 
were now well out of the mountains. About noon they 
approached a stream on the left, which being shallow 
the men attempted to wade, but were prevented by 
the quicksands. Examining the stream for a mile and 
a half above its mouth, it was found to be one hundred 
and twenty yards wide at its narrowest part, and to 
contain numerous small islands. The force of the 
water had shifted the quicksands until in the middle 
of its mouth a large island was formed, three miles 

37 Now Castle Rock. 

38 Rooster Rock. 

39 Gass mentions the existence of one rock which he describes as 'resembling 
a tower.' 


long and a mile and a half wide, which extending into 
the Columbia greatly reduced the width of the latter 
stream. The name of Quicksand River 40 was be- 
stowed upon this new discovery, and one flowing in 
on the opposite side was called Seal River 41 from the 
great number of seals in its vicinity. Here again 
Mount Hood came in view, being recognized from 
Vancouver's description. 

The river now flowed through low ground on either 
hand, and was dotted with numerous islets, fringed 
generally with willow, cotton wood, and ash, and gen- 
erally containing pools of water tenanted by flocks of 
water-fowl. Huts and villages were frequent, and 
from one of the natives was gleaned the intelligence 
that three vessels had lately been lying at the mouth 
of the river. They encamped on the high ground of 
the north bank opposite the upper mouth of the Wil- 
lamette, which on account of the number of islands in 
the Columbia escaped their notice at this time. 42 

On the morning of the 4th the canoes landed at a 
village on the left side of the river, where a fleet of 
upward of fifty canoes was drawn up on shore. Here 
they found the wapato root in great abundance, from 
which circumstance they called this the Wapato Val- 
ley, and an island seven miles below Wapato Island. 43 
Proceeding on their voyage they halted at noon on 
the north side of the river at a long narrow island 
which masked the embouchure of a small river. 44 From 
a large canoe ornamented on stem and stern with 
carvings it was nonsensically named Image Canoe 

40 Now Sandy River. 

41 Washongal River. . 

42 While here they received a visit from a family having with them a 
woman said to be of the Shoshone nation, but who was found to be unable to 
converse with their interpreter's wife, who had travelled with them through 
that country, of which she was an undoubted native. From the^ descriptions 
of these natives the explorers make the Multnomah rise in the Rocky Moun- 
tains, a little south of the head-waters of the Snake River, and represent it as 
flowing through the Cascade Mountains about the 43d parallel. This error is 
partly due to the incorrectness of the information, and partly, also, to their 
own misapprehension of the terms used by the Indians. 

^Sauve Island. See Hist. Or., i. 43, this series. 
"Lake River. 


Island. 45 Camp was pitched this evening twenty-nine 
miles beyond that of the previous day, on the low 
ground between the Lewis and Cathlapootle rivers 
and the Columbia. 

On the 5th the explorers set out early in a rain- 
storm, and after eight miles came to Deer Island, on 
which was a populous native village, and a few miles 
further to another island near the mouth of Kalama 
Creek. Three miles below this camp was pitched, the 
mountains continually appearing higher as they ap- 
proached the Coast Range. 

The mouth of the Cowlitz River was passed early 
on the 6th, when they observed a remarkable knoll 
eighty feet in height, rising solitary from the water's 
edge. 46 This night they encamped on the margin of 
the river where the tide rose four feet, and space for 
sleeping accommodations was restricted. Indian re- 
ports encouraged them to expect that at the mouth 
of the river they would meet some white traders, 
the principal of whom was called by the natives 

Next morning they coasted along a channel on the 
right bank of the river, between an island and the 
shore, until in the afternoon the fog lifted, and be- 
tween the two capes at the river's mouth they beheld 
to their great joy the horizon-line of the Pacific 

The main purpose of the expedition was now over. 
Once more it was permitted an intrepid band of ex- 
plorers to open a new way through the trackless wil- 
derness, to open a way of communication overland 
between the United States and the commerce of the 
Northwest Coast. The vast Pacific was once more 
the goal of lofty endurance, the guerdon of noble 

45 It was observed that although the Indians along the lower Columbia were 
very numerous, and possessed a native opulence of houses, clothing, and pro- 
visions, they had not horses like those above, but travelled entirely in canoes, 
in the building and management of which they were very expert. 

40 Mount Coffin. 

Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. i 


emprise. That broad sea whose calm smile welcomed 
Balboa, Magellan, Cortes, which greeted Mackenzie 
more coldly, which knew not knight in mail from 
prosaic trader, under its leaden mists now wafted as 
kindly a welcome to these simple captains and their 
unromantic followers, who, beckoned by no flimsy 
fable of romance, added their quota to the world's 
knowledge of the untrodden west. 




The Estuary of the Columbia— Storms — Lewis and Clarke's Reconnois- 


making — Clarke Visits the Coast — White Traders — Clatsops — 
A Whale — The Neah-Hoxie — Killamook Head — Spring-time- 
Farewell to Fort Clatsop — Return up the Columbia— The Willa- 
mette — Wapato Island— Snowy Mountains— Buying Horses— The 
Walla Walla — The Touchet — The Clearwater— Xez Perces — 
Horse-stealing — Indian Diplomacy — Address to the Nez Perces — 
Hunting and Fishing Camp — The Expedition Divides — Lewis' 
Party — Hell Gate River — Departure of the Guides — The Wa i 
shed — Maria River — The Minnetarees— A Skirmish — The Mis- 
souri— Clarke's Party — The Jefferson River — The Yellowstone- 
Horses Stolen — Pompey's Pillar — The Big Horn— Herds of Buf- 
falo — The Missouri — Expedition Reunited — Mandan Country — End 
of the Journey— Colter and the Indians— A Race for Life— Re- 
view of the Expedition— Honors and Rewards— Death of Lewis- 
Subsequent Career of Clarke — Conclusion. 

The appetite for discovery thus whetted, the hard- 
ship of passing another night among the bowlders of 
the stony beach, this time in a drenching rain, was 
lightly rated. Next morning, the 8th of November 
1805, saw all hands eager for a closer acquaintance with 
old ocean. Working cautiously along the northern 
shore they reached Gray Bay, and found it impos- 
sible to get further, their canoes being ill adapted to 
battle with the winds and waves in the estuary of 
the Columbia. Here they were forced to remain till 
the 10th, short of provisions, without fresh- water, 
the tide flowing up to their camp, and immense logs 
being cast up on the beach to the imminent peril of 
their canoes. 


An attempt was then made to reach the mouth 
of the river, but after going ten miles they were 
forced to put back two miles to the mouth of a small 
stream, and unload the baggage to preserve it from 
the high tide. Making a fresh start at low water the 
river was still found too high, and the baggage was 
once more landed and placed above high-water mark, 
the men encamping on some drift-logs. 

Next day the storm continued, rocks rolling down 
the hill-sides. The hunters endeavored to find some 
game, but the thickets proved impenetrable. On the 
day following it was found necessary to sink the 
canoes with stones to save them from being dashed 
upon the rocks. On the 13th, Captain Clarke with 
much difficulty scaled the high ridge in rear of the 
camp to obtain a view of the surrounding country, and 
find if possible a way out of their present dilemma. 
Returning with no cheering intelligence, upon con- 
sultation the commanders determined to send three 
men in the Indian canoe to learn at any risk whether 
it was possible to double the point below and find 
some safer refuge. To the great relief of all, the 
men returned next clay, having found at no great dis- 
tance a fine sandy beach and a good harbor. 

Captain Lewis immediately set out to explore the 
bay in the direction of the ocean, and ascertain if any 
white men were to be found at the mouth of the 
river. Accompanied by four picked men he was car- 
ried round the point in a canoe, and there landed to 
proceed on foot. The following day the waves having 
abated the whole party removed to the sandy beach, 
where out of the ruins of an ancient village a tem- 
porary shelter was constructed by some of the men, 
while" the hunters went in search of water-fowl. 

Lewis returned from his reconnoissance on the 17th, 
having been as far as Cape Disappointment at the 
mouth of the river, and for some distance up the 
coast without discovering any white people. Clarke 
set out on the following day with eleven men to 


examine the country, which he did as far as Baker 
Bay, on the river, and along the coast as far as Shoal- 
water Bay, naming the high point that overlooks it 
Point Lewis. From the top of Cape Disappointment 
Clarke surveyed the river and its surroundings, learn- 
ing much of the geography of the country. On re- 
turning he found at the camp two Chinook chiefs, of 
whom the since famous Comcomly was one. Both had 
been decorated with medals, Comcomly having been 
likewise presented with a flag. 

The season was now so far advanced that it was a 
matter of immediate necessity to select winter-quar- 
ters. In deciding upon a location the ruling consid- 
eration was that food should be cheap and plentiful. 
They determined, therefore, after consulting with the 
natives, to settle upon the south bank of the river, 
where there was an abundance of elk whose flesh was 
considered more nutritious than cleer-meat. Up the 
river deer would be plentiful and the weather better; 
but they wished to meet with some trading-vessels, 
and also to make some salt. 

On the 25th then, not venturing to cross the river 
under the full force of the ocean winds, they headed 
their canoes up stream, and encamped that night 
where they had been on the 7th. Next day they crossed 
the river, passing between low marshy islands which 
they called Seal Islands, and entered a channel be- 
tween the islands and the southern bank of the river 
three miles below a point called Samuel. Turning 
once more clown stream they descended the river 
five miles and encamped near a native village. Getting 
under way on the 27th they soon passed a little river 
flowing from the south-east, 1 called Kekemahke by 
the Indians, and shortly afterward a remarkable point, 2 
which they named William. On rounding this pro- 
jection the water became too rough for the canoes, 
forcing the party to land upon the narrow neck which 

1 John Day River. 

2 Tongue Point. 


connected it with the mainland. There they remained 
that afternoon and the next day, exposed to a furious 

So many of the men were ill from poor food and 
exposure, that on the 29th Lewis determined to take 
the Indian canoe, the only one it was thought pos- 
sible could live in such a sea, and search for wintering 
quarters, while the hunters looked for elk. He was 
absent six days, at the end of which time he returned 
with the information that a short distance below he 
had found a river on which they might establish their 
winter camp, and where there was plenty of game; in 
proof of which latter assertion he had left two of his 
men to guard six elk and five deer which they had 
killed. This discovery was made none too soon. It 
was already December, a month late enough even in 
more temperate regions to enter winter-quarters with 
the hope of providing for a large party. All were 
impatient to proceed, but again a gale from the south- 
west prevented them. 

At length, on the 7th of December, the weather 
improved sufficiently for the canoes to round a point 
two miles below the camp into a deep inlet of the 
Columbia, 3 to which was given the name of Meri- 
wether Bay, in compliment to Captain Lewis, who, 
they doubted not, was the first white man to survey 
it. 4 The river entering the head of this inlet retained 
its Indian appellation of Killhowamakel, but the 
sacred name of Lewis was imposed upon the Netul, 
the small river whither he was conducting them, and 
where they arrived that afternoon. 

Everybody was now busy, clearing a site, for the 
fort, hunting, and bringing in the game. Although 

3 Voting Bay. 

4 Two sentimental school-girls eonlcl scarcely have applied more silly names 
than did these two captains. They endeavored to perpetuate the names of 
themselves and all their men, giving some a river, point, and hay apiece; and 
after exhausting their surnames, they took up the Christian names. Nor are 
they more happy in applying names suggested hy some accident or incident: 
for example, Coltkilled, Hungry, and the like. If the names of Lewis and 
Clarke are not forever perpetuated on this western coast it has heen through 
no fault of theirs. 


for the most part the men were cheerful, their hard- 
ships were many and great, and only the mildness of 
the climate saved them from severe suffering. It 
rained almost incessantly. Though elk were plenti- 
ful, hunting them among the woods and bogs of the 
Clatsop country was no easy matter. When killed, 
as there were no horses, it was severe labor to bring 
the meat into camp. Many of the men, also, were 
half disabled by " dysentery, colds, and boils." 

The spot selected for the fort was about two hun- 
dred yards from the bank of Lewis River, near its 
entrance into the bay. By the 12th were ready for 
occupation three cabins built of logs, the crevices 
stopped with mud, and the whole roofed with cedar 
planks. On the 14th seven were so far completed as 
to be habitable. The whole was then enclosed with 
stockades; sentries were posted on guard, and the 
place was named Fort Clatsop. 5 

Clarke immediately visited the coast, seven miles 
distant, to inquire concerning trading-vessels, and to 
establish friendly relations with the natives. He 
found all the vessels departed, not to return for three 
months or more. The Indians gave him the names 
of a number of white men, chiefly traders, 6 most im- 
portant among whom was Haley, a fact taken advan- 
tage of by Clarke in naming the bay formed by the 
Columbia at its mouth Haley Bay. The natives on 
the south bank of the river, about its mouth, were 
called Clatsops, of whom Clarke found a few families 

5 In October 1836, Mr Townsend, the naturalist, paid a visit to Young 
Bay to see the quarters occupied by the explorers. The logs were found still 
perfect but the roofs had disappeared, probably carried off by the Indians, 
and the ground about the fort was 'overgrown with thorn and wild currant 
bushes.' Townsend's Nar., 256; Francherc's Nar., 130. The spot is now 
covered by a grove of alders and firs. In later times certain map-makers 

sop, or Fort C4eorge. See also Hunt's Mcr. Mag., vi. 314. 

l; The traders were Haley, Youens, Callalamet, Sivipton, Moore, Mackey, 
Washington, Mesship, Jackson, Bolch, and Skelley. Davidson came only to 
hunt elk. Tallamon was not a trader. All came in three-masted vessels, 
except Moore, whose ship had four masts. All spoke the English language. 


on the beach, who received and entertained him in the 
most friendly manner. They spoke a few words of 
English, chiefly names of articles of trade. 

As soon as it became known that the explorers had 
established themselves in winter-quarters, they re- 
ceived frequent visits, not only from the Clatsops, but 
from the Killamooks, Cathlamets, and Wakiakums, 
whose chiefs were presented with the customary 
medals due to their rank. 7 All these people were 
friendly. If they grew presuming, or were guilty of 
theft, they were quickly and firmly checked. The 
Chinooks were most annoying from their thievish pro- 
pensities, which at last resulted in their exclusion from 
the fort. When a Clatsop or Cathlamet approached 
he stopped a little way off, and shouted, "No Chi- 

The weather up to the 6th of January continued 
so rainy that nothing was attempted in the way of 
exploration, and the only information obtained was 
such as the natives could furnish. The energies of 
the men were devoted to procuring provisions, not 
only for the present but for the return of the expe- 
dition as soon as spring should open. The absence 
of vessels from which supplies might be purchased 
rendered this course imperative. Salt for preserving 
elk-meat was manufactured from salt-water, the salt- 
maker's camp being located just above Killamook 
Head, on Clatsop beach. 

It was already past the New Year when an interval 
of bright weather, and the news that a large whale 
had been stranded on the beach below Killamook 

7 'One of Mr Berine's children found, a few days since (Oct. 14, 1S3G), 
a large silver medal which had been brought here by Lewis and Clarke, and 
had probably been presented to some chief, who lost it. On one side was a 
head with the name "Th. Jefferson, President of the United States, 1801.'' 
On the other, two hands interlocked, surmounted by a pipe and tomahawk ; 
and above the words "Peace and Friendship."' Townsend's Nar., 256. In 
Indian Affairs, Report 1S54, "224, mention is made of the medal found; and 
Gibbs, in U. S. Georj. Surv., Powell, Ethnol., i. 23S, speaks of Indian recollec- 
tions of Lewis and Clarke as late as 1860. See further Matthieu's /.'< fugee, 
MS., 15, 16. 


Head, determined Clarke to visit that part of the 
coast with the double purpose of learning something 
about it, and of securing some of the blubber of the 

Taking with him twelve men he proceeded down 
Lewis River to Young Bay, intending to go to the 
nearest Clatsop village, which w T as situated about three 
miles below that river and four miles south-east of 
Point Adams — the Cabo Frondoso of the Spaniards, 
and the Cap Rond of the French. 

Finding it too rough for the canoes, he put in 
to Skippanon Creek without a guide. About three 
miles up the creek he came upon some high ground 
and an open road where he left the canoes, and fol- 
lowing the path across some marshes reached the 
Neah-Hoxie near where it makes a sudden bend to 
the south, crossing it in a canoe found under the bank. 
Elk signs being seen, they hunted until night, camping 
at the fork of the Neah-Hoxie. 

On the morning of the 7th the party proceeded up 
the south branch, crossing it on a fallen tree, and found 
a sandy ridge on the other side separating the stream 
from the ocean by only three quarters of a mile. 
Three miles down the beach they came to the mouth 
of "a beautiful river, with a bold rapid current, eighty- 
five yards wide, and three feet deep in its shallowest 
crossings," which was named Clatsop River. 8 Two 
miles below this was the camp of the salt-makers, who 
were producing about four quarts a day. 

Securing a young Indian guide, Clarke and his men 
began the ascent of the head, which, projecting into 
the sea more than two miles, and rising to a height of 
twelve hundred feet, presented an almost insuperable 
barrier to travel up and down the coast. At great peril 
from landslides owing to the steepness of the trail, 

8 This was the mouth of the Neah-Hoxie, which well (k'serves the appella- 
tion of beautiful river. It doubles upon itself so as to be running directly 
north and south at the same time, the two portions being separated by a nar- 
row ridge, and the whole length of the stream being bordered by overhanging 


and from its narrowness where it led along the edge 
of the cliffs, they reached the top in two hours. From 
this eminence Clarke beheld the dull opaque misty 
ocean, rolling in from the west its all-compelling 
waves, as far as Cape Disappointment on the north, 
and south as far as the eye could follow the outline 
of the coast. After gazing upon the scene for some 
time, and remarking upon the grandeur of the forest 
that crowned the mountain, his thoughts reverted to 
himself; and he gave to this promontory the name of 
Clarke Point of View. Camp was pitched on the top 
of the mountain. On the following day, after a diffi- 
cult descent on the south side, they came again to a 
level beach, and after a two miles' march reached a 
creek eighty yards wide, just beyond which was the 
skeleton of a whale one hundred and five feet in length. 
The name of Escola, or Whale, was given to this creek. 

Clarke's principal object, the securing of whale- 
blubber, was but in a small measure attained, three 
hundred pounds being all that the Indians could be 
prevailed on to part with. Before leaving, next day, 
he procured a delineation of the coast to the south as 
far as Killamook Bay, which he understood to be a 
river, 9 and named for the tribe living upon its banks. 
The high point at the south side of Killamook Bay 
he called Cape Lookout. 10 

On the 9th the party returned as far as the camp 
of the salt-makers, and the next day reached Fort 
Clatsop. That night they were unfortunate enough 

9 Clarke says that the Killamooks passed up their river to the Shocatilcum, 
or Columbia, to trade for wapato roots. This is another misapprehension of 
the Indian meaning, very natural with so limited a knowledge of their lan- 
guage, tilcum, or more properly, tilicum, being the word denoting person — ■ 
any person. Probably they were telling him that they went over into the 
Willamette Valley to traffic with the people there for wapatos; the shallow 
lake3 in which this root grows being common in the lower end of the valley. 

10 ' Clarke, of Clarke and Lewis' expedition, when about five miles south of 
Tillamook Head, spoke of " Killamuck Bay" as twenty miles further south, 
into which floAved the Nielee (Nehalem). He made his distances too great; 
reducing the twenty to thirteen miles, the "Nielee" would be in the proper 
position of the Nehalem — whence the Indians make a portage, as Clarke 
states, to the Multnomah. Clarke's description of the bay at the mouth of 
the Nehalem was obtained from the Indians, and was really Tillamook Pay, 
but located in the wrong place.' Davidson's Coast Pilot, 141. 


to have their canoe carried away by the tide. This 
loss was subsequently made good by the purchase of 
one from the Clatsops, and the seizure of another 
in reprisal for some articles stolen by that tribe. 

It had been the intention of Lewis and Clarke to 
remain at Fort Clatsop until April, in the hope of 
meeting with some foreign traders 11 from whom, by 
means of their letters of credit, they might recruit 
their stores, which were so diminished that they might 
all have been tied in two handkerchiefs, they said. 

They were obliged, however, to depart on the 23d 
of March, for the elk, their chief dependence for food, 
having retreated to the mountains they were in dan- 
ger of famine. Having plenty of ammunition and 
good guns, it was thought best to proceed slowly up 
the river, depending on such game as could be found 
in the woods along the Columbia. 

It would not have been consistent with their in- 
structions, or the design of the expedition, to quit the 
country without in some w T ay advertising to the world 
the fact that they had been there, in the service of the 
United States; therefore, in addition to the usual 
leave-taking, they issued to the most prominent chiefs 
of the Clatsops and Chinooks certificates of kindness 
and attention received from them, which they well 
understood would be exhibited to as much of the world 
as ever came to the mouth of the Columbia. In ad- 
dition to these the following notice was posted up in 
the fort: "The object of this last is, that through the 
medium of some civilized person, who may see the 
same, it may be made known to the world, that the 
party consisting of the persons whose names are here- 
unto annexed, and who were sent out by the govern- 
ment of the United States to explore the interior of 
the continent of North America, did penetrate the 

11 'In 1S06, soon after Lewis and Clarke left their encampment on their re- 
turn to the United States, the ship Vancouver, Brown, master, entered the 
river, having been sent out by Thomas Lyman, of Boston, in expectation of 
meeting' them. Gray's Hist. Or., 15. 


same by the way of the Missouri and Columbia rivers, 
to the discharge of the latter into the Pacific Ocean, 
where they arrived on the 14th day of November 
1805, and departed the 23d day of March 180G, on 
their return to the United States, by the same route 
by which they had come out." Upon the back of 
this paper was drawn a sketch of their route across 
the continent. That same year it fell into the hands 
of an American captain, 12 who carried it to Canton, 
and thence to the United States. Still further to se- 
cure the friendly offices of Chief Comowool, the cabins 
and furniture of the fort were presented to him. 

At one o'clock on the afternoon of the 23d the 
expedition left Fort Clatsop for the return voyage up 
the Columbia. Proceeding slowly they noted the 
stream that comes in a short distance below the pres- 
ent site of Cathlamet, an island opposite Oak Point 13 
named Fanny Island, the mouth and valley of the 
Cowlitz, the Cathlapootle or Lewis River, and finally 
arrived on the 31st at the mouth of Seal River, where 
they encamped to remain while the hunters collected 
meat enough to supply the party until the fishing sea- 
son should begin, in May. 

While in camp at this place, opposite Quicksand 
Piver, they observed that there was a great extent 
of country between that stream and the coast, which 
indicated the existence of some large river, by which 
and its tributaries the country should be watered. 
Upon examination they were satisfied that Quick- 
sand Piver was not that important stream, and upon 
explaining their doubts to the natives and making 
inquiries, they first learned of the river, 14 called by 

13 Captain Hill, of the brig Lydia. 

13 The original Oak Point, settled in 1810, was on the south side of the 
river, near where Fanny Island must have been. 

14 The Willamette River. The spelling of the name has occasioned nearly 
as much controversy as the origin of the word Oregon. The journal of Lewis 
and Clarke makes no mention of it, they having seen only that part of the 
river called Multnomah by the Indians, that is, the portion below the falls. 
Parker's Exploring Tour., 171 ; Deady's Hist. Or., MS., 78. In Irving's Astoria, 
Wollamut is the spelling used; and in his Bonneville's Adv., WaUamut — the 


them Multnomah, 15 a name applied also to one of the 

On April 2d Clarke started with a guide to explore 
the waters beyond the "three small islands" that con- 
cealed from view the mouth of the unknown river. 
He found, on penetrating the islets and rounding the 
head of Wapato Island, a stream "appearing to pos- 
sess water enough for the largest ship," up which he 
continued, conversing with the people on the shore, to 
a place not far from the present site of Portland, 
where he found it five hundred yards in width, and 
for half the distance across beyond the capacity of 
his sounding line of five fathoms. 

From this point he returned, having enjoyed at one 
view the sight of five snowy peaks, 16 one of which he 
named after the president, Mount Jefferson. He had 

second being probably a correction of the first. In Francliere's Narrative 
the word is spelled with either an i or an a in the first syllable, and a or e in the 
last. In other French books of an early date we find OuaUamat and Qua 
Chief Factor McLoughlin always wrote Wallamette, which appears to have been 
the established form down to the period of the American immigration. Forbes 
Barclay, who went to Oregon in 1837, and in his capacity of surgeon and 
physician was obliged to inquire into and report upon all facts concerning 
population, and the names of tribes and places, said in answer to an inquiry 
on the subject that the Indians on the west bank of the river from the Clack- 
amas Rapids to the falls were called Wallamette. Blanchet favors the spelling 
adopted by McLoughlin — Wallamette. Tolmie, however, says that its true 
pronunciation is Wal&meb, or more properly Walamt. Puget Sound, MS., 7. 
From the usual sound of Indian words in Oregon, this last appears to be the 
nearest approach to the true orthography; both the i in the first syllable, and 
the termination ette being French innovations introduced by the Canadians. 
The early American settlers adopted the Wallamette spelling, with the Walld- 
ii t pronunciation, the accent being on the second syllable, and the first a 
having a broad sound. The word has undergone several transitions, ending 
in the now customary spelling of Willamette, as resolved in the legislative 
proceedings of 1S74, to be the orthography for all laws and records. Or. House 
Jour. 1874, 903-4. This is several removes from the original Indian word, 
and will ultimately lead to an entirely different pronunciation, though the 
early settlers still pronounce it as of yore — Wallamet, thus sufficiently angli- 
cizing the word without materially changing its true sound, Wah-la-met. The 
controversialists on this subject are numerous. The most prominent have 
been Father Blanchet, J. Quinn Thorton, Wm. Strong. Mrs Victor, Jas. 
Strong, and Matthew P. Deady, the latter having written a pamphlet entitled 
Wallamet or Willamette, containing sixty-six pages, with an exhaustive com- 
parison of authorities, and which includes all there is to say concerning the 
word. See also Blanchet's Cath. Church in Or., 81-4; Hines' Or. Hist., 91; 
Richardson's Miss., 398. 

15 Subsequent travellers discovered that Multnomah was a name used to 
distinguish that part of the Willamette below the falls, and that it was de- 
rived from a family or tribe of that name living along its banks. 

1U Rainier, St Helen, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson. 


also heard of a river forty miles above the mouth of 
the Multnomah, having its source in Mount Jefferson, 
on which lived a tribe called the Clackamas, and in 
returning he noticed an inlet of the Columbia, 17 back 
of Wapato Island, which he named Wapato Inlet. 
The island is described as being twenty miles long, and 
from five to ten miles wide, the land high and fertile, 
and altogether "the most important spot" in the 
country thereabouts. He had also learned that the 
falls of the Multnomah were twenty miles beyond the 
entrance of the Clackamas River, or sixty miles from 
the Columbia, and that two tribes of Indians, called 
the Cushooks and the Chaheowahs, resided there for 
the convenience of fishing, and of "trading across the 
mountains and down Killamook River with the nation 
of Killamooks." The falls were said to be occasioned 
by the passage of a high range of mountains "beyond 
which the country stretches into a vast level plain, 
wholly destitute of timber," inhabited by a nation 
called the Calapooyas, who numbered forty villages. 
He recorded the width of Wapato Inlet three 
hundred yards, which is not far from its actual meas- 
urement, and further describes it as extending ten or 
twelve miles to the south, where it receives the waters 
of a. small creek, whose sources are not far from those 
of the Killamook River, and below that to the Colum- 
bia of an unknown width. 18 

17 It was a grave error of Clarke to call that portion of the Willamette that 
flows along the highlands an inlet of the Columbia, when common observation 
reveals the truth. The Willamette water is so different in color during the 
June rise as to make perceptible a line of demarcation for some distance below 
the lower end of Sauve Island. 

18 The number of errors contained in any description of the country ob- 
tained from the Indians is not infrequently greater than the true statements. 
In the above two paragraphs are more errors than facts. The falls of the 
Multnomah or Willamette are twenty-four miles from the upper mouth of the 
river, the only one recognized by Clarke in his journal, and are not occasioned 
by passing a mountain range ; the Clackamas River comes in just below the 
falls, and does not rise in Mount Jefferson ; there is no stream coming into 
the lower Willamette where it runs behind Sauve" Island, whose sources are 
further back than the Willamette highlands bordering the river, or within 
from a quarter of a mile to five miles away ; the island is nowhere ten miles 
wide ; nor is the Willamette Valley above the falls a vast level plain wholly 
without timber. Had Captain Clarke learned the true position of the falls, 
he would probably have visited them and have found dense masses of timber 
for forty miles above them. 


On the 6th of April they moved the camp a few 
miles up the river, to the south side, to accommodate 
the hunters. There they were detained by high 
winds until the 9th, when they crossed the river again 
and proceeded as far as an Indian village near Castle 
Rock. Everywhere on the river the Indians had 
gone or were just going to the fisheries on the Colum- 
bia and Willamette. 

Upon examining the rocks for water -marks, and 
comparing them with their notes taken in November, 
they found the river twelve feet higher near the Cas- 
cades than when they passed down. Not being able 
to get the canoes through the main channel at the 
lower rapid, they took them through that which runs 
to the south of an island which they called Brant 
Island, and which was narrower and less rough, cross- 
ing again to the north bank above the island. 

The second passage of the rapids was by no means 
easier than the first, and to add to the annoyances of 
hard labor and rainy weather which they encountered 
in the heart of the mountains, the Indians proved im- 
pertinent; but by their characteristic prudence and 
firmness the explorers avoided serious trouble. 

In three days only seven miles were accomplished, 
one of the canoes being lost in the passage ; but two 
smaller ones were purchased at the head of the rapids, 
and the expedition was enabled to proceed. On the 
14th White Salmon River was reached, where were 
seen the first horses since leaving that neighborhood 
six months earlier, and these had been captured in 
"a warlike excursion,* which was lately made against 
the Towanahiooks, a part of the Snake nation living 
in the upper part of the Multnomah, to the south- 
east of this place." 19 

Wishing to save the labor of taking: the canoes 
again through the narrows, Lewis and Clarke, when 
they arrived at the Dalles, began to bargain for 

19 More misunderstanding of Indian names, or an effort to conform an In- 
dian story to a preconceived and false opinion. 


horses, but found the Indians more difficult to deal 
with than on their first visit. For a week they con- 
tinued trading, the while having their bargains re- 
scinded or their new purchases stolen, and losing 
other property by theft. At length, however, the 
party was once more prepared to start, with nine 
pack-horses and two canoes, the others having been 
broken up for firewood. 

Above the rapids and falls of the Dalles, the river 
was found easier of navigation than in the autumn, 
the water being high enough to cover the rocks and 
shoals. On the 24th they had purchased horses suffi- 
cient to transport all the baggage, and to enable them 
to quit the canoes altogether. They were also fortu- 
nate enough to secure a Nez Perce guide, who with 
the faithfulness of his people conducted them along 
the south side of the Columbia to the Youmalolam 
River, 20 and thence, still along the Columbia about 
forty miles, to a village of the Walla Wallas. There 
they were met by an old acquaintance, to whom a 
medal had been presented the previous October, and 
who now insisted on entertaining them for three or 
four days. Finding that the party lacked riding 
horses, he generously presented a fine white one to' 
Clarke, receiving in return a sword and some ammu- 
nition. So cordial was the feeling manifested by 
Yellept, the Walla Walla chief, that it was with dif- 
ficulty the party could get leave to depart. He was 
at length persuaded to furnish them canoes for trans- 
porting their baggage over the Walla Walla River, 
which being accomplished on the 29th, they pitched 
camp on the north side about a mile from the mouth. 
It was a beautiful stream about fifty yards wide, 
with clear waters running over a gravelly bed. "Its 
sources, like those of the Towahnahiooks, Lapage, 
Youmalolam, 21 and Wollawollah, come, as the Indians 
inform us, from the north side of a range of mountains 

20 Umatilla River. 

21 Des Chutes, John Day, and Umatilla rivers. 



which we see to the east and south-east, and which, 
commencing to the south of Mount Hood, stretch in 
a north-eastern direction to the neighborhood of a 
southern branch of Lewis' River, at some distance 
from the Rocky Mountains. Two principal branches, 
however, of the Towahnahiooks, take their rise in 
Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood, which in fact 

Lewis and Clarke's Map. 

appear to separate the waters of the Multnomah and 
the Columbia. They are now about sixty-five or 
seventy miles from this place, and although covered 
with snow, do not seem high. To the south of these 
mountains the Indian prisoner says there is a river, 
running towards the north-west, as large as the 
Columbia at this place, which is nearly a mile. This 

Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 5 


account may be exaggerated, but it serves to show 
that the Multnomah must be a very large river, and 
that, with the assistance of a south-eastern branch 
of Lewis' River, passing round the eastern ex- 
tremity of that chain of mountains in which Mounts 
Hood and Jefferson are so conspicuous, waters the 
vast tract of country to the south, till its remote 
sources approach those of the Missouri and Rio del 
Norde." 22 

The road followed by the expedition led them to 
the Touchet, a bold deep stream, ten yards wide, with 
narrow bottoms covered with cottonwood, birch, and 
willow trees, and many shrubs, and rose-bushes. The 
valley of this stream is now known as the most fertile 
of the many productive valleys of the north-west. 
Ascending the Touchet, past its junction with the 
Coppie, near where Waitsburg is now situated, they 
crossed a high plain to the Kimmooenim or Tucannon, 23 
and ascended a branch 24 of the latter stream eleven 
miles, when they were met by a Nez Perce chief, who 
had come with ten of his warriors to escort them to 
his village on the Clearwater. After camping sup- 
perless, having eaten the last of their dried meat for 
dinner, they next day reached a small stream 25 which 
was followed along its course through a ravine to its 

22 Lewis and Clarke have so represented the Multnomah, or Willamette, on 
their map. It comes from the south-east until within about sixty miles of 
the Columbia, where the falls are supposed to be, and then turns directly 
north. Its whole length was six or seven hundred miles. Mount Hood was, in 
fact, one hundred and fifty miles distant, and Mount Jefferson still farther off. 
The mountains which they saw commencing to the south of Mount Hood, etc., 
were the Blue Mountains, in which the rivers named above take their rise, 
the mountains being the water-shed between the Columbia River on the north 
and the Klamath Basin on the south. The Des Chutes, the largest of the 
rivers which How from the south and rim.into the Columbia, is not more than 
about one hundred and fifty miles long from its most southerly head-waters. 
The river referred to by the Indian prisoner was the Snake, with the extent 
of which the explorers were but little acquainted. 

23 The route followed by Lewis and Clarke from the Dalles to the Umatilla 
and Walla Walla is that commonly followed, but from the mouth of the 
Walla W x alla to their last camp on the Touchet they needlessly lengthened 
their route by keeping on the north bank, whereas the present road crosses 
all the branches of the Walla Walla. 

-Tataha Creek. 
25 Alpowah River. 


junction with the Snake, or Lewis River, seven miles 
below the mouth of the Clearwater. 26 

Following a trail alongthe bank of the Snake forthree 
miles, they arrived at the house of one of the* chiefs 
who had accompanied them to the falls of the Co- 
lumbia, and at that of their old pilot down the river. 
By their advice the party crossed the Snake at this 
point, and encamped, next day reaching Colter Creek. 
Among the Indians who gathered about them here 
were three of a nation who lived at the falls of a large 
river emptying itself into the Columbia on the north 
side, and who informed Lewis and Clarke that this 
river had its rise from a large lake in the mountains at 
no great distance from the falls where they lived. After 
thus talking with these Indians, the name of Clarke 
River was bestowed upon this great northern branch, 
which on their first view of it had been hailed as the 
Columbia. 27 

On May 9th the expedition arrived near Twisted- 
hair's village, the chief with whom their horses had 
been left the previous autumn, and encamped on a 
small creek on the south side of the Clearwater. 

There now occurred one of those incidents which 
make dealing with Indians always doubtful, if not dan- 
gerous. Notwithstanding the friendly professions of 
the Nez Perces, when the white men returned to 
claim their horses it was found that Twistedhair no 
longer had them in possession. This circumstance 
he explained by stating that some of the chiefs 
who had been absent during the visit of Lewis 
and Clarke, had on their return grown jealous and 

26 Lewis says in his journal, seven miles above the mouth of the Clearwater, 
■which is neither in accordance with his own map nor the facts. In the next 
paragraph he speaks of being on the west side of the river, which here runs 
east and west, a carelessness entirely inexcusable in an explorer. 

27 In this connection Lewis says in his journal: 'To this river, moreover, 
which wc have hitherto called Clarke's Paver, which rises in the south- wes t 
mountains, Ave restored the name of Towahnahiooks;' meaning the Des 
Chutes; but there is no previous mention of their having changed the name 
before restoring it. 


angry at the particular favor shown to him, and had 
taken the horses away. Whether this was a piece 
of Indian diplomacy to obtain pay for returning the 
property, it was impossible to know; but with that 
remarkable adroitness which characterized these ex- 
plorers in managing the natives, they suppressed 
entirely any expression of suspicion, appearing to 
take for granted all that had been told them, and con- 
senting to visit these discontented chiefs, only taking- 
care to impress upon them the confidence with which 
they expected the restoration of the horses, and their 
willingness to pay the price agreed upon for the care of 
them. This suavity put all the chiefs in good-humor, 
and the promise of liberal pay, two guns, and ammu- 
nition, procured speedy action on their part, with a 
proffer of two gift-horses and other supplies. It turned 
out, however, that many of the horses returned had 
been badly used by the young Indians, and were poor, 
with sore backs; and that about half the saddles 
cached had been stolen. But as this could not now 
be helped, and as the chiefs seemed disposed to 
make amends with presents of fat horses for food, the 
offence was overlooked. 

A number of chiefs being assembled on the 11th, 
it was thought a favorable moment to explain to 
them the design of the United States in sending 
an exploring expedition into their country. This 
was done by drawing a map of the territory owned 
by the government, its relation to their territory 
being pointed out, and the intention announced of 
establishing trading-posts among them to supply such 
articles as they desired. All this was interpreted 
through the medium of several languages; one of the 
men rendering it into French for a Frenchman; he 
into Minnetaree for his Indian wife ; she into Shoshone 
for one of that nation, who finally explained it to the 
Nez Perces in their own tongue. All seemed pleased 
with the prospect of having trading establishments 
among them except the women, some of whom cried 


and wrung their hands. A feasi was then held, the 
treaty of friendship ratified, and final presents were 
exchanged. 28 

Horses and baggage were then moved down the 
creek four miles, to the river, with the intention of 
making a crossing to the north hank, to hunt and fish 
until the snow was gone in the mountains. This 
camp was established on the river, half a mile from 
Collins Creek, whence the hunters went out in all 
directions in search of game. 

In these frequent excursions some discoveries were 
made. One party went as far as the east branch 29 of 
Lewis River, first ascending the creek on the south 
side of the Clearwater, where their camp was, a dis- 
tance of twenty miles, thence over a high, rough coun- 
i rv for thirty miles to the Tommanamah, thence down 
that river twenty miles to a fishery no great distance 
above its mouth. Xhis river was described as one 
hundred and fifty yards wide, with a succession of 
rapids walled in by high perpendicular rocks. 

On the 10th of June, fish not yet appearing in the 
Clearwater, the camp was transferred to the Quamash 
Flats, 30 east of Chopunnish River, the stream on 
which the first Nez Perce villages were found the 
preceding October, and here the hunters were once 
more set to work. On the 16'th, so impatient were 
the commanders to be on the homeward march, 
although the snow was two or three feet deep in 
the hollows and vegetation very backward, that 

-■ Parker gives an interesting anecdote of the Nez Perces, which pi 

refers to Lewis and Clarke's expedition. It was told to him of one of the 

oi a Nez Perc6 tribe. 'He said the first white man he saw was when 

young. Itwassummer. Hesaid: "These are a new people, they look 

cold, their tares are white and red; go make a large fire, and 1 will ask them 

to come and warm them." In a short time his people had mad. a fire and 

brought new buffalo-robes. The white men came into his Lodge, and he 

wrapped them in the robes, and seated them by the fire that they mighl be 

warm. The robes slipped oft' ; lie replaced them. S<>uii the white men made 

to smoke their pipe. The chief thought they asked for food, and brought 

them meat. The white men gave him the pipe, and they smoked; and after 

this they loved smoke, and they loved the white men, they said they were 

good. 1 Jour. Ex. '/'■>//,-., 303. 

29 Salmon River, called by them Tommanamah. 

3u Cainuss Prairie. 


they determined to proceed, and reached Hungry 
Creek that afternoon. On going forward over a high 
ridge next morning, they found the whole country 
beyond so enveloped in deep snow as to be wholly 
unrecognizable, rendering it impracticable to proceed 
without guides, even if the horses and men could be 
provisioned. Accordingly, after placing the important 
part of the baggage on scaffoldings, and securing it 
from the weather, they returned to Hungry Creek. 

On the 26th, having procured guides, they renewed 
their attempt to cross the Clearwater Mountains, and 
the snow having settled about four feet, with a smooth 
but not slippery surface, they found travelling much 
easier than it had been in the autumn, reaching Travel- 
ler's Rest Creek 31 in three days, and the Bitter Root 
on the day following. At this point it was determined 
to divide the party and take separate routes. Lewis 
with nine men was to proceed by the most direct way 
to the falls of the Missouri; there to leave three of 
them to prepare vehicles for the portage around 
the falls, while he, with the remaining six, ascended 
Maria River, to ascertain if any branch of it reached 
north to the 50th parallel. Clarke was to return to 
Jefferson River, where the canoes and other articles 
were deposited, and there detach Sergeant Ordway 
with nine men to descend with them to the falls. His 
own party would then be reduced to ten, with whom 
he proposed to proceed to the Yellowstone, at its 
nearest approach to the three branches of the Mis- 
souri, where he would make canoes and proceed to the 
mouth of the Yellowstone to wait for the rest of the 

On the 3d of July, Lewis set out with his nine men, 
accompanied by five Indians, and crossing to the north 
side of Traveller's Rest, kept along the west side of 
Clarke River for two and a half miles to where a 
branch 32 came in on the same side. At the distance 

31 Lonlou fork of the Bitter Root. 

32 Missoula River. 


of one mile below this, a small stream wa 
coming in from the right, and a mile beyond th 
ern branch/" a turbid stream, discharged through two 
channels. At this point Clarke River was found one 

hundred and fifty yards wide, running through an 

ive plain, dotted with pine-trees, and skirted with 
hills covered withfir, pine, and larch. The crossing of 
the river being two miles below, they were sho^ 
it by their Indian friends, who also conducted them 
to camp on a small creek 34 three miles up the eas 
branch, where, alter pointing out the trail to Lewis, 
they took final leave of the white men, who were 
now without any guide. 35 

Traversing the plains on the north of the Hellgate, 
they crossed another small creek, 30 and entered the 
mountains by a deiile two miles in length, which led 
them to a large prairie. Soon they came upon a 
branch flowing in from the east, 37 described to th 
by the Indians as the Cokalahishkit, or "river of the 
road to the buffalo country," up which they turn..! 
among high, wooded hills. Having crossed two streams 
to which the names Werner Creek and Seaman 
Creek were given, they struck the north branch of 
the Cokalahishkit, and entered the spurs from the 
Blackfoot and Dearborn divide. Here the road lay 
along narrow timber- bottoms, to the south-easl 
which was a plain covered with small knolls, which 
received the appellation of the Prairie of the Knobs. 
The most northerly fork of the river was still followed 
up into the mountains, until it became a small creek, 
when Lewis quitted it, and pursuing a course first 

33 Hellgate River. 

• eek, according to Mullan's map of the military road. 
: Lewis remarks that from the circumstance of the Indi 
were c distance to the south, intendingto return by the same trail 

they had travelled to and from the NezPerce" country, hi 
no pass through the roonntains by way of Clarke River so ni ar aor so ga 
that one. There certainly was none nearer; hut a te\ 

and trappers found one much better, almost directly west from the spot where 
lie was led to this conclusion. 

86 ( )b 'iik. 

37 Dig Blackfoot River. 


north and then east brought his party to the foot of 
a mountain, which they crossed by a low gap running 
north-east, finding it to their great satisfaction the 
dividing ridge between the affluents of the Missouri 
and the Columbia. That evening, July 7, 1806, their 
camp was in one of the lateral valleys of the great 
water-shed. Next day they crossed the Dearborn, 
and followed Elk fork to Medicine River. From 
this point the party pushed on rapidly, through a 
country well stocked with game, to their old station 
on White Bear Island, at the head of the falls. There 
Lewis remained four clays, giving instructions to the 
men who were to make the portage with the baggage 
cached at the island, and making sketches of the falls. 
He then left behind three of the men who were to 
have accompanied him to Maria River, to assist those 
at the portage, and set out himself with only three 

Travelling about clue north, he crossed the Tansy 
River, 38 and reaching a small stream, to which was 
given the name of Buffalo Creek, from the quantity 
of those animals in sight, he followed its course 
in the direction of Maria River, on which he en- 
camped on the 18th. Signs of Indians, supposed to 
be Minnetarees, were observed, and a sharp lookout 
was therefore kept. 

Convinced from the appearance of the country that 
he was now above the point to which he had ascended 
in 1805, Captain Lewis, fearing to miss some branch 
flowing in from the north, sent two hunters down 
stream a distance of six miles to look for one. Hearing 
of none he ascended the river, passing several creeks 
from the north and south, until reaching the forks, 
when he kept on up the northern branch until, four 
clays after first striking Maria River, he found an 
elevation from which the course of the river and 
its affluents could be traced. Lewis was then able 
to determine that no branch of Maria River could 

38 Teton River. 


possibly extend to the 50th parallel. As it was 
useless to proceed farther, he resolved to remain in 

camp two days, taking observations and resting the 
horses. On the following day one of the men was 
sent to explore the river above, who found that it 
issued from the mountains within a distance of ten 
miles, and that its head-waters could not be far off. ^ 

Rainy weather setting in, he was disappointed in 
not being able to take the longitude <>t' this camp, 
which lie intended to make a point of observation, and 
after remaining until the 26th with no change for the 
better, he set out to return. At a distance of twelve 
miles he reached a branch of the river coming in 
from the west, and keeping along its southern side for 
two miles further met another from the south-west of 
considerable size, which united with the former, and 
which he determined to follow clown to its junction 
with the northern fork, and thence strike across the 
country obliquely to the Tansy, which he would follow 
to its junction with Maria River, near the Missouri. 

When he had reached a point a mile below the 
junction, he ascended the hills that border the main 
river. No sooner had this high ground been reached, 
than he discovered, a mile away on the left, a troop 
of horses, thirty in number, half of which were 
saddled. Their owners soon showed themselves, eight 
of them mounting and approaching Lewis, who had 
with him only two men, the third having gone down 
the river to hunt. The usual cautious approaches 
being made Lewis received them amicably, and soon 
discovered that they were the dreaded Minnetarees. 
On asking for their chief, three were pointed out, to 
two of whom presents were given, and a medal to the 
third, with which they were apparently well pleased. 
That night the Indians encamped with their white 
brothers, Lewis treating them cordially, telling them 
he had come a long way to visit them, and urging 
them t<> live in peace with the other tribes, with 
whom, as well as themselves, his people wished to 


trade as soon as posts were established in that country. 
To all this they assented. At a late hour, the talk 
being ended, the Indians slept, and Lewis placing two 
of his men on guard at the tent-door, lay down with 
the third. 

Early in the morning the Indians arose and crowded 
about the fire, near which the single person now on 
guard had carelessly laid down his rifle, his comrade 
sleeping near. One of the savages, ever on the alert, 
snatched not only the rifle of the guard, but that of 
his sleeping companion, while another seized those 
of Lewis and his man Drewyer. The latter being 
awake, sprang up and recovered his gun. The other 
men, their attention having been attracted by the 
struggle, pursued the retreating Indian, and in the 
light for possession the savage was stabbed through 
the heart. Lewis being now aroused, drew a pistol 
and chased the one who had his gun, ordering him 
to lay it down, which he did, as two of the men had 
now overtaken him, and were prepared to serve him 
as they had served the other thief. 

The Indians were now all out of the tent and 
moving away, which they would have been allowed 
to do without molestation had they not attempted to 
drive with them the horses. The} 7 were pursued, and 
pressed so closely that twelve of the horses were cap- 
tured. In the chase an Indian was shot, who in re- 
turning the Are came so near hitting Lewis that he 
felt the wind made tremulous by the passing ball. 
This contretemps caused the abandonment of any plans 
for exploring Maria River. 

Taking a south-west course, the party struck across 
the plains, coming in eight miles upon a stream forty 
yards wide, running toward the river which they 
crossed, naming it Battle River. At three o'clock 
sixty- three miles had been travelled on the fresh 
Indian horses, and after a halt of an hour and a 
half seventeen miles further, when another halt of 
two hours was made, and another march of twenty 


miles, then at two in the morning a halt until day- 
light. Twenty-five miles further brought Lewis to 
the mouth of Maria River, having ridden one hundred 
and twenty miles in thirty hours. The object of this 
haste was to give warning to the party at the falls, 
who it was feared might be attacked by the Indians. 
On arriving at the Missouri they were found to be 
safe, and to have been joined by Sergeant Orel way 
and his nine men, who had come down Jefferson River 
as agreed, with the canoes and other articles cache I 
there, and had reached the falls of the Missouri on the 
19th, two days after the departure of Lewis. 

On the 29th, Lewis, with the reunited party of 
eighteen men, set out in the canoes to descend the 
Missouri to .the mouth of the Yellowstone, where he 
was to meet Clarke. The current being rapid they 
travelled fast, and all reached the rendezvous on the 
7th of August, except two hunters, wdio were behind 
in a small canoe. 

Upon examination it was found that Clarke had 
been there some days before, and had gone, leaving 
only a few words traced in the sand, telling them 
that he was a few miles below, on the right side. 
Leaving a note for the two hunters, the party pro- 
ceeded, making a hundred miles that day without 
overtaking Clarke. Several times in the course of 
the next three days they passed his camp, but saw 
nothing of him. On the 11th, stopping to hunt, 
Lewis was accidentally shot through the hips by Cru- 
zatte, who mistook him for an elk, as he was dressed 
in brown leather. Fortunately neither bone nor 
artery was touched by the ball, though he suffered 
from fever and soreness. On the 12th, they met two 
traders named Dickson and Hancock, who informed 
Lewis they had seen Clarke the day before. While 
halting for this interview the hunters overtook them, 
and all proceeding, came up with Clarke that fore- 


On quitting Traveller's Rest, July 3d, Clarke pro- 
ceeded up the Bitter Root Valley, by much the same 
route pursued in his journey down it, to the ridge 
separating the head-waters of that river from those of 
Wisdom River, and keeping along the west side of the 
latter stream for some distance crossed to Willard 
Creek, which he descended to where it enters the 
mountains, and turning a little east of south, sixteen 
miles brought the party to the west branch 09 of Jef- 
ferson River, turning clown which they came in nine 
miles to the forks where the canoes had been de- 

On the 10th,*° Clarke passed "the high point of 
land on the left, to which Beaverhead Valley owes its 
name," passed Philanthropy River late in the after- 
noon, and encamped at the mouth of Wisdom River. 
Finding there a canoe that had been abandoned on 
the journey up Jefferson River, the men converted its 
sides into paddles, of which they were in need, and 
leaving one of the canoes, proceeded past Panther and 
Field creeks to an encampment not far below that 
of July 31st of the previous year. 

By noon of the 13th the canoe party had reached 
the junction of the Jefferson and Madison, where the 
party with horses had arrived the same morning. The 
horses were driven across the Madison and Gallatin 
rivers, while the canoes were unloaded at the mouth 
of the latter, the merchandise being packed on the 
animals. From this point, while Ordway proceeded 
with the canoes to the falls of the Missouri, Clarke 
with ten men, besides his interpreter's wife and child, 

39 Horse Plain Creek. 

40 The company was divided as already agreed upon, Sergeant Ordway and 
nine men to bring the canoes and baggage down Jefferson River, while Clarke 
proceeded by land to the Yellowstone. Travelling on the eastern side of the 
Jefferson, he passed through a small plain, called Seiwice Valley, and over the 
Rattlesnake Mountain into a beautiful country called by the Indians Beaver- 
head Valley, fifty miles long and from ten to fifteen wide. At a distance of 
fifteen miles he halted to dine, and seeing that the canoes could advance faster 
than the horses, and Sergeant Ordway being still in his company, he deter- 
mined to give the horses into the charge of the sergeant and six men, while 
he embarked in a canoe. That night he encamped on the east side of the 
river, opposite Three Thousand Mile Island. 


and fifty horses, sot out late in the afternoon in a 
course almost due east from the forks of the Mis- 
souri, camping at a distance from them of four miles, 
on the bank of the Gallatin. 

Proceeding on the 14th, their route lay across sev- 
eral forks and channels of the river, the -found along 
which was found upturned and broken by the beavers. 
They encamped at the entrance to a gap in the moun- 
tains through which their road passed. Six miles on 
the 15th brought them to the top of the dividing ridge 
between the waters of the Yellowstone and the Mis- 
souri, and nine miles further to the Yellowstone itself, 
a mile and a half from where it leaves the mountains. 
It was ascertained by this route that the distance from 
the forks of the Missouri to the Yellowstone was only 
forty-eight miles, over a good road. 

Nine miles down the latter river from the place 
where they had reached it, a stream was passed coming 
in from the north-west, which they called Shields 
River, after one of the men. Crossing a high rocky 
hill, three miles further brought them to camp in the 
low ground adjacent to a small creek. On the 16th, 
still keeping along the north bank of the Yellowstone, 
which was now quite wide and straight, with many 
islands, they passed a stream from the south, and en- 
camped after twenty-six miles at the mouth of another 
small stream on the north side. From the stony 
nature of the country the horses' feet had become 
sore, and Clarke desired to make canoes in which to 
finish the journey to the Missouri, but was not able 
to find trees of sufficient size. 

On the 17th, he crossed a high ridge, and coming 
into a meadow lowland six and a half miles from 
cam]), where a stream fell into the Yellowstone from 
each side, he gave them the collective name of Rivers- 
across. Ten and a half miles further brought him to 
another large creek, which was named Otter River, 
and nearly opposite on the south side one which he 
called Beaver River, the waters of both of which 


were of a milky color. Passing a portion of the 
river where the hills came down very close to the 
water, he encamped, after a ride of thirty miles, on a 
piece of lowland. 

Next day, finding that the hills excluded him from 
following the river, which was, besides, very crooked, 
Clarke struck across the ridges, which were two hun- 
dred feet high, keeping the river in sight, however. 

On the 19th, they passed a stream flowing in from 
the south-east, which Clarke named the Rose River. 
The party presently stopped on account of an injury 
received by one of the men to his thigh, which had 
become so painful that he could not proceed. The 
rest of the day was spent in search of timber large 
enough to make a canoe, but the search was with- 
out success, and after journeying nine miles further 
down the river Clarke halted and sent back for the 
wounded man. 

Next day the construction of two small canoes was 
begun, which lashed together should convey part of 
the company down the river, while the rest led the 
horses to the Mandan country. But on the 21st 
twenty-four of the horses were missing, and on search 
being made it was found that they had been driven off 
by Indians. The party remained in camp two days 
longer, until the canoes were ready; then they sepa- 
rated, Sergeant Pryor to proceed by land with the 
horses to the mouth of the Big Horn River, which 
Clarke believed to be not far distant, and where the 
land party was to be ferried across the Yellowstone. 
Twenty-nine miles down the river Clarke came upon 
the branch wdiich he had believed to be the Big Horn, 
but which, when the real Big Horn was reached, he 
called Clarke Fork, being about the twentieth time 
one or other of the leaders had applied his name to 
their discoveries. This stream was about one hundred 
and fifty yards wide at the confluence, but narrower 
above. Six miles beyond was a large island, where he 
halted for Pryor and the horses, but seeing nothing 


of them lie went on to the mouth of a small creek, 
which lie called Horse Creek, just below which the ser- 
geant joined him again. Here the land contingent was 
ferried across to the south bank, to proceed to the 
Mandan nation, while the others continued on their 
way to the mouth of the Yellowstone. Toward even- 
ing a creek thirty -five yards wide was passed, and 
named Pryor Creek, half a mile below which they 
encamped after a day's travel of sixty-nine miles. 
Fifty miles below Clarke halted to examine an iso- 
lated rock on the south bank, two hundred feet high, 
and accessible on one side only, to which he gave the 
name of Pompey's Pillar. 

Passing next day four small streams, two from each 
side of the river, he arrived, after sixty-two miles of 
travel, at the entrance of the real Big Horn River, 
ascending which for half a mile, he encamped, and 
walked up its south-western bank seven miles to the 
confluence of a creek coming in from the north-east, 
which he called the Muddy, and a few miles further 
to a bend in the Big Horn, from which point he 
returned. He found this branch of the Yellowstone 
to be of about equal breadth with the main river, 
each being from two hundred to two hundred and 
twenty yards in extent, though the Yellowstone con- 
tained more water. From his observations, Clarke was 
satisiied that the Big Horn was the river described 
by the Indians as rising in the Pocky Mountains, 
near the sources of the Platte and the Yellowstone. 

Taking a last look at the Pocky Mountains, on the 
27th Clarke proceeded fifteen miles to a dry creek on 
the left, which he named Elk Creek, and three miles 
more to another wide and nearly dry creek, which he 
called Windsor River, and thirty miles further to a 
third largo river-bed with little water in it, to which 
he gave the name of La Biehe River. After passing 
several more dry creek-beds, he encamped eighty mil' is 
from the Bior Horn on a larg-e island. 

Proceeding on the 28th, and passing frequent dry 


creeks, he came in six miles to one coming in from 
the north, eighty yards wide, which he called Little 
Wolf River, and twenty-nine miles below it to an- 
other from the south, having a number of flat mounds 
in the plain near it, which he called Table Creek. 
Four miles below the last was a considerable stream 
of muddy water, entering from the south, which he 
supposed to be the Little Big Horn of the Indians. 41 
Seventy-three miles from the last camp brought him to 
another stream from the south, called by the Indians 
Mashaskap, opposite to which he halted for the night. 
The river at this part was often confined between 
those cliffs of yellowish rock, from which its name of 
Roehejaune, or Yellowstone, is derived. 

Pursuing the voyage on the 29th, the river being 
from five hundred yards to half a mile in width, forty- 
one miles brought him to Tongue River, called by 
the Indians Lazeka, where camp was pitched opposite 
its mouth. This river Clarke recorded as rising in 
the Black Hills, 42 near the sources of the Cheyenne 
River, and judged from the warmth of the milky 
white water that it flowed through an open country. 

On the following day at a distance of fourteen miles 
from camp, and after passing a stream nearly dry a 
hundred yards in width, he came to a succession of 
shoals extending for six miles, of which the last was the 
worst, and called Buffalo Shoal, from the presence of 
one of those animals at this place. Twenty miles below 
was a rapid, and on the cliffs above it a bear, from 
which circumstance the place was called Bear Rapid. 
Here was a stream coming in from the north now a 
tiny rivulet, though it had evidently been a quarter of 
a mile wide only a short time before. This versatile 
stream was named York River, in honor of Clarke's 
negro. Camp was made seven miles below, after 

u This river is put down on recent maps as Rosebud River, and the Little 
Big Horn as a branch of the large river of that name. Clarke's distances here 
do not agree with those on the later maps, though his may be more correct 
than these, which are not made up from actual surveys. 

42 It rises further to the west, in the Big Horn Mountains. 


passing a stream a hundred yards wide, oven in the 
dry season, containing a great many red stones that 
gave it the name of Redstone River or Wahasah, 
which in the Indian tongue has the same signification. 
On the 31st, eighteen miles brought the canoes to a 
shallow muddy stream on the north, a hundred yards 
wide, which was supposed to be the one bearing the 
Indian name Saasha, and five miles below another on 
the south side, with coal seams showing in the banks, 
from which it was called Coal River. Eighteen miles 
further brought them to the mouth of a stream on 
the right, which was named Gibson River, and twenty- 
five miles more to camp. August 1st and 2d were 
marked only by encountering herds of buffalo so im- 
mense that the party was obliged to halt for an hour to 
let them pass, or run the danger of getting between two 
herds crossing the river. One hundred and twenty- 
nine miles were made in two days. On the 3d, after 
passing Fields Creek, two miles below camp, they 
came, at two o'clock, to the junction of the Yellow- 
stone with the Missouri, encamping on the spot where 
they had been April 26, 1805. So great was the an- 
noyance from mosquitoes at this place, that without 
waiting for the party coming by land the canoes kept 
on down the Missouri one day's journey below White 
Earth River, where on the 8th they were joined by 
Sergeant Pryor, but without the horses. The animals 
had been stolen the second night after leaving the 
Big Horn River, and the men in charge had been 
compelled to carry the baggage upon their backs to 
the nearest point on the Yellowstone, which proved 
to be Pompey's Pillar, where they made two hide 
canoes, and descended in safety to the point where 
they overtook their commander. Passing the mouth 
of the Yellowstone, and supposing that Lewis had 
passed before him, Piyor removed a note left there 
on a pole for him by Clarke, and but for the tracing 
the latter had left in the sand, Lewis would not have 
known that he had preceded him. 

Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 6 


On the 12th, the whole party, being reunited, pro- 
ceeded to the Mandan village, and after holding a 
council with those people and the neighboring tribes, 
who promised friendship to American traders, left the 
Indian country finally, and arrived at St Louis on the 
2 3d of September, having accomplished their journey 
of nine thousand miles, through a wilderness much of 
which had never been trodden by white men, and 
providing themselves food chiefly by means of the 
rifle. They had lost but one man, 43 and had met with 
but few accidents. 

Before parting company with the explorers I will 
give an incident in the subsequent life of one of the men. 
While at the chief village of the Minnetarees, below 
the mouth of the Little Missouri, during the return 
journey, one of the party, John Colter, requested to be 
discharged from further service. He was no longer 
required, and if permitted to do so could make a prof- 
itable engagement with some trappers. As he was 
a good man, and his help could now be spared, the 
commanders reluctantly consented, with a proviso that 
none of the other men should ask a similar favor. It 
was a life of adventure, truly, that to which he . now 
committed himself. While trapping in the Blackfoot 
country, Colter and a companion named Potts were in 
a canoe on one of the streams which form the head- 
waters of the Missouri, when they were attacked by 
several hundred Indians. Potts was almost instantly 
killed; Colter, by a fate one remove less unhappy, was 
made prisoner. Having stripped him, the chief asked 
if he could run fast. Knowing the custom, and that 
he was doomed to the trial of the gauntlet for his life, 
Colter replied that he was a very poor runner ; where- 
upon the chief gave him a start of three or four hun- 
dred yards. 

The terrible whoop of a hundred savages rang in 

43 Sergeant Floyd died of bilious colic, August 20, 1804, at a camp on the 
Missouri, about one hundred miles above Council Bluffs. 


his cars as lie darted away with a speed no less sur- 
prising to himself than to his pursuers. Never a 
thought prompted him to look behind until he was half 
way across a plain six miles in extent, and bristling 
with prickly-pears that pierced his bare feet at every 
stride. When he did turn his eyes, however, he saw . 
close upon him an Indian armed with a spear. To 
outrun this savage he redoubled his efforts, while the 
blood gushed from his nostrils and coursed down his 
breast. Glancing back once more he saw his foe nearly 
upon him, while the river was yet a mile distant. 
When the savage was within a few paces a sudden 
impulse forced him to turn quickly about and spread 
out his arms. This action, coupled with his wild 
appearance, seemed to surprise the red man, who at- 
tempted to stay his own headlong pursuit, but stumbled 
and fell from exhaustion, breaking his spear in the 
act of throwing it. Colter instantly seized the spear- 
head, and pinned his man to the earth before contin- 
uing his breathless race. A few seconds were gained 
while the pursuing savages were halting over their 
dead comrade ; and presently their yell of vengeance 
fell dull on Colter's ears as the friendly river closed 
over him. Making for a raft of drift-wood lodged 
against an island, and diving under it he found a spot 
where he could obtain air through an opening. There 
he remained until night, the savages in search of him 
many times passing above his hiding-place. When it 
became quite dark he swam some distance down the 
stream to leave no trail, and then landing travelled 
for seven days, naked, and with nothing to eat but 
roots, when he reached the trading-post of Manuel 
Lisa on the Big Horn River. 

The expedition carried out under the command of 
Captains Lewis and Clarke was characterized by a 
degree of humanity, courage, perseverance, and justice 
honorable alike to officer and soldier. The prudence 
and wisdom manifested in all their intercourse with 


the natives have never been excelled, even by the 
most experienced of the British fur companies. No 
dastardly act blots their record. Without achieving 
anything very admirable; without enduring sacrifices 
as "great as those of many emigrants ; without enlist- 
ing the sympathy or admiration drawn from us by 
many of the women of 1842 and subsequent emigra- 
tions, they yet accomplished an important and difficult 
task. In reading their narrative we can but feel them 
to be men above small things. But for thrilling ex- 
periences, for deeds of great daring, for heart-rending 
suffering, for romantic adventure we must look else- 

It would, indeed, have endowed them with a greater 
distinction, and reflected more credit upon the gov- 
ernment, had the expedition been furnished with sev- 
eral scientific attaches, who would have reported more 
at large upon the country explored, in which case 
another }^ear at least would have been required for 
observations. Yet for them to have done more than 
they did under the circumstances could scarcely have 
been expected, and there is no reason to believe that 
they failed to fulfil the hopes of President Jefferson. 44 

The journal of Lewis and Clarke was not published 
until 1814, though the news of their return and all 
that their explorations and successes implied was 
known much earlier. It was February 1807 before 
they reached Washington. Congress then being in 
session made grants of land to each member of the 
expedition. Clarke became a general of militia in 

44 ' The report which they made of their expedition to the United States 
government created a lively sensation.' Franchere's Nar., 19. 'The explora- 
tions of Lewis and Clarke made known the two great rivers across the conti- 
nent, the Missouri and the Columbia, and the general character of the country.' 
Sl< r, ns' Northwest, 3. 'The happy termination of Lewis and Clarke's expedi- 
tion surprised and delighted. The humblest had been interested in the re- 
sult, and looked impatiently for the news it would bring. Anxiety had been 
heightened from time to time by ugly, vague rumors, uncontradicted, from 
their leaving the Mandan towns to their return to St Louis. The courage, 
perseverance, and discretion of the heads, and the fidelity and obedience of 
the men, drew general approbation, and favorable notice by government.' 
Buljinclis Or., and El Dorado, 251-252. 


Louisiana, and Lewis governor of the same territory, 
whose capital was St Louis. 

On returning to this frontier to assume the duties 
of his office, he found affairs in a distracted stale from 
the animosities and contentions of officials and their 
partisans. Having settled these disturbances and re- 
stored harmony, Lewis began to suffer from attacks 
of a hereditary hypochondria which developed itself 
alarmingly in a short time, and which v.. bably 

augmented by reaction from the severe strain of 
physical and mental powers caused by the fatigue, 
hunger, heat, cold, and danger endured in the three 
years of exploration. Having occasion to go to 
Washington in the autumn of 1809, he had reached 
the Chickasaw Bluffs when he was met by Mr Neely, 
agent for the Chickasav r Indians, who noticing his dis- 
turbed condition accompanied him to look after his 
health. At an encampment one day's journey cast of 
the Tennessee River, two of their horses were lost, and 
Mr Neely was obliged to return for them. On parting 
they agreed to meet at the first wdiite settlement on 
the road, where Governor Lewis was to wait until his 
friend came up. On arriving at this place, the house 
of a Mr Grinder, such was the excitability of Lewis, 
that, to soothe him, he was permitted to occupy the 
house alone at night, the family and his own servants 
retiring to another building. This was a fatal error, 
for when morning came they found him dead by his 
own hand, at the age of thirty-five. 43 Thus to the 
great grief of the public and his friends, ended a career 
that, if not brilliant, was in every way useful and 

Clarke, who was associated with Lewis in the gov- 
ernment of Louisiana, as he had been in its explora- 

4 • Clarke's negro servant, York, mysteriously beconi' ' ain T( >m 

Lewis he called himself, if we may believe the authorities, which say that lie 
was found ('ii the road, frozen to death, in Albemarle < lounty, Virginia, \\ ithin 
aboutamileof his own home, in the latterpari of December, L878. lie was 
nearly ninety years old. Charlottesville, Va., Chronicle, Jan. 8, 1879, in S. 
F. B, II in, Jan. 15, I 79; 8. F. Chronicle, !■ . 


tion, was appointed governor of Missouri Territory, 
by President Madison, in 1813, and remained in that 
office until it became a state, in 1821. The following 
year President Monroe appointed him superintendent 
of Indian affairs, for which he was eminently fitted, 
and which post he held till his death, which occurred 
at St Louis in 1838. The results of the united labors 
of Lewis and Clarke were important, as they opened 
to the citizens of the United States a broad field for 
enterprise, which soon became occupied by fur-hunters, 
followed by other commercial ventures, and finally by 
permanent settlement. 


1 797-1 S06. 


Waters— James McDougall Penetrates to McLeod Lake— Frasi b's 

First Expedition— His Character— Manuscript Journals of Stuart 
and Fraser — The Northwest Company Push Westward— Stuart \ . 
the Rocky Mountain House— Fraser's Journal— Preparations for 
the Journey— Fraser and Stuart Explore Westward— Arrival at 
Finlay River— Fraser's Tirade against Mackenzie— They Reach 
Trout Lake — And Follow Mackenzie's Track up Bad River — Cross 
to the Fraser — Descend to Stuart River. 

James Finlay ascended Peace River in 1797, and 
examined the branch to which he gave his name, and 
which indeed is no branch, but the main stream, con- 
tinuing as it does nearer the course of the river below 
than Parsnip River, which comes in from the south- 
ward, besides being larger and longer. 1 Thence Mr 
Finlay turned up Parsnip River, keeping to the left 
on reaching the branch which leads to McLeod Lake, 
and ascended that stream to near its source, making 
an extended tour of general observation. 2 

In the spring of 1805 James McDougall made an 
expedition up Peace and Parsnip rivers to what was 
then first called McLeod Lake. At the northern end 
of the lake a fort was soon built, which afterward 

1 'It is nearly three hundred miles in length, or at least i 
estimate, about that distance by river-course from the pass.' McL\ od's Pea 
River, 96. 

I,i the hank of the stream, says Mr Fraser nine yearsa 
the old Barbue in the very identical spot he was found by Mr Finlaj 
summer of L797.' Finlay'a Journal, MS., 10S. Mr Finlay died at Spokane 
in May L828. Work's Journal, MS., 228. 


went by several names, as Trout Lake House, Fort 
McDougall, La Malice Fort, and later Fort McLeod. 
McDougall continued his investigations as far as the 
great fork of the Fraser, and beyond to the Carriers 
Lake; so that at least two explorers navigated this 
stream before him whose name it bears. At this time 
there was no Lake McLeod, but the region thereabout 
went by the name of Trout Lake, which term is now 
applied to the small sheet of water immediately north 
of McLeod Lake. La Malice was a French Cana- 

McLeod Lake Regiox. 

dian who spent a portion of the winter of 1805-G 
at the Trout Lake station, during which time it was 
called La Malice Fort. This was the first fort erected 
by British- American fur-hunters west of the Rocky 
Mountains, the first establishment of the kind in New 
Caledonia, or in the Oregon Country. 3 

3 Anderson, Northwest Coast, MS., 14, states that McLeod Fort was built 
on McLeod Lake, by Fraser and Stuart, in 180G, and that it 'served as an 
entrepot of communication between the posts lying eastward of the mountains 
and the western posts.' Mr Anderson is clearly in error as to the date, and I 
am inclined to think also in regard to the builder. Compare McKinlay's Nar. , 
MS., 7. Stuart in his autograph notes, Andi rson's Northwest Coast, MS., 235, 
states distinctly that the fort on McLeod Lake was founded in 1805. Stuart 
or Fraser may have ordered the work done, but I believe James McDougall 


Simon Fraser's first expedition into the region west of 
the Rocky Mountains was in the autumn of 1805, some 
time after James McDougall had visited McLeod Lake, 
when he ascended Parsnip River, following the tracks 
of Mr Finlay, and after a superficial survey, returned 
to the Rocky Mountain portage, and there at its 
eastern extremity began the erection of the Rocky 
Mountain House. Fraser was an illiterate, ill-bred, 
bickering, fault-finding man, of jealous disposition, 
ambitious, energetic, with considerable conscience, 
and in the main holding to honest intentions. But 
no man can be truly honest who is not just, and 
no man can be strictly just who is blinded by prejudice, 
and no man can be free from prejudice who loves to 
distraction himself, and hates all other men. 4 

Entering this region of Titanic irregularities, where 
scarped and hoary mountains rising bald-headed into 
the clouds play fantastic tricks with worried rivers, 
and whose blue lakes lapped by pine-clad steeps 
flinging huge bowlders from craggy fronts into the 

built it. The lake and fort Avere named in honor of Archibald Norman Mc- 
Leod, of the Northwest Company, a man of high repute for energy and 
efficiency. After retiring from the service of the company he held the 
appointment of barrack -master at Belfast, Ireland. Greenhow, Or. and Cal., 
290-1, becomes here quite confused in his statements. He says that the 
Northwest Company were pushing westward in order to anticipate Lewis 
and Clarke, of which there is no proof; and he goes on to talk about a party 
under Laroche, which in 1805 ascended the Missouri as far as the Mandan 
village, saying not a word of the doings on Peace River this year, and calling 
the establishment on Fraser Lake in 1806, 'the first settlement or fort of 
any kind made by British subjects west of the Rocky Mountains.' For inci- 
dents of life at Fort McLeod, see Tod's New Caledonia, MS., 2G et seep 

4 Though quarrelsome, Fraser was a man of courage. He had been for 
many years a prominent partner in the Northwest Company. He acted a for- 
ward part in the memorable Bed River tight, the 19th of June 1S1G, when 
the Hudson Bay men, under Governor Scrapie, met their inglorious <!■ 
After retiring from the country, he settled at Lachine House, and, according 
to Anderson, Northwest Coast, MS., 14-15, was there in 1331. But this could 
not be if what Cox, Adv., vol. ii. 237, says, is true, namely, that Fraser lost 
his life at Paris, in a quarrel with Mr Warren, in 1829. Warren was tried, 
and sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment. Harmon met Fraser in 
company with James McDougall at Dunvegan, iu May 1809. Harmon's Jour- 
nal, 178-9. The author of British North Am., 27-4, is in error in making 
Fraser a trader of the Hudson's Bay Company who established Fort Fraser; 
the fact is the Hudson's Bay Company at this time had scarcely dreamed of 
the forts west of the Rocky Mountains. They were then too much in the 
habit of waiting for their Northwest Company rivals to open the way for 
them, when they would slip in and, if possible, snatch the benefits. 


valleys below call to mind the lochs and bens of their 
boyhood, naturally enough they call this far north- 
west mountain land New Caledonia, and love to com- 
pare these heights with their own Scotch highlands, 
and so fancy themselves not so very far from home 
after all. 5 

Among the most important records of the early 
history of British Columbia are the manuscript jour- 
nals and letters of John Stuart and Simon Fraser. 
Yet notwithstanding the intrinsic value of fort rec- 
ords and the journals of fur-traders, containing as they 
oftentimes do all the information extant concerning 
particular times and places, probably no class of 
material with which the historian has to do is in its 
crude state drier or more difficult of reduction to 
readable narrative. 7 

Stuart dates his journal "at the Rocky Mountains," 
which, but for the fact we already know, namely, 
that the partners of the Northwest Company are 
about this time pushing their business westward from 
Fort Chipewyan, and extending their cordon through 

5 The limits of what was at first called New Caledonia were on the south 
Soda Creek, emptying into the Fraser in latitude 52° 20', Peace River and the 
Pacific being the eastern and the western boundaries. This, according to 
Anderson, Northwest Coast, MS., 3. 'The line of demarcation between 
Thompson district and New Caledonia was near to Lillooet. ' Flnlayson 's Hist. 
V. I., MS., 86. 

6 Journal of John Stuart from December 20, 1805, to February 28, 1S0G, 
MS.; First Journal of Simon Fraser from April 12 to July IS, 1SGG, MS.; 
Letters from the Rocky Mountains, from August 1, 1806, to February 10, 
1807, by Simon Fraser, MS.; Second Journal of Simon Fraser, from May 30 to 
June 10, 180S, MS. 

7 In comparing these two persons I should call Stuart the nobler, the 
more dignified man, but one whose broad, calm intellect had received no more 
culture than Fraser's. Stuart's courage and powers of endurance were equal 
in every respect to those of his colleague, and while in temper, tongue, ideas, 
and bodily motion he was less hasty, within a given time he would accomplish 
as much or more than Fraser, and do it better. Both were exceedingly eccen- 
tric, one quietly so, the other in a more demonstrative way; but it hap- 
pened that the angularities of one so dovetailed with those of the other that 
cooperation, harmony, and good-fellowship characterized all their intercourse. 
Stuart was one of the senior partners in the Northwest Company, and for a 
time was in charge of the Athabasca department. As his territory on the 
west was boundless, he deemed it his duty to extend the limits of his opera- 
tions. Twice he traversed the continent, beside multitudes of minor excur- 
sions. In fact, he was abnost always on the move. On retiring from the 
service he settled at Torres, Scotland, where he died in 1S46. Anderson's Xorth- 
westCoant, MS., 2, 15, 55-G; Franklin's Nar., i. 210-11. 


Peace River Pass, might mean any point on the con- 
tinental range from Alaska t< > Mexico. Further than 
this we know of the carrying-place at the principal 
bend of Peace River, that it was called the Rocky 
Mountain Portage, and the post at the eastern end of 
it, now known as Hudson Hope, was once denomi- 
nated the Rocky Mountain House, and again Old 
Fort. 8 Putting these facts together, and considering 
their connection with Mr Stuart's opening entry, we 
may safely infer that this journal was begun at the 
Rocky Mountain House, then not only the west- 
ernmost distributing depot of the Northwest Com- 
pany, but, if we except La Malice Fort at Trout 
Lake, the most westerly post of any kind. It was 
moreover the last station before crossing the mount- 
ains in coming from the east. We know, furthermore, 
that on the 20th of December 1805 that post was in 
progress of construction; for we find on that day that 
Mr Fraser accompanied by Mr McDougall dropped 
down the river to Fort Dunvegan, which for many 
years past had been the chef-lieu of the Peace River 
district, and where he had business, leaving instruc- 
tions with Stuart "to get a chimney built in his 
bedroom, likewise to get wood sawed for a table and 
cupboard." Consequently, after the departure of 
Fraser, who it would seem had charge of the post at 
that time, the men were set to work gathering stones 
for the chimney, and cutting wood, not only for boards, 
but for sledges and snow-shoes. 

Next day the Indian hunters brought in a few 
beaver-skins and some grease, which went toward the 
liquidation of an account. A vast amount of petty 
detail then follows, which, however interesting to 
those whose lives and fortunes are made or marred 
by such means, is of little value to the reader of his- 
tory. For example, on the night of the 21st of De- 

8 Mackenzie places on his map in this vicinity the old establishment and new- 
establishment, but the river is traced so inaccurately that it is impossible to 
locate from it these posts. See McKinlay's Nar., MS., 7. 


ceniber, certain Indians sing and dance until they drop 
exhausted; four men the same day visit the cache 
made by Mr McDougall while last out among the 
natives, and bring away the goods; some Indian 
women fall into the river, and are nearly frozen to 
death; a small axe is given "on credit to the hus- 
band of the woman with sore eyes." Thus day by 
day are written down these little incidents, which in- 
deed comprise the history of the country at the time 
of its first occupation by white men. The remainder 
of the month is occupied in finishing the chimney, 
making snow-shoes, and securing the meat of some red 
deer hilled by the hunters. On new year's day an 
extra pint of rum is given to each of the men, accord- 
ing to Fraser's instructions. 

The month of January 1806 was employed at the 
Rocky Mountain House, bringing in the deer which 
the natives killed, and in dealing out powder, balls, 
and other articles to the Indians. On the 15th it 
is recorded that "Gagnon is washing Mr Fraser's 
dirty clothes." "As Farcier has frozen his toe, I 
have kept him home to make mortar to plaster the 

Fraser and McDougall returned the 18th. The 
weather was extremely cold, and the men at the in- 
completed fort suffered from exposure. 

The 28th of this month McDougall, with two 
Canadians and an Indian, set out on a second expedi- 
tion to McLeod Lake, or, as it was then called, to 
Trout Lake, and into the Carrier country, taking with 
him a small store of tobacco, beads, and ammunition, 
yet the provisions necessary for him to carry so im- 
peded his progress that he was two clays or more in 
crossing the portage. From this station there arrived 
the first of February two men who had been thirteen 
days on the journey, and who were nearly dead with 
cold and hunger when Mr McDougall relieved them. 
From the Rocky Mountain House two men, about 
this time, were sent into the territory of the Beaver 


Indians in order to stimulate the natives to hunt, and 
also to gain a knowledge of the country. 

On the 9th of February, Mr Stuart sent two 
men, Farcier and Varin, to La Malice at Trout Lake, 
with axes, knives, and other articles of which the 
people there were in need. The last journey of Mc- 
Dougall to that region had been both painful and 
unprofitable. The cold was intense; his hunter had 
been unable to bring down deer, having fired thirty- 
four consecutive shots without killing, and after a 
fortnight's struggle with the snow he and his men 
had arrived at La Malice only to find the house de- 
serted. In the house was a considerable amount of 
property, consisting of fur and trading articles, among 
which, fortunately, were fifty pounds of flour which 
kept the men alive until they could return to the 
Rocky Mountain House. And now on the 24th of 
February we find La Malice himself turning up at the 
same place. It then came out why he had abandoned 
his station at Trout Lake. His men, he said, would 
not do their duty. They idled about the fort, or if 
sent to hunt they ate what they killed, and brought 
little back, particularly one Le Maire, who not only be- 
haved ill himself but influenced the others to do badly. 
From Trout Lake La Malice went to Bear River, to 
the south of the Rocky Mountain House._ Beaver 
were plenty, and he could have done exceedingly well 
had his servants been faithful. Here ends the jour- 
nal of John Stuart. 

The first journal of Simon Fraser, who was the 
superior of John Stuart in position, takes up affairs 
sonic six weeks after the journal of the Litter drops 
them. 9 Fraser's writings are most important, giving 

9 Stuart's Journal is very badly written, by far the worst specimen of 

litiT.-irv .•..mpu l,ya fur-hunter J lia\c ever situ, Hid - ii I"' tl 

Fraser, who follows him. His conceptions arc crude, his expressions in 
lar and ungrammatical, and the general tenor of his effort, in \\ hich he is not 
alone, seems to be to convey as little knowledge as possible in his writings. 

The journal of Mr Fraser, in regard to style, is no better, although in sub- 


us as they do, except the narrow lines marked by 
Mackenzie's travels, the first account of the dis- 
covery of New Caledonia, and the first establishing of 
fur-trading posts west of the Rocky Mountains. By 
his enterprise and daring a vast unknown region was 
opened to the world, and the beginning was made, of 
that civilized occupation which will end only with the 
ending of the present order of things on this planet. 

Fraser's journal would seem to be a continuation 
of Stuart's. It opens abruptly — all the writings of 
the fur-traders are abrupt — at the Rocky Mountain 
House, 10 whence at midnight he despatches three men 
to Fort Dunvegan, sending them at that unreason- 
able hour because of their inability to travel all day 
on account of its snowing so much. 

It was now April 1806, and Fraser was laying 
plans for an expedition westward, as soon as the 
weather should permit ; but the season was backward, 
and the patience of Mr Fraser was well nigh ex- 
hausted waiting for the snow to melt and the ice 
covering of the river to break up. McLeod was 
stationed at a post below; Stuart was to accompany 
Fraser. Five bales of goods were made up, and sent 
over the portage to the western end, and there cached 
until the expedition should be ready to start. 

There was a famous chief in those parts called 
Little Head, who liked the good things the white men 
brought to his forest better then he liked to work for 
them. Work proper, an Indian will none of; manual 
labor is for women. It was not his lordly nature, 
however, to hunt beaver for whiskey. In savage 
society gentle woman's sphere is neither fighting, 

stance it is more valuable. His own criticism of his writings is nearer the 
truth than authors iinder like circumstances usually indulge in ; and for this 
honesty he is entitled to our respect. Writing to Stuart of his journal, he 
says : ' It is exceedingly ill wrote, worse worded, and not well spelt. ' 

10 This I gather, after perusal of half the manuscript, from internal and 
incidental evidence, for the writer never once mentions where he is ; and when 
after a multitude of carefully recorded tribulations he sets out on his journey, 
he does not state either his destination or his object. The latter, however, the 
reader may readily infer, as travel in those regions in those days by a fur- 
trader could have but one object. 


hunting, nor drinking, unless indeed there be rum 
enough first to satisfy her lord, and then she does not 
usually decline a fiery potation. Little Head was lazy; 
so Fraser sent John McKinver to stir him up to 
] mi it beaver and bring the skins to the fort, and there 
exchange them for articles on which the settlers might 
make six hundred per cent profit. To these' Meadow 
Indians, as they were called, McKinver was therefore 
sent, and after inducing them to start upon a hunt, 
he nearly perished in attempting to follow them. 
After losing himself, and spending several days in 
the snow without food, he finalfy found his way back 
to the fort. These hardships and narrow escapes were 
almost every -day incidents in the fur- hunter's life, 
which was too often terminated by some one of them. 

Some fifty manuscript pages are filled with detail 
of insignificant matters about the fort, while making 
ready for the contemplated expedition, in perusing 
which the reader wonders at the almost total absence 
of general information; and yet, as I before remarked, 
what we can glean from them is most important, be- 
cause it is the very corner-stone of history here. That 
which alone is history, the writer of fort records is 
too apt to take for granted the reader knows all about. 

Among the most stirring events at the Rocky 
Mountain House are these: An Indian whom a 
woman of another tribe followed of her own accord 
to the fort is stripped of his arms and driven from 
the place, while the woman after being held prisoner 
for a time finally effects her escape. Little Head 
comes to the fort and drinks freely; and certain sav- 
ages are chastised for disobedience. On the 23d of 
April some Indians arrive from Finlay River, who 
report that that stream does not begin its course in a 
series of rapids as had been reported, but that with 
the exception of some portages it is navigable in 
canoes to its source, where, alter a portage about half 
as long as the Rocky Mountain portage, is a large 
lake called Bear Lake "where the salmon come up, 


and from there is a river that falls into another much 
larger, according to their report, than ever the Peace 
River that glides in a north-west direction. In that 
lake they say there are plenty of fish, and that the 
salmon are innumerable, with plenty of bears and ani- 
mals of the fur kind thereabout, but no large animals 
of any kind. It is from that quarter they get their 
iron works and ornaments, but they represent the 
navigation beyond that lake as impracticable, and say 
there are no other Indians excepting a few of their 
relations that never saw white people thereabout, 
and to get iron works they must go far beyond it, 
which they perform in long journeys on foot. We 
cannot imagine what river this is ; by their descrip- 
tion and the course it runs it cannot be the Columbia, 
and I know of no other excepting Cook's; but what- 
ever river it is, and wherever they get these, their 
iron works and ornaments are such as I have seen 
with the Cassuss. Indeed, the Indians of Nakazleh 
talk of Bear Lake, and their account of the river 
that flows from it is conformable with that of the 
Meadow Indians." 11 

Moose and red deer furnished the occupants of the 
Rocky Mountain House with food not only for im- 
mediate purposes, but for drying and for making into 
pemican for the coming expedition. It was the fash- 
ion in this locality when an Indian shot a deer to 
leave it where it fell, and to report at the station, 
where he would receive his pay immediately, the fur- 
traders sending for the carcass at their convenience. 
They could not let it lie long however, lest it should 
be devoured by wolves. 

There was a growing interest in the minds of Fraser 
and Stuart as they recruited men, gathered bark and 

11 It is Babine Lake here referred to. Mr Harmon in his map lays down a 
sheet of water immediately north-west of Stuart and Fraser lakes, with the 
latitude of 55°, and west of the 125th meridian, as large in area as Queen 
Charlotte Island, which he calls Great Bear Lake. It is represented to be at 
least ten times as large as Babine Lake, and extends much farther to the west- 
ward. Even in Mr Harmon's time, which was from five to twelve years later, 
this lake had not been explored. 


gum for canoes, and laid in stores for the expedition, 
concerning this unknown river. This may have born 
the Skeena, or the Salmon, or the Ballacoola; dif- 
ferent natives may have referred to different streams; 
none of them could reasonably have referred to the 
Fraser. Other natives arriving on the 25th, " repre- 
sent it as different from the Columbia, but say it is 
from that quarter they get most part of their goods, 
and the only place from where they get guns and am- 
munition. From Nakazleh there is a water communi- 
cation with the exception of three portages, and they 
positively affirm that white people came there in course 
of the summer, but as they came on discovery they had 
little goods. I have seen a pistol," continues Fraser, 
"brass-mounted, with powder and ball, which they 
say they had from them." 

A. McGillivray arrived at the Rocky Mountain 
House the 27th, to take charge of that post during 
Eraser's absence. The ice which was "amazing strong 
and thick" began to break up the 5th of May, but it 
soon stopped moving, whereupon the river immediately 
rose some ten feet. The next day La Ramme, Sau- 
cier, and Tercien arrived from Beaver Lake, where 
they had been unsuccessful in fishing. " By what we 
could learn from the Indians at different times," writes 
Fraser, "an establishment would be well placed on 
the big river 12 that falls into the main branch of the 
Peace River about half-way between tins and the 
Beaver River." Early in the spring McDougall again 
took his station at Trout Lake. A letter was received 
from him on the 14th. La Malice was then with him. 
The messenger reported that the ice in many places 
above the portage had not yet broken. McDougall 
had vi sited the Carriers' land, three and a half days' 

12 Parsnip River, or south branch, on some maps is call r, while 

Finlay Riveris put down as a branch, whereas bhe fai I b. Re- 

garding these streams Fraser says: 'This river at its confluence with the 
Peace Kivi pi large, and appears to contain a large quantity of water, and 
the Indians say it is navigable a considerable way up, and that be: ver, bear, 
and large animals of all kind are amazing numerous.' Finlay'a Journal, MS., 


Hibt. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 7 


march from Trout Lake, and reported that on the 
borders of a lake which " empties its waters into the 
Columbia by a small river which is reported to be 
navigable," he saw fifty men, and that the journey to 
this lake by water was long and intricate. 

La Malice came down from Trout Lake, arriving 
at the Rocky Mountain House the 17th. He brought 
with him an Indian woman for whom he had paid 
three hundred livres. He was to have accompanied 
the expedition, but when Fraser refused to take the 
-woman he refused to go. Fraser became indignant, 
and told him he might join the expedition or go to 
Montreal as he pleased, which latter signified a ter- 
mination of his services. Finally La Malice con- 
sented to go with the expedition, whereat Fraser 
relented, and told him he might take the woman. 

At last, early in the morning of the 20th of May, 
Fraser took an account of all the property at the 
Rocky Mountain House, closed the transactions of 
the year, and turned the command over to Mc- 
Gillivray. Then, after writing some letters, every- 
thing being prepared for his departure, in com- 
pany with Stuart he crossed the river, and after 
a journey of fifteen miles, over a very bad road, 
reached the upper end of the portage that night at 
ten o'clock. 

Arousing all hands long before daybreak next morn- 
ing, the supplies were brought from cache, and two 
canoes loaded, when it was found that a third boat 
would be necessary. Fraser and Stuart set forward 
with the two canoes first filled, leaving La Malice to 
follow next clay in the third. He was not long in 
overtaking them. All three boats were poorly con- 
structed, especially Stuart's, which had been budt 
under the superintendence of McDougall, who seemed 
to find little favor in Fraser's eyes about this time. 
A canoe had been built at Trout Lake by La Malice, 
but with such lack of skill that it w T as scarcely 
safe. Before the end of the first day, and frequently 


after that, it was found necessary to encamp, unload, 
and repair and gum the boats. 

The first night, the party encamped at the first 
point; the second day they made but seven miles. 
The fourth day they reached a rapid, up which tin y 
towed their boats, and the next day another. Prog- 
ress was very slow on account of having to stop to 
gum the leaky boats so frequently. On the 2Gth the 
travellers overtook a band of Meadow Indians on 
their way to the Beaver country. Mr Eraser was 
astonished at the wonderful skill displayed by them in 
chasing the mountain-sheep as they leaped from crag 
to crag, or dashed alon^ the mountain-side. 

The 27th saw the party at the rapid near Finlay 
River. Stuart took the courses and made a chart 
of the river. His first week's memoranda, however, 
were lost in the river. Next day they came upon 
two natives who had never seen white men. They 
were exceedingly well dressed, and had guns which 
they obtained from their relatives, the Meadow Ind- 
ians. Former information about Finlay River, the 
stream that flows into it, and the country beyond, 
was confirmed. 

Fraser now breaks into a tirade against Mackenzie, 
who, he says, either designedly or otherwise mis- 
represents, having affirmed that the river was bad 
between the Rocky Mountain portage and the fork, 
and that he wished to make out that he ascended the 
river to its source, when in order to do that he must 
have taken the Finlay branch. Fraser's criticisms 
seem to me not only unjust but childish. 13 

About eleven o'clock this same day, the 28th of 
May, the party turned southward into the south 
branch, now generally designated Parsnip River. 
The current was strong, and the banks overflowed; 

13 ' The distance does not appear to be much above ninety or one hundred 
miles at most, and a canoe well manned might have performed it in 
days,' Uvaser's First Journal, MS., 73; and yet Fraser himself occupied eight 
in making this distance, and tills more pages with complaints than did 
Mackenzie in travelling five times the distance. 


the water was too deep for poles, which had been 
used with advantage upon the lower stream. The 
banks were thickly matted with trees and shrubs, so 
that hunting was impeded, and the drift-wood brought 
down by the current rendered navigation dangerous. 

Working their way slowly up the stream, here 
forcing a passage among logs, and again towing their 
boats up the swift current, or carrying cargoes round 
rapids, breaking their boats on rocks, limbs, and stumps, 
and stopping continually to mend them, to say the least 
their patience was severely tried; but all was courage- 
ously met, for such was their daily and yearly routine. 

The 2d of June, Nation Kiver 14 was passed, where one 
of the canoes was left, its men and cargo being divided 
between the other two. This was made possible by 
reason of the consumption of stores. On the 5 th, at 
six o'clock, they encamped two miles "up the river that 
leads to Trout Lake," having left part of their cargoes 
below on account of the swiftness of the current. And 
here again Fraser breaks forth in wrath because Mac- 
kenzie did not see, or failed to mention, certain land- 
marks. The present explorer does not wish to detract 
from the merits of his predecessor, he says, but in 
his opinion Sir Alexander was asleep when he went 
through that country; and even the observations 
which were made were not his own, but those of the 
men who were with him. 15 At this encampment the 

14 ' So called because the upper part of it is inhabited by some of the Big 
Men, though of a different family from those at Trout Lake.' Preiser's First 
Journal, MS., 78. . 

15 Simon Fraser was not the most amiable man in the world, as we have 
seen all along in this narrative, but his ill-temper we might endure for the sake 
of his honesty, or of his enterprise. But when through envy he attempts to 
enlarge himself by cheapening the more brilliant efforts of a better man, he 
brings upon himself only contempt. It was no credit for him to say of one 
who had so recently done so much for his country and for the Northwest 
Company that 'I can account for many other omissions, in no other manner 
than his being asleep at the time he pretends to have been very exact;' and, 
again: 'He seldom or never paid the attention he pretends to have done.' 
Fras&r's First Journal, MS., 81-2. Alexander Mackenzie, in his life and 
works, I have ever found honest, courteous, a close observer, and a correct 
writer. The journal of Simon Fraser will scarcely justify his biographer in 
saying as much for him. Nevertheless, we will gather in all the good con- 
cerning him that we can find, without attempting to bring him into low esteem, 
as he sought to do with regard to Mackenzie. 


rest of the goods, except such as were destined for 
Trout Lake, were placed in cache, because the 
travellers intended soon to return this way, and to 
follow the course of the east branch or main channel 
of the river into the country of the Carriers. More 
than this, the boats were so shattered as to be unsafe, 
and new ones had become a necessity. Some of the men 
were left at the cache to watch the property there. 

Continuing their journey they crossed a small lake, 
which was Trout Lake proper as known to-day, and 
ascended a smaller and swifter stream than any hither- 
to encountered, and encamped within two miles of the 
fort. Next morning they proceeded to the house, and 
found McDougall, who had been anxiously expecting 
them for several days. First of all they set their 
nets for fish to satisfy their hunger while they could 
build some new boats. Then they sent for some of the 
goods which had been placed in cache, leaving there 
one man, La Garde, to watch the rest. After that 
they sent out word for the natives to come in and 
bring fish and furs. The canoes finished, and having 
selected to accompany them two out of the natives 
who came to the fort, one of them a brother-in-law 
of Little Head, on the 23d of June they returned to 
the encampment where the goods had been cached. 

At the fort McDougall was left alone, the only 
man, Saucier, who was to remain with him having 
companied the Fraser party to the cache encampment 
in order to bring back some iron utensils and such 
other goods as were needed at the post. Arrived at 
the cache, they found the goods all safe with La 
Garde in attendance. All this time the man had 
lived well on what he could shoot without touching 
the allowance left him of dried food. Loading the 
boats next morning the party dropped down 
stream that leads to McLeod Lake, and turning into 
the main channel began its ascent. 16 

10 1 would call special attention to this encampment and to the narrative in 
this connection. Mr Fraser's exact words are : ' We pushed oil' down the cur- 


One of the men who had complained of illness be- 
fore starting now gave up, and wished to return. He 
was immediately sent back with his wife and baggage, 
in charge of six men, to the cache encampment of the 
previous night, and there left to finish a pine canoe 
which Saucier was making in which to take the goods 
to the fort, and Saucier was taken in his place. Not 
more than two hours were occupied in making the 

That day and the next, which was the 25th, poling 
and paddling were good, and fair distances were made. 
La Malice was now seized with sickness, became de- 
lirious, and caused some delay. In fact, all the men 
complained of some ailment, or at least Fraser com- 
plained of all except Stuart. The boats and the 
stream being about what they should be for the pur- 
poses of navigation, there was nothing left but the 
men to find fault with, and if these were so much 
below the average Mr Eraser should not have brought 
them. 17 Setting out at an early hour on the morning 
of the 27th, the party breakfasted "at a considerable 
large river that flows into the main on the left side." 
Above this was a rapid place three miles in length, 
then a slack current again. "A little before sunset 
we found four young men of the Barbins band exactly 

rent until we came to the main river, and then I steered up a strong and rapid - 
ous stream.' First Journal, MS., 101-2. It has been taken for granted by 
many that both Mackenzie and Fraser in passing up the Parsnip from Peace 
River to the Fraser followed the most direct course past Trout Lake, McLeod 
Lake, Summit Lake, and over Giscome portage, whereas if I am correct in 
my reckoning it was up the main channel of Parsnip River, past the branch 
that comes in from McLeod Lake to the upper fork, where taking the western 
1 iranch they ascended to its source, and thence crossed to the Fraser. The rea- 
sons by which I arrive at this conclusion will be more apparent as we proceed. 
17 It is true he excuses himself by saying there were no better men at the 
Rocky Mountain portage, but if that was tnie, whose fault was it that there 
was a lack of good men there? We may be sure that in the Northwest Com- 
pany, of all other associations in the world, good masters were sure to have good 
men. With every one of them something was the matter, he says, a rupture, 
an eniption, a sprain, or a fever. Indeed, it does not seem to have occurred 
to him that in all this he was censuring only himself for being so poorly pro- 
vided for his expedition. Now, too, he indulges in the strange inconsistency 
of meeting at eveiy turn some object mentioned by Mr Mackenzie in 1793, 
or by Mr Friday in 1797, and that too on a route which a short time previous 
he doubted they had ever travelled. 


where Sir Alexander Mackenzie found the first Indians 

upon his expedition in I 793. " 18 There they encamped. 

Very early next day they passed another large 
stream flowing in from the east, and at noon still 
another on the same side, the last one " as 1. 
the one we navigated." At this fork they came upon 
an old chirr, who .for several days had been waiting 
their arrival at this point, which was the identical spot 
where Finlay had found the same man nine years 
before. With him were several natives who had come 
a long distance to see white people, and who now 
examined them with great interest and admiration. 

Early in the morning of the 30th they passed 
another stream flowing in from the east, near the place 
called by Mackenzie Beaver Lodge. A half-mile 
beyond they passed another small stream, this time on 
the western side. Before noon they turned from the 
main channel into a branch that came in from the 
west. 19 This river was clear and deep, but not very 
wide. Soon they came to a small lake, to enter which 
they were forced to open a passage through drift- 
wood. One and a half miles up this lake they met 
an Indian who drew a map of the country for them, 
and said, were they at Trout Lake he could show 
them a shorter and better route to the Fraser than 
that they were on. 20 

18 1 am thus particular to show, first, that this party is not on the branch 
that leads to McLeod's Lake, and secondly, that Fraser is here following the 
track of Mackenzie. 

19 Here is a specimen of Fraser's grammar and temper : ' Sir Alexander 
Mackenzie represents this river as terminating in the mountains aear 
but if the Indians be allowed to know better than him it is not so, for they 
say it is navigable much farther, and terminates in a small lake. ' First Journal, 
MS., 112-13. 

20 ' There was a portage of a mile and one half at most from one of the 
"nl Trout Lake into a, line navigable river, and no rapid : . I 
into the Columbia.' Mnlay's Journal, Ms., ] 14. Writing his ] artners of the 
ioken of by the Indian, he says : ' It f alls in a littli Knights' 

first encampment on the Columbia. It is a fine navigabl • 
current, and report says that then.' is only ;i carrying place of about a couple 
of miles at most from the other lakes beyond Trout Lake to fall into it; and 
Mr McDougaU has now directions to ascertain the truth of it, which, it" exact, 
will not only shorten the passage, but render it perfectly ill be the 

means of avoiding the Had Liver.' /',-/* r's I., 7r rs, MS., \. With Mackenzie, 
Fraser at this time supposed Fraser Liver to be the Columbia. 


This Indian was easily prevailed upon to accompany 
them to the next lake, a short distance beyond, which 
was the source of this branch of Parsnip River. Here 
was the Height of Land, as the ridge dividing the flow 
of waters toward the east and toward the west was 
called by the fur-hunters. Mr Fraser thought this 
not a bad place for an establishment. There were 
lakes and streams on every side abounding in fish, 
with fur-bearing animals not far distant. Seven or 
eight hundred yards beyond this lake, over this low 
dividing ridge, was another lake whose waters com- 
municated with Fraser River. 21 

Embarking on this little sheet of water, about three 
miles in length, the travellers found themselves at last 
gliding with the current which starting never stops 
until it reaches the salt Pacific. 22 Both Mackenzie and 
Fraser were here troubled with drift-wood. The out- 
let to this lake was a small stream, yet large enough 
to float a canoe, but so filled with drift-wood as to be 
impassable. Hence here was another portage of some 
one hundred and sixty or seventy yards to another 

21 The character of this portage and the sources of the streams on cither 
side of it, as well as the channel taken at the branch which 1 
Lake must finally determine the course taken by Mackenzie andFraser. Mac- 
kenzie, Voyage, 217, says : ' We landed and unloaded, where v.'c found a beaten 
path leading over a low ridge of land of eight hundred and seventeen paces 
in length to another small lake. The distance between the two mountains at 
this place is about a quarter of a mile, rocky precipices presenting themselves 
on both sides.' Fraser remarks, First Journal, MS., 115: 'We continued 
to the extremity of the lake about three miles, and there unloaded at the 
Height of Land, which is one of the finest portages I ever saw, between six and 
seven hundred yards long, and perhaps the shortest interval of any between 
the waters that descend into the northern and southern oceans. ' These two 
statements, as well as those wdiich follow after embarking upon the southern 
lake, are easily reconciled. They are unquestionably the same. Of this spot 
we have no correct map, but turning to Mr Selwyn's Geological Survey Re- 
port 1875-G, we find an exact map of the entire branch on which is situated 
McLeod Lake. But here the portage is seven and one fourth miles, or 12.760 
paces, which in no wise corresponds with the distance mentioned by both Mac- 
kenzie and Fraser. Giscome portage likewise terminates on the bank of the 
Fraser, while both Mackenzie and Fraser speak of a lake and stream which 
they navigated before coming to the Columbia, as they supposed the large 
river to be. Finally, although not much reliance for exactness is to be placed 
on the astronomical observations of the early explorers, such evidence as we 
have of that kind is in favor of the eastern portage, which Mackenzie makes 
in latitude 54° 24', and longitude 121 west from Greenwich. 

22 ' This lake runs in the same course as the last, but is rather narrower, 
and not more than half the length.' Mackenzie's Voy., 217. 


and perhaps a trifle smaller lake. 23 Here they en- 
camped, and set their net for fish. Their start was 
late next day, the 2d of July, owing to the inclem- 
ency of the weather, and to fresh troubles with La 
Malice, who was unreasonable and petulant, complain- 
ing of neglect and ill-treatment, and threatening to 
remain behind, saying he was in no wise obliged to 
explore Peace Kiver, much less the waters that de- 
scended to the Pacific. Fraser would not abandon him, 
however, although he sometimes felt that the man 
deserved no better treatment. From the second 
small lake along the streamlet to the large river, 
though the distance was not far, the time occupied in 
making it by Mackenzie was five days, and by Fraser 
eight days. Nor was there on the entire route a 
more difficult or hazardous piece of travel. The 
stream was aptly called Bad Piver by these hardy 
explorers. 24 

The country was rugged, and the river rocky, 
stumpy, full of fallen trees and drift-wood, with fre- 
quent rapids, cascades, and shallow places. Again 
and again the canoes were broken and mended, until 
they were little else than patchwork. Sometimes 
there would be a complete wreck, with half the boat 
smashed; at which times the men were obliged to 
plunge into the icy water to save the cargo, remaining 
there frequently for hours until benumbed by cold 
and ready to drop with fatigue. Over some places 
the canoes could carry but part of a load, when sev- 
eral trips would be made; portages were frequent, 
sometimes over bluffs, and sometimes through jungles. 
Excessive labor, attended by frequent exasperating 
mishaps, brought discouragement to the men, who 

23 Mackenzie says this second lake 'is in the same course, and about the 
same size as that which we have just left.' To reach it he passed over 'a 
beaten path of only one hundred and .seventy-live pa- words 

are: 'The distance is 160 yards to another lake not quite so large as the las* 
one.' Mackenzie's Voy., -217-lS; Fraser's First Journal, MS., 110. 

-"Near its confluence [sic] it divides into tin . all of which I 

suppose to he navigable, but the one to the right is the best route.' Fraser's 
First Journal, MS., loo. 


more than once threatened to abandon the enterprise 
and return ; but by sharing with them both danger and 
hardship, their leader finally prevailed upon them to 
continue, though it was indeed a marvellous feat to 
make this passage in loaded boats. 25 

On emerging from Bad River the first thing to be 
done was to encamp, dry the goods, and mend the 
boats. Five beaver brought in by the hunters were 
quickly devoured by the men. Again embarking, so 
swift was the current of the Fraser at this point that 
twenty-one miles were made before five o'clock next 
morning, which was the 11th of July, and with an 
early start and a fine run they reached the mouth of 

25 1 will give the words of both Mackenzie and Fraser on reaching Fraser 
River: 'At an early hour of the morning Ave were all employed in cutting a 
passage of three quarters of a mile, through which we carried our canoe and 
cargo, when we put her into the water with her lading, but in a very short 
time were stopped by the drift-wood, and were obliged to land and cany. In 
short, we pursued our alternate journies by land and water till noon, when 
we could proceed no further, from the vaiious small unnavigable channels 
into which the river branched in every direction ; and no other mode of get- 
ting forward now remained for us but by cutting a road across a neck of land. 
I accordingly despatched two men to ascertain the exact distance, and we 
employed the interval of their absence hi unloading and getting the canoe out 
of the water. It was eight in the evening when we arrived at the bank of 
the great river. This journey was three cpiarters of a mile east-north-east 
through a continued swamp, where in many places we waded up to the mid- 
dle of our thighs. Our course in the small river was about south-east by cast 
three miles. At length we enjoyed, after all our toil and anxiety, the inex- 
pressible satisfaction of finding ourselves on the bank of a navigable river on 
the west side of the first great range of mountains.' Maekenzu 's Voy., 227-8. 
' This place we suppose to be the low spot where Sir Alexander Mackenzie 
carried across the neck of land to the large river. He was misinformed in 
saying it terminated in various branches. Mr Stuart, who was down yester- 
day at the large river, traced this river for some time, and afterward crossed 
it in many places, is of opinion that we will be able to get to its confluence 
with the canoes, and the Montague de bauttes [sic] account of it agrees with his. 
Therefore we intend to continue by water as far as we can. All the goods 
are entirely wet, and the provisions are spoiling. When we arrived at this 
place the canoes were no more able to float, their bottoms being entirely 
smashed, and after getting bark, and gathering some gum, we patched them 
up for the present. . .Thursday, 10th July. After the canoes were gummed a 
little we continued on. and had better going than we had reason to expect. 
The river — right branch — is narrow, but plenty of water to bear the canoes, 
and the current is not strong, which enabled us to continue on with both 
canoes with their full loads on. At 10 A. m. we arrived at the large river 
opposite an island, without encountering any other difficulty than cutting 
several trees that laid across the channel, and we were most happy at having 
exempted the long and bad carrying place, and seeing ourselves once more 
on the banks of a fine and navigable river.' Fraser's First Journal, MS., 


the Nechaco, or Stuart River, 28 about sunset, and 
entering it encamped Dear where now stands Fori 

2G 'This river is not mentioned by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, which sur- 
prises me not a little, it being full in sight, and a fine large river. . .from what 
Mr McDougall in his journal of last spring calls the Great Fork ..flows in 
from the right. . .leads to the Carrier's Lake where Mr McDougall was last 
spring.' Preiser's First Journal, MS., L38-9. ' We lefl the Columbia on the 
1 lth ultimo, and entered this river, which at its confluence is half a 
the former.' Preiser's Letters, M.S., 4. .See Hist. North us;;, this 





Ascext of Stuart Riyee — Fort St James Founded— They Explore 
Fraser Lake — And Build Eraser Fort — Fort George Estab- 

House and Fort Kootenais Established — David Thompson Ap- 
pears in New Caledonia — Discovers Thompson River — Desertion 
of his Men — Winters on Canoe River — Descends the Columbia 
to Fort Astoria. 

Thus far Stuart and Fraser bad discovered but 
little new country. Tbey bad followed Mackenzie's 
tracks to and down Fraser River as far as Stuart 
River; but from tbis point we follow tbem into regions 
new to European eyes. 

Entering Stuart River, tbe travellers bad to con- 
tend with a strong and in parts steady current, with 
frequent rapids and carrying-places. Fraser was in- 
clined to ascend tbis stream by what bad been told 
him at Trout Lake by tbe Carriers who bad crossed 
over from Stuart Lake. Representations were made 
by these natives concerning tbe resources of their coun- 
try, and tbe temper of their people, which fully corrob- 
orated tbe observations of McDougall made during 
the spring of the previous year, and these determined 
Fraser to visit that region and establish posts there 
before descending the great river to the sea. 

On their way up they were troubled somewhat by 
grizzly bears, two of the men being chased by them. 
One man was caught and badly torn, the clogs 
coming up just in time to save his life. The wife of 



one of the hunters escaped a horrible death by throw- 
ing herself flat on her face, the enraged brute in con- 
sequence passing her by in pursuit of her flying 
husband. In one place they were obliged to cut a 
load three hundred yards in length round a cascade 
which dashed down between perpendicular rocks. 

No natives were seen until half-way up the river, 
when on the bank were encountered thirty men arrayed 
in robes of beaver, cat, and badger skins. The south 
branch which comes in from Fraser, or as it was then 
called, Natla Lake, 1 was passed by on the left, and on 
the 2Gth of July 1806 they came to a large fine body 
of water which they called at first Sturgeon Lake, 2 
but afterward Stuart Lake, and the river they had 
jusi ascended, Stuart River. 

Here Fraser has no little fault to find with Mc- 
Dougall, who, he affirms, pictured the country in all 
its spring glories, with an abundance of fish and fowl, 
whereas the fifty miserable natives 3 he found there w sre 
starving, and the travellers themselves would have 
suffered had they arrived earlier, the water being even 
then so high that they could catch few fish. Immedi- 
ately on landing, all hands set to work building, and 
soon comfortable quarters were secured, which in time 
developed into the formidable establishment of Fort 
St James. The site chosen was a peninsula, thus 
giving the place quite a maritime air.* La Malice, 
who had fully recovered, was then sent with letters 
to McDougall and the partners below, and also to 
meet expected supplies. 5 

1 On .some maps Xatla: Fraser writes it Xalta, and sometimes Xatley. 

2 Indian name Xaughalchun. 

arc a large, indolent, thievish set of vagabonds of a mild disposi- 
tion. They are amazing fond of goods, which circumstance might lead to 
imagine that they would work well to get what they seem to I' fond of; 
i n they arc independent of us. as they get their necessaries from their 
neighborswhotradewith the nativesof the sea-coast.' Fraser'a LeiU rs, M 3., 6 7. 

4 The post proved pleasant and important; so much so thai in L848 
in charge of the New Caledonian Department, Chief Factor Ogden made his 
residence there. 

5 ' La Malice is the bearer of this who I send down to meet the canoes 
which probably will be at Fort Chipewyan in order to conduct them up to 
Trout Lake, and from thence we will be able to get the goods 1 
land to this place in the course of the full and winter.' />«- is., S. 


It was now Mr Fraser's plan to continue his route 
down the Fraser as far as the Atnah Nation, accom- 
panied by Mr Stuart and six men, leaving the rest of 
his company at Fort St James. If Fraser could find 
a suitable place to winter, then Stuart would return 
to Fort St James; if not, both would return, in which 
case one of them would go over to the other lake 
westward, that is to say, Fraser Lake, and establish a 
post there. The failure of the salmon by whose ar- 
rival alone the winter for red men or white in this 
region is made comfortable, greatly retarded his move- 
ments. " No possible exertion of ours has been want- 
ing," Fraser writes his partner early in August 1806. 
" We have established the post beyond the mountains, 
and will establish another in the most conventional 
place we can find before the fall, w 7 here people can live, 
and this I believe was all that was expected this 

The necessarily limited supplies brought with them 
were being daily reduced, and new countries could not 
be explored and forts established without cost; so 
Fraser said while asking for further men and means, 
nor were any considerable returns expected by him this 
year. Yet, if a number of stations could be favorably 
planted on this western side of the mountains, he did 
not doubt the result would be satisfactory in the end. 

Meanwhile neither salmon nor supplies arriving, the 
last of -August saw the fort-builders subsisting on 
berries, with a few carp which they could catch, and 
now and then a beaver. And yet, although so near 
starvation, Fraser and Stuart felt that they could 
delay operations no longer. So on the 28th, Stuart, 
accompanied by two men, set out for the other side 
of the mountain which intervenes between this and 
Natla, or Fraser Lake, for the purpose of ascertaining 
the practicability of establishing a post in that local- 
ity, and to choose a site. He was to meet and report 
to Mr Fraser in eight days at the junction of the 
two streams flowing from the respective lakes. To 


this end Fraser left Stuart Lake the 3d of September, 
Blais remaining in charge until Stuart should arrive, 
while Fraser was to continue exploring down the river. 
Butwheu the friends met at the junction according to 
agreement, so favorable was Stuart's account of the 
district \iv had just visited that Fraser determined to 
proceed thither at once and build a house. Besides, 
to attempt to descend the great river without pro- 
visions or goods would be the height of lolly. During 
the absence of the partners the natives, recognizing 
very quickly the difference between masters and men, 
had imposed upon Blais and his comrades, although 
no damage had been done. McDougall, to the infi- 
nite disgust of Fraser, had fallen from the greatest 
of expectations for the season to begging from the 
starving fort-builders five measures of powder and a 
man to hunt for him to keep him alive. 

According to his purpose, Fraser proceeded to 
Natla, that is to say, Fraser Lake, and with live men 
began to erect a building in a picturesque position at 
the eastern end near its discharge into the Nechacho 
River, which in time became Fort Fraser. The sal- 
mon now began to come, insuring safety from starva- 
tion during the winter. But the natives of this lake 
being no less indifferent to the white man's merchandise 
than those of the other lake, the fort-builders were 
obliged to leave their labors and to do their own iisl i i 

Next, Fraser explored the lake, and found in the 
hands of the natives at the end opposite that on 
which he was building, some spoons and a metal pot. 
During the antumn Stuart crossed over to Trout 
Lake, hoping to obtain some goods; but as no canoes 
had arrived so far, all hopes were abandoned of fur- 
ther operations that season. 7 When it was too late 

6 'I assure you I am tired of living on fish,' now writes Fraser, who a few 
days b arful lest he with the rest should starve on account of the 

non-arrival of the salmon. 

1 '1 certainly was highly disappointed and vexed,' writes Fraser to Mc- 
Dougall the 21st of December, 'that no canoes arrived at this quarter, which 
is a considerable loss to the company, and a severe blow to our discovi 
Fraser's Letters. MS., 40. 


the goods came, and then Fraser lifted up his lamen- 
tations because the company would be displeased in 
not receiving fair returns for them, which it was impos- 
sible for him to make. 

Quite a scandal arose this winter over the woman 
La Malice had bought at Trout Lake, in which Mc- 
Dougall was mixed up to his detriment. It seems in 
the purchase of this woman some of the company's 
goods had been emplo} T ed, contrary to rule or prece- 
dent. Yet all this did not prevent both Eraser and 
McDougall from picking up temporary wives for the 

Meanwhile the fort-building went forward to com- 
fortable completion; and we can but accord these 
hardy pioneers the highest praise when we remember 
that these establishments have stood as the most im- 
portant posts of all that region for three quarters of 
a century. 

It was the earnest desire of Mr Fraser to continue 
his explorations down the river at the earliest possible 
moment the ensuing spring. He even thought of 
getting goods over on the ice, so as to be ready to 
start as soon as the rivers were open. But in this he 
was disappointed, there not being goods enough this 
side of the mountains to supply the newly constructed 
posts, to say nothing of a supply for exploring pur- 
poses. Attention was therefore given the following 
spring more to fur-gathering than to explorations. 

The most notable event in this localitj^ in 1807 was 
the building of Fort George at the confluence of 
Stuart and Fraser rivers. 8 Upon the lake above there 
were two establishments planted, but on the Great 
River as yet there was none; and should this stream 
become a great highway between the eastern ocean 

8 Fort George was placed on the right bank of the Fraser near the junction 
of the Xechaco, on a spot called Thleetleh. One would hardly suppose there 
could be such poverty of fort nomenclature as to recpiire calling Astoria 
Fort George, when there was one tort already on the western slope rejoicing 
in that name. 



and the western; should it prove to be the Columbia, 
as Mackenzie had thought,and above all should it prove 
to be navigable, as from appearances thereabouts there 
was every indication, then this post would be greatly 
needed. At all events it was at Fort George that 
Fraser now gathered his forces and supplies, and it 
was from this place that he had determined to take 
his departure on a voyage of discovery down this 
stream. 9 

Eraser River. 

In the summer of 1808, then, in company with 
Stuart, we find Mr Fraser swiftly descending' the 
stream which bears his name, under somewhat more 
favorable circumstances than those in which the first 
part of his journey was performed two years previous. 
Yet at best it was a daring feat, and he, as well as Sir 

•See Tod's New Caledonia, MS., 30: Anderson's Northwest Coast, MS., 
13-14, 29-30, and 98; Stuart's Nott t, passim,235; H ilkes'Nar. U.S. Ex.Ex.,vt. 
479; Select Com. House Commons l:< pt., 307; Die's Speeches, i. 40; British 
North Am., -274: Martin's 11. B., 25. 
Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 8 


George Simpson, who followed him twenty years later, 
are entitled to our hearty admiration. 

The party embarked at Fort George in fine condi- 
tion, about the middle of May. At the beginning of 
his journey Mr Fraser occasionally met a native who 
had seen Sir Alexander Mackenzie in his journey, 
but he was soon among those who had never beheld 
a white man. Animals were reported numerous, and 
the river little better than a succession of dangerous 
or impassable rapids and falls. The natives told him 
that if he would reach the sea he should follow the 
route of Mackenzie, which some of them well remem- 
bered, but Fraser answered them that whatever the 
obstacles he should follow that river to its end. 

The Indians along the route were well clad, intelli- 
gent, and peaceable. They had often heard of fire- 
arms, but few had ever witnessed their discharge. 
Often they would ask to have them fired, and on 
hearing the report they would fall flat on their faces. 
One day, while firing his swivel for their edification, 
it burst, wounding the man who fired it. . Mr Fraser 
now attempted to enter in his journal the course of 
the river after the manner of Mackenzie, though to 
little purpose. 

A notable slave, encountered on the 31st of May, 
professed to have ascended the whole length of the 
stream, and attempted to delineate its course, but 
failed. An Atnah chief, with his slave, accompanied 
the expedition in the hope that Fraser would build 
a fort on his land when he returned. This chief's 
brother bestowed valuable gifts upon Fraser, and 
charged him to take good care of his kinsman. 

The simplicity and coolness with which the fur- 
traders speak of hardships and dangers, I have re- 
marked ujDon before, but I am sure I can do no better 
here than to let Mr Fraser tell how he passed a bad 
place in the river on the 1st of June. "Mr Stuart, 
myself, and six men went to visit the rapid again, 
while the other remained to take care of the baggage 


and canoes. We found the rapid to be about one i 
a half miles long, and the rocks on both sides the 
river contract themselves in some places to within 
thirty or forty yards of one another; the immense 
body of water passes through them in a zigzag and 
turbulent manner, forming numerous gull's and whirl- 
pools of great depth. However, it was deemed im- 
possible to carry the canoes; it was the general 
opinion that they ought to be run down; indeed, there 
was no alternative than that or leaving them here 
Stuart remained at the lower end with La Garde and 
Waka to watch the natives, while the others were 
running the canoes down; though they appeared to 
be peaceable, it would not be prudent to allow the 
people to run down the canoes under such a steep and 
rocky bank without having a guard above, as it would 
be in the Indians' power to sink them all to the 
bottom were they ill inclined; and I returned to the 
upper end to see the people embark. Accordingly 
five of the best men embarked with only about 
eleven or twelve pieces. They immediately entered 
the rapid, but the whirlpools below the first cascade 
made them wheel about, and they remained a con- 
siderable time without being able to move one way or 
the other, and every moment on the brink of eternity. 
However, by the utmost exertion, they went down 
two others, till between the third and fourth, which 
is the most turbulent, the eddies and whirlpools 
caught hold of the canoe, and, in spite of them, 
brought it ashore in a moment; and fortunately it 
was it happened so, and that they were not able to 
get out again, for had they got down the fourth cas- 
cade, it would have been more than likely the} T would 
have remained there. Seeing it impossible to go any 
further, they unloaded upon a small point, in a very 
steep and high and long hill. Upon my way down 
to see what had become of the people, I met Stuart 
coming up, who informed me of their situation, li<> 
having seen them from the lower part of the rapids. 


Wo went down immediately to the place where they 
were thrown ashore, which we reached with much 
difficulty on account of the steepness of the banks. 
I often supported myself by running my dagger into 
the ground to hold myself by it. Happy we were to 
find all hands safe after such imminent danger. With 
much difficulty a road was dug into the hill with a 
hoe, about tne breadth of one foot, and a line tied to 
the bow of the canoe, and brought up an extraor- 
dinary bad and long bank. Had any of those that 
carried the canoe missed their step, all would have 
tumbled into the river in spite of those that hauled 
the line, and when that was effected, the baggage was 
brought up." 10 

The natives now reiterated their assertions that 
the navigation of the river below was impossible, and 
the explorers began to believe them. But when the 
unsophisticated red men were asked to loan or sell 
some of their horses to transport the effects, which 
they disliked extremely to do, they thought the river 
not so bad, and that perhaps it would be better to 
take the canoe. Fraser would avoid such hazardous 
risking of life if possible. " The tremendous gulphs 
and whirlpools," he says, " which are peculiar to this 
river, are ready every moment to swallow a canoe 
with all its contents, and the people on board, and the 
high and perpendicular rocks render it impossible to 
stop the canoe or get on shore even were it stopped; 
were the water lower it would be more practicable." 

The party now made preparations to leave two 
canoes, cache a large part of their baggage and pro- 
visions, and follow the road along the bank, which the 
natives assured them was good. With difficulty they 
succeeded in obtaining four horses; but on further 
consideration they determined to make another at- 
tempt to continue in boats. So shouldering the boats 
and luggage with the assistance of the natives, who 

10 Fr riser's Second Journal, MS. , 13-17. Mr Fraser says, from the top of the 
rocks looking over into the abyss the rapids do not look as dangerous as they 
in reality are. 


were more accommodating than hospitable, they next 
day took up their march, embarking on the stream at 
every possible opportunity. The natives spoke of 
having heard of white people who had descended the 
first large stream flowing in from the left, but whether 
they referred to Lewis and Clarke, or to the Fort des 
Prairies people, Fraser could not tell. 

Cutting roads and obtaining' uncertain eha. 
the river from the natives soon became tiresome, and 
after three days of it Fraser again determined to leave 
the canoes. It was true if they went down by land 
they would have to return in the same in; 
" But to proceed is my present object," said Fraser, 
"and if fortunate enough in that, we will always find 
our way back; for to gain that every person will be 
interested, which perhaps is not so much the case at 
present," and no wonder that the men whose courage: 
and obedience were remarkable, thus daily and hourly 
risking their lives at the command of their masters, 
as a matter of course, should not be specially eager 
to plunge into these death-dealing charms. The 
wild rapids they ran and the precipitous portages 
they made, lifting their luggage and canoes up per- 
pendicular banks where a single misstep would send 
them all headlong to death, appear to us almost in- 

On the fifth day they reached a portage where 
"the rocks contract themselves to within thirty yards 
of one another, and at the lower end is a rocky 
on the left shore. It is terrible to behold the rapidity 
and turbulency of the immense body of water that 
; $ in this narrow gut, and no less do the numer- 

ous gulphs and whirlpools it forms constantly striking 
from one rock to another. The rocks are amazing 
high and craggy, particularly on the right side, and 
the water in a manner seems to have forced a ] »a 
under them, and flows out here and there in num 
whirlpools and eddies that surpass anything of the 
kind I ever saw." Le Rapid Convert, as they called 


another similar place below, was, if anything, still 
narrower and more dangerous. 

There was another serious danger attending the 
navigation of a wild stream like this for the first 
time, which was not to be apprehended in travelling 
known routes. Often the boats were caught in the 
current and carried rapidly forward, when at any 
moment the navigators might come upon a fall over 
which they were sure to go to their destruction. 
Walking on shore, even over the plains, was as dis- 
agreeable as the portages were difficult and the rapids 
dangerous; for the thistles which pierced the soles of 
their feet were so bad that a pair of shoes would not 
last a whole day. 

Thus these hardy foresters continued their way, the 
history of each succeeding day varying but little in 
hazardous detail from that of its predecessor. At every 
step, while among the mountains, Mr Fraser was told 
by the natives that it would be impossible to continue 
in canoes; but one of his boats was named the Perse- 
verance, and, says Mr Fraser, "as it is my object to 
determine the practicability of the navigation of this 
river, though it would be much more safe and expe- 
ditious to go hj land, we shall not leave our canoes as 
long as there will be any possibility of taking them 
down by water or land." So the brave fellows worked 
their way through, and were finally rewarded by a sail 
upon the peaceful waters below. After examining 
the country thereabout to their satisfaction, mean- 
while regarded with threatening suspicion by the 
natives, they retraced their steps, and returned to 
Fort George on the Fraser. 11 

11 It was a long time before I could make up my mind whether Fraser 
ever reached the mouth of the river or jiot. The journal breaks suddenly off, 
leaving the party in the midst of their journey. That, however, implies 
nothing. Harmon, Journal, 173, who was the next prominent personage on 
the ground after Stuart and Fraser, states that Fraser went to the coast, 
where he received ill-treatment from the natives. Then came Simpson's dec- 
laration, Journal, i. 182: 'Fraser River had never been wholly descended by 
whites previously to 1828, when, in order to explore the navigation all the 
way to the sea, I started from Stuart's Lake with three canoes;' and think- 
ing surely the great governor knew everything, and would not wilfully de- 


Soon after the return to Fort George on the Fraser 
of the expedition last recorded, Simon Fraser pro- 
ceeded east to report what had thus far been accom- 
plished; by which easy and pleasant service he secured 
for the perpetuation of his name the second largest 
liver in this region. Meanwhile John Stuart con- 
tinued to look about him for advantageous sites upon 
which to plant additional establishments. 

Early in 1810 rumors were afloat that John Jacob 
Astor, whose operations in the then north-western 
United States were beginning in some small degree 
to rival those of the British companies across the 
line, contemplated a fur-trading movement on the 
lower Columbia, for the purpose at once of securing 
to himself that virgin field, of establishing a line_ of 
communication across the continent, and of opening 
trade direct between the Northwest Coast and China. 
However chimerical might be such plans, steps were 
being taken to carry them into immediate effect. In- 
deed^ certain of the disaffected in the service of the 
Northwest Company had already been allured to his 
standard by the offer of larger interests and larger 
prospective gains. 

These reports, which culminated in June of this 
year in the organization of the Pacific Fur Company, 
stirred the Northwest partners to yet more energetic 
action in their new north-west. A large and well 
appointed party under the command of David Thomp- 
son, surveyor and astronomer of the Northwest Com- 

ceive, I held to that opinion for several years, until finally coming upon a 
statement by John Stuart himself, who was one of the party, and should 
know how far he went, I concluded that the governor was in error. These 
are Stuart's words: 'The establishment on McLeod's Lake was found 
1805, those on Stuart's and Fraser's lakes hi 1S0G; that of Port George in 
1807, and it was from there that, in 1808, the expedition that traced the 
Jackanet (meaning the Fraser) Fiver of Sir Alexander Mackenzie down to its 
mouth, in latitude 49' north, took its departure; and finding the Jack 
until then supposed to be identical with the Columbia, to be a, distinct river, 
unconnected with the Columbia,' etc. Stuart's Notes in Anderson s Northwest 
MS., 235. Anderson, indeed, is yet more definite, sayin in p. L5 of 
his dictation: 'In 1S0S, Fraser and Stuart started will. I 
scend the Fraser. and with great dilliculty and perseyeram 
near to where New Westminster has since been located.' And again <; 
the ft ,cine intelligent author says they ' ran down the Fraser in 1808 to tie 



parry, was despatched to the western side during the 
summer of 1810, with instructions to build forts wher- 
ever trade should seem to justify, and narrowly to 
watch the operations of the new Pacific Company. 

The far south-east from Fort George on the Fraser 
commanded early attention. It was in this district 
that parties crossing the mountains by way of the 

Arrowsmith's Map. 

Missouri River would naturally first set traps and 
engage in traffic, and the wide-awake Northwesters 
intended to be ready for them. 

Firman McDonald, a clerk in the Northwest Com- 
pany, was sent to the Spokane River, where, about 
twenty miles from its mouth, a fort was planted 
which shortly after assumed considerable importance 
as the distributing point for the surrounding posts. 


It was from the Spokane House in May 1811 that 
we find a letter of Firman McDonald addressed to 
John Stuart in New Caledonia, intercepted at Fort 
Astoria, the letter having been sent by two native 
ssengers, who mistook their way intentionally, or 
otherwise, and finally reached the mouth of the Co- 
lumbia, causing there no small commotion, further 
account of which will be given hereafter. 12 

There were likewise posts established about this 
time on the Flathead or Clarke branch of the Co- 
lumbia, 13 and on the McGillivray, Flatbow, or Koote- 
nais River. 14 Fort Sheppard at the junction of the 
Flathead 1 " and the Columbia, Jasper House, or as it 
was sometimes called the Rocky Mountain House, 16 

12 Ross, Fur Hunters, i. 137, rails at the location of this post for six years 
or more as the depot of this district. He says that goods for the upper 
country were carried two hundred miles out of their way to be distributed 
from this place, and all by reason of the force of habit. It was quite . 
place in the days of its glory, with its fine buildings, stockade, and solid 
bastions, its ballroom and belles, its race-track and fine horses; for it was 
here the wintering parties met and fitted out, and a little fun mast be in- 
dulged in on such occasions. But it was finally found inaccessible; and they 
talked of removal first to Walla Walla, and finally to Kettle Falls, which wa.s 
done in 182(5, and the new port called Colville. Anderson's Nun 

MS., (j-7; Gray's Hist. (Jr., 43. Tor a time, as was once the case at many of 
these establishments, there were two posts at Spokane, one conducted by the 
Northwest Company, and the other by the Pacific Company, between which 
there was always fierce rivalry. Ross 1 Adv., 201-2. 

13 Flathead House was situated about one hundred and seventy-five miles 
east of Colville, A rrovosmith's Man. ' Situated on a point formed by the junction 
of a bold mountain torrent with the Flathead River, and surrounded on all 
si>ks with high and thickly wooded hills covered with pine, spruce, larch, 
beach, birch, and cedar.' Cox's Columbia River, i. 231. McMillan was in 

;e of Flathead House in 1813. Prior to the establishment of this fort at 
this place Cox and Farnham had selected a site forty miles west of tlie point 
upon which the fort was actually budt. See also House Commons' ! 
11. n. Co., 367. 

u Fort Kootenais was a little to the east of north from Flathead House, 
some sixty miles distant. Arroivsmith's Map. South-east of Flatbow Lake. 
Hist. Or., MS., 1ST. Gray, Hist. Or., 43, erroneously places it at 
the mouth of the river. See also House Commons' Rept. II . B. Co., 367. The 
post was of little importance save as a means of holding the country. A 5 
caily as 1S12 there were two establishments there, Montour being in charge of 
that of the Xoi'thwest Company, while Pellet acted for the apany. 

u Arrowsmith places this post at the junction of the Kootenais and the 

10 There are no less than three establishments by this name, no great dis- 
tance apart, laid down on Arrowsmith's map, one on Peace River, the one 
now mentioned as Jasper House, and one on the Saski 
House was once of considerable importance, both as the centre of a 
producing country, and as an important post on the regular 1. 
between Norway House and Edmonton on the cast, and the New Caledonian 



and Henry House, in Athabasca Pass, were estab- 
lished later. 

Over in New Caledonia, at the confluence of the 
north branch of Thompson River with Thompson 
River proper was erected a log-house, at first known 
as Fort Thompson, but which later became Fort 
Kamloops. 17 Thompson crossed the mountains at 

Thohpsox River. 

and Columbian districts on the west. Father De Smet, Oregon Missions, 
127-30, and Grant, Ocean to Ocean, 232, mention Jasper House as an impor- 
tant though then nearly abandoned station. Kane, Wanderings, 153-4, saya 
the place where he saw and made a sketch of it consisted 'of only three mis- 
erable huts,' and was 'only kept up for the purpose of supplying horses to 
parties crossing the mountains. ' 

17 Some time after there were two posts at tins point, both at the south- 
eastern extremity of Kamloops Lake near the entrance of Thompson River 
and the junction of the north branch. On Trutch's Map B. C, 1871, the one 
on the north and the west sides of the main and north branches is called Old 
Fort, and the one on the south bank is called H. B. C. Fort, A post was 
placed here in 1S12 by Alexander Ross for the Pacific Fur Company. Boss' 
Adv., 201-2. It is the establishment on the south bank that more properly 
takes the name of Fort Kamloops. Gray's Hist. Or. -13; Milton and Clueadte's 
N. W. Pass, 324. 


some point south of Peace River — probably lie came 
through Yellowhead Pass to Mount Thompson — and 
after a preliminary survey of his surroundings he 
regarded the north branch of Thompson River as more 
likely to prove an important tributary of the true 
Tacoutche Tesse of Mackenzie than the stream to 
which he afterwards gave the name of Canoe River. 18 
The more he examined this stream the more he became 
satisfied, from the description given by Stuart and 
Fraser, that this was not the river descended by them. 
Nor was it until he had reached Kamloops Lake, and 
had there seen all the tributaries of this river taking 
their decided westward course in one large body 
toward the defile where he knew the Fraser to be, 
that he became convinced that he had not been navi- 
gating the Columbia. 

Now the configuration of the country began to as- 
sume shape in his mind. Though in the midst of a 
boundless sea of mountains, with nothing familiar 
but the air around and the clouds and stars above, 
yet his course from this point was clear enough. 
Mackenzie had examined the region north of him 
between Peace River and the Pacific; Stuart and 
Fraser from Mackenzie's westward line had struck 
southward and traversed the intervening space be- 
tween his newly found river of Thompson and the 
sea; plainly the one direction where alone he might 
reasonably expect to find the object of his search was 
eastward. So retracing his steps to the little stream 
which sweeps south-eastward from the eastern base 
of Mount Thompson, he followed it downward to a 
point some distance above its mouth where he deemed 
it navigable for canoes, and there encamped. 19 

18 The upper "Fraser and the upper Columbia each have a stream occupy- 
ing similar positions, the former called on Trutch's Map, Canoe Creek, and 
the other Canoe River. Before Franchere was there in 1814, Regis Bruquier 
and other boatmen, if we may believe them, had ascended the Canoe River of 
the Columbia to its source, though their descriptions differ entirely from the 

19 Franchere recognized the spot in 1814, and indeed found there a sack of 
pemican, en cache, which proved extremely serviceable. 


It was now too late .to think of further operations 
this year, 1810. Ice was already forming in the 
streams, and the men were becoming exceedingly dis- 
satisfied over the scientific gyrations of their com- 
mander. Indeed, so mutinous became his people 
that at last they flatly refused to accompany him 
further, or even to winter on that side of the moun- 

It was extremely rare that the servants of the 
Northwest Company balked at anything. But in 
Thompson's party there were some raw recruits, 
and though of bad character and distempered minds, 
they were sufficiently strong to carry a majority; 
so that out of his large party only eight of his men 
remained faithful to him, the others helping them- 
selves to whatever they fancied from the general 
stores, and taking their way backward across the 

The little party now went into winter-quarters and 
made themselves as comfortable as might be. There 
was in reality nothing in their situation or prospects 
for the deserters to be frightened at. 

Early in the spring Thompson was again astir. 
First a canoe was built, from which circumstance the 
stream was named Canoe River. Then placing his 
superfluous effects en cache he raised camp and em- 

Descending Canoe River' to its mouth, he came in 
broad view of the main northern channel of the 
Columbia, whose gathered waters, brilliant in fresh 
beauty, danced downward toward the sea. Continu- 
ing his course from Boat Encampment he passed the 
Little Dalles and Arrow lakes, also the spot where 
are now Colville and Okanagan, to the junction of the 
great southern branch, being the first European to 
traverse this region in its whole extent. From Walla 
Walla the party continued down the Columbia until 
they came upon the Pacific Company's people, who 
had anticipated the plans of Thompson in building 


Fort Astoria, where he arrived the 15th of July, 
181 1. 20 

20 David Thompson was an entirety different order of man from the ortho- 
dox fur-trader. Tall and fine looking, of sandy complexion, with large 
features, deep-set studious eyes, high forehead and broad shoulders, the 
intellectual was well set upon the physical. His deeds have never been trum- 
peted as those of some of the others, but in the westward explorations of the 
Northwest Company no man performed more valuable service or estimated his 
achievements more modestly. Unhappily his last days were not as pleasant 
as fell to the lot of some of the worn-out members of the company. He 
retired almost blind to Lachine House, once the head-quarters of the Com- 
pany, where Mr Anderson encountered him in 1831 in a very decrepid 
condition. Mr Twiss, Or. Qites., 14, pronounces Mr Thompson a highly 
competent man. Cox, Col. River, i. 85, believes the chief object of the ex- 
pedition to have been the planting of an establishment at the mouth of the 
river before Astor's party should reach it. Ross, Adv., 177, says that Donald 
Mackenzie about this time used ' to start from Montreal and reach the mouth 
of the Columbia River, or Great Bear Lake the same season,' but he speaks 
carelessly. Gray, Hist. Or. 17, with his usual inaccuracy hrst brings Thompson, 
to Fort Astoria in 1S13. 




Big White's Visit to Washington— His Escort Home — Ezekiel William* 
on the Yellowstone and Platte — His Party Cct in Pieces by the 
Savages — Two of the Party Reach Los Angeles — Alexander Hexry 
Builds a Fort West of the Mountains — La Salle's Shipwreck at 
False Bay — His Journey from the Pacific Ocean to the Red River 
of Louislana — Project of the Winship Brothers— The 'Albatross' 
Sails from Boston and Enters the Columbia — Winship and 
hi* Mate, Survey the River— Choose a Site for Settlement on Oak 
Point — Begin Building and Planting — Their Garden Destroyed by 
the Flood — Move down the River — Hostile Attitude of the 
Natives — Abandonment of the Enterprise. 

As in the north, following Mackenzie's track, Scotch 
and English trappers from Canada and the Canadian 
north-west crossed the mountains and located estab- 
lishments on the western slope, so through the middle 
and southern passes, after Lewis and Clarke had told 
their story, reckless hunters from the United States 
frontier found their way, and made the first move 
toward sweeping those forests of their primitive in- 

Big White, chief of the Mandans, on the return of 
Captain Lewis from the Pacific, promised to accom- 
pany him with his wife and son to Washington, only 
upon a sacred promise that an escort should see 
him safely home. This pledge the government of the 
United States did not fail to redeem. Chosen for 
this purpose were twenty hardy Missourians, who 
under command of Ezekiel Williams set out from 



St Louis on the 25th of April 1807 with a two years' 
outfit, intending to trap on the upper Missouri and 
beyond the mountains. They were a bold, brave band, 
inured to hardships, and led by an experienced fron- 
tiersman of patient and unflinching energy. Of the 
party was a wild, impetuous youth, constantly losing 
himself when out hunting, and running into every 
manner of danger, not having sense enough to know 
what fear was. His name was Carson, not Chris- 
topher, although he might easily have been taken for 
his brother. On reaching the Platte, William Ham- 
ilton, of the company, sickened and died in the deli- 
rium of fever, his mind being filled with home and the 
loved ones there. 

By exercising due vigilance the hostile Sioux were 
passed in safety; and great was the joy of the Man- 
dans to find their chief restored to them. The word 
of the white man, how bright and strong a thing it 
was with these savages ! Would it might always have 
remained so. 

After a week's rest Williams and his party left the 
Mandan village, ascended the Yellowstone until they 
reached the country of the Blackfoot where beaver 
were plenty, and there set traps. Most unfortunate 
was it, indeed, the killing of one of these savages by 
Lewis and Clarke, for a half century of bloodshed 
followed it. Unluckily, also, a prowling redskin one 
day was caught in a beaver-trap, and although he 
easily made his escape the accident tended in no wise 
to allay the hate already raging. Shortly after, while 
making the rounds of their traps, the white men were 
surprised by over a hundred mounted Blackfoot and 
five of their number killed, the savages losing but one 
man. That night the survivors escaped into the Crow 
country. Captivated by the Crow maidens, and by 
the thought of establishing there a harem, one of the 
party named Rose concluded to remain. Bose was a 
desperado of the most villainous type. With robbery 
and murder he was on familiar terms, having indulged 


in piracy on the islands of -the Mississippi as a pro- 
fession. By such an one was European civilization 
destined to be first represented among the friendly 

Leaving there the renegade Rose, the party pro- 
ceeded to the head-waters of the Platte where they 
were again attacked by the savages, and five more 
hilled. Caching their furs they set out to leave the 
country, but on reaching the Arkansas, all but three, 
Williams, Workman, and Spencer, were cut off by the 
Comanches. Not knowing where they were, a differ- 
ence of opinion arose as to the best course to pursue, 
whereupon they separated, Williams descending what 
he supposed to be Red River, while the two others 
ascended it, hoping to reach the Spanish country. 
After many adventures, Williams reached Cooper's 
Fort, on the Missouri, where he procured aid and re- 
turned for his cached furs. Workman and Spencer 
on reaching the Rocky Mountains crossed to the 
Colorado, which they descended until coming to a 
well travelled trail leading them away to the east- 
ward. Shortly afterward they met a Mexican cara- 
van, consisting of forty men or more, on their way 
from Santa Fe to Los Angeles in California, Accom- 
panying them they wintered there, 1809-10. With 
their Mexican friends they went to Santa Fe the fol- 
lowing summer, where they remained fifteen years 
before returning to the United States. 1 

At St Louis, in 1808, as already mentioned in the 
chapter on the United States fur-trade in the preced- 
ing volume of this series, was formed the Missouri 
Fur Company 2 with a capital of forty thousand dollars. 

1 David H. Coyner, The Lout Trappers, tells this and much more in a 
homely but truthful and direct way which commands the reader's respect and 
confidence. Besides the adventures of these trappers about the sources of the 
Platte and Colorado, he has much to say of California, and of the Santa Fe 
trade. Mrs Victor, River of the West, 37-8, places erroneously the number 
of men killed at twenty-seven, and all at the hands of Blackfoot. 

2 The chief partners at this time were Manuel Lisa, Pierre Chouteau Sr. , 
William Clark, Sylvester Labadie, Pierre Menard, and Auguste P. Chouteau. 


Among their first movements was to send an expedi- 
tion to the upper Missouri and the Yellowstone under 
Alexander Henry, who was not only to establish posts 
on those streams, but was to cross the Rocky Moun- 
tains and open traffic with the nations of the western 
slope. Erecting an establishment at the forks of the 
Missouri, Mr Henry there made his head -quarters, 
but being dislodged by the Blackfoot the following 
year, he passed over the great divide, and built a 
house on the north, or Henry branch, of Snake River, 
one day's journey above its junction with the south or 
Lewis branch. This cabin, called Henry Fort, built 
in 1809, was the first establishment erected in this 
latitude west of the Rocky Mountains. 3 

Mention is made of one La Salle, said to have 
been wrecked in 1809, in the ship Sea Otter, at a place 
called False Bay, one hundred miles south of the 
entrance to the Columbia River, and who journeyed 
thence overland to the source of the Red River of 
Louisiana ; but so vague and incoherent is the state- 
ment that nothing can be made of it. 4 

The story of the Winship brothers has already been 

3 This from an address by Thomas Allen at an anniversary celebration, in 
February 1847, of the founding of St Louis, printed in De Boie's Indus- /.\ s-.inre*, hi., 'AG. Mr Allen's statements are loosely made, it being 
impossible to determine the meaning of some of them, or the dates of his in- 
cidents. Such, however, of his data as can be dated and fixed, constitute 
the highest authority as material for history. Waldo, Criliqiu s, MS., says he 
knew all about these people. Irving, Astoria, 140, quoting without credit from 
Franchere's Nar., 14G, gives 1810 as the date of establishing Fort Henry. 
Greenhow, Or. and C'aL, 292, states that the post on the branch of Lev : is 
River was abandoned by Mr Henry in 1810. Hunt found the fort vacant in 
1811. The Missouri Fur Company being dissolved in 1812, two years later 
we find Mr Henry in charge of a post in the Willamette Valley, engagi 
curing venison for the Northwest Company at Fort Astoria, and finally a prom- 
inent partner in the Northwest Company. He was drowned in a >mpany with 
Donald McTavish, shortly after the arrival of the Isaac Todd at Astoria. 
See Franchere's Nar., 221-3, and Evans' Hist. Or., MS., i 7. 

*The story lies between Henry R. Schoolcraft and ( teorge < tibbs, the former 
having obtained it from some ship's log. La Salle d< i bain earth- 

works (ai a river called Onalaskala, and the native i the country 

the Onalas, which names smack strongly of the i School- 

be word 'denotes the Mollala of the Willamette, ' \, trich is absurd. 
I ee Oregon Statesman, Jan. 1, 1853. There is Cape Foulweather on the coast 
one hundred miles below the mouth of the Columbia, but no False Cape. 
Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 9 


told; it only remains for me to add here a few partic- 
ulars regarding their attempted settlement. 5 

In the early part of 1809, in the counting-room of 
Abiel Winship, one of the solid men of Boston, was 
projected the first attempt to establish a settlement 
on the Columbia. Partners in the project were Abiel 
Winship, Jonathan Winship who commanded the 
OCain in the Pacific trade, Nathan Winship, and 
Benjamin P. Homer, one or two others having smaller 

Particulars were discussed and determined. The 
old weather-beaten but still stanch ship Albat 
was chosen for the adventure, with Nathan Winship 
as captain, and William Smith 6 as chief mate. Every- 
thing necessary for building, planting, and trading 
was included in the outfit, the prominent idea being 
permanent settlement. With a crew of twenty-two 
men the vessel was to proceed round Cape Horn to 
the Columbia, and ascend that stream some thirty 
miles, when the captain was to select a site for set- 

5 The only full and authentic account of this most important event is given 
in the manuscript which I have often mentioned called B 

whose author had before him at the time he \ es the ship's 

lurnal and the whole plan and particulars of the pi'oject. 

The adventure of the Winships is here presented from an inside view which 

with many other hitherto obscure points are now made clear. Evans, Hist. Or., 

MS., 87, says that Jonathan Winship, of Brighton, projected the enterprise. 

'This mate was a remarkable man, and but little less conspicuo 
Northwest Coast navigator than Winship himself. Smith was born in Vir- 
ginia hi 1768, went to Boston in 1790, and during the next thirty years made 
eight voyages round the world, beside one voyage to China and 1 »ack. See 
BostonDaily Advertiser, 1st Augiist 1820; Niles' Weekly Register, I2ih .'■ 

During this voyage of which I am now speaking, and which lasted 
eight years, Smith was in command of the Albatross, four years of which time 
the vessel was employed in carrying sandal-wood for William H. Davis and 
Jonathan Winship from the Hawaiian Islands to Canton. While hunting 
seals on the Californian coast he was caught by the Spaniards, and held pris- 
oner for two months. On the 4th of August 1812 the Albatross came sailing 
boldly across the dreaded bar of the Columbia, greatly to the surprise of the 
Astorians. When Captain Smith informed them, Franchere's Nar., 177-8, 
that he had been there in the same vessel in 1810, they understood how he 
was able to brave the bar. From this circumstance, Greenhow, Or. and < 'al., 
2!>2. received the impression, wholly erroneous, that Smith was commander 
of the ship and post at Oak Point in 1810, and subsequent writers, following 
Greenhow, gave the credit of this attempt to Smith instead of to Winship. 
The case is ably presented by Evans, Hist. Or., MS., 89-90. See also John 
S. Tyler and Timothy Dodd in Port Toivnsend Jlessaye, Jan'y 9, 1S0S; Swan's 
Scrap Book, ii. 30. 


tlement. It must be remembered that at this time 
the lower Columbia had been explored by no white 
man save the party of Lewis and Clarke,' Gray, . 
Broughton. The land was to be purchased from the 

natives, and a large two-story log-house, or fortress, 
was to be erected, with loop-holes for cannon and mus- 
ketry, and all the conveniences for defence. On the 
second floor were to be placed all the arms and ammu- 
nition, and to this part of the building no native 
over to be admitted. Entrance to the upper storj 
should be by a single trap-door, and the ladder shod ' 
be always drawn up after ascending. Land was to b<> 
cleared and cultivated under protection of the gi 
and not less than half the men were to be always on 
guard. _ Written instructions, embodying full del . 
were given the captain on sailing. A journal of the 
expedition was kept by William A. Gale, captai 
assistant, 7 Meanwhile, Jonathan Winship would bo 
on the coast of California, and would lend his ai< I . , 

The Albatross set sail in July 1 809, and during the sev- 
eral years of her adventures in the Pacific created qi 
a commotion, being seized on the Californian coast at 
one time, and blockaded by the British at the Hawai- 
ian Islands during the war. She was so slow a sa 
that the grass had ample time to grow on her unc 
pered bottom; but she was manned by humane officer ; 
and a good crew, and at her first anchorage, w! 
was the Easter Islands, two hundred days out, th 
was not a single case of scurvy or other sickness < n 
board. 8 After several other stoppages, for wood . 
water, during one of which ten natives were employ i 
to dive and scrape the ship's bottom of its barnac 
Winship reached the Hawaiian Islands, where lie 
found a letter from his brother of the OCain advisi 
him to hasten to the Columbia to cut oil' the ]; 

7 This journal was before the author of Boston in the 
time of his writing. 

8 'There arc better ships nowadays, but no better seamen.' Boston in 
Northwest, MS., 31. 


sians, who seemed to have a covetous eye upon those 
parts. 9 

Further suggestions were likewise made as to con- 
ducting the proposed settlement and as to subsequent 
joint operations of the brothers. Taking on board 
some hogs and goats and twenty- five Kanakas for 
laborers, the Albatross sailed from the Islands the 13th 
of April 1810, entered the Columbia the 26th of May, 
and passing the Chinook village, anchored about throe 
miles above it. 10 Five days were then spent in sound- 
ing the channel, which was found to be intricate, and 
the current strong, the ship meanwhile slowly fol- 
lowing the surveying boats up the stream. 

The 1st of June, Winship and Smith set out in the 
whale-boats in search of a site on which to plant the 
proposed establishment. Ascending five miles from 
their last anchorage, they came to where the river is 
suddenly narrowed by a projection of the south bank, 
forty miles from the sea. 11 On this projection grew 
oak-trees, the first found after entering the river, which 
fact gave it the name of Oak Point. 12 It was a pretty 
piece of fertile lowland, and they thought it just the 
place for their purpose. Therefore they returned, 
reaching the ship at seven o'clock that evening. Head- 
winds and a strong current prevented the ship from 
reaching the station before the 4th. 

Preparations were immediately made, and building 

9 The point recommended in this letter as most suitable was 'a spot about 
thirty miles above Gray's Harbor,' meaning Gray Bay on the north side of 
the Columbia about fifteen miles above its mouth. 

10 The Chinook village stood on the north side of the river about six miles 
above Cape Disappointment, so that the first anchorage was about opposite 
Knapton, some nine miles from the ocean. 

11 'On the south side of the river there is an indentation in the mountain to 
the south, and a bend in the river to the north, which forms a body of bottom- 
land several miles in width and some ten or twelve miles long, the greater 
part of which, except a strip varying from a quarter to a half a mile in width 
next to the river, is flooded during high-tide. This strip is covered with 
white-oak and Cottonwood timber.' Palmt r's -lour., 110. 

12 The place known as Oak Point to-day, is on the north side of the river 
opposite the original Oak Point, so that Mr Evans, Hist. Or., MS., 90, is in 
error when he says, ' Thus it will appear that the first American settlement 
attempted on the Columbia Liver was located in the present territory of 
Washington, at Oak Point, the site of the mills belonging to A. S. Abernethy.' 


begun. Ground was cleared, logs hewn, a garden-spot 
prepared, and seeds sown. But unfortunately the spot 
chosen hty so low that the summer freshets covered it 
with water to the depth of one or two feet before the 
building was completed. A higher spot was <•! 
a quarter of a mile below, and the logs floated down to 
it; but in the mean time the natives became so 
troublesome that Captain Winship determined for the 
present to withdraw. 13 It was evident the savages 

13 1 regard these operations of sufficient importance to give Mr < rale's jour- 
nal complete as it was written from day today. 'June 4th came to 
the best bower in four fathoms, within 15 or 2\) yards of the bank where the 
settlement is to be established, and carried a hawser from the bo 
made fast to the trees on shore. Part of the crew employed in unbending 
the sails. The carpenter, Avith the rest of the hands, and all the Sandwich 
Islanders, on shore felling and hewing trees for timber for the house. Juno 5th — 
All hands employed on board and on shore as yesterday, Capt. Y. 
and the second otlicer superintending the work on shore, building the log- 
house, felling and hewing young trees, and clearing and digging up a spot of 
land to plant, — (The first breaking of soil by a white man in Oregon.) The 
6th and 7th all hands employed on shore as above. The ship's tailor at 
work making clothes for the party who were to be left at the settlement. 
June 8th — Rands employed in felling trees. At night, heavy rains. The fol- 
lowing morning the rain continuing, found that the river had risen so much 
that the lot of land appropriated for the settlement was covered with from one 
to two feet of Mater, and at the house it was about eighteen inches in depth. 
This proved a very unlucky circumstance, as the building of it had ] 
considerably, being already raised in height ten feet with heavj I 
the spot of ground which had been cleared and dug up, in which was , 
planted the seeds of some vegetables, Mas, in the course of the forenoon, com- 
pletely overflowed. The whole will now have to be pulled to pieces, and 
begun afresh if a more convenient placecan be found. Mr Smith, with the whale- 
boat, was sent out to search for one. June 9th — Mr Smith returned to bhe ship, 
and it was determined by Captain Winship to pull to pieces that pari of the 
house which had been put up, and float the logs about a quarter of a mile 
further down-stream on the same side, wdiere the land is somewhat higher. 
In consecpience of the above determination, the gang on shore, c 
twenty-eight men, were employed in drawing the logs to the water to float 
them down to the new place. Every day, since arriving in the river, the ship 
had been visited by the Indians, in their canoes, bringing a few fui 
some salmon for trade; but they did not come in large numbers, and had not 
be< n troublesome. June 10th — The people employed as yesterday. This i 
noon several canoes arrived from Chinook and Cheheelees, containiii ; many 
natives, all armed with bows and arrows, or muskets; they informed us that 
laworth tribe, who had a village close to the place where v. e are 1 mild- 
house, had killed one of their chiefs about ten mon il that 
they had now come up the river for the purpose of punishing them, and in- 
tended giving them battle on the morrow. * At 4 o'clock the qi 
the shore gang was sent on shore to work as usual, which tin; 
until 11 a. M., when observing that the Indians, with their arms, began to 
■ where the people were at work, without any a 

was strongly suspected tha Lg to 

cut off our people on shore, in which ease, if they could have put it in 
tice, there would have been, with the few hands remaining on 


could only be restrained b}' force, and hostilities once 
I ired, an interminable war involving destruction 

a bare possibility of escaping with the ship. Some of the shore partj 
therefore immediately ordered on board, and the others were sent to work 
opposite to the ship, getting some logs into the water. Here thej 
under cover of the guns, -which, from apprehension of trouble, had been 

i and canister. The Indians continued to muster on 
yet declared that the quarrel was entirely among themselves, which we 

much doubted, as they were all mixed together, or wandering singly 
about without fear of each other, which increased our suspicion. One 

rtain, the Chinooks arc strongly set against our coining up the 
liver, wishing, as they say, the house should be built among thci 
and the lower tribes, and on another account, as they are in the habit of 
purchasing skins of the upper tribes, and reselling them to the ships which 
occasionally arrive at the river, they arc afraid, and certainly with i 
that the settlement being established so far up will tend to injure their i wn 
ey arc no doubt determined to prevent it if possible. Their inter- 
• serves only to prevent our work going on as we wish. They might 
be brought to reason by the use of force, but it would last no longer 
than while the ship ad when she left the river those left b 

: <• ship could leave would not be sufficient to 

I the house if the Indians should attack them, while to openly cultivate 
the ground would give the natives a chance to pick them off easily. June 
11th — Again the men were sent on shore to resume their »vork, which they 
contic [ two hours, when the Indians ound them in 

considerable numbers, aid being observed to .send their women and children 
.-.way, with o1 "is circumstances, the hands declared they did not 

fe to be on shore without arms. The officer therefore immediately 
came on board with them, and we soon after dropped the ship down opposite 
the new place, intending to go on with our work in the morning. While 
moving the ship the natives were scattered about among the trees, firing 
muskets and shouting. One of the Bavag E musket at 

< aptain Winship while he was sitting on the taffrail, but did not lire. 
During the night we got the waist-nettings up and loaded all the 
muskets, intending to give them a warm reception should thi 
attempt on the ship. We sent the long-boat on shore to clear away some 
bushes that lined the hank, but these rascals gathered round with hostile 
intent, and the party were called on board. Shortly after three chit 

other natives came alongside, but the chiefs were not allowed on board. 
When we spoke to them concerning their conduct, all we could get in reply 
was they were not afraid of us, but they wanted us to return down the 
Much to our chagrin, we find it is impossible to prosecute the business i 
intended, and we have concluded to pass farther down. On making this 
known to the Chenooks they appeared quite satisfied, and sold us some furs. 
It is intended, should it not be thought proper to leave the settlers here, if 
there should occur a chance, to punish these fellows for their insolence as it 
■ves. June 12th — The ship dropped further down the river, and it was 
now determined to abandon all attempts to force a settlement. We have 
taken off the hogs and goats, which were put ou shore for the use of the settle- 
ment, and thus we have to abandon the business, after having, with great 
difficulty and labor, got about forty-five miles above Cape Disappoint;: 
and with great trouble began to clear the land aud build a house a second 
time, after cutting timber enough to finish nearly one half, and having two of our 
hands disabled in the work. It is indeed cutting to be obliged to knuckle 
to those whom you have not the least fear of, but whom, from motives of pru- 
dence, you are obliged to treat with forbearance. What can lie more disagree- 
able than to sit at table with a number of these rascally chiefs, who, whil 
supply then' greedy mouths from your food with one hand, their bloods boil 
within them to cut your throat with the other, without the least provocation.' 


alike to trade and agriculture would be the result. 
In fact, on dropping down to Gray Bay the 17th of 
June, Wiriship was informed by the native pilot that 
it had been the intention of the Chinooks to capture 
his vessel, which they would surely have accom- 
plished but for his vigilance. After remaining for a 
time at Baker Bay, trading, the Albatross sailed away 
down the Californian coast, leaving upon the bank of 
the Columbia its first embryo metropolis with all its 
brilliant collateral conceptions in the form of a few 
hewn logs. u Astor's attempts prevented the Win- 
ships from further efforts the following year. 

"Franchere, Narrative, 178, saw traces of the projected estaWishment the 
year following. Gray, Hist. Or., 15, states that Wmship 'erected a house-' 
which was not the fact. A few logs were laid at the point first cleared, hut 
alter they were floated down to the subsequently selected site no building was 
even begun. Greenhow, Or. and Cal., 292, from whom Gray copied, also incor- 
rectly says that a house was built. 'If Oregon is annexed to the union, Cap- 
tain VVmship is certainly entitled to a claim for land as the first American 
settler upon the banks of the Columbia.' Boston Courier, quoted in Oreqon 
Spectator, April 29th, 1SJ/.7; see further for brief accounts Hind's M<r ~JIm, 
ff ; 2°2; John 8. Tyler in Saxton's Or. Ter., MS., 57; 7; . //, ,',' 

olst, l64o; Palmers Journal, 110; Hist. Northwest Coast, i. 325-G, this series 




Astor Arrives ts America— Engages m the Fn;-TRADE- Scheme for 
Monopoly West of the Rooky Mountains— Tiie Great Mart ox the 
Columbia— Rival Companies— Partners and Servants— The 'Ton- 
quin' and her Commander— Quarrels En Voyage— The Falkland 
Isles— The Hawaiian Islands— The Columbia River— Fatal At- 
tempts at Crossing the Bar— Baker Bay C sing a Site for the 

Fort — Friendlv Chinooks— Comcomly -Building of the Fort and 
Warehouse— The 'Tonquin' Bound Northward Episode ok the 
' Boston '— Jewitt among the Savages of Nootka Sound— Destrui - 
tion of the 'Tonquln' and Massacre of her Crew— Strange Ind- 
ians—The Northwest Company— David Thompson— A Fort on the 
Okanagan— Expedition to Okanagan Lake— The Chinooks at As- 
toria— Threaten ed Attack The 'Small-pox Chief'— Expedition 
up the Willamette— Christmas Festivities, 1811-1812. 

Among the earliest to turn their attention to the 
growing fur-trade of the United States was a young 
German who came to America during the winter of 
1783-4, at the very time the merchants of Montreal 
were organizing the Northwest Company. 

Bringing with him a small stock of merchandise, 
the result of early brokery among the hard heads of 
London, where he first indulged his juvenile pro- 
pensity for trafficking; bringing with him health, 
clearness of intellect, and energy; bringing with him 
above all a determination to become rich, so strong 
as to assume the forms of premonition and mania, 
John Jacob Astor seized at once as by instinct upon 
the traffic which at that time of all others was des- 
tined most rapidly to develop wealth. Selling his 



merchandise, he bought furs, took them to London, 
acquired a further knowledge of the business; and 
when the restrictions of Great Britain on the trade 
of her colonies were removed he bought furs largely 
at Montreal, where he made annual visits, and si lipped 
them to Europe and to China. Thus in a few years 
he became very rich; the effect of which on "such 
a nature was only to increase the cravings to become 
still more wealthy. 

Early in his career Astor saw the impotent jealousy 
of the new confederation upon the invasion' of her 
wilds by northern trappers, and determined to profit 
by it. Without expecting material assistance from 
the United States government, without indeed de- 
siring to hamper his shrewd activity by the sluggish 
patronage ^ of public sanction, he still might amass 
private gain. So he became a citizen of the young 
commonwealth; and for its greater comfort he wished 
it distinctly to understand that thenceforward his 
money-gettings should be those of a lawful subject of 
the United States. Under the high-sounding title of 
the American Fur Company, chartered in 1809 by the 
legislature of New York, incorporated with a capital 
of one million dollars, all furnished by one man, with 
a nominal board of directors, yet all managed by one 
man, Astor succeeded in almost monopolizing the 
United States fur-trade south of Lakes Huron and 
Superior, the Mackinaw Company, under the frowns 
of his adopted government, being his only serious 

This, hovever, did not satisfy him. Why should lie 
not become as great and powerful as any of the north- 
ern companies? Beyond the proximate fields of con- 
tention there was an almost untouched west, Patrick 
Gass had just described it; 1 and circumnavigators 
had told how sea-otters swarmed on the north-west- 
ern shores, and what a price their skins brought in 

'Cass' journal was printed in ISO?, while the official report by Lewis and 
Clarke as we have .seen did not appear until 1814. 


Here was an idea! This Northwest Coast was 
near to China, and between it and the east were many 
beaver and other valuable fur animals, all within 
United States territory. Now, to establish a line of 
forts across the continent, with head-quarters near the 
mouth of the Columbia, would be indeed a grand 
achievement, and give the great controller of them 
command not only of the fur-trade of America, but 
of the world. 

Examine the scheme more closely, for it is no 
ordinary project, emanating from no ordinary mind. 
Whether success or failure waits on this enterprise, 
already John Jacob Astor is a great man. Bold, 
keen, grasping, with a mind no less fertile than saga- 
cious, he is great, not as Newton, Washington, Lin- 
coln, and Peabody; but like Napoleon, or Vanderbilt, 
a greatness not to be admired but shunned. 2 

Thus the germ unfolds — stations along the track of 
Lewis and Clarke, up the Missouri and down the Co- 
lumbia, or south of the old Indian trail between the 
Dearborn and the Clearwater, if a better route may 

2 1 cannot agree with Irving in his estimate of Astor's character. There 
is nothing in Astor's history that would imply him to be more than a respec- 
table and wealthy merchant, of common honesty and uncommon ability, de- 
sirous of increasing bis wealth ami respectability by every legitimate means 
at his command. Had this scheme been based on self-sacrifice, or pecuniary 
loss for the public good, or the promulgation of some great principle, the 
current of unqualified sycophancy, trickery, sentimentality, and maudlin 
praise which runs through Astoria might be more bearable. That Mr Astor 
was an able man there is no doubt; that he was a remarkably patriotic or 
noble-minded man, actuated by higher than the usual selfish and mercenary 
motives, there is not the slightest evidence. There are whole pages in Asto- 
ria abstracted almost literally from Franchere. Pretending to draw all his 
information from private sources, the author makes no allusion to the source 
to which he is most indebted, not even mentioning Franchere's name once in 
his whole work. It is with exceeding regret that in Astoria I find myself 
obliged to take broad exceptions both to the author's integrity of purpose and 
faithfulness of execution. For half a century Irving h«*s been the literary 
idol of American readers; and for his writings no one has greater admiration 
than myself. In my study of his Columbus, I found his treatment of the 
Spaniards, and their doings at Darien, for the most part truthful and clear; 
and iip to this time the imputation that he had received money from Mr Astor 
for writing Astoria I believed to be utterly false, and unworthy of considera- 
tion. But in closely comparing with original evidence his statements concern- 
ing the New York fur-merchant and his associates of the Xorthwest Company, 
I find them so at variance with truth and fairness that I am otherwise at a 
loss to account for this unusual warp of judgment. 


be found ; subordinate posts along all the chief tribu- 
taries of the two great streams; the chief fort As- 
toria, the chief of chiefs Astor, the one to rival 
Fort William, or later even magnificent Montreal, the 
other to know no peer in America, or beyond. There 
is the long line of seaboard with its rivers, bays, and 
islands shirting virgin forests broad as the broad east 
together, a land as full of wealth as ever the far north 
in its lusty youth, washed by the self- same waves 
that beat upon the shores of China and the islands of 
mid-ocean. From this great mart, seated at the en- 
trance of the mighty River of the West, yielding to 
none in wealth, magnificence, or position, and impos- 
ing her terms upon the commerce of the coast and 
inland territory, from this vast emporium should sail 
vessels of every build and burden, making regular 
voyages to north and south, to Asia, to Europe, to 
Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, Furs could be 
taken to the China market in half the time required 
from Europe, and supplies could be brought hither by 
vessel at one tenth the cost of carriage overland. It 
would indeed be a smooth, glittering, golden round, 
furs from Astoria to Canton, teas and silks and rich 
Asiatic merchandise to New York, then back again 
to the Columbia with beads, and bells, and blankets, 
guns, knives, tobacco, and rum. As the Russians 
were indeed the only formidable power in these parts, 
Astor deemed it prudent to be exceedingly polite, to 
form treaties of traffic with them, defining boundaries 
and regulating prices, and furnishing them the lie 
sary supplies at better rates than they had been ac- 
customed to obtain, and so drive off United St; 
visiting and coasting vessels whose transient and i; . 
ular commerce tempted their supercargoes into w 
questionable practices demoralizing to the natives 
and to the fur-hunting business. All this would be 
grand for Mr Astor; and to it the government of 
the United States made no objection: so with this 
view he despatched in 1809 the Enterprise, Captain 


Ebbetts, to the Russian settlements on the North- 
west Coast. 3 

The thing could be clone, and should be; so said 

3 Captain V. M. Golovnin, of the Russian man-of-war Diana, in his MS. 
Report contained in the Sitka archives at Washington, writes that the Enti r- 
prise was at Sitka in June-July, 1810, and he gives an interesting anec- 
dote illustrative of Ebbetts' carelessness in handing liini documents which 
Astor had intended for his eyes alone. 'The arrival of American vessels in 
the harbor gave us an opportunity to be of use to the company. Two of 
these vessels, the Isabella, Captain Davis, and the Lydia, Captain Brown, 
having traded with the savages, had come to Sitka to trade with Mr Baranof, 
en passant. The third was a very large ship sent out from New York by 
John Jacob Astor, the Enterprise, Captain John Ebbetts, with a cargo of 
goods for our colonies, upon the advice of Mr Dashkof, Russian consul-gen- 
eral at Philadelphia. He brought a letter from Dashkof with proposals to 
make a contract with Aster, as the most advantageous course fur the com- 
pany, aud stating that Captain Ebbetts had full powers to arrange matters 
between them. Another letter, written by Astor himself to Baranof, made 
similar proposals, flattering the chief manager by calling him Governor, 
Count, and Your Excelleucy, showing that even the free, independent repub- 
licans know how to bestow titles when their interest requires it. The letter 
was written in French, but as Ebbetts spoke only English, and there was no 
interpreter of any foreign language in the colonies, matters were at a 
still. [Note of author. An American sailor, who was teaching the boys at 
Kadiak English (Campbell) without understanding Russian; a Pi 
skipper of one of the company's vessels, and a relative of Baranof, who had 
picked up a couple of hundred English words, comprised, previous to our 
arrival, the diplomatic corps of the Russian-American Company's colonies in 
America. But as the first two were absent, and the third could only speak 
on subjects to which he could point with his fingers, Baranof could not ci m- 
municate with the foreigners. ] Ebbetts had already concluded to leave with- 
out doing anything, but when he heard that we could speak both English and 
French, he asked our cooperation, which we freely promised, I and Lieutenant 
Ricord acting as interpreters. We translated all the letters and documents, 
and drew up the contracts, bringing the negotiations to a very satisfactory 
ending. We then concluded another kind of contract with the American, 
ain Davis, to take some Aleuts on his ship, and hunt sea-otters on joint 
account. Among other things, I happened to discover that the plan of Mr 
Astor and Mr Dashkof was not quite as fair as it looked, and not of equal 
advantage to both parties. It happened in this way. Ebbetts, desiring to 
let me know how much it cost Astor to build the ship and lit out his expedi- 
tion, gave me three books to look i iver. Two of them contained the accounts 
mentioned, but the third was evidently given me by mistake, and contained 
supplementary instructions to Ebbetts. By the document he was directed 
to call at certain Spanish ports on the American coast, and trade with the 
inhabitants, which was then strictly forbidden by the Spanish government, 
i :: 1 if he succeeded, to go to Sitka only in ballast to treat with Baranof; raid 
if the latter should ask why he had not brought any goods, he should make 
some excuses, that he had heard the colonies were fully supplied. He was 
also told to obtain the most minute details of trade and condition of colonies, 
their strength and means of protection, the actual power of Baranof, the re- 
lations between the company and the government. In brief, Astor wished 
to ascertain the feasibility of a seizure of these colonies by the United States, 
should such a course become desirable. I returned the books to Ebbetts 
without saying anything, but immediately wrote down the gist of the in- 
structions, and laid them before Baranof, who thought it best to send them 
to bhe directors, who, with their well-known wisdom, doubtless in course of 
time made the best use of it for themselves.-' 


the autocrat. Now in all that region there was but 
one power that Astor feared as an enemy. The 
United States was his friend. With Russians or 
Spaniards he was satisfied lie would have no trouble. 
The sluggish energy of the Hudson's Bay Company 
gave him little immediate uneasiness from that quar- 
ter, but the young, powerful, and progressive North- 
west Company it were well to mollify. Already two 
or three of their forts had been planted in the direc- 
tion of Mackenzie's explorations west of the Rocky 
Mountains, and the extension of their operations 
down the Fraser and down the Columbia was but a 
question of time. One great disadvantage the Mon- 
treal merchants labored under; they could not ship 
furs direct to China, that trade belonging exclusively 
to the great East India Company monopoly. More- 
over, for a time at least, their western posts must be 
supplied like their eastern, from Montreal, a long and 
tedious freightage to the westward of the mountains, 
which would so add to the cost of supplies, with 
the before-mentioned disadvantage of greater distance 
from market, as to render successful competition seem- 
ingly impossible. Then with their powerful rival, the 
Hudson's Bay Company, on their right, able to crush 
them by dead weight alone at any time their energies 
were fairly aroused, they might deem it advisable to 
join hands with the rising power on their south. 

Overtures were finally made them with the proposal 
that they should take a one third interest in the new 
company. The agents of the Northwest Company at 
Montreal took the matter under advisement, but after 
consulting with their inland wintering partners the 
proposition was declined. Nor was this all. Not only 
did the Northwest Company decline partnership with 
Astor, but they resolved that neither he nor any 
United States fur- trading company should ever gain 
a foothold on the Northwest Coast, and took imme- 
diate steps to supplant Astor in his purpose of taking- 
possession of the mouth of the Columbia by building 


a fort there before him; and for this purpose they 
immediately despatched a force thither. 

Nothing daunted, Mr Astor proceeded with his 
plans. The project was defined and the money ready — 
where were the men? Experienced fort-builders, fur- 
hunters, and Indian conciliators were necessary; not 
only men, but men who could command men. Every- 
thing depended upon the agents selected for the un- 

The best material for the purpose was undoubtedly 
in the Northwest Company, but as this could not be 
reached in the mass, might not some of its nembers 
be won to the new enterprise? The trick was worth 
trying. Several of the best men were approached, 
and successfully, by offers of high position and large 
interest, and many minor employes were enticed by 
promises of liberal pay and speedy promotion. Twenty- 
seven out of thirty-three who went by water were 
from Canada, and twenty of the twenty-seven were 
formerly members, clerks, or servants of the North- 
west Company. 

Alexander McKay, one of Mackenzie's most trusted 
men during his journey to the Pacific in 1793, 
Duncan McDougall, David Stuart, Robert Stuart, 
Donald McKenzie — all of Canada — and Wilson 
Price Hunt of New Jersey were made partners 
in the new company, and on the 23d of June 
1810 these and others associated under the name of 
the Pacific Fur Company. The stock consisted of 
one hundred shares, half of which was Astor's, and 
half divided equally among the others. Mr Astor 
was to be chief; he was to attend to affairs at the 
east, and furnish supplies at cost up to the value of 
four hundred thousand dollars. At the Columbia 
River the associates were to rule. Annual meetings 
should be held, and every member, either in person 
or by proxy, should have the right to vote upon 
the purposes and policj- of the company. For five 
years Astor was to bear all loss and yet divide the 


profits; after that the association might be continued 
for fifteen years, or if unsuccessful it might be dis- 
solved at. any time. Mr Hunt was appointed agent 
for the first five years, to reside at the company's 
head-quarters on the Pacific coast. 

There is little wonder that conditions like these, 
backed by the ability to carry them out, should entice 

In brave style the Canadian voyageurs, who had 
engaged to embark in this enterprise, presented them- 
selves to the staring burghers of New York. All 
the way from Montreal, in fact, they created a sensa- 
tion. Taking one of their bark canoes, manned by 
nine Canadians, with Alexander McKay as com- 
mander and Gabriel Franchere as clerk, they deco- 
rated it gayly, ornamenting their hats with parti- 
colored ribbons and feathers, and flaunting their best 
attire proceeded by way of Lake Chain plain and the 
Hudson River, conveying the canoe over the land at 
either end of the lake in wagons, striking up their 
thrilling Canadian boat-songs as they swept over the 
smooth waters, and making the hills resound with 
their shrill savage mirth. 

It was arranged that two expeditions should be sent 
to the mouth of the Columbia simultaneously, one by 
water from New York, and one by land from St 
Louis. Preparatory to the departure of the latter, 
another bark canoe was equipped, and a crew of four- 
teen Canadian boatmen, under Hunt and McKenzie 
with Perrault as clerk, conveyed it by way of Mack- 
inaw to St Louis engaging more men for the enter- 
prise on their way. 

For the ocean expedition a stanch ship of two 
hundred and ninety tons burden, and mounting ten 
guns, called the Tonquin, Jonathan Thorn com- 
mander, had been provided, which was to take out 
part of the company and supplies. Thorn was a lieu- 
tenant in the United States navy, having obtained 


leave of absence for this voyage. He was selected 
by Astor no less for his courage and habits of 
discipline, than for the prestige a government officer 
would give to the adventure. It was his business 
simply to manage the ship; with affairs on shore he 
had nothing whatever to do. 

The Tonquin sailed from New York on the 8th of 
September 1810 with a crew of twenty-one men 
and thirty-three passengers, all connected with the 
Pacific Fur Company. Of the partners were Dun- 
can McDougall, appointed to command in Hunt's ab- 
sence, McKay, and the two Stuarts. Eleven clerks, 
thirteen boatmen, and live mechanics completed the 
passenger list. 4 Ebenezer D. Fox and John M. Mum- 
ford were first and second mates, and John Anderson 
boatswain. On board, likewise, was James Thorn, 
brother of the captain. 

Between Astor and his associates the utmost con- 
fidence did not appear to exist. It was an experiment 
on both sides. Not without reason could Astor say, 
"These men have left their old engagements for me: 
will they not leave me the moment their interests so 
dictate?" Far-sighted as Astor was, the policy may 
well be questioned which drew from his most powerful 
rival, partners, clerks and servants, all foreigners and 
extremely clannish. Indeed, as we have seen, the 
Scotch Canadians specially stipulated that Astor for 
five years should bear all the risk, and if the venture 
proved a failure, they reserved the right at any time 
to break the engagement. Besides these precautions 
the wary Scotchmen consulted with Mr Jackson, agent 
of the British Government in New York, as to the line 
of conduct they should pursue in case the threatened 
war between the United States and Great Britain 
should break out. The reply was, that in such an 

4 The names of the clerks were as follows: James Lewis of New York; 
Russel Farnham of Massachusetts; "William W. Matthews of New York; 
Alexander Loss, Donald McGillis, Ovide I>. Montigny, Francis B. Pellet, 
Donald McLennan, William Wallace, Thomas McKay, and Gabriel Franchere, 


event they would be regarded as British subjects, and 
their rights as traders respected. 5 

Rumor having reached Astor that an armed brig 
from Halifax was waiting outside the harbor to im- 
press the British subjects on board the Tonquin for 
the purpose of delaying the expedition, application was 
made to the government for an armed escort, and the 
frigate Constitution accordingly was directed to act 
as guard until the voyage was safely begun. With 
final letters to the partners, exhorting them to har- 
mony, and to the captain, cautioning him against 
trusting the Indians, Astor committed his venture 
to the deep, and sat down to muse upon the profits. 

The voyage was in no way remarkable, unless we 
recite the bickerings between the captain and his pas- 
sengers. Though brave and honest, Thorn was surly, 
stiff-necked, and as thoroughly disagreeable a Yankee 
as ever crossed the path of Scotchmen. Not only 

5 It was indeed poor material for the United States government to place 
dependence upon in securing a foothold on the Pacific. A German speculator 
employs French and Scotch Canadians to plant fur-trading forts under the 
United States flag westward from the .Mississippi. In all the association there 
were hut five native-born citizens of the United States, and of these one was 
manager, three were clerks, and one cooper. Irving asserts that Astor 
'required that the voyageurs, as they were about to enter into the service 
of an American association, and to reside within the limits of the United 
States, should take the oath of naturalization as American citizens. To this 
they readily agreed, and shortly afterwards assured him that they had actually 
done so. It was not until after they had sailed that he discovered that 
they had entirely deceived him in the matter.' This is scarcely credible. The 
most charitable construction to lie placed upon the statement is that Astor's 
memory failed him. These boatmen were half savages, knew and cared nothing 
about naturalization, and would as soon swear to one thing as another. They 
were servants in the strictest old-fashioned sense of the term. Would not a 
shrewd business man like Astor have rather secured by oath the fealty of their 
masters, the managers? With a band of wild foresters about to visit court on 
important business connected with so vast an enterprise, a New York merchant 
would naturally have sent a clerk. The fact is, under the circumstances, it 
would have been next to impossible for these boatmen to have taken, or not 
to have taken, the oath without Astor's knowing it. Irving and Astor like- 
wise pretended that the visit of McKay to the British Consul was in the 
highest degree dishonorable, when by their own showing he had a perfect right 
to "do so. I am deeply pained to see Mr Irving lend his brilliant faculties to 
so base purposes. 

"Irving says, and without the slightest foundation for such an a 
' probably at the instigation of the Northwest Company.' Astoria, 50. The 
bias in the author's mind, which leads to constant flings of this kind, is in this 
instance all the more apparent when we remember that it wa bi 
rumor, that there was no brig there sent by the Northwest or any other com- 

Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 10 


must ship routine be arbitrarily squared to naval rules, 
but comfort or consideration for those on board was 
never thought of. If to any one beside himself he was 
responsible it was to Astor; these Montreal mongrels, 
many of whom never before smelled salt-water, were fit 
only for their forest associates. 

On the other hand partners in a large and respect- 
able fur company, accustomed to keep their posts in 
state, with retinues of servants, and clerks, and aged 
officers at their command, were not inclined to think 
lightly of themselves. Least of all were those who 
had held high positions in the Honorable Northwest 
Company disposed to brook the insults of a snappish 
ship-captain who in their service would scarcely have 
been rated a first-class servant. 

We are therefore not surprised to find McDougall 
and Thorn assuming belligerent attitudes. To all the 
men except the four partners and two of the clerks 
were assigned berths in the steerage; but this the fur- 
hunters did not mind; they were servants at best, and 
used to roughing it, and further they were just now 
more intent on studying the phenomenon of sea-sick- 
ness, than in finding fault with their quarters. The 
deck was crowded with goods, all was confusion, and 
the passengers generally uncomfortable. The first 
night out, following his naval training, which he ap- 
plied mechanically to all conditions and emergencies 
of life, the captain ordered all lights out at eight 
o'clock. Now it happened that the partners were not 
accustomed to retire at that hour, nor were they con- 
tent to sit the long evenings of their passage through 
in total darkness; the ship with all it contained was 
theirs, and the captain was in truth their agent, 
nothing more. Therefore they would retain their 
lights, and put them out when they no longer required 
them. Thorn .turned scarlet, then grew furious; 
finally he threatened to put the partners in irons. 

Now these fur-hunters were of various aspect. 
Some of them were tall and lank,, and moved slowly; 


some short and lithe, and quick of action. McDougall 
was of the latter caste. All were accustomed to de- 
fend themselves, none of them were afraid of wild 
1 icast or Indian, and none of them were afraid of 
Captain Thorn. Drawing his pistol McDougall in- 
formed him that any attempt to carry that threat into 
execution would assuredly prove disastrous to him. 
The lights were not extinguished at eight o'clock. In 
a word, the captain before setting sail seems to have 
clothed himself in disgust, and never afterward to 
have laid aside his raiment. 7 

Another incident of the voyage tends to illustrate 
the character of the captain. At the Falkland Isles 
the vessel put in for water. Quarters on board were 
cramped; for a time all had been on short allowance, 
and now the foresters wandered over the island and 
revelled for a moment in their old freedom. When 
ready to sail a gun was fired, but some from the 
roaring of the sea did not hear it. The captain after 
waiting the usual time deliberately weighed anchor 
and was off, leaving ashore with one of the ship's 
boats, McDougall, David Stuart, and a number of men, 
who as soon as they saw the vessel was gone threw 
themselves into the boat and rowed hard after it. 
For three and a half hours, with highly wrought 
feelings, these men toiled, the vessel gaining on them 
the while; and had not Robert Stuart, who was on 
board, placed his pistol at the captain's head, and 
threatened to blow his brains out if he did not in- 
stantly heave to and take them on board, lie most 
assuredly would have abandoned them on that rocky 
isle. 8 

7 ' The hopeless confusion and encumberment of the vessel's deck . I 
number of .strangers among whom I found myself, the brutal style ji b 
captain and his subalterns used toward our young Canadians ; all, hi a word, 
conspired to make me augur a vexatious and disagreeable voyage. The sequel 
will show that I did not deceive myself in that.' Franchere's Nar., 34. 

8 I take this from Fraflchere, who was one of the party left on the island. 
Irving gives an extract of a letter of Thorn to Astor H hich speak foi 
'Had the wind unfortunately not hauled ahead soon alter leaving the 

harbor's mouth, I should positively have left them; and, indeed, I c tot hut 

think it an unfortunate circumstance for you that it so happened, fur the lii t 


I do not say that the fur men were entirely blame- 
! jss. In a quarrel seldom is either side wholly right 
or wholly wrong. Captain Thorn called his passen- 
gers the hardest of names, filthy lubbers, whose smok- 
ing, gossipping, and singing were no less disagreeable 
than their silence. They kept many journals, wished 
to stop at every land they passed, and bitterly com- 
plained if they could not have at once and in unlim- 
ited quantities the best to eat and drink that the ship 
afforded. The partners, too, would sometimes quarrel 
among themselves on questions of precedence, and 
about the plans of forts which they would draw, but 
like children they would make up quickly and be friends 

Touching at the Hawaiian Islands the 12th of 

February 1811, they took on board, beside some hogs, 

ep, poultry, and vegetables, twenty-four natives, 

twelve for land service, and twelve for the use of the 

ship, and on the 28th sailed for the Columbia River. 

The irate captain's malady was now becoming a 
mania with him. Perceiving that it annoyed him, 
the frolicsome Scotchmen sometimes conversed in 
Gaelic, accompanying speech with mysterious gestures 
which a suspicious person might easily construe into 
the language of conspiracy. Once, indeed, the part- 
ners wished to open a bale of goods, which proceed- 
i ig the captain opposing, the Scotchmen made him 
distinctly understand that they were the stronger 
party, and would brook no interference from him. 
The captain prepared for an outbreak, and in this 
unhappy humor he reached the mouth of the Colum- 
bia the' 2 2d of March. A heavy squall drove the 
high waves upon the bar at the entrance of the river 

loss in this instance would in my opinion have proved the best, as they seem 

\ e no idea of the value of property, nor any apparent regard for your in- 

i rest, although interwoven with their own.' Lest the charitable historian 

- put all this down to braggadocio, and still refuse to believe it possible 

Eicer of the United States Navy could be so wantonly cruel, to prove 

self beyond all question a villain, subsequently at the Hawaiian Islands, 

c unmercifully beating with his own hand one of his ship's crew, lie pitched 

iverboard, leaving him to make the shore as best he could, and sailed away 

Without him. 


in a cataract of foam. So formidable did these br< 
ers appear that the captain durst not bring the ship 
within three leagues of them. Thorn ordered the 
first mate, Fox, to lower a boat, take Martin, a 
sail-maker, and three Canadians, with arms and pro- 
visions, sound for a channel, and return as soon as 
possible. Fox hesitated. He was a good sailor and 
a brave man, but the boat was old and leaky, ami 
with an inexperienced crew the mission was almost 
certain death. At various times during the voyage 
the captain had manifested a dislike for this man, as 
indeed he had for almost every one aboard; and the 
mate could not help feeling that his life was now un- 
necessarily placed in jeopardy through spite. 1 1 : 
begged the captain to give him sailors only for his 
crew. No; all the men were wanted on board the 
ship. He then appealed to the passengers. "I am 
not afraid to die," he said to them. "My uncle lost 
his life upon this bar not long ago, and I will give 
mine if necessary." 

MeDougall and McKay remonstrated with the 
captain upon the imprudence of sending a boat into 
such a sea, but this by no means helped matters; 
nothing could shake his obstinac} r . The boat was 
made ready, the crew pulled lustily away, while the 
crazy little craft, rising and sinking with the angry 
sea, lessened in the distance, and finally disappeared 
from view among the breakers. Night came on, and 
day, then night again, and no tidings from the boat. 
During the interval the wind once moderated and the 
ship approached the entrance, which still presented 
an almost unbroken wall of water; then toward the 
second evening the ship drew back from the danger- 
ous passage, back into the broad sea, while every fac • 
was sad, not even excepting the captain's, who had 
much reason to be afflicted. 

That night the wind quieted, and the curreni car- 
ried the ship near the shore north of Cape Disap- 
pointment, where she anchored in fourteen fath 


of water. Yet on the morning of the 24th the sea still 
flung its waves with violence upon the bar. 

It now became necessary to ascertain what had be- 
come of the boat, and to take further steps toward 
entering the river. Mumford, the second mate, was 
sent to find a passage, but he returned unsuccessful. 
McKay and David Stuart then went in search of Fox 
and his crew, but being unable to land they likewise 
returned to the ship. A breeze from the west now 
springing up, the captain determined to feel for a 
passage with the ship; but when within a league of 
the breakers, he was frightened at their aspect, and 
retired. One of the best remaining seamen on board, 
Aitken, was now directed to take the pinnace, and 
with John Coles, sail-maker, Stephen Weeks, armorer, 
and two Kanakas, to go before and sound a passage 
while the ship should follow. Shortly both boat and 
ship were among the breakers. Aitken was signalled 
1 > conie on board, but, with a cry of despair, he was 
carried so swiftly past the ship by the ebb-tide that 
his boat was soon out of sight. The sky hung low 
and lowering, and night soon closed in darkness round 
them. The ship struck several times, and the waves 
broke over her. The situation of those on board was 
becoming exceedingly precarious; they could render 
Aitken no assistance. Almost miraculously, as they 
thought, they were driven into Baker Ba} T , where 
they passed the night in safety. Xext da)^ the sea 
was still tempestuous. The natives brought beaver- 
skins, but the unhappy company were in no humor 
for trading. Eagerly but fruitlessly they asked the 
savages concerning their lost comrades. 

All hands not otherwise engaged now went ashore 
in search of the missing men, and among them the 
captain. Were all drowned, or were all or part saved \ 
Presently in the distance they perceived one of those 
they sought in a strange predicament. It was Week--, 
stark naked, and so feeble that he could scarcely stand 
or speak. Quickly clothing and feeding him they 


listened to his sad recital. It may be briefly told. 
Caught in the meeting of the wind-roll with the ebb- 
tide their boat became unmanageable, and finally over- 
turned. Aitken and Coles were immediately swept 
away never again to be seen. Weeks and the two 
Islanders threw off their clothes, seized the capsized 
pinnace, righted it, and by jerks threw out part of 
the water. One man then got into the boat and 
bailed out the rest of the water with Ids two hands, 
after which the others entered. One oar was found, 
and with that they attempted to reach land. Night 
closed in round them black and cold. Weeks urged 
the Islanders to bestir themselves, to take the paddle 
and work it in turn, but they were benumbed to in- 
difference. For himself Weeks knew that he must 
work or die. Toward midnight one of the poor 
Kanakas died, and the other, throwing himself upon 
the body, refused to move. At last the horrible night 
wore away, and when the daylight came Weeks found 
himself nearer the shore. He at once landed, assisted 
ashore the Islander, who still showed signs of life, 
and entered the woods, where they became separated. 
Immediately search was made for the Islander, but 
he was not found until next clay, and then more dead 
than alive. He was finally restored. The dead Ka- 
naka was buried by his countrymen from the ship 
that night. The other boat was never heard from, 

although diligent search was made for it. Fox was 

• • 1*11 

right when he said they were going to their death. 

To choose the site for a fort was now the next thin 
to be done, while the Tonquin kry in safety in Bali 
Bay. On the 27th of March the live-stock from the 
Islands was sent ashore and confined in pens; and on 
the 30th the captain, with McKay, David Stuart, and 
two or three of the clerks, embarked in the long- 
boat, which had been well armed, provisioned, and 
manned for the occasion, to survey the river banks 
in the vicinity. 

Five days were thus occupied, and the party re- 




turned without having agreed upon a location. Only 
the north bank, however, had been explored; conse- 
quently, McDougall and David Stuart determined to 
try the south bank. 

Embarking on the 5th of April, they promised to 
return by the 7th. The 7th came, but not the part- 
ners. Meanwhile the peevish patience of the captain 
had become exhausted, and he swore he would put an 
end to these sporting excursions, as he called them. 
On the very day the partners last embarked the cap- 
tain had begun to erect sheds on shore for the pro- 
tection of the cargo, which he threatened to land 
there at Baker Bay. McDougall, however, would 
not be balked in his present purposes. The captain 
might be supreme upon the sea, but on shore he was 
master. At all events, whatever was done with the 
goods, he would build no fort until he had found what 
he regarded as the best site. Hence the partners 
proceeded, as before mentioned, leaving the captain to 
vent his spleen in whatever direction he pleased. 

Their failure to appear at the time named arose 
from no negligence on their part, as they narrowly 
escaped with their lives in their endeavor to keep 
their word. On the 8th, certain Chinooks had re- 
ported the partner's boat capsized. The captain, 
however, who was not prepared deeply to mourn such 
an event, took no measures to ascertain the truth of 
the statement until the 10th, when, while preparing 
to send in search of them, two large canoes filled with 
natives made their appearance, bringing with them 
McDougall and Stuart. 

It appears the two partners, in pursuance of their 
promise, after having explored the south bank, had 
started on the 7th to return, though warned by the 
natives of the danger of such a course. Indeed, from 
their first appearance among them, the Chinooks 
had treated these tempest-tost strangers with every 
kindness and consideration. Comcomly, their chief, 
who though having but one eye could see more than 


most men with two, had met the partners on the hank, 
and given them every information in his power re- 
specting the country, and had entertained them hos- 
pitably at his village during the night. Nay, more, 
when he saw them bent on what he thought must 
surely prove their own destruction, this truly noble 
savage followed them for a mile or more in his light 
bark, which skimmed the rough waves like a sea-fowl ; 
and when their clumsier craft was struck and over- 
turned by a huge wave, and the white men were 
struggling for their lives, Comcomly was at hand and 
saved them. But for him McDougall, at least, who 
could not swim, would have there found a watery 

Taking: them back to land the savages built a fire 
and dried their clothes; after which they conducted 
them again to their village, and used every effort to 
render pleasant the three days the storm detained 
them there. And now they had brought them safely 
to their ship. Amidst the general rejoicing presents 
were freehy bestowed upon them. But this was not 
all. Comcomly's kindness McDougall never forgot; 
and not long afterward he took to wife a dreamy 
daughter of the Chinook chief. 

Though not thoroughly satisfied with their last sur- 
vey, it became necessary to fix upon some spot, and 
Point George, situated on the south side of the river, 
some twelve miles from the entrance, was finally 
selected. There from an elevated spot within a small 
bay the forest was cleared and the fort built which 
was called Astoria. A point which projects itself into 
tlie river a short distance above, they called Tongue 

" It was like Eden," exclaims Franchere, now lib- 
erated from the discomforts and dangers of a. long 
voyage; "the wild forests seemed to us delightful 
gr< >ves, and the leaves transformed to brilliant flowers." 
Twelve men first went over from Baker Bay in the 
launch, with provisions and tools, the 12th of April, 


and began the fort; the Tonquin followed, threading 
the channel at convenience, and returning the salute 
from the fort-builders as heartily as might be as she 
anchored in the cove. 

Trading now begins, and likewise ship-building. The 
frame timbers for several coasting schooners ready 
shaped for the purpose had been brought in the Ton- 
quin, and enough for one were now brought out, and 
the keel of a vessel of thirty tons was laid by John 
Weeks and Johann Koaster. 9 

Though the natives came forward in large numbers, 
they had but little beside a few land and sea otter 

< ■ ■, 

Fort Astoria. 

skins to sell. Curiosity and perhaps some slight pil- 
fering habits prompted frequent and long visits to the 
ship, on whose decks those glittering trinkets which 
savages love were temptingly displayed. The con- 
fusion attending this traffic, and the petty advantages 
derived from it, kept the captain's wrath constantly 
aroused. He openly manifested his feelings of dis- 

9 ' This schooner was found too small for the purpose. Astor had no idea 
of the dangers to be met at the mouth of the Columbia, or he would have 
ordei-ed the frame of a vessel of at least one hundred tons. The frames 
shipped in New York were used in the construction of this one only, which 
- mployed solely in the river trade.' Franchere's Sar.. 11, -IS. Fran- 
ehere, who' was one of the party, says, 101-2 : ' We embarked to the number 
of twelve.' Irving, 91, says there were sixteen. 


gust for Comcomly, of whom McDougall made so 
much. Angry altercations followed; but the fur- 
hunters were finally glad to land their effects and 
live on shore, preferring the discomforts of the weather 
to the captain's spleen. 

Finally a warehouse twenty by sixty-two feet was 
completed; a portion of the goods were landed, and 
the rest kept on board for traffic along the coast ac- 
cording to a prearranged programme. The ship 
crossed over to Baker Bay on the 1st of June, and 
on the 5th put to sea with Alexander McKay as 
supercargo and James Lewis for his clerk. Mum- 
ford, the second mate, was not on board because, 
strange to say, the captain did not like him; so much 
the better for Mumford. 

Might not Lieutenant Thorn, our most sturdy cap- 
tain, now shake from his feet the dust of Scotch fur- 
traders and filthy French voyageurs, and on the 
Tonquins cleanly scrubbed deck laugh at the dis- 
cordant past, laugh as with his own crew only on 
board she flew before the breeze, and swept gayly into 
the coves and estuaries of the admiring savages? 
Alas ! no ; with his evil temper, evil times forever at- 
tended him. Doomed to destruction, the gods had 
long since made him mad. 

The Tonquin w&s to coast northward for furs; after 
which she was to return to New York, touching at 
the mouth of the Columbia. On board were twenty- 
nine souls. Passing Gray Harbor, an intelligent 
Chehalis presented himself in a canoe and offered Ins 
services as interpreter, stating that he had twice 
made the voyage northward in that capacity. Taking 
him on board, the Tonquin sailed direct for Vancouver 
Island, and entering Nootka Sound came to anchor 
before a large Indian village. 10 

10 The Chehalis, from whom alone we have any direct relation, calls this 
village Newity, which misleads Irving, who, with Franchere before him, 
the only place where Lamanse's narrative is given, looselj liarbor 

where the Tonquin anchored, Newcetee. Now on all this island there is not 
and never has been a place called by any people 'the harbor of Neweetee, 1 


Before proceeding farther with the details of the 
capture of the Tonquin, let us refresh our memory 
concerning these parts from Jewitt's adventures, 
already spoken of in this work. 

At Nootka Sound, a spot unfortunate to early fur- 
traders, on the 12th of March 1803 appeared the 
ship Boston, John Salter master, having on board, as 
armorer, one John R. Jewitt, who, on his return to 
civilization as one of the only two survivors of the 
crew, after a captivity among the savages of over two 
years, published a narrative of his adventures and 

Jewitt was a native of Hull, England, where Massa- 
chusetts traders to the Northwest Coast were ac- 
customed to obtain goods suitable to their traffic. 
Young, ardent, and ingenuous, he was easily persuaded 
to accompany Captain Salter. Jewitt's father was a 
blacksmith, and his consent being obtained, he erected 
for his son, upon a plan of his own invention, an iron 
forge on deck, for which he subsequently obtained 
a patent, and fitted a vise-bench in a corner of the 
steerage, where he might work in bad weather. The 
young man's wages were thirty dollars a month, and 
there, as the wind blew and the vessel rolled, he 
hammered away upon knives and hatchets for the 
Indians, and put in order the muskets, of which there 
were some three thousand on board. His father also 
gave him a little money with which to purchase furs 
upon the coast, and sell them in China, whither the 
ship was bound before returning, and where he would 
invest the proceeds in goods yielding a further profit 
in England or America. 

Beside muskets and fowling-pieces, the ship took 
on board at Hull cutlasses, pistols, and a large quantity 
of ammunition; also English cloths andDutch blankets, 

noi* even any place on the coast by that name. At the entrance to Queen 
Charlotte Sound there is the nation of Xewitees, but we know the Tonquin 
never readied that point. In the absence of counter-evidence it is but fair to 
call the harbor Nootka Sound and the village Newity after Lamanse. See 
Xatice Races, i. 17-5, note 40. 


as well as knives, razors, beads, and looking-glasses 
from Holland. In addition to the ship's stores, then' 
were twenty hogsheads of rum, and quantities of sugar 
and molasses. 

The village of Nootka, whose king, or general i 
Jewitt calls Maquinna, was situated on Friendly Cove, 
five miles above which the Boston came to anchor, at 
a place where the captain hoped to wood and water 
the ship without molestation. 

Maquinna was a man of mild aspect and dignified 
bearing, six feet in height, and straight and well pro- 
portioned as a forest pine. Instead of the usual wide- 
spreading flaccid nostrils, his nose was roman, and his 
dark, copper-colored skin was covered from head to 
foot with red paint, two crescents like new moons 
being pencilled over his eyes. Arrayed in a magnifi- 
cent robe of sea-otter, extending to his knees, and 
belted with native cloth of divers colors, his long, 
black, well oiled hair sprinkled thickly with white 
down, and accompanied by his principal subordinates 
similarly attired, Maquinna several times visited tjie 
ship, and dined with the captain. The common people 
had likewise come, bringing with them fresh salmon, 
which were very acceptable. From intercourse with 
English and American trading-vessels, Maquinna and 
several of his people had picked up a few words of 
English, which, supplemented with their gestures, 
rendered them fairly understood. 

Captain Salter was extremely careful to avoid sur- 
prise, requiring every native before boarding his ship 
tn divest himself of all outward clothing which might 
conceal weapons; yet the subtle savages at length 
succeeded in throwing him off his guard. An unfor- 
tunate display of anger on the part of Captain Salter 
may have influenced the natives in their design. A 
fowling-piece had been presented to the chief, who 
returned it next day broken. The captain in a fit of 
anger cursed the chief for his stupidity, and threw 
the gun to Jewitt to be mended. Maquinna smoth- 


ered his resentment as best lie could, stroking his 
throat to keep his choler down, but answered never a 

Ten days had passed since the arrival of the vessel, 
when Maquinna asked, " When you sail ?" " To-mor- 
row," Salter replied. "You love salmon;" said Ma- 
quinna, "much salmon in Friendly Cove; why not go 
catch him?" The proposal pleased Salter, who sent 
the chief mate with nine men in the yawl and jolly- 
boat with a seine to fish, Maquinna and his chiefs re- 
maining on board to dinner. 

This was the 2 2d. The steward had been ashore 
in the long-boat to wash the captain's clothes, and re- 
turned about three o'clock in the afternoon, some little 
time after the fishing party had left for Friendly Cove. 
Maquinna and some twenty of his principal men 
were loitering about tho deck. They ^ were un- 
armed, and so meek had been their bearing, and so 
friendly their conduct, that by this time little atten- 
tion was paid to them. Surrounding the ship were 
occasional canoes, in which were warriors listlessly 
watching the movements of those on board. 

While the remaining members of the crew were 
engaged in hoisting in the long-boat, suddenly tho 
savages, seizing whatever implements lay nearest, 
sprang upon them, beat them down, and with the 
sailors' own knives cut their throats. Maquinna him- 
self grappled Salter and threw him overboard, where 
he was despatched by those in the canoes. The heads 
of the slaughtered mariners, to the number of twenty- 
five, w r ere then cut off and ranged in a row on the 
quarter-deck, their bodies being thrown into the sea. 
Those who had gone fishing with the chief mate were 
easily disposed of by the warriors at Friendly Cove. 

Jewitt escaped as by a miracle. At the time of the 
attack he was below, cleaning muskets. Hearing the 
commotion on deck, he rushed up the steerage-ladder 
only to receive a stroke with an axe which sent him 
back senseless. When he regained consciousness the 


hatch was closed. This had been done, he afterward 
learned, by order of Maquhma, who when he saw him 
struck forbade his men to kill him, preferring to re- 
tain as a slave a man so useful in making and repair- 
ing weapons. 

Presently the hatch was raised, and Maquinna's 
voice was heard, ordering Jewitt on deck. Blinded 
with blood, the trembling armorer appeared, assured 
that his hour had come, and believing himself spared 
thus far only to undergo the most refined and pro- 
longed tortures. Upon his faithful promise of obe- 
dience his life was spared. Maquhma then commanded 
him to take the ship to Friendly Cove, a feat which 
was accomplished with the aid of the savages, who 
made, however, but sorry sailors. 

It was then ascertained that the sail-maker, Thomp- 
son, was in the hold alive. Him Jewitt saved by 
feigning him to be his father, and refusing to live 
unless the other's life was preserved. 

Great was the joy of the victors over their brill- 
iant achievement, and from afar their friends arrived 
to join in their triumph. They stripped the vessel 
of her rigging and rifled the cargo, decking them- 
selves in coats, cloths, and sacks, men in women's 
smocks, with stockings drawn upon their heads, and 
women ornamented with shot-bags, powder-horns, or 
any article they happened to fancy. 

Four days after the tragedy, two ships were de- 
scried standing in to the harbor. The guilty savages 
were greatly frightened, and seizing their guns ran 
hither and thither on the shore, hooting and shouting, 
with many extravagant demonstrations. The vessels, 
which were the Mary and the Juno of Boston, there- 
upon stood out to sea, and were soon out of sight. Be- 
fore half of the cargo was out of the Boston she was 
burned, being accidentally fired by a native who was 
on board at night with a torch for pilfering purposes. 

His wounds healed, Jewitt, with a stone for an 
anvil, and a wood fire to heat his metal, was soon at 


work making knives for the men and bracelets for the 
women, which procured him high favor. 

Thompson was a native of Philadelphia, a power- 
ful, fearless, violent sailor of about forty years of age. 
By Jewitt's intercession alone he twice escaped the 
murderous vengeance of his masters for striking their 
children, whom he cordially hated. While at Nootka 
Jewitt kept a journal in a book which he found 
in the captain's cabin. For ink Thompson offered 
blood from his arm, but the writer's preference 
fell upon boiled blackberry -juice. Maqumna seeing 
him writing one day, and suspicious lest he should be 
recording the atrocities of the Nootkas, threatened to 
burn his book if he ever caught him writing again. 

While on a fishing excursion with the Nootkas to 
a place they called Tashees, a book was given Jewitt 
in which were written the names of seven sailors who 
had some time previously deserted from the ship Man- 
chester of Philadelphia, Brian master. From Ma- 
quinna, who made them slaves, six attempted their 
escape, but were captured and cruelly put to death. 
This was told Jewitt as a warning, that he should not 
desert to the Wicananish neighbor of the Nootkas, 
who was endeavoring to entice him away. 

Instead of wishing to leave him, Jewitt expressed a 
desire to learn the language, which pleased Maquinna 
greatly. Then the chief became confidential, and re- 
cited to his captive a catalogue of injuries as the 
reason why he had seized the ship. One Tawnington, 
captain of a schooner wdiich had wintered at Friendly 
Cove, armed his crew and entered the house of Ma- 
quinna while he was absent at the Wicananish pro- 
curing a wife, and carried away forty of his best skins. 
Four of his chiefs were killed about the same time by 
Martinez, a Spanish captain. Not long after, for 
stealing a chisel from the carpenter of the Sea Otter, 
Hanna, the captain, fired upon their canoes, killing 
over twenty men, of whom several were chiefs, Ma- 
quinna, who was on board at the time, escaping by 


leaping overboard and swimming some distance under 
water. These outrages recalled by Salter's insult, 
were kindled to a flame by opportunity, and quickly 
the dved was done. 

As time wore on, the common people, especially the 
Wicananish visitors, became very impertinent to the 
white slaves, and on Jewitt's complaint to Maquinna 
of their hard lot the king rejoined that they might 
kill any who insulted them. This privilege Thompson 
was not slow to avail himself of, bringing in the head 
of a Wicananish shortly after, at which Maquinna 
was highly delighted. Thompson likewise took great 
pleasure in slaying savages while out with Maquinna's 
war parties. Jewitt was forced to take a wife and 
adopt Indian costume, which he did as gracefully as 
possible, but being seized with illness arising from 
scanty covering, Maquinna pronounced his conversion 
a failure, and permitted him to divorce his wife and 
resume his old dress. 

Thus two summers and winters had now come and 
gone, when one day, in July 1805, while engaged in 
forging daggers for the king, the reverberant boom of 
three cannon greeted the ears of the captives. The 
thrill that these sounds sent to the heart was smoth- 
ered ere it reached the face. They had almost de- 
spaired of deliverance. Jewitt had written a letter 
which his friends the Wicananish had promised to 
deliver to some passing vessel, but though seven ships 
had appeared upon the shore -since their capture none 
had entered Nootka sound, and the letter was never 
heard of. 

The Boston was the largest and best equipped ves- 
sel hitherto fitted out for the Northwest Coast trade, 
and the destruction of such a ship with its attendant 
horrors had deterred others from visiting the place, 
although there was not the slightest danger provided 
proper care was exercised. 

Continuing to assume indifference to the arrival 
of the ship, Maquinna was thrown off his guard, and 

Hisi. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. II 


would not allow his people to kill the captives, as 
they desired. He expressed a wish to go on board 
the ship. His people remonstrated, but he assured 
them he was not afraid, and that he would go. He 
thereupon ordered Jewitt to write a letter to the cap- 
tain, which he did, informing him that the bearer 
was the principal chief, Maquinna, who had destroyed 
the Boston and killed the crew, and begging him to 
hold the chief captive until he and his companion 
should be set at liberty. 

Line by line Jewdtt pretended to explain the epistle 
to Maquinna, whose sharp eyes seemed to penetrate 
the armorer's hopes through their mask, but the 
reading was quite the reverse of the writing. "John, 
you no lie?" earnestly demanded the chief. It was a 
terrible ordeal for the captive. A word, a gesture, a 
blush, and his life would pay the forfeit. Gathering 
strength in measure with his need, Jewitt presently 
raised his eyes, and answered calmly and firmly: 
"Ty ee, have you ever known me to lie?" It was 
enough. This savage possessed a really noble nature. 
He had treated his captives well, and he believed 
them firmly attached to him. Yet the lie had been 
w 7 ell told which should serve their purpose better than 
the truth. 

Scarcely had Maquinna set his foot on deck when he 
found himself in irons. Great was the guilty chief's 
terror, and great the consternation of his people. 
Jewitt and Thompson were at once permitted to go 
on board, this being the only way of saving the king's 
life. The captain wished to put Maquinna to death, 
but Jewitt pointed out the uselessness of such a 
course. This was a savage. He had been insulted, 
his men murdered. He employed such means of re- 
dress as God gave him, revenge. Besides, he had more 
than once spared the lives of his captives when his 
followers demanded their blood. So Maquinna was 
.released, and the usual butchery omitted. 

The ship proved to be the Lydia, Captain Samuel 


Hill, from Boston. All that was left of the Boston was 
secured before Maquirma's deliverance. The Lydia 
continued her course northward for four months, when 
she returned, and entering the Columbia for spars, as- 
cended the river ten miles to a native village, from 
whose inhabitants Jewitt learned of the visit of Lewi 3 
and Clarke a fortnight before, in proof of which medals 
Mere shown. Thence the Lydia again proceeded to 
Nootka, to trade with Maquinna, who received his old 
friends with grateful consideration. 

Continuing northward until the 11th of August 
1806, the Lydia then sailed for China, where Jewitt 
met a fellow-townsman, a sea-captain, who gladly sup- 
plied his necessities, and conveyed to his father the 
intelligence of his safety. Jewitt remained in the L;)< lia 
until she reached Boston, which w r as in June 1807, 
where Francis and Thomas Amory, owners of the 
Boston, treated him with every kindness. 

Before leaving New York Captain Thorn had been 
warned by his emplo3 x er not to trust the natives of 
the coast too far. " All accidents which have as yet 
happened there," WTote Astor in his parting injunc- 
tion, " arose in too much confidence in the Indians;" 
and the interpreter now bears out this caution, and 
notifies him of the treacherous character of these peo- 
ple in particular. Nevertheless, not only was neg- 
lected the usual precaution taken by traders along 
these shores of rigging a boarding-netting round the 
deck so as to prevent too many from coming on board 
at once, but the captain did not even take the trouble 
to intimidate the savages by appearing before them 
properly armed. During the afternoon the natives 
came on board freely, and by evening apparently the 
most friendly relations had been established. Mc- 
Kay was cordially invited to spend the night on 
shore, which he did, reposing luxuriously in the chief- 
tain's house on a bed of otter-skins. 

Early next morning, while McKay was yet ashore, 


large quantities of furs were brought by the natives 
i o the ship to trade. The goods were properly ar- 
ranged upon the deck, and prices imposed by Lewis 
and Captain Thorn. But the natives were captious 
in their bargainings. Prices were too high, and the 
goods were not of the best kind or quality. For 
twenty years great ships had come from over the 
< »cean for their furs, and they knew well enough the 
ways of white men. There was one old Shylock- 
featured chief that made himself specially odious to 
Captain Thorn, who held all savages in supreme con- 
tempt. This fellow seemed to direct the dealings of 
all the rest; and when the price was laid down for 
their skins he would treat the offer with contempt, 
and demand twice as much. 

Thorn felt his choler rising; but after all, it would* 
not sound well in polite circles to have it said that a 
lieutenant in the navy sailed a peddling-ship all the 
way round Cape Horn, and then thrashed the sav- 
with his own hand because they were more skil- 
ful traders than he. But the old chief growing more 
and more insulting, insomuch that all trade was 
brought to an end, and Thorn's wrath waxing hotter 
and hotter, he finally ordered the chief to take his 
traps and leave the ship. Some of the savages pre- 
pared to obey the order, but the old chief stirred not 
an inch, only the hitherto cunning leer left his face, 
and a stare of stolid indifference took its place. But 
when Thorn, overcome with fury on seeing himself 
thus defied upon his own ship's deck, seized the fellow 
by the hair, jerked him to his feet, and as he shoved 
him toward the ladder struck him in the face with a 
roll of furs brought there to trade, a cloud of deadly 
hate overspread his dusky features, while his eyes 
t fire. On the instant the deck was cleared of 
natives. Not a man of them was to be seen. They 
quitted the ship as one might recoil from a pestilence. 

McKay was greatly troubled when he heard of 
the fracas. A lucrative traffic had been disgracefully 


broken up by the captain's irascible imprudence. No 
enterprise could be successful under such management. 
This was no way to treat savages. Of what avail is 
our boasted civilization if it brings no power over 
passion, if it docs not give us an increase of that 
intellectual superiority which distinguishes men from 
brutes? Standing there face to face upon that ship's 
deck the high-spirited gallant Thorn was the sava 
and the huckstering redskin his subaltern. 

McKay was also alarmed. He knew the Indian 
character well, and from what he had seen ashore h i 
was satisfied that these w^ere of more than ordinary 
intelligence, and that they were no less vindictive and 
cruel than they were cunning. He knew that this 
blow, this most deadly insult a savage can receive', 
would sooner or later be avenged. Goingf at once I > 
the captain he told him this, explained the situation in 
which they now stood to the people ashore, that 
henceforth they would be regarded as enemies, that 
blow being a declaration of war in its most insul 
terms. He urged him to depart from that bay. 
lose not a moment; the wind was now favorable, let 
him set sail at once. 

Thorn laughed at him; pointed to his guns, and 
strutted the deck. Pausing a moment before McKay, 
with features full of savage vindictiveness, he ex- 
claimed: "Do you think I would run before a lot of 
naked redskins so long as I had a knife or a hand- 
spike?" To the interpreter who now approached him 
with fear depicted on his face, warning him against 
further intercourse with people ashore, he deigned no 

Nothing unusual happened during the rest of the 
day, and the night passed without disturbance. Very 
early next morning, with faces bright as the sun, some 
twenty natives came alongside the ship in a 1. 
pirogue, each holding over his head a roll of Jars, 
thus signifying that they desired to trade. A little 
smile of triumph broke over the captain's face, as he 


turned to McKay and said, "You see how it works. 
Treat these fellows gingerly, and the)' ride over you ; 
show them that you are not afraid of them, and will 
not put up with their damned impertinence, and they 
behave themselves." 

Admitted at once to the deck, they did indeed con- 
duct themselves in a most circumspect manner, being 
very respectful and orderly, and making not the slight- 
est objections to the prices given for their skins. 
Another boat arrived bringing as many more men, all 
with otter-skins, and of the best quality- The captain 
was in a glorious good-humor. He loved to triumph, 
not less over those about him, than over the barba- 
rians ashore. 

Moreover, this would enable him all the sooner 
to finish this business, of which he was heartily 
tired, and return. In like manner a third pirogue 
came off, and a fourth, and a fifth, all being freely ad- 
mitted, until the deck was crowded. 

: awhile the interpreter and the sailors on watch 
had become alarmed, not less at the throng of savages 
admitted on board en masse, than that under their 
suspicious scrutiny they had observed that while 
some packages of their furs, and those of the best, 
they would freely dispose of, other rolls they would 
keep back, demanding an exorbitant price for them. 
r, the women kept charge of the canoes; not 
one of them appeared upon the deck. These suspi- 
cions were communicated to the captain, who now 
himself became alarmed; for the Indians as if by 
accident had ranged themselves well round the ship, 
while the late happy expression on their faces was 
changing to one of sombre concern. 

There was no mistaking it; and what made it worse 
still, neither the captain nor any of the crew were 
armed. He would away from there at once, and as if 
to second the resolve, a favorable breeze just then 
ang up which would carry them out finely. Five 
sailors were ordered aloft to unfurl the sails while the 


rest were weighing anchor and making ready to 

The savages were leaning listlessly about the ship, 
apparently unconcerned in whai was going on, yet not 
a movement of the white men escaped their vigilant 
eye The captain now ordered them to their boats, 
as the ship was about to sail. Each savage then r 
picked up his roll of otter-skins and thrust his hand 
within it, when at a preconcerted sign;'.! out came 
knife and bludgeon, and with a terrific yell they threw 
themselves upon the captain and his crew. L 
was first struck, and fell upon a bale of blankets. 
Two savages who had marked McKay for their own, 
and had followed him step by step since the order 
was first given to sail, now fell upon him, knocked him 
senseless, and pitched him overboard, where the women 
despatched him with their paddles. Another set en- 
gaged the captain, who drew a clasp-knife and for a 
time defended himself, but was finally cut to pieces. 

Meanwhile the butchery about the ship was gen- 
eral. Four of the sailors who w r ere aloft slipped down 
the rigging, and dropping through the steerage hatch- 
way, secured' themselves below; the other was laid 
i by a stab in the back as he was descending. 

The interpreter, who up to this time had been 
seated on the poop, now made signs- to the women in 
the canoes that he surrendered himself a slave, and 
thereupon dropped himself into the water. Tat 
him up they hid him under some mats, and con- 
veying him to the shore kept him in durance for 
two years, when he was ransomed by his friends of 
Gray Harbor. " Soon after," said he, " I heard the 
discharge of fire-arms, immediately upon which the 
Indi ls lied from the vessel, and pulled for the shore 
as last as possible; nor did they venture to go along- 
side the ship again the whole of that day/' 

As all the rest had been massacred, that is to say, 
if Lewis was not yet alive, and we have no re; 
for 11] ing that lie was, undoubtedly the tiring was 


clone by the four sailors, who dropped from the rig- 
ging below, broke through into the cabin, seized arms, 
and with them cleared the ship. This shows how 
easily all might have been prevented if the traders 
had used ordinary caution, and had simply carried 
their arms. 11 

The Indians from the shore, watching the ship as 
the tiger watches its prey, next clay saw four men 
lower a boat and make for the sea. Instantly a score 
of pirogues were in chase; "but whether those men 
were overtaken and murdered," says the interpreter, 
" or gained the open sea and perished there, I never 
could learn." They were never afterward heard of. 

And now all was silent on board the Tonquin. Her 
bloody deck was strewn with the bodies of those who 
had so lately been her life; and there she lay soulless, 
a sepulchre upon the sea. Warily the savages made 
their approach, as to a thing living, yet dead. Round 
her they swept in their canoes, by degrees narrowing 
the circle as the absence of life on board stimulated 
their courage, until in swarms they gathered round and 
clambered upon her deck. She was now the common 
prize of all. Huddled on board, and clinging to her 
sides were five hundred men and women, eager for 
plunder. Suddenly, with a terrible boom, the vessel 
blew up, filling the air with the mangled and dismem- 
bered bodies of the savages, two hundred of whom 
were slain. 12 The ship immediately sank, and thus 

11 'Captain Smith of the Alhatross, who had seen the wreck of the Tonquin, 
in mentioning to us its sad fate, attributed the cause of the disaster to the 
rash conduct of Captain Ayres, of Boston. That navigator had taken off ten 
or a dozen natives of Newitty, as hunters, with a promise of bringing them 
back to their country, which promise he inhumanly broke by leaving them 
on some deserted island in Sir Francis Drake's Bay. The countrymen of 
these unfortunates, indignant at the conduct of the American captain, had 
sworn to avenge themselves on the first white men who appeared among 
them.' Franchere's Nar., 1S7. 

12 In this fatal disaster of the Tonquin, as in every other matter that comes 
within my work, 1 have endeavored to state the unvarnished truth. Here 
arise perhaps more than the usual difficulties in distinguishing the true from 
the false, owing to the fact that the most graphic accounts and those which 
should be the most reliable are misleading. Accuracy is everywhere sacriiieed 
to effect. More than usual if possible in his Astor relation, Irving here 


terminated the maritime first part of the Astor 

To return to Fort Astoria. Prior to the sailing of 
the Z . and while building was still in prog] 

rumors reached the fort through the natives, that a 

company of white men had established th< 
above a certain rapid. There was not a doubt that it 
was the Northwest Company, whose powerful organ- 
ization the Astor party were called upon to coinl 

thus early in their occupation of the Columbia. At 
all events they would ascertain the meaning of it. 
Hence on the 2d of May a company, of whom Robert 
Stuart, Franchere, McKay, and Montigny were lead- 
gives wings to his brilliant imagination, and permits it to carry him whither- 
soever it will. While acknowledging himself indebted for the facts to the 
same Gray Harbor interpreter, whose narrative Franchere reports verba- 
tim, he follows him only so far as suits his conception of what a good story 
ought to be. First he invents names for the chief Indian characters; the 
interpreter he calls Lamazee, which is the first Chehalis Moid I have 
encountered with a 'z' in it. There is nothing specially objectionable to 
Wicananish as the name for a chief, but Nookamis and Shewish, by which 
terms he designates the old aboriginal Shylock, and the chief's son, would 
better suit more southern tribes. It is astonishing, tiiis intimate know 
of the individual members of a band of hose very tribal mane and 

habitat he is entirely ignorant ! The stories of Captain Thorn kickin 
peltries, the short fur mantles under which the savages' weapons wen 
cealed, the selecting of knives in their barter, the finding of Lewis mortally 
wounded, but not dead, down in the cabin, etc., are pure romance. One can 
but admire the facility with which this charming author sends seven 
into the rigging, instead of five, in order that he may have two more to 
graphically kill, and keeps the interpreter on the ship long after he left, so 
that lie might finish his story, and work to heroic pitch the 'strategic death 
of Lewis, and his wholesale revenge. Irving's assertion that the four men 
were caught, brought back, and tortured, and that the interpreter held con- 
versation with them in which they informed him of all the little particulars 
which occurred after his departure from the ship, and prior to the expl 
have not in them all a word of truth. But it is hardly wise to criticise fiction 
as though it were fact; 1 only wish to establish what is fiction, and what 
fact. For the elegant and philosophic writer of novels I have the most pro- 
found admiration; but as there are many who have all their lives regarded 
Irving's Astoria as true history, it is but my duty to inform them that many 
of its most brilliant passages are pure fiction. Says Franchere: "It will 
never be known how or by whom the Tonguin was blown up. Some p 
to say that it was the work of .1 hut that is impossible, lor it ap- 

pears from the narrative of the Indian that he was one of the firsl persona 
murdered. . .It might also have been accidental. . .Or, again, the men 
quitting the ship may have lighted a slow train, which is the most Likely 
supposition of all.' The fact that Irving possessed some other information 
than Franchere, does not in this instance carry mm 

catastrophe there happens to be but one \ i I canchere gives his 

narrative in full. See also Hist. Northwest (Joad, i. 327-b, this series. 


ers, was despatched up the river. On their way they 
ascended the Cowlitz for a short distance, many of 
whose people had never before seen white men. Then 
proceeding up the Columbia as far as the Cascades 
without learning anything of the intruders they re- 
turned, reaching Fort Astoria on the 14th. Mean- 
while the building approached completion. A dwelling 
and powder-magazine were put up, all of hewn logs, 
enclosed, and roofed over with cedar bark. 

On the 15th of June 1811, the native:] brought in 
two strange Indians whose dress was totally different 
from that of the tribes of the Columbia, being of dressed 
deer -skin, robe, leggings, and moccasins, like those 
worn to the east of the Rocky Mountains. Neither 
could they understand the dialects of the lower Co- 
lumbia, but made themselves known by means of the 
Knisteneaux tongue. 

It appeared that the Northwest Company were 
alreadjr on the ground with a determined force, that 
beside the early establishments about the head-waters 
of Peace and Fraser rivers which followed Macken- 
zie's exploration, there were already at least two others 
farther north and west. For these savages said they 
had been sent with a letter, which they showed, writ- 
ten by Firman McDonald, a clerk of the Northwest 
Company, from a fort which had been established on 
the Spokane River. The letter was addressed to Mr 
John Stuart, Fort Estekatadene, New Caledonia. 
The messengers, not knowing the exact locality of 
this post, had lost their way, and had followed the 
Tacootche Tesse, as they called the Columbia River, 
to the falls, where, learning that white men were 
below, they doubted not that they should here find 
him to whom the letter was addressed. 13 

13 It was afterwards ascertained that these were women, though one of 
them was dressed as a man, thinking in that garb idic would meet with 
greater respect. They were remarkable characters. They were a sort of 
uncivilized mountebanks, and practised skilfully and successful 1 y most of the 
cheats known to both white men and savages. Among the natives they pro- 
fessed great influence with the fur-hunters, which might secure them great 
blessings. On the journey with them up the river, which subsequently took 


Tliis intelligence was the more unwelcome because 
the Pacific Company in their present stale were un- 
able to plant posts and successfully compete with 
their more powerful rival for the trade of the interior. 
Detaining the messengers for several days, however, 
and obtaining from them all information possible re- 
garding the country and its people, they determine I 

nipt to hold their own, and plant post for p • \ v. it h 
them, until their resources should be wholly exhaust ed. 
Hence David Stuart, with the requisite men and 
merchandise, made ready to return with the two na- 
tives to some spot not far distant from their rivals, 
where they too would build a fort and open trade. 

The 15th of July was the day appointed for their .de- 
parture. About noon on that day, while loading their 
canoes, a large canoe propelled by eight white men, 
with flying colors, swept round Tongue Point and made 
straight for a little wharf which had been built at the 
landing-place. What apparition was this? Mr Hunt 
was to take the route of Lewis and Clarke, and win 
as they had done on the Missouri; hence it could not 
be he. Soon they saw that the flag displayed wa 3 
British, and the crew Canadian boatmen. As the 
boat touched the wharf, a well dressed fine-looking 
man, whose every motion proclaimed the gentleman, 
sprang ashore, and without ceremony, announced him- 
self as David Thompson, partner and astronomer of 
the Northwest Company. He was politely received, 
and quarters within the fort assigned him and his 
men; for seldom did these foresters permit rivalry in 
trade to balk their hospitality. Here were 
whom they at the time supposed to be sent especially 
to anticipate or supplant them in the execution of 
their legitimate purpose, in the consumm 
most important plans; and yet they could not but 

place, Ross was unable to account 'for the cordia] ' with 

hem for their ; > 
able . 

arrival at I takiuaqken they had no less than twenty-six b< n es 3 i 
. heir false reports. 1 


feel as men of one color and language meeting thus in 
the wilderness, and that there were nobler considera- 
tions which should govern the moment than those of 

Briefly Mr Thompson gave account of himself. He 
had crossed the continent the summer before, had 
started with a large party well equipped and stocked 
for trade, but had been deserted by all but eight men, 
from which circumstance, having reached the head- 
waters of the Columbia at the western base of the Rocky 
Mountains, he was obliged to winter there. As soon 
as spring had cleared the river of ice he had built a boat, 
and in it had descended the river to that place. He 
further stated that the wintering partners would agree 
to leave in the hands of the Pacific Company the entire 
traffic west of the Rocky Mountains, abandoning all 
posts already constructed, provided the Pacific Com- 
pany would not interfere with their trade on the cast 
side. In proof of which he produced a letter from the 
wintering partners to the Honorable William McGil- 
livray, chief of the Northwest Company in Canada. 
Should the Pacific Company decline this offer, the 
Northwest Company could do nothing less than to 
press western occupation, and to that end had de- 
spatched a large force to the new field, and had dis- 
tributed the British flag freely to the natives along 
the route. 14 

The arrival of Mr Thompson, who as elsewhere 
stated was the first white man to descend the northern 
branch of the Columbia, delayed the Stuart expedition 

11 FrancTiere's Nar., 121. Irving says not a word of this offer. In his zeal 
for Astor, he seems to me unfair to the Northwest Company. He stigmatizes 
Thompson as 'a spy in the camp,' and already insinuates treachery on the 
part of MeDougall, 'who had a lurking feeling of companionship and good- 
will for all the Northwest Company,' because he extended to one of their 
members the common courtesies of woodsmen. I cannot understand why 
this was not a fair proposition, made in an open, manly way, and one which 
the Pacific Company would have done well to consider, would have done in- 
finitely better to accept. The eastern field was already well nigh exhausted ; 
the western was new. It was something like the offer made the Franciscans 
of Mexico by the Dominicans, which the former were prompt to accept, and 
which gave them in consequence Alta California in exchange for the sterile 
hills of the peninsula. 


eight clays. Whatever terms might be arranged for 
the possession of the Northwest Coast between Mc- 
Gillivray and Astor, the establishment of interior forts 
was part of the original plan, which the proposed com- 
promise would not in the least affect. Hence it was 
resolved that Stuart should proceed as if nothing had 
happened. It was quite a little fleet that left the fort 
the 23d of July 1811. Stuart, with four cler 
Pellet, Koss, Montigny, and McLennan, four boat- 
men, Thompson and his crew, and the two native 
messengers, all in their light canoes under sail. It 
was quite a little commerce the old Columbia was 
stirring up. Thompson was at once to proceed to 
Montreal, and by him McDougall despatched a letter 
to Astor. 

Stuart and Thompson continued in company for 
some distance past the Dalles, when the latter pushed 
forward, leaving the former to proceed more leisurely 
in his examination of the country for the selection of 
a site for a fort. Stuart continued his ascent of the 
main Columbia until he reached a broad treeless 
prairie surrounded by high hills. The plain was rich 
in tall grass. The landscape was open toward the 
south-east but closed with pine-trees toward the 
north. It was fragrant with flowers, and musical 
with birds; and through it, down from the northern 
lakes, came a clear cool stream which the natives 
called Okanagan, and joined its waters with those of 
the Columbia. At the junction, on the bank of the 
Okanagan, Stuart determined to place his fort. 15 

Few spots in all the north-west could have been 
more favorable for the location of a factory. Besides 
a delightful climate, friendly natives with multitudes 
of horses, rivers abounding in fish, and the adjacent 
forests well stocked with game, natural highways 

15 This first interior fort of the Pacific Company was placed on the <;ist 
bank of the Okanagan a few miles above its mouth. It was l! 
place of the overland brigade, and in due time became the elm I 
the deposit of furs from the New ( laledonian district. Mnlayson's V. I., MS., 
G7; Evans' Hist. Or., MS., 187; Gray's Hist. Or., 12 3; Franchere's Nar., 
131; Boss' Adv., 150, 201. 


were opened far to the north and east, and to the 
south and west even to the sea. Caught in the bends 
of the rivers was an abundance of drift-wood, with 
which, after landing his supplies, Stuart erected as 
the beginning of an establishment, a log-house sixteen 
feet by twenty, after which, satisfied that for the 
winter lie could dispense with a portion of his men, 
and willing to brave the untried perils of the place, 
he sent back Pillot and McLennan to Astoria, where 
they arrived the 5th of October. They brought as 
passengers Regis Bruguier, a wandering Canadian 
trapper, and an Iroquois hunter named Ignace Shon- 
owane, with his wife and two children, come hither 
to try their fortune. 

Finding the natives not only friendly but intelli- 
gent, kind, and exceedingly desirous the white men 
should establish among them a trading-post where 
they could obtain useful articles, with a courage bor- 
dering on the reckless for so staid and careful a trader 
as David Stuart, he now determined to leave the post 
in charge of Ross, with not a solitary companion, 
while he with Montigny and the two boatmen should 
make an expedition to the north. The matter was 
successfully accomplished, Ross keeping solitary vigil 
throughout the entire winter of 1811-12. 16 Ascend- 
ing the Okanagan to its source, the party crossed 
south-westerly a height which brought them to Thomp- 
son River where, the snow coining upon them, they 
passed the winter with the Shushwaps. 

Finding the natives well disposed and the country 
abounding in beaver and other furs, Stuart made ar- 
rangements to return the ensuing winter and build 
a fort there. This was the first expedition of white 
men into the region round Okanagan Lake. The 
Astorians were by no means idle ; it is estimated that 

16 'During Mr. Stuart's absence of 1S8 days I had procured 1,550 beavers, 
besides other peltries worth in the Canton market 2.250Z. sterling, and which 
on an average stood the concern in but ?,\d. apiece, valuing the merchandise at 
sterling cost, or in round numbers 35/. sterling; a specimen of our trade 
among the Indians!' Ross' Adv. 150. 


during the first year of their occupation of the Colum- 
bia their explorations in various directions numbered 
ten thousand miles. 

The Chinooks about the mouth of the Columbia 
River upon mature meditation had arrived at two 
conclusions: they would like their country cleared of 
white men, and they would like what little merchan- 
dise the white men had stored in that vicinity with- 
out tlie trouble of so much trapping and trafficking. 
Briefly, they concluded to take the fortress and kill 
the occupi nts. Fortune seemed to favor their design 
by lessening the force at Astoria, both 1 iling 

of the Tonquin, and the withdrawal of eight good 
fighting men by Stuart. Preparatory to attack the 
entire population withdrew, and for miles around not 
a native was to be seen where before were hum! reds. 
There was a Judas in their camp, however, a second- 
ary chief friendly to Stuart, who unfolded to him the 

All business at the fort was suspended. The 
entire force was employed preparing for defence. 
Pali o put up, and in bastions at cither end 

were mounted four small cannon. A guard was kept 
day and night. Though Comcomly was as profuse in 
his nrofession of friendship for McDougall a ev< v, lie 
va.-»u;;t wholly free from the suspicion of having a 
hand in the affair. Red men are much like; white 
men in i ! !; business must always take prec i- 

dence of friendship. 

AJb it the same time savages from Gray Harbor 
and Juan do Fuca Strait gathered in large numbers 
at Baker Pay, ostensibly for the purpose of fishing 
for The Tonquin massacre was freely dis- 

cussed by them, and gave strength to their plans. 
Thence rumor of the catastrophe reached the fort, 
but little attention was paid to it, as it was th i 
only a ruse. But later, when certain Chehalis not 
only confirmed the rumor but detailed in part the cir- 


cumstances, the report caused some uneasiness, and 
yet the thing was not believed possible. 

As trade fell off and dangers increased and pro- 
visions became low, McDougall determined to try a 
stratagem, so as if possible to set forever at rest all 
those itching propensities of his future father-in-law 
and his neighbors to strip the scalps and finger the 
property of the fur-traders. 

There was nothing in this or any other world these 
poor people so feared as the small-pox. There had 
been enough of it along the coast to show them what 
it was, and they abominated it as the double-edged 
scourge of white man and devil. Summoning all 
the chiefs of that vicinity, McDougall, after solemn- 
ly smoking, informed them that he had something 
very important to communicate, something which he 
had never told them, and which no one knew. "You 
imagine," said he, "that because we are few you can 
easily kill us, but it is not so; or if you do you only 
bring the greater evils upon yourselves. The medi- 
cine of the white man dead is mightier than the red 
man living. It is said that the men on board our 
ships, twenty in number, are killed; but if this be 
true, did not the ship alone, unmanned, kill two hun- 
dred of the murderers, ten for one? But what is the 
white man's ship compared with the white man him- 
self? You know the small-pox. Listen: I am' the 
small-pox chief. In this bottle I have it confined. 
All I have to do is to pull the cork, send it forth 
among you, and you are dead men. But this is for 
my enemies, and not for my friends." Like children 
as they were they begged the small-pox chief not to 
let loose upon them his terrible medicine. The pro- 
posed attack was not made. 

Without startling incident the winter wears away. 
The 2d of October the schooner is launched and 
named, with the usual formalities, the Dolly. The 
natives retire from the sea-shore to their winter-quar- 


ters in the interior; less and less game is brought in, 
and finally Robert Stuart makes a voyage up the river 
for the threefold purpose of trading, cutting staves, 
and obtaining food. Three men deserting on the 10th 
of November, Matthews and Francherc are sent with 
five natives in search of them. They ascend the river 
as far as the falls without success, but on starting to 
return they find the fugitives, who were by no means 
unwilling to be captured. They reached the fort on 
the 24th, narrowly escaping shipwreck in a storm just 
before landing. On the 5th of December, Robert 
Stuart, with Pellet, McGillis, and Bruguier, set out 
to examine the Willamette River, and determine if a 
trading-post should be opened on its banks, the natives 
having reported many beaver there. The country 
proved a garden, indeed ; replete with all the beauties 
of nature, and well stocked with animals, birds, and 
fish. But for beaver, the great staple of the fur- 
trader, the Cowlitz, the Blue Mountains, and the 
country of the Shushwaps afforded greater attrac- 
tions. The time being now past when the Tonquin 
should have returned, fear grew upon them that the 
report of the Indians was too true. 

The annual Christmas festivities were celebrated, 
though the fare was poor. The 1st of January 1812, 
was hailed with a discharge of artillery, and although 
the allowance of spirits was short, dancing was kept 
up until a late hour. The festive season over, all 
hands returned to their ordinary occupations. A barge 
was built by the carpenter; charcoal was burned for 
the use of the blacksmith; the cooper was busied upon 
barrels to supply the need of posts yet unestaMisht <l ; 
while the rest cut timber for additional buildings and 
stockades. On the evening of the 18th of January 
there arrived two canoes of white people, being the 
first detachment of the overland party, whose jour- 
ney we will now briefly trace. 

Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 12 




The Overland Party— Wilson P. Hunt— Rendezvous on the Missouri— 
New Partners— Ascent of the Missouri — Manuel Lisa— Horses 
Purchased at toe Ricaras' Village— The Cheyenne Country— The 
Big Horn Mountains— On Green River— TnE Shoshone Country— 
Head-waters of the Snake— Unfit for Navigation— A Dissatisfied 
Partner— Dangerous Rapids— Party Divided into Four— The 
Devil's Scuttle -hole —A Terrible Journey — Famine — Horses 
Bought— Ne\v Year's Dance of the Canadians — Feast on Dog- 
meat— The Blue Mountains— Among the Tushepaws— The Colum- 
bia—Arrival at Astoria. 

The overland party, it will be remembered, was 
placed by Astor under the direction of Wilson P. 
Hunt, partner in charge on the Pacific coast, Mc- 
Dougall acting as chief only during his absence. 
Hunt was a most able, conscientious, and reliable 
man. He followed unflinchingly what he deemed the 
right, and was nobly unselfish in the performance of 
duty. He stood by Astor when all others deserted 
him, never allowing his own interests to interfere with 
those of the company. Up to this time he had had 
no experience in forest life ; but there are men efficient 
wherever you place them. Thus his friends represent 
him, and such I should like to believe him; he most 
be judged, however, by his own actions. 

While effecting arrangements for his expedition, 
Hunt made his rendezvous near the junction of the 
Nodowa River with the Missouri, not far from where 
is now St Joseph. The party numbered about sixty. 
Besides Hunt there were four other partners, three of 



whom were added to the company after th< 
of the maritime expedition. Donald McKenzie, on \ 
of the original partners, had been for ten years in the 
service of the Northwest Company. Be was . 
tomed to camp life, proficient in Indian stral 
good shot, and a good fellow. Engaged in fur-trading 
on his own account along the Missouri was a young 
Scotchman, Ramsay Crooks, formerly of the North- 
west Company, a worthy gentleman of high integrity 
and enterprise, whom Hunt invited to join as partner. 
The invitation was accepted. Another, made partner 
by Hunt, acting for Astor, was Joseph Miller, a 
native of Baltimore, formerly army officer and trap- 
per; and the fourth, Robert McClellan, a man of 
fearless, impetuous spirit, with a small muscular 
frame and a dark fiery eye. He had had much ex- 
perience in fighting Indians, and was the hero of 
many exploits. Besides these w T ere one clerk, John 
Reed, forty Canadian boatmen, and several hunter.-;. 
Among those attached to the expedition worthy of 
mention w r as John Day, a Virginian backwoodsman, 
standing six feet two, and straight as an arrow, with 
an elastic step, a constitution of steel, and a frank and 
open face and manner; John Colter, who had been 
with Lewis and Clarke, and Pierre Dorion, son of 
Lewis and Clarke's interpreter. Two scientific lights 
were present in the persons of John Bradbiu 
Mr Nuttall, both Englishmen and botanists. 

In getting this force together Hunt had met 
no small difficulty. At Montreal and Mackinaw the 
Northwest Company opposed him, and at St Louis 
he had the Missouri Fur Company to throw every 
:le possible in his way. Voyageurs were ob- 
tained very much as sailors are engaged for a cruise, 
and to secure the managers, guides, interpreters, and 
hunters required no small art. But patient! 
assiduously Huni and McKenzie pursued their pur- 
pose, proceeding first to Montreal in July 1 810, spend- 
ing part of August at Mackinaw, v. 1 


to their outfit as well as to their numbers, and com- 
pleting their arrangements at St Louis, where they 
arrived the 3d of September. 

A Spaniard was then manager of the Missouri Fur 
Company at St Louis, Manuel Lisa, by whose enter- 
prise, extraordinary indeed for one of his nationality, 
posts had been established on the upper Missouri in 
the track of Lewis and Clarke as early as 1808. 
While Hunt was busy during the winter gathering 
his people at Nodowa for an early spring start, Senor 
Lisa was likewise preparing to ascend the Missouri 
in the interests of his company. 

Breaking camp about the 20th of April 1811, 
Hunt and his party ascended the Missouri, reaching 
the mouth of the Platte in a week's travel. Making 
a halt of a day or two to supply themselves with ash 
timber for oars and poles, they lost two of the best 
hunters by desertion. On one occasion they were 
startled by eleven naked Sioux rushing into their 
camp, but without serious mishap or any further ad- 
venture the party arrived in the neighborhood of the 
village of Omaha, where they pitched their camp on 
the ?0th of May. 

Intimidated by rumors of hostile tribes above, three 
more men now deserted, but fortunately their places 
were supplied by three new men; while some distance 
higher up the river the party was joined by two ex- 
perienced trappers, Benjamin Jones and Alexander 

Shortly before entering the country of the hostile 
Sioux, Hunt received a letter despatched by mes- 
senger from Lisa, who left St Louis three weeks later 
than the Astor party, but had now nearly overtaken 
them. He requested them now to halt until lie came 
up, that they might pass the hostile territory in com- 
pany. Lisa was bound in search of Henry, who in 
the year previous had been driven from his fort at 
the forks of the Missouri by the Blackfoot; his 
command numbered about twenty-five men, and 


would prove a valuable accession to the party in 

In times past there had been a difficulty between 
Lisa and McLellan, and the latter now threatened 
to shoot Lisa the moment they met in the Indian 
country. Lisa had also been Hunt's opponent at St 
Louis, and lie now feared that further trouble might 
ensue if they joined company. He therefore re- 
sorted to subterfuge. Writing to inform Lisa that 
they would wait for him at the village of the Poncas, 
a short distance above, no sooner was the messenger 
out of sight than all hands exerted their utmost efforts, 
and sped up the river, leaving Lisa to make his way 
through the hostile country as best he might. There 
was no excuse for this falsehood. It would have been 
as profitable to have declined Sehor Lisa's company 
in a manly and honorable manner, as to have taken 
refuge in this cowardly flight. 

At their first encampment above the Poncas' vil- 
lage, the two Omaha recruits deserted; but they 
shortly after fell in with three old trappers, Ken- 
tuckians, John Hoback, Jacob Pizner, and Edward 
Robinson, who had been with Henry in the service 
of the Missouri Company, and who now engaged with 
the Pacific Company, agreeing to give one half of their 
peltries in return for ammunition and supplies. 

Up to this time Hunt had intended to continue 
in the track of Lewis and Clarke, but learning from 
these men of the strength and hostile attitude of the 
Blackfoot he determined to leave the Missouri at the 
village of the Picaras, purchase horses, and cross the 
mountains to the southward, near the sources of the 
Platte and Yellowstone, being the route by which 
Clarke had returned. A fright from the Indi ans and 
a bloodless quarrel with Lisa, who shortly afterward 
overtook them, were the chief incidents prior to their 
arrival at their point of debarkation. 

Just before reaching the Picaras' village on the 1 1th 
of June, the two companies camped as usual at a little 



distance from each other, both still nursing a sullen 
reserve. Through the magnanimity of Lisa, at the 
council held with the Eicaras next day, the suspicions 
and coldness of Hunt were in a measure removed. 
Unable to procure sufficient horses from the Ricaras, 
Hunt gladly accepted the offer of Lisa to send to the 
Missouri Company's fort, at the village of the Man- 
dans, one hundred and fifty miles above, and brino- 

down the requisite number, taking: his 

1 ' o 



Hrxrs Route. 

merchandise as might be easily spared. Here the 
naturalists left the party, Bradbury returning to St 
Louis with Breckenridge, who was with Lisa's party, 
and who, like Bradbury, subsequently published an 
account of this journey, and ISTuttail remaining with 

Having disposed of his boats and all superfluous 
baggage, on the 18th of July, with eighty-two well 
packed horses, most of the men being on foot, 1 Hunt 

1 ' The veteran trappers and voyageurs of Lisa's party shook their heads 
as their comrades set out, and took leave of them as of doomed men; and 
i ■■■< -n Lisa himself gave it as his opinion, after the travellers had departed, 
that they would never reach the shores of the Pacific, but would perish 
v ith hunger in the wilderness, or be cut off by the savages.' Irving's Astoria, 


and party left the Ricaras' village and the Missouri 
River. Their line of march lay first toward the north- 
west, but soon changed to the south-west. Crossing 
what was then called Big' River, they entered the 
country of the Cheyennes, where they obtained thirty- 
six additional horses, which lightened the loads o! 
others, and gave one horse to every two men to ride 

Skirting the Black Hills, they struck westward 
along the arid divide between the tributaries of the 
Missouri and those of the Yellowstone, through a 
region void of game and vegetation until they gained 
a valley watered by a branch of the Powder River, 
where was found abundant grass, the pasture of thou- 
sands of buffalo. By the end of August they had 
entered the Big Horn Mountains, and traversing the 
countiy of the Crows they continued westward to the 
sterile region of Wind River, up which they toiled for 
five days. Food becoming scarce, they deviated from 
the course in order to procure it, marching south-west 
to a branch of the Colorado, now Green River, once 
called Spanish River, the latter name being given it by 
the hunters, because the natives told them that 
towards its mouth Spaniards lived. Long before 
reaching Green River, however, from a high elevation 
the Three Tetons were plainly visible, marking a 
source of the great Columbia. Mr Hunt called these 
peaks Pilot Knobs, a name fortunately not retained. 

Turning their backs upon Green River, the} 
cended by one of its small tributaries north-westerly 
through the Shoshone country, making a five days' 
halt when they encountered buffalo and grass; thence 
< rver a ridge for fifteen miles to a stream fifty feet w ide, 
flowing north-westward, which Hoback assured them 
Was a tributary of the Columbia. 

At first they called this stream Hoback River, 
but as along its broken border, over its rocky prom 
tories, up and down its deep defiles they toiled; 
wild water rushing far below, gathering courage from 


loud babbling tributaries, until it became, as it would 
seem, so impatient of restraint that it would dash the 
very mountains asunder in its spasms of wrath, they 
finally called it Mad River. It is now known as the 
south or Lewis branch of Snake River, the north 
branch being Henry River. 

Camping the last of September near the base of the 
Three Tetons where the Mad River, awed to stillness 
by these mighty sentinels, caressed its overhanging 
willows, the travellers thought their journej 7 ' almost 
over, nothing more being necessary but to build boats 
and drift with the current to their destination. 

Should they build boats here ? A vote was taken, 
and it was so decided. While hunting logs for ca- 
noes, John Day, John Reed, and Pierre Dorion were 
sent down the stream to survey it; they returned pro- 
nouncing it totally unfit for navigation. Meanwhile, 
there being indications of beaver, trappers were sent 
out in pairs, who were to continue their labors for 
some months, and then drop down the river to Fort 
Astoria, or to the company's first fort, should there 
be one nearer. 

It was now thought best to turn from Mad River 
and take another course, and the men who had been 
with Henry stated that his fort was near by, on 
the other branch of the river, and that probably from 
that point navigation would be better. Without diffi- 
culty they crossed the elevated plateau to Henry 
River in four days' travel, and found the fort, but it 
had been abandoned. 

The river here was one hundred yards wide; timber 
was plentiful, and the party at once set about con- 
structing canoes. Another party of trappers, consist- 
ing of Hoback, Rizner, Robinson, and Cass, here left 
the main body, and as Miller, one of the partners', 
liad been for some time dissatisfied, to the chagrin 
of Hunt and the astonishment of all he voluntarily 
relinquished his interest in the company and joined 
the hunters. Descending to the Bear River region 


they were very successful, and loaded their horses 
with peltries, but in taking them eastward to market 
Mere robbed by the Arapahoes and reduced to the last 
extremity. Relieved the following summer by a re- 
turn party under Stuart, Miller was thankful for an 
escort to St Louis, but the others again equipped, 
plunged into the wilderness, and were finally killed by 
the Indians. 

Leaving the horses in charge of the Shoshones, 
on the 19th of October Hunt and his party em- 
barked at Fort Henry in fifteen canoes which they 
had made, and proceeded down the river. Passing 
the confluence of the Lewis and Henry branches 
toward evening of the same day, they camped on the 
main stream of Snake River, here a broad and placid 

Hope was high, and far into the night the dis- 
turbed grizzlies growled their distaste of Canadian 
boat-songs; but next day, before they were well aware 
of it, they were among dangerous rapids. One canoe 
was dashed in pieces; another filled and damaged the 
lading; but no lives were lost. Next day a toilsome 
and dangerous portage confronted them, and later a 
water-fall necessitated another. On proceeding fur- 
ther, the waters whirled and raged among the rocks 
until another canoe was broken to pieces and one of 
the men swept away to his death, the rest barely 

This shock aroused the travellers to a sense of their 
situation. Three men were sent forward on the left bank 
and Hunt with three others took the right to examine 
the stream, and they found it as far as they went, forty 
miles or more, worse than any portion they had 
passed. Here it plunged in a perpendicular fall^ there 
it roared among the bowlders, whirling in tumultuous 
vortices at their base, while the whole river compressed 
into a narrow compass rushed furiously between prec- 
ipices hundreds of feet high. They endeavored to 
pass some of the canoes down by lines but were un- 


successful, disaster and loss being the only result. 
Their way seemed blocked. 

Yet they could not remain where the}^ were. Re- 
peated losses and changes had so reduced their stock 
of provision, that with the present scarcity of game 
they did not see how they could even remain together. 
Winter was upon them. Pale famine hovered about 
the camp, and they must part. Wrapped in the dark- 
ness of primeval wilderness, only uncertainty was be- 
fore them. No white man had ever penetrated these 
wilds, and the poor Shoshone, whose broadest imagi- 
nation extended scarcely beyond his horizon, trembled 
with fear when asked about the nature of the country 

It was finally determined that they should separate 
into four parties. McKenzie, with five men, should 
strike northward for another branch of the Columbia; 
Crooks, with the same number, should return to Fort 
Henry and bring forward the horses; Reed, with three 
men, and McClellan, with three more, notwithstanding 
the perilous difficulties reported, should attempt to 
follow the downward course of the present Snake 
River, and ascertain what it was ; while Hunt would 
endeavor to provide for the main body, now reduced 
to thirty-one men, and the Indian wife and two 
children of the interpreter, Pierre Dorion, who had 
accompanied him. 

Hunt determined at all events to move. Three days 
were occupied by his party in concealing their effects 
in nine caches, when Crooks unexpectedly returned 
with his companions, discouraged at the thought of 
spending the winter in executing their dreary errand. 
Presently two of Reed's men returned with dismal 
reports. As far as they went the river boiled and 
brawled between deep dark channel-walls as grimly as 
ever. They had just christened the place Caldron 
Linn, but now they called it the Devil's Scuttle-hole. 
Hard names, however, do not change the countenance 
of nature. 


After due deliberation, Hunt finally determined 
to descend Snake River; he with Pierre Dorion and 
family, and eighteen men to follow the right bank, and 
Crooks with the remainder to follow the left bank. 
Well was it for them, as in all the dispensations of 
]:ro\ idence, that they knew not what was before them. 
The region through which this river ran to the main 
Columbia was almost desert, almost destitute of game 
or other subsistence. The pack of each man being re- 
duced to twenty pounds, contained not more than seven 
and a half pounds of food, while a thousand miles yet 
lay between them and Fort Astoria. 

Setting out on the 9th of November in separat< 
companies, during the entire clay Hunt's party were 
unable to descend the bank for water, but at night 
they camped where they could with difficulty obtain 
enough for drinking purposes. The next day it was 
the same; the third they came upon the habitations 
of a few half-starved Shoshones, the first they had 
met for several days. Their course lay alternately 
over jagged ridges and across tenantless plains. Thus 
they journeyed, making from three to thirty miles a 
day. subsisting almost entirely on dried fish, which in 
the absence of water only aggravated an intolerable 
thirst, obtaining occasionally a horse or a dog from 
the natives to feast upon, killing now and then a 
beaver or a wolf, which gave them change of diet. 
Yet more painful grew their path as they proceeded. 
Heavy and dreary was the sky, while the cold rain 
which had chilled their half- starved bodies, changed 
to bleak December snows. 

Nearly a month had elapsed since Hunt and Crooks 
had parted company, when one morning shortly after 
the former had broken camp the voices of white men 
crying for food were heard from the opposite bank. 
A boat was improvised by menus of sticks, over which 
was stretched the skin of a horse eaten the previous 
night, by means of which a little meat was conveyed 
to them, and Crooks and JLc Clere were brought over. 


Crooks' party, as the haggard features and emaci- 
ated forms of the two men testified, had endured suf- 
ferings yet more severe than Hunt's. For the first 
fortnight or more they had lived on a handful of food 
a day; then they luckily captured a beaver and found 
some berries, but were finally reduced to the soles of 
their moccasins. For the last few days life had been 
kept in them by the carcass of a dog. Crooks re- 
ported that he had seen Reed and McKenzie a few 
days before on the opposite side of the river from 
him, in fair condition and spirits, and that McClellan 
was attempting to reach the Nez Perce country with 
probability of success. 

Beckoning the sinuosities of the river, the party 
was about five hundred miles from Henry River. In 
their present forlorn condition, with snow knee-deep, 
and from all accounts the river as bad below as above, 
to proceed was impossible, and Hunt saw no hope 
but to retrace their steps, and if possible to obtain 
horses from some of the savages they had passed to 
carry them to the Columbia. To do this required no 
small degree of generalship; for some of the men 
were ill, and their few horses reduced to skeletons. 
Their first efforts in this direction were attended by 
failure, disaster, and death. Attempting to pass 
Crooks and Le Clerc back to their company, they 
failed. One of Crooks' party, driven by his sufferings 
to insanity, jumped into a canoe which had crossed to 
carry food, and on its return danced so frantically at 
the sight of food that the frail bark was overturned 
and the unfortunate man drowned. This same boat 
brought over John Day, who joined Crooks, but he 
was so feeble as scarcely to be able to stand. Pro- 
visions were so reduced that at one time beaver-skins 
were resorted to for food, and of these there were but 
three to seven men, which they divided among them 
and devoured greedily. Then surprising a village of 
Shoshones they frightened away the natives, and 
seizing five of their horses, hastily killed and cooked 


one, sending some of the meat across the river to 
the party of Crooks, who still followed, though they 
found no natives on that side. These horses were to 
them, at that juncture, a matter of life or death, but 
as they never took anything from the natives fraudu- 
lently, they laid down ample pay, and thru departed, 
though doubtless the poor Shoshones must themselves 
starve before spring. 

( io,»ks, John Day, and Le Clerc were yet ill, and 
greatly retarded the journey. All the party had gone 
forward except three, and Crooks urged Hunt to li 
him, and attend to the interests of the company, which 
the latter, with great reluctance, finally consented 
to do. John Day remained with Crooks, likewise 
Le Clerc and Dubreuil. Hunt provided for them 
liberally out of his slender store, and left with them 
two horses and some meat which he hoped would last 
until they found more, though he greatly feared he 
might never see these men again. 

Hurrying forward Hunt overtook his party, and 
continuing his journey, on the 15th of December they 
entered a Shoshone village, consisting of twelve or 
fifteen lodges, and endeavored at once to obtain horses 
and a guide. Horses could be obtained over the first 
ridge of mountains they said, but no one had the 
courage to guide them there. Entreaties and threats 
were alike fruitless. At length, in addition to a 
blanket full of glittering trinkets, two horses, three 
knives, a gun, and a pistol were offered and accepted. 

They were now on Snake River, near where was 
subsequently old Fort Boise, the party still being 
divided, those who were with Crooks being on the 
west bank, while Hunt in advance was on the east 
bank. With great difficulty, the river being full of 
floating ice, and the men half-starved and half-frozen, 
weak and dispirited, Hunt crossed with his p 
to the other side, and joining their old comrades on 
the 24th of December, they started, pursuing a north- 
westerly course, over mountains, plains, and valleys, 


buying food from the natives, picking up and carrying 
the exhausted, who would throw themselves upon the 
ground, declaring they could die but could not proceed 
an inch further; and stopping on new year's day 1812 
for the Canadians to have their dance and feast on 
doo; and horse meat, though some of them could not 

Turning due west and entering the Blue Mountains, 
on the 6th of January they reached the summit, 
whence descending into a milder climate in two days 
to their great joy they reach broad fertile pasture- 
lands, watered by a stream the natives called Umatilla, 
abounding in beaver. 

Thousands of horses are feeding on the short tender 
grass, and on the bank of the stream is a well pro- 
visioned Indian encampment of thirty-four lodges. 
They were a band of roving Tushepaws, a race 
very different from the poor Shoshones, having for 
their lodges buffalo-robes, an^l for their dress hunting- 
shirt and leggings of deerskin, with utensils of brass 
and iron, kettles, axes, and knives, which proved com- 
mercial intercourse with white people upon the coast. 
And what rejoiced the travellers next to food was the 
information that two days more would bring them to 
the Columbia, The Tushepaws told them further 
that a party of white men corresponding in number 
to McClellan's and McKenzie's parties had lately 
passed down the river, so as to give them hope that 
these were now at Fort Astoria. 

Supplying themselves with an abundance of horses 
and provisions, on the 20th of January the party 
continued their journey, reaching the Columbia next 
day midway between the rivers Umatilla and Walla 
Walla. Six months of hardship and perils hitherto 
unparalleled in American mountaineering, since leaving 
the village of the Ricaras are now happily terminated, 
ring, alas! a few of their number at intervals under 
the pines. Journeying on horses along the bank of 
the river to the Dalles, Hunt there procured canoes, 


whence embarking on the 5th of February, in ten 
days the party reached Fort Astoria. 

There are moments, and many of them, in the lives 
of these inartificial men of the woods that stir thei ■ 
natures to the quick, that touch deep-hidden springs 
of feeling, and bring to light traits and passions, both 
good and evil, of whose existence they most of all 
were before unconscious. Cities full of plod ; 
bread-winning and money-making machines, come 
and go, one generation following another with no 
more development of feeling, or increase of intelli- 
gence, than the millwheels of which they are the 
type. Here, however, were daily love and hate heaped 
up, and life and death; not the sepulchral smiles and 
frowns of conventionalism, but blood-red and un- 
coffined, such as nature makes, not man. Here v. 
those who had been boys together, had shared a 
thousand perils, had buried many a common comrade, 
had been more than brothers often are. Some of 
them had parted under circumstances the most trying 
to manhood, and each had not since known whether 
the other was alive. McKenzie, Reed, and McClellan 
were there, but they had given up all hope of ev r 
seeing Mr Hunt and his party. They too had nar- 
rowly escaped starvation. In their wanderings they 
had all met below the Devil's Scuttle-hole, being 
then eight men besides the three named, and the snow 
having as yet not fallen heavily, they succeeded in 
following the river to the Columbia, where they pro- 
cured two canoes and arrived at Fort Astoria the 
18th of January. 

When therefore shouts arose alike from fort and 
river, as Hunt's canoes rounded Tongue Point, we 
may be sure they were no hollow cheers. There was 
a soul in every sound. And as the part}' sprang 
ashore, and the Scotchmen grasped hands, and the more 
volatile voyageurs embraced and kissed each other, 
there were tears in many an eye springing from hearts 


now swelled with joy to bursting. It is needless to 
add that the taste of dog was quickly eradicated from 
the mouth by copious draughts of rum, and a plenti- 
ful supply of tobacco; articles of luxury from which 
their palates had been long estranged. 

Thus the expeditions of the Pacific Fur Company 
by land and water were at length consummated. 




Dissatisfaction at Astoria — Departure of Reed for St Louis — Waiiow- 
pum Treachery — Failure of Reed's Expedition— Arrival of the 
' Beaver ' — Astor and the Russian Fur Company— He Courts the 
Russian Minister at Washington — Stuart Leaves Fort Astoria 
with Despatches — Trials of Stuart on the Overland Journey— 
The ' Isaac Todd ' and H. M. S. ' Phozbe ' — British Interests in the 
North Pacific— The U. S. S. 'Adams' — The 'Enterprise' — Astor 
and Secretary Monroe — Wreck of the 'Lark'— McKenzie on 
the Sahaptin — Clarke's Company — Kamloops — Boullard and the 
Indian Maid — The ' Beaver' — McTavish and McKenzie— Delibera- 
tions at Fort Astoria — Preparations to Abandon the Post — 
McKenzie and the Nez Perces — The Stolen Cup. 

By the late arrival the winter quiet at the fort was 
broken up, and the activities of spring were soon upon 
the fur -hunters. Besides Miller there were others 
dissatisfied with their position and prospects. Among 
these was McClellan who, as Beed was about to 
return to St Louis with despatches, determined to 
accompany him. Indeed, when we consider the inde- 
pendent, self-willed, and often eccentric and discoid- 
ant elements thrown into juxtaposition by camp and 
fort life, the wonder is how these enormous com- 
panies, with agents and servants scattered among sav- 
ages over thousands of square leagues of wilderness, 
managed to hold together so long. The Pacific Com- 
pany, however, was yet a new institution, the partners 
in which were not fairly settled in their respective 
places, and more than all it was by no means certain 
of ultimate success. 

Hist . X. W. Coast, Vol. II. 13 ( 193 ) 


Besides despatching Reed as messenger to report 
to Astor the progress of affairs thus far, and by 
whom letters might be sent by those now a year or 
two from home, fresh supplies must be sent to David 
Stuart at Fort Okanagan, and the goods cached on 
Snake River just below the junction of Henry River, 
must be brought. This business was confided to two 
clerks, Farnham and McGilles, who with eight men 
and a guide were to bring the goods to Fort Astoria, 
while Robert Stuart was to visit Okanagan. With 
Reed as escort, two boatmen, and a hunter, McKenzie 
had planned an excursion up the Willamette, with 
Matthews and five hunters to set out and follow him 
two days after the others had left. 

Under command of Stuart, all destined overland 
and for the upper Columbia embarked from Astoria 
the 22d of March 1812 in two canoes, arriving at the 
Dalles early in April. At the several portages of 
the Columbia it was now becoming the custom to 
employ natives to assist in carrying the goods from 
one landing to another, and these were not long in 
acquiring the art of piracy. The Wahowpums at 
the Dalles were becoming especially proficient in this 
art, though their character for dishonesty was not 
yet establishe '. 

Appearing at the landing and offering their ser- 
vices, Stuart readily intrusted them with the bales, 
which they packed upon their horses and sent for- 
ward convoyed by the party, all well armed. Having 
no apprehension of treachery on the part of the Wa- 
howpums, the white men were proceeding leisurely 
along the path, when suddenly up a rocky defile 
darted one of the loaded horses, then another, and 
another. Shots were fired over their heads to bring 
them back, but to this the marauders paid no heed, 
only hastening forward and out of sight the faster. 
Pursuit was useless, for the whole attention of the entire 
party was now needed to prevent a similar stampede 
of the remainder of the loaded horses. During the 

Mckenzie in the Willamette. 195 

melee which followed one Indian was killed and anothei 
severely wounded. Reed was knocked senseless with 
a club, and a bright tin box, in which he had secured 

his letters and despatches for the cast, was taken 
from him, and it was with great difficulty that Stuart 
succeeded in bringing to the upper landing any part 
of his lading. By the loss of this box Herd's mis- 
sion was ingloriously terminated. He therefore con- 
tinued with Stuart's party to Okanagan, whence alter 
a few days' sojourn all returned with David Stuart to 
Fort Astoria, surprising the fort by their sudden ap- 
pearance on the morning of the 11th of May. With 
them arrived Crooks and John Day, who hailed 
them from the bank as the}^ were descending the 
river above the Dalles, and wxto received on board. 
These men, with the Canadians who left with them, 
had remained for twenty days at a Shoshone village 
near where Hunt had left them, John Day being too 
ill to travel. Setting out at length, they followed 
Hunt's trail until they lost it in the snow; then wan- 
dering in the mountains during the winter, living on 
what they could shoot, dig, or obtain from the na- 
tives, they finally reached the Walla Wallas, who 
treated them with great kindness, and assisted them 
to start down the river. Fearing to brave the dan 
gers of winter travel, the Canadians had all remained 
with the Shoshones. As Crooks and Day approached 
the Dalles on their way down, they too had been 
robbed and left destitute by the Wahowpums and 
were then on their way back to beg further assistance 
from the Walla Wallas, when to their great joy they 
discovered their old comrades in the canoes de- 
scending the river. 

In his journey during this spring of L812. 
Konzie explored the country southward from the 
Columbia some hundred miles or more, ascending (lie 
Willamette to the country of the Calapooyas and to 
the stream which bears his name to this day. The 


object of this expedition was the examination of the 
country, its topography, soil, and climate, rather than 

On the way out Jervais, one of McKenzie's men, 
had beaten a Wakiakum for stealing. This roused the 
indignation of the tribe, and their mutterings of ven- 
geance reached McDougall's ears, who immediately 
despatched a letter telling the party to beware. The 
message was delivered to McKenzie while at the hos- 
tile camp at the mouth of the Willamette, and where 
preparations were at that moment being made to sur- 
prise his party. Hastily repairing to their boats to 
embark, they found the tide so low that they could 
not leave the bank quickly enough to prevent attack. 
McKenzie, ever ready come what might, turned to 
the angry savages a bold front, and began questioning 
them as to the most suitable place for a fort, saying, 
after some time, that he would camp there that night, 
and in the morning look further. This so threw the 
Wakiakums off their guard that they left the intruders 
for the present, intending to revisit them in the spirit 
of vengeance toward morning. But before they 
reached the camp, the party was well on its way to 
Astoria, McKenzie availing himself of the first rise 
of the tide to shove off and be gone. 

Two days prior to the arrival of the return party a 
sail was descried in the offing, which McDougall pro- 
ceeded at once to signal from Cape Disappointment. 
The vessel seemed at first suspicious lest she might 
fall into the hands of the savages, but next day sum- 
moned sufficient courage to approach and anchor in 
Baker Bay. She proved to be the Beaver, a vessel of 
four hundred and ninety tons, commanded by Captain 
Cornelius Sowles, who sailed from New York the 10th 
of the previous October. Having heard at the Ha- 
waiian Islands of the fate of the Tonquin, and fearing 
the fort might likewise have fallen into the hands of 
the savages, who were now by means of friendly sig- 


nals, which they had learned from their white neigh- 
bors, enticing further prey, the vessel had been hovering 
about the mouth of the river for three days. 

The Beaver had been sent out by Astor with men 
and merchandise as the annual ship, in pursuant 
his original plan; and as he had received no informa- 
tion concerning the previous expeditions, he felt bound 
to act upon the presumption that all his directions had 
been carried out. On board were a partner, John 
Clarke, live clerks, among whom was Alfred Seton, 
and George Ehnainger a nephew of Astor, six Cana- 
dian boatmen, twelve Kanakas taken on board at the 
Hawaiian Islands, and fifteen laborer's. As far as 
possible Astor was now sending citizens of the United 
States, in order that his establishments might the 
more have a shade of sanction from that government; 
and yet for experienced fur- traders he was obliged t< > 
go to Canada. After discharging that portion of her 
cargo designed for this port, the Beaver was to pro- 
ceed to Sitka and exchange certain other goods at 
the Russian post of New Archangel for furs, which 
were to be augmented by trading down the coast. 
She was then to sail for Canton, and thence to New 
York. For the purpose of establishing the most 
friendly relations with the Russian American Fur 
Company, in March 1811 Astor had despatched an 
agent to St Petersburg, who made a provisional agree- 
ment with that company, to remain in force for four 
years, to the effect that neither would trade within the 
territory of the other, or furnish arms to the natives, 
except such as were their regular hunters. The 
Russian Company was to draw all supplies from the 
Pacific Company, to the exclusion of all interlopers, 
paying for the same in skins at stipulated prices. The 
ships of the Pacific Company might be employed to 
carry Russian furs to Canton, or for any other pur- 
pose, at rates to be agreed upon at tin' time. A. 
league of friendship and mutual assistance was also 
entered into between the two companies. Astor also 


cultivated the favorable consideration of the Russian 
minister at Washington, but without practical results. 
Before the agreement with the Russian Compairy 
was ratified, war had broken out between Great 
Britain and the United States. 

The captain of the Beaver fearing to cross the bar 
at the mouth of the river with his ship, discharged 
her by means of a lighter, a tedious process which 
occupied over a month. 

Affairs were brightening at Fort Astoria. The 
arrival of the first annual ship well laden with mer- 
chandise and with new recruits for active service gave 
that reality to the scheme which in the minds of some 
it had hitherto lacked. It was Astor's avowed purpose 
besides these annual ships from New York to have 
coasting vessels which should make trading excursions 
from Fort Astoria. Nevertheless, there were yet 
partners who would not remain in the company for 
thrice their interest, and of the voyageurs also there 
were some, as we have seen, who preferred the wilder- 
ness to the fort. McClellan still adhered to his pur- 
pose of returning east on the first opportunity, and 
Crooks expressed his determination to accompany him. 

The opportunity was at hand; for first of all it was 
necessary to forward information in place of that 
which was lost, which might govern Astor's move- 
ments in respect to his now rapidly extending inter- 
ests. This important and dangerous mission was this 
time intrusted to Robert Stuart, a most promising 
young man, who, with four picked men, John Bay, 
Ben Jones, Vallar, and Le Clerc, made ready to set 
out immediately. With him were to go the dissatis- 
fied partners Crooks and McClellan. 

Three other expeditions were to depart at the same 
time. Clarke and McKcnzie, each with a distinct 
brigade, were to select sites, and establish forts, one 
among the Spokanes, and the other among the Nez 
Perces. David Stuart was to return with supplies to 


Okanagan, after which he was to found another estab- 
lishment above. 

It was a beautiful sight, and one which would have 
warmed the blood of Astor, the first and the List 
brilliant realization of his entire scheme, to see this 
fur-hunting flotilla quit this fur-hunting fort, and cm- 
bark on the great River of the West; to see these 
sixty-two men on the 30th of June 1812 set out in 
ten canoes and two barges from the fort which was 
now to become the mother of forts and a great city 
on these broad western waters, and with paddles 
flying, with shout and song, and the ringing of artil- 
lery strike boldly from their several posts, never 
pausing to think that they were but as one to a 
thousand of the Philistines. Yet the enemy which 
was to destroy them were not of the Philistines, but 
of their own brethren of the chosen Israel, even the 
Northwest Company with all Great Britain behind it. 

Thus the several parties proceeded, not without 
some little trouble with the natives at the portages, 
until they reached the river of the Walla Wallas, 
where they were to separate. Poor John Day on the 
voyage became insane, and was sent back to the fort 
by some Indians. Before a year was gone he was 

Robert Stuart found no difficulty in procuring 
twenty good horses from the friendly Walla Wallas, 
and on the 31st of July his party of six set out, di- 
recting their course toward the south-east into the 
Snake River region where some of their number had 
so lately suffered. 

But now they hoped for better times, and it is true 
that they had not to contend with the snows of winter, 
total ignorance of the country, and destitution. Every 
place and season, however, has its trials. Now hills, 
plains, and ravines were alike arid; and such was 
their strait at one time that even their dog died of 
thirst. Their route was essentially the i that 

traversed by Hunt's party on its way west, though 


with some unimportant variations. Six of the nine 
caches made on Snake River below Henry Fort had 
been rifled. A raid upon them by the Crows left 
them suddenly unhorsed. The hardships which fol- 
lowed almost equalled those of Hunt's party. McClel- 
lan's sufferings made him peevish, then stubborn; at 
length, flinging himself aloof from the party, he held 
his way alone through the wilderness for a fortnight, 
when lie was found lying' half-dead, and with difficulty 
could be made to stand upon his feet. In this man- 
ner they straggled across the mountains, descending 
upon the head-waters of the Platte, when, finding it 
impossible to complete their journey that season, 
they went into winter-quarters the 2d of November. 

There they built a comfortable cabin; but after 
loading the rafters with dried meat, they were dis- 
covered by the Arapahoes, and forced to continue 
their journey. Again on the ".nth of December they 
paused in their difficult peregrinations, scarcely know- 
ing where they were, built a hut, and stocked it with 
buffalo meat. Here they passed the remainder of the 
winter in quiet. 

With the opening of spring they constructed two 
canoes, but the river proving too shallow even for 
such navigation, they abandoned their boats, and pro- 
ceeded on foot. It was only when they had reached 
the establishment of Dorion and Roi, near the Mis- 
souri, that they knew they had all this time been upon 
the Platte River. Here they first learned of the war 
which was so soon to prove the destruction of their 
dearest hopes. From this point they easily descended 
the river, and reached St Louis the 30th of April 

Prior to the arrival of Robert Stuart, and before 
any tidings whatever had been received from any of 
the expeditions sent, Astor despatched, early in 
March 1813, another vessel, the Lark, for the Colum- 
bia River. The cause of this action was the break- 


ing-out of that war which was to prove so disastrous 
to Astor's plans on the Pacific. Fearful lost the 
blockading of New York harbor should prevent the 
departure of the second annual supply-ship in the fol- 
lowing autumn, and that the interests of the company 
would materially suffer thereby; fearful also of her 
capture, this vessel was sent to sea in the spring. 
Nor would it be safe for the Beaver to return at 
present to New York. Astor therefore wrote to 
Captain Sowles, at Canton, with instructions to re- 
turn to Fort Astoria with such articles as the fort 
should need, and there hold himself subject to the 
orders of Hunt, or whomsoever should be in command. 
And now advance in hostile attitude the Northwest 
Company, clearly perceiving this to be their time to 
si rike, and plant thorns beneath Astor's pillow. In the 
midst of this mercantile dice-throwing, the staking of 
one costly expedition after another upon the turn < >f a 
card, word reached the autocrat that his great rival 
was preparing to despatch the Isaac Todd, a standi 
vessel, armed with twenty guns, for the mouth of the 
Columbia, there, with the assistance of the British 
government, to plant a fortress and dominate that 
region. This was not all. Flushed with the sudden 
brightness of their prospects, the Northwest Com- 
pany laid before the British government two me- 
morials on two several occasions, showing the efforts of 
Astor in the west, and the great results likely to arise 
from that movement if successful, whereupon the 
British frigate Plmbe w T as ordered to accompany the 
buiac Todd and assist in the destruction of whatever 
pretensions the United States might have in that 
quarter. The United States government now took 
the alarm, and ordered the frigate Adams to tho mouth 
of the Columbia. On hearing this, Astor fitted out 
the ship Enterprise, freighted with further supplies. 
But just as the two ships were ready to sail the crew 
of the Adams was detailed for other service, and the 
blockading of New York harbor by a British force 


prevented the sailing of the Enterprise, which other- 
wise would have undertaken the voyage without con- 
voy. In his trouble Astor begged the protection of 
the United States government, under whose wing he 
had sought to monopolize the fur-trade of the west, 
asking only that forty men should be stationed at Fort 
Astoria, but Secretary Monroe never even replied to 
his letters. In the Lark, of which Northrop was 
master, sailed Nicholas G. Ogden as supercargo. 

There are enemies, however, to this ill-fated adven- 
ture other than war or commercial rivalry. The 
voyage of the Lark was prosperous until within a short 
distance of the Hawaiian Islands. There a gale struck 
her which threw her on her beam ends, and sent one man 
overboard. The masts were cut away, and the crew 
clung to the wreck as best they might, one after another, 
as they became exhausted, dropping into the surge, 
until eight were gone. After four days of intolerable 
suffering, all that were left of them were thrown upon 
an island, which they afterward learned was one of the 
Hawaiian group. There they were stripped of their 
clothing by the natives, while the king of the cou 
seized the wreck. Part of their clothing was after- 
ward returned to them; and they were fed at public 
expense. In this plight they were found by Air 
Hunt the 20th of December. 

McKenzie, Clarke, John Reed, and David Stuart, 
we left at Walla Walla, whence they took their 
several ways. It was now agreed to make this the 
general rendezvous. Situated at the mouth of the 
Walla Walla River, where now stands Walulu, in the 
midst of vast fur-producing territories, with large 

ams flowing in from every direction, no situa 
could have been more favorable. This settled, the 
several partners went their ways. 

Ascending Lewis River to the Sahaptin, which 
appeared to be the thoroughfare between the Columbia 
and the buffalo-pastures east of the Rocky Mountains, 


McKenzie followed the latter stream until a favor- 
able site offered itself, when lie disembarked, and es- 
tablished a fort among the Xez Perces. Thence he 
despatched John Reed with a lew men to take caches 
on Snake River, for the purpose of opening them and 
of bringing back the contents. A few days after 
their departure McKenzie learned, from two travelling 
natives that the caches had been opened by some 
Shoshones, under the direction of certain white men 
who were living among them. During this excursion 
Reed fell in with six stragglers from Hunt's party, 
three of whom had been instrumental in rilling the 
caches. Though these men and the tribe which had 
harbored them were enriched by this robbery, the 
plunder brought them little benefit, for in their first 
grand hunting excursion thereafter they were stripped 
by the Blackfoot Indians. These seven men, with 
the goods remaining in the caches, Reed brought to 
the new post on the Sahaptin. 

From Walla Walla Clarke proceeded for a short 
distance up Lewis River, to a stream branching 
toward the north, "to which the Canadians gave the 
name of the Pavion," the Palouse of later times. 
There he purchased horses from the Palouses, and 
leaving his canoes in charge of the chief, crossed to 
the Spokane, where he located a fort not far from the 
establishment of the Northwest Company. With 
Clarke were four clerks, Pellet, Farnham,McClennan, 
and Cox, the little Irishman, as Ross calls him. As 
strong competition was expected, Clarke's corny 
and outfit were much larger than any of the others, 
his straggling cavalcade stretching nearly a mile. 

Clarice was a bold, dashing, widc-awak 
fellow, fond of display, and loving to carry aff a : ;■ with a 
Little Cox lagging at the end of the 1 »ng 
train, Clarke rode back and peremptorily ' him 

[uicken his pace. "Give me a horse," said < !ox, "and 
I'll ride with yourself at the head." Clarke i 
whip, some say he struck him, and then rede ; 


Cox slunk away, and was not seen for thirteen days, 
when he was brought in by the Indians more dead 
than alive. 

Clarke was called the most extravagant and yet the 
most able leader in the company. He liked to stand 
well with the natives, and to be regarded by them as 
grand and generous. He was a native of the United 
States, though he had been long in the service of 
the Northwest Company in Canada, and understood 
thoroughly all the tricks of the trade. Arriving at 
the Spokane, he planted himself close beside the op- 
position post and went to work. The manly art was 
now in order. There were rights to be enforced, and 
battles to be fought, in which these tangent-shot 
sparks from civilization's wheel might return to savage 
and brute instincts. First, four of Clarke's followers 
were installed as cappers, blusterers, and bullies, who 
should do the bloody work of the establishment. 
Feathers were placed in their caps as their insignia 
of office, and they were retained always near his 
person. Then he gave a grand feast, exchanged long 
and hollow speeches with the savages, and was ready 
for business. Scouts were sent out by both com- 
panies, who manoeuvred among the natives with plots 
and counterplots, which would have done honor to a 
Machiavelli. " He that got most skins, never mind- 
ing the cost or the crime, was the cleverest fellow," 
remarks Ross, while Franchere observes, " The profits 
of the last establishment (Fort Spokane) were slen- 
der; because the people engaged at it were obliged 
to subsist on horse-flesh, and they ate ninety horses 
during the winter." 

Nor did Clarke stop here. In the Kootenais coun- 
try was Man tour of the Northwest Company, trading ; 
Mr Pellet with men and goods was sent there to 
oppose him. Both were enterprising travellers, zeal- 
ous traders, and good fighters. Hence both did well 
for their respective companies; during the winter 
they bought many skins and fought several duels, 


aWays having a care, however, not to hurt each 
other, and parting in the spring the best of friends. 
Mr Cox mentions one : " Mr Pellet fought a duel with 
Mantour of the Northwest, with pocket-pistols at six 
paces; both hits; one in the collar of the coat, and the 
other in the leg of the trousers. Two of their men 
acted as seconds, and the tailor speedily healed their 

Farnham was sent to the Flatheads and McClellan 
was stationed at Pointed Heart or Sketching Lake, 
now the Cceur d'Alene. 

David Stuart reached Okanagan with supplies the 
12th of August. During his absence Ross accom- 
panied by one white man, Boullard, and an Indian, 
set out the 6th of May, with sixteen horses, on a trad- 
ing expedition. Following Stuart's route of the pre- 
vious year, they reached the Shushwaps on Thompson 
Piver on the tenth day, and encamped below the en- 
trance of the north branch near the upper end of the 
lake at a place called by the natives Kamloops. 

Sending messengers in various directions, soon two 
thousand natives were present with their skins, and in 
less than a fortnight the small stock of goods was ex- 
changed for a laro-e stock of furs, so that nothing re- 
mained but to return. 1 

While the master was driving fine bargains the 
man had become entangled in love's meshes. Having 
bought a costly maiden on credit, her father naturally 
desired his pay before his son-in-law's departure. 
Boullard demanded from Boss the means wherewith 
to satisfy the old gentleman, threatening to remain 
with the Indians if his demand was not satisfied. In 
real or pretended rage Boss brought a heavy horse- 
whip down upon the fellow's shoulders, under which 
application the charms of his inamorata fast faded. 

1 ' So anxious were they to trade, and so fond of tobacco, that one morning 
before breakfast I obtained one hundred and ten beavers for leaf-tobacco, at 
the rate of five leaves per skin: and at last, when I hail l.ut one yard "i w bite 
cotton remaining, one of the chiefs gave me twenty primcdjcaver skins for it. ' 
Rosa' Adv., 200. 


Ross readied Okanagan the 12th of July, highly de- 
lighted with his success. 

Leaving Ross again in charge, Stuart left Okana- 
gan the 25th of August following, to winter among the 
Shushwaps. During the winter, Ross visited Clarke 
at Fort Spokane, narrowly escaping death in a snow- 
storm while returning. Nothing daunted, he almost 
immediately after set out with one man on a journey 
to Kamloops, where he found Stuart well located, 
but with a Northwest Company's post in charge of 
a clerk, M. Laroche, beside him. Competition was 
as strong as at Spokane, but unlike Clarke, Stuart 
was precise and sober in business, so that trade was 
fairly conducted, and the rival establishments were 
on amicable terms. From Kamloops, Stuart sent out 
parties in various directions, north-west as far as Fra- 
ser River, and north-east up the south branch of 
Thompson River to the main Columbia. They found 
the country everywhere rich in furs, and the natives 
friendly. He returned to Okanagan, Ross having pre- 
ceded him, and after ten days spent in packing and 
pressing the furs, all set out for the rendezvous at 
Walla Walla, which they reached the 30th of May, 

The several brigades having been despatched to the 
interior, Hunt, in August, proceeded up the coast in 
the Beaver, intending to visit Sitka, complete arrange- 
ments with the Russians, and on returning disembark 
at Fort Astoria, while the vessel should proceed to 
the Hawaiian Islands and thence to Canton. 

All which the contemplative Chinook remarked. 
Again this white man's house, better stocked than 
ever with things that warmed the Chinook heart and 
gratified the Chinook taste, was left comparatively 
unprotected. Now for a blow for one's country, to 
say nothing of beads, blankets, and whiskey. It was 
a time also when the savages along the coast visited 
the Columbia for fishing purposes. And herein lay 


the safety of the fort. It would require the forces of 
all combined to capture the post, and the wily Coni- 
comly well knew that were once his neighbors in pos- 
ion there, his people would be at their mercy. Of 
the two evils the presence of the white man was the 
lesser, so Comcomly concluded to be honest. The fort, 
Lowe vei', was now better furnished for defence. The 
bastions were raised, covered ways were thrown up 
round the palisades inside, and not more than three 
savages were permitted within the fort at one time. 

August and September at Astoria were occupied 
in erecting a hospital and lodging-house, thirty by 
forty-five feet. It was now deemed necessary to pro- 
vide subsistence for the winter. Hence, on the 1st of 
October, Franchere embarked in the schooner with 
men and merchandise for a trading voyage up the 
river. Smoked salmon, venison, bear-meat, wild-fowl, 
and wapato were very abundant, and on the 20th the 
vessel returned to Fort Astoria laden with provisions 
and furs, among which were seven hundred and fifty 
smoked salmon, and four hundred beaver and other 
skins. A second voyage proved less successful; and 
on returning, the 15th of November, Franchere found 
the men suffering severely from scurvy. On the 23d, 
Halsey and Wallace ascended the Willamette for 
about one hundred and fifty miles from its con- 
fluence with the Columbia "on a great prairie" as 
Franchere terms it, and there built a dwelling and 
trading-house. On the 25th of the following May 
they returned to Astoria with seventeen packs of furs 
and thirty-two bales of dried venison.- 

Autumn passed, and drizzling, drenching winter, 
but with no tidings of the Beaver, and fears began to 
be entertained that she had met the fate of the Ton- 

2 It is amusing to observe how Irving avoids the mention of Franchere'a 
name. Franchere was chief clerk at Fort Astoria at this time, and during 
McDougall's sicknesses, which were frequent, was in full charge, He 
always a useful and prominent person aboul the place, and yet the autl 
Astoria, who draws so much of his information from the Canadian, alludes to 
him only as 'one of the clerks,' 'some men were Bent,' and the like. 


quin. McDougall with the others was becoming un- 
happy. Whether the sylvan witchery of Comcomly's 
dusky daughter preyed upon his mind, or the dim 
prospects of the fur company dividends, certain it 
was that he was dissatisfied. Sickness drew even 
from command its charm, and the despondency of 
loneliness made the money which he might never get 
seem contemptible. 

McKenzie's unexpected presence at the fort on 
the 15th of January 1813, 3 with a physiognomy long 
drawn out by misfortune and disgust, tended in no 
wise to raise* the spirits of McDougall. The Nez 
Perces were not the easiest of men to satisfy, and 
McKenzie complained that there was but little game 
in the country. He was therefore on the point of 
moving his post further up the river, or of aban- 
doning that part of the country altogether, and had 
gone over to the post of Clarke to consult with him 
upon the matter, when providence in the similitude 
of a Scotchman, partner in charge of the Northwest 
Company's posts on the Pacific, John George Mc- 
Tavish by name, dropped in upon them, and informed 
them without tears or hesitation of speech that war 
had been declared, that he had brought from posts 
beyond the mountains goods sufficient to stock the 
whole Pacific coast, that his most honorable company 
had determined to absorb the western trade, leaving 
there not so much as a shadow of the autocrat Astor, 
and what he of his own arm was unable to do the 
guns of the Isaac Todd, which ere two months had 
elapsed would command the Columbia, mouth, body, 
and head, would assist him to accomplish. With 
that McTavish whipped from his pocket papers con- 
taining the declaration of war and Madison's procla- 
mation, and the work was done. McKenzie needed 
no further advice. [Returning to his post, he cached 

3 1 follow Franchere's dates, with whom, indeed, Ross in this instance 
agrees, he keeping a diary on the spot. I find Mr Irving's days and months 
somewhat erratic, the 9th of October sometimes falling before and sometimes 
after the 21st. See Astoria, 277, 289. 


his goods, and with all his men repaired immediately 
to Fort Astoria. 

Over this alarming intelligence the two partners 
now held close consultation, at which the clerks were 
invited to express their views upon the situation, and 
help to determine what should be done. It was ab- 
solutely necessary to adopt a policy, although they 
had no vote on any question. Hunt was absent. 
The time was long gone by when the Beaver should 
have returned. The issue would shortly be upon 
them; there was no escaping it; and it became them 
to act as men having at stake, besides their own and 
Astor's interests, the welfare of the inferior servants 
of the company. 

And this was the result of their present deliber- 
ations. In the absence of any means of conveying 
furs to market, trade with the natives except for food 
should cease, and unless there should be some change 
by spring they would abandon Fort Astoria and re- 
tire with their goods beyond the mountains. Their 
position was an anomalous one. They were British 
subjects, but they were trading under the United 
States flag. They could not bear arms against their 
own country, nor yet could they claim her protection 
of their property as they might do if trading on their 
own account. Astor could not, if he would, send 
them supplies while the war lasted, and should the 
Beaver not return, and should they be obliged to 
travel east overland, they had barely sufficient for 
their necessities. Indeed, food was becoming scarce 
already. Reed and Seton were sent with some of the 
men to the Willamette to spend the rest of the win- 
ter where game was more plentiful. They penetrated 
the country as far as the head-waters of the Umpqua, 
where they found beaver more abundant than on the 
Willamette, and did well trading; but they found the 
natives so lazy that they could induce them to hunt 
but little. 

The 31st of March, McKenzie, with Reed and 

Hist. N. W. Coast. Vol. II. 14 


Seton, embarked in two canoes with seventeen men 
to report McDougall's plans to Clarke and Stuart, to 
bring away the articles cached, and to buy horses and 
provisions for the contemplated overland expedition. 
At the portage they found the natives as usual in a 
savage humor. Above the Dalles the McKenzie and 
McTavish parties met and camped together for the 
night. Among the two crews, now members of opposing 
companies and serving under hostile governments, 
were many old comrades, with many old scenes to re- 
vive, and it was late into the night ere their boisterous 
hilarity was silenced by sleep. 

Arrived at his abandoned post, McKenzie found his 
caches rifled. What made it worse was that with the 
goods stolen he was to have paid for the horses re- 
quired for the contemplated homeward journey. Mc- 
Kenzie was one absolutely a stranger to fear. He 
knew not what it was. Further than this he was cool 
and clear-headed in his intercourse with savages, and 
understood their temper and habits of thought thor- 
oughly. At the Dalles, when the feeling against the 
white men was hottest, on his last journey from Fort 
Astoria, with two companions he crossed the river, 
entered a secret conclave of grim warriors even then 
meditating such harm to fur-hunters as was in their 
power to put into execution, and with weapons drawn 
demanded a gun which had been stolen. The gun 
was not forthcoming, but the white men recrossed the 
river with their lives, which was a marvel. 

And now there was another little drama to be played 
with the Nez Perces, tragic or comic, as the case might 
be, and McKenzie was ready with his part. Sum- 
moning the chiefs he demanded the goods stolen from 
the caches. They greatly regretted the robbery but 
knew nothing of it except that the caches had been 
opened. The demand and the denial were made twice or 
thrice and the assembly broke up. The chiefs thought 
they had heard the last of it; but in this they were 


mistaken. Early next morning McKenzie and Lis little 
force suddenly appeared before them in their camp. 
With drawn weapons Scton and the men stationed 
themselves before a lodge, while McKenzie and Reed 
entered it and instituted a search for the stolen prop- 
erty. One lodge examined they proceeded to another, 
until four or five had been examined with varied suc- 
cess, when the chiefs begged the intruders to retire 
from the camp, and they would bring them the stole! i 
property. This McKenzie refused to do, well -knowing 
that he was safer there than outside, as Indians never 
like to fight in camp among women and children. 
There the stubborn men remained, surrounded by a 
hundred armed warriors to each one of them, until 
nearly all the stolen property was returned them, 
when they marched away with it in triumph. The 
Nez Perces then retaliated by refusing to sell McKen- 
zie horses. They even withdrew from the vicinity, 
and ceased to supply food. Nothing daunted, Mc- 
Kenzie determined that rather than starve he would 
make his own bargains. So whenever the camp re- 
quired meat he tied up in a bundle the full price of a 
horse, and then proceeded to shoot the animal and 
bring away the meat, leaving the price on a stake at 
the head of the carcass. Finally, to get rid of him, 
the Xez Perces sold McKenzie all the horses he 
required at fair prices. 

Despatching Peed with McDougall's letters to 
Clarke and Stuart, McKenzie set out for the rendez- 
vous at Walla Walla. Clarke and Stuart soon fol- 
lowed. Both of these partners were opposed to 
McDougall's proposition to break up the establishment 
at Astoria. They had done well in their traffic thus 
far, and the prospects for the future were exceed- 
i ngly good. They saw no reason for being frig] itened. 
Should the Isaac Todd take Fort Astoria she could 
not penetrate to all the posts of the interior. Thus 
far they had been kept well supplied with goods; there 
would be time enough to talk of breaking up the en- 


terprise when there was nothing left to buy furs with, 
or no furs to buy. 

An incident of Clarke's journey to Fort Astoria at 
this time may be worthy of mention, not as illustrative 
of a general course, but rather as an exception to a just 
and humane rule. It was the custom of fur-hunters 
to treat the natives fairly, it being for their interest 
to do so. But Clarke held the life of an Indian in 
light esteem. Happily his associates condemned his 
conduct in this instance unequivocally. 

The facts are these: Having left his post in charge 
of Pion, with three men, with his furs packed on 
twenty-eight horses, Clarke arrived at the junction 
of the Palouse and Lewis rivers on the 1st of June, 
and was greatly pleased to find the boats he had left 
with the natives, safe. He made them presents of 
ammunition and tobacco, and even went so far in his 
great good-humor as to drink wine with the chiefs 
out of a silver goblet which had been sent by Astor 
to Alexander McKay, and which still remained in 
Clarke's possession. It was a grand affair to drink 
wine from that cup, as Clarke made it appear, and 
the eyes of the savages glistened as they regarded it, 
and saw the value placed upon it by those having it 
in charge. Truly there must be some singular charm 
about it. 

When about to start next morning, the silver cup 
was missing. Search was made, but it was useless; 
the cup had been stolen. Clarke was furious. He 
swore he would hang the whole tribe if the cup was 
not immediately forthcoming. The whole tribe was 
summoned, the case stated, and the chiefs retired in 
solemn deliberation. Soon they returned with joy de- 
picted upon their faces, for the cup had been found, 
and was now restored to the white chief. All was now 
serene, the savages thought, for according to their 
custom the restoration of a stolen article exonerates 
the culprit. 

" Where is the thief?" demanded Clarke. 


" There," replied the chief, pointing to the criminal. 

"I swore," said Clarke, "the thief should die, and 
the white man never breaks his word." 

The savages smiled, thinking it pretty acting. But 
Clarke was in earnest. The man was hanged to his 
own lodge-poles. Until the deed was done the na- 
tives could not believe that such had been Clarice's 
intention. Then the principal chief threw his robe 
upon the ground, and harangued his people, after 
which they retired precipitately to inform the neigh- 
boring tribes. Then Clarke became alarmed, and hur- 
ried on to Walla Walla, where he met Stuart and 
McKenzie and told them w T hat he had done, expecting 
praise, but receiving none. 

Even while the partners stood there conversing, 
Tummeatapam, the old chief of the Walla Wallas, the 
white man's friend, rode hastily up. 

" What have you clone, my brothers?" he exclaimed, 
in great agitation. " You have spilled blood on our 
lands. How shall I pacify my people?" Then he 
wheeled and. rode rapidly away. The Walla Wallas 
were greatly shocked at this deed. Not only had they 
from the first been the true friends of the white men, 
but prompted seemingly by feelings of pure humanity, 
the} r had gone far out of their way to serve them. 
The faint and weary travellers, the starving strag- 
gler, so easy to cut off, they had always befriended. 
They were remarkably honest withal; boats, horses, 
and other property left in their charge had always 
i cared for and returned. They had regarded 
the white men as perfect beings. The Palouses were 
their near neighbors and friends. With them stealing 
was no crime, but something rather to be proud of. 
The fur-hunters lost no time in taking their depar- 
ture. All proceeded immediately to Fort Astoria, 
where they arrived on the 14th of June, bringing with 
them one hundred and forty packages of furs, being 
the result of two years' trade at Okanagan and one 
year's at Spokane. 




McTavish at Astoria — A Royal Marriage — The 'Albatross'— Adven- 
tures of Hunt — Captain Sowles, neither Warrior nor Trader — 
Defence of McDougaix — Commodore Porter, U. S. X. — McDougall 
holds Council — Fort Astoria in British Hands — King Comcomly to 
the Fescue — H. M. S. 'Raccoon' — John McDonald in Command — 
The Gallant Captain Black — Fort George — Failure of Astor's 
Pacific Scheme. 

Down the river on the 11th of April 1813, in gay- 
est colors, flying the British flag, come two birch-bark 
canoes, manned by nineteen Canadian voyageurs, now 
in full soul;- and chorus, and commanded, one by John 
George McTavish, and the other by his deputy, 
Joseph Laroche. Sweeping gracefully round the 
point, they land under the guns of the fort, and there 
pitch their camp. McDougall hastens to invite the 
distinguished stranger to his quarters; the object 
of his visit he already knows. 

McDougall was by nature a cold-blooded man; 
stolid in body and mind, and like many before him, 
his good name has suffered in the hands of some by 
reason of his lack of fire. And yet he seems to have 
stumbled upon the best course, the only course proper 
to be pursued throughout the whole of this unpleasant 
and luckless adventure. Often the weakness of a busi- 
ness man is his strength. Judging from his apparent 
qualities, either of his associates would have done 
better for the company in his place, though Mc- 
Kenzie was not much more persevering than he. 



Astor was peculiarly unfortunate in his fitting of 
character to position. For so shrewd an observer 
of human nature, his agents were almost to a man ill- 
chosen. Clarke at the head would have put will and 
energy into the enterprise, though his judgment was 
not always of the soundest. All things considered, 
David Stuart, with his mild determination and hu- 
mane fearlessness, would have made the best manager. 
Hunt's great mistake was in leaving the coast at all. 
His presence at this time was of the most vital im- 
portance, though it could scarcely have changed the 
drift of affairs. 

McTavish in diplomatic skill and artifice is equal 
to them all. The Honorable Northwest Company 
never lacked shrewd men, and among them all there 
never was a more proficient tactician than he. Before 
he enters the fort, he know T s quite well the feelings of 
every man who has a voice upon the question which 
brought him there. That any one of them was dis- 
honorable, treacherous, or base, I do not for a moment 
believe. They were every one of them brought up 
in the strictest school of business honesty, and chosen 
for this adventure on account of their good qualities, 
and not because they were rascals. 1 

Briefly, affairs stand thus. Between the United 
States, whose languid protection was Fort Astoria's 
downfall, and the British, under whose flag the North- 
west Company traded, was war. It might last a year, 
or twenty years; and terminate in favor of the one 
power or the other; but while it lasted, or howsoever 

1 That these Scotchmen were bad men, disloyal to Astor by reason of 
their nationality and former associations, as certain writers would have us 
believe, is in view of the circumstances absurd. In their agreement with 
Astor they reserved the right toclose the business should their in 
■ I ictate. Whatever loss might arise from the failure of the < 
on them, in proportion to their share. Incase they were obliged to aban- 
don t he adventure three laborious years would be lost to everj > 
with no prospective gain. ' It was thus,' says one, ' that after haipng i i I 
the i ea - and suffered all sorts of fatigues and privations, I lost in a moment 
all my hopes of fortune.' Franchere's Nar.-, 193. For half a century United 
stair.', residents of the north-west have harbored ill-will toward British sub- 
jects of the same locality through such false representations. 


it terminated, supplies, without which business must 
wholly cease, were sure to be uncertain, if not, in- 
deed, entirely out of the question. The British were 
the stronger power, having at command more money, 
men, and ships; the war was on United States soil, 
which gave United States citizens an advantage In 
the Oregon Territory, subsequently disputed ground, 
and at a distance from the head-quarters of both powers, 
the British would have the advantage, for their money 
and ships more easily spanned continents and seas 
than a young nation's patriotism. The actual leader 
of this enterprise was absent with the only ship at its 
command; whether either would ever return was 
doubtful. In fact, greater risk attended the Beaver'* 
voyage than that of the Tonquin. A hostile ship 
with letters of marque was hourly expected, which 
would take the fort without firing half its guns; in 
which event all the property would be confiscated. 
For though partners and men were most of. them 
British subjects, they were trading under an enemy's 
flag; and though their persons might be respected, 
their property could not be. Three courses lay open 
to the partners: they might fight, or fly, or make 
terms with the enemy. With an armed vessel at their 
command, they might adopt the former course; as it 
Avas it was impossible. Suppose they should escape 
to the interior with their goods; half a dozen white 
men with arms, whiskey, and tobacco could anywhere 
raise natives enough thirsting for blood and plunder 
to annihilate them. Hence it would be well to con- 
sider calmly the last alternative. This I believe to 
be a fair statement of the case. 

Under such circumstances McDougall did not deem 
it wise to treat McTavish as a deadly enemy. Though 
Stuart and Clarke were not yet reconciled to the 
abandonment of their project, and could but regard 
the inroads of the Northwest Company with displeas- 
ure, yet in view of past relations and what might be 
in the near future, McDougall supplied McTavish 


with necessaries from the garrison stores, and influ- 
enced the savages to treat his party as friends. 2 

It was with great difficulty that Clarke and Stuart 
could be brought to entertain the thought of aban- 
doning the enterprise. McTavisli said little; his 
presence was his strongest argument. His position 
was none of the pleasantest, dependent as he was on 
the enemy's courtesy for subsistence. McDougall all 
the while treated him with humane consideration, 
kept vigilant guard lest the post should be surprised, 
listened to his arguments, and employed them with no 
small force in the conversion of Clarke and Stuart. 
This was at last accomplished. They saw clearly 
enough that if the Beaver did not return, and the 
annual ships did not arrive, they would be left among 
savages to shift for themselves. 

Meanwhile the perplexities of McTavish increased. 
He had long waited in vain the arrival of the Isaac 
Todd, which was to make him master of the situation, 
until he felt it unsafe for him to wait longer. He 
therefore applied to the Astor company for goods 
which would enable him to reach his post on the 
upper Columbia and do a little trading on the way. 
After further consultation the partners granted the 
request, and goods were given him to the amount 
of eight hundred and fifty-eight dollars, payable in 
horses the following spring, or in any way the part- 
ners should demand. 

McTavish was now ready to depart. Neither force 
nor threat had been employed to bring the Astor 
company to terms. A mere statement of probabilities 
had been placed before them; that was all. McTavish 
was about to become a debtor to the company; had 
the partners anything further to say? Yes, they had 
well considered the matter, and all were now agreed 
to dissolve the company the following year, provided 

2 This Mr Irving, -muting from Astor's point of view, denominates 'un- 
called-for hospitality.' and intimates that it would have served McTavish 
right to have set Comcomly and his crew upon him. 


no relief came in the mean time. It was surely long 
enough to wait upon an uncertainty, and they could 
scarcely be jointly charged with hasty or ill-advised 
action in the premises. 

This was the arrangement. It was now the 1st of 
Jul}' 1813. If before the 1st of June 1814, no relief 
should reach them from any quarter, the posts upon 
the Pacific should be abandoned, and McDougall be 
empowered to transfer to the Northwest Company 
at prices stipulated, all the property, goods, and furs 
of the Pacific Company, should the former then be 
disposed to purchase. This as a preliminary arrange- 
ment or resolution was signed in triplicate by the four 
partners, and copies delivered to McTavish, one for 
the Northwest Company, and one to be forwarded to 
Astor by the winter express. Meanwhile McDougall 
with forty men was to remain in command at Astoria. 
Stuart would winter at Shush wap, Clarke at Spokane, 
and McKenzie in the Willamette Valley. Reed with 
Pierre Dorion and five Canadians would proceed to 
the Shoshone country, winter there, and make the 
best preparations possible for the passage of the main 
body across the mountains the following summer. 
All were to meet at Fort Astoria in May, and set 
out the 5th of July. 

The parties for the upper country, with the excep- 
tion of losing a cargo at the Cascades, and the acci- 
dental shooting of Pillot in the leg, all reached Walla 
Walla, where they found the natives still . smarting 
under the late outrage committed by Clarke. The 
presence of a brass four-pounder prevented an attaek, 
but Clarke felt constrained to avoid the Palouse River 
on his way to Spokane, and to take a circuitous route, 
keeping company with Stuart as far as Okanagan. 
Reed and party started south-easterly for the Shoshone 
country. McKenzie made frequent trips from Astoria 
up the Columbia and Willamette rivers, for dried 
salmon. At the fort all were bus}^ baling skins and 
preparing for final departure. McDougall embraced 


this occasion to form a matrimonial alliance with the 
native sovereign of the country, after the manner of 
the most successful fur- traders. The daughter of Com- 
comly thenceforth took up her residence at the fort. 

Scarcely had matters at Astoria assumed the tran- 
quillity of a settled policy, when on the 20th of 
August, less than two months after the departure . of 
McTavish, Stuart, and Clarke, a vessel entered the 
river and anchored opposite the fort. Immediately 
all on shore were thrown into a nutter of excitement. 
Did this portend war or peace? Was it the Isaac 
Todd, or a supply-ship ? Their anxiety was somewhat 
relieved by the display of the United States flag. A 
salute from the fort was answered by the ship, and 
McDougall put out in a small boat to board her. 
Shortly after dark he returned, bringing with him 
Hunt. The long fathomless mystery was soon ex- 
plained. The strange arrival was the Albatross, Cap- 
tain Smith, last from the Hawaiian Islands. Let us 
listen to Hunt's story. 

The Beaver had sailed from Astoria the 4th of the 
previous August, so that the chief manager had been 
absent from his post over a year. Scudding north- 
ward under a favorable wind, in fifteen days the 
Beaver entered the harbor of New Archangel. Hunt 
landed and presented himself before the governor, 
Baranof. Hunt then arranged for furnishing that 
port with supplies and means of transportation for 
its furs annually. After forty-five days spent in bar- 
gaining, and in discharging that part of the cargo 
sold, Baranof found he had not sufficient skins on 
hand with which to pay for his purchases. Conse- 
quently Hunt was obliged to proceed to the island of 
St Paul, 3 in Bering Sea, the Russian seal-catching 
establishment, where he arrived the 31st of October, 
and took in a fine quantity of seal-skins. 4 

3 Tikhmenef, Istor. Obosr., MS., i. 181. 

1 • Being there informed that some Kodiak hunters had been left on some 
adjacent isles, called the islands of St Peter and St Paul, and that these 


Ice and heavy gales having strained the ship, and 
fearing the bar and bad weather at the month of the 
Columbia, Hunt did not go from Kamchatka back to 
Fort Astoria, as he intended and had been instructed, 
but stood for the Hawaiian Islands, which he reached 
late in the season, intending there to take the annual 
ship to Astoria, while the Beaver should carry her 
precious cargo to China. 

Arrived at Canton, Captain Sowles found there 
awaiting him a letter from Astor, notice of the war, 
and instructions to sail forthwith to Fort Astoria 
with the information, and render the fortress there 
every assistance in his power. Evidently the captain 
of the Beaver was not a man of war. There was no 
Englishman that he knew of whose blood he wished 
to spill ; he was very sure he wished no Englishman to 
spill his blood. He was in the merchant-service, not 
in the navy. He would wait until the war was over, 
and then return to New York; so he wrote Astor. 

This was not all — the captain was no better busi- 
ness man than warrior. The furs on board his ship 
had cost twenty-five thousand dollars' worth of goods ; 
when he first arrived he might have sold them for one 
hundred and fifty thousand, which invested in nan- 
keens would have brought in New York, if the}' es- 
caped shipwreck and privateers on the way, three 
hundred thousand dollars. Five hundred per cent 
profit, however, was not enough for this captain. He 
held out for more. Furs began to fall; he would wait 
a little while for them to rise; they fell still lower; 
then he certainly would not sell, but borrowed money 
at one and a half per cent, a month on Astor's account, 
to pay his expenses, and waited for the war to cease. 

At the Hawaiian Islands, Hunt w T as obliged to re- 
main for six months before he found opportunity to 
sail. The annual vessel did not come. Weary of 

hunters had not been visited for three years, they determined to go thither, 
and having reached those isles, they opened a brisk ti-ade, and secured no 
less than eighty thousand skins of the South Sea seal.' Fmnchere's JS'ar., 175. 


waiting he bought a small schooner with which he re- 
solved to tempt the ocean, and was about t<> embark 
in it when the Albatross arrived with information of 
the war. Hunt immediately chartered the vessel and 
sailed for Fort Astoria. 

Mr Hunt was sadly disappointed when he learned 
the decision of the partners, but when asked to pro- 
pose another measure was at a loss to do so. It was 
plainly evident that on one side the British, stirred to 
hot action by the prospect of prize-money, were upon 
them, while upon the other, their formidable rivals, the 
Northwest Company, having been refused an amicable 
adjustment of interests by a division of territory, had 
now determined to crush them. Escape was impos- 
sible either by sea or land. Cruisers were watching 
them without, ready even now to pounce upon them; 
and as well might a rich-laden caravan attempt to 
fly across the Rocky Mountains, as to escape the Wah- 
owpum banditti, the estranged Walla Wallas, the 
outraged Palouses, and the terrible Blackfoot Indians, 
when instigated, assisted, or encouraged by a few 
white men. Even if robbed of everything by their 
enemies, and their forts blown to the winds, they 
might rally and continue, provided Astor could get 
supplies to them; but without supplies not only was 
their traffic at an end, but their lives were in great 
jeopardy. 5 A child might see this; Hunt saw it, and 

5 In his Astoria, Mr Irving lays himself open to the severest criticism 
and censure. This is his line of reasoning: Astor set his heart upon the 
accpiisition of great power and property on the Pacific Coast; therefore Astor 
was a magnanimous man, one to be highly exalted, and whose schemes l>y 
their inherent virtues should be successful. They failed. Some one must be 
blamed, but not Astor. McDougall being in charge, and being likewise the 
first to suggest capitulation, wasasfita person asany. Hence 1McT>< >n -all was 
a bad man, disloyal to the enterprise from the beginning; in proof of which 
he gave McTavish food and protection when he might have left him to star- 
vation and the savages; therefore he was in league with McTavish. At the 
time McDougall endeavors to hold out for another year, allies himself by mar- 
riage with the chief for the greater safety of the establishment, ami. when 
forced to come to terms or see the whole property swept away, makes a 
better bargain for the Astor company with McTavish than the Nbrthwesl 
Company will ratify, ami is obliged to take less — in view of all this his 


was quickly satisfied. He not only indorsed the steps 
already taken by his partners, but he authorized Mc- 
Dougall, in case of his absence, to conclude arrange- 
ments with McTavish as best he might. 6 

treachery is clearly apparent. Finally, when McDougall visits the British sloop 
of war Raccoon he is coldly received by his countiymen, because he had just in 
time saved to Astor 8SO,500, which otherwise would have fallen to them as 
prize-money; hence he was incompetent, andavillain. Onpage475of Astoria, 
speaking of the British war-vessels Phoebe, Cherub, and Raccoon, then on the 
way to the Columbia, Mr Irving exclaims, ' Here then was the death-warrant of 
unfortunate Astoria ! ' And yet in twenty places with Astor at his elbow he 
•would make McDougall, Sowles, or any other person or thing responsible for 
the failure. Suo sibl hunc gladio jugulo. 

G Mark Mr Irving's language in this part of his narrative, who with strange 
and effeminate inconsistency with his bold assertions, constantly condemns 
McDougall while his facts exculpate him. 'As a means of facilitating the de- 
spatch of business, Mr McDougall proposed that in case Mr Hunt should not 
return, the whole arrangement with Mr McTavish should be left solely to him. 
This was assented to; the contingency being possible but not probable.' Astoria, 
475. It must be remembered that this was after the manifesto of the part- 
ners had been approved by Mr Hunt. And again on the same page he speaks 
of the coming British men-of-war and the certain destruction of ' unfortunate 
Astoria.' If these ships were the ruination of the enterprise how shall we 
blame McDougall for saving what he could? And yet writing with Astor at 
his elbow we find flung in from one end of the book to the other, slurs and 
innuendos upon the character of the Scotch partners, the Northwest Company, 
and everybody except Mr Irving and Mr Astor. Even the old Russian com- 
mander, Baranof, who gave $150,000 worth of seal-skins for 825,000 in mer- 
chandise, is blamed by this captious biographer for unduly detaining Hunt 
with convivial hospitality. Before leaving New York ' the confidence of Mr 
Astor was abused,' Astoria, 51, because two of the partners, 'both of them 
Scotchmen, and recently in the service of the Northwest Company,' asked of 
the New York agent of the British government what would be their position 
at Astoria in case of war. Now it would be exceedingly difficult for any but 
the most morbid mind to find ' abuse of Mr Astor ' in this step. ' Captain 
Thorn was an honest, straightforward, but somewhat dry and dictatorial com- 
mander.' 53. McDougall ' was an active, irritable, fuming, vainglorious little 
man. ' 54. ' Though Mr Thompson could be considered as little better than a spy 
in the camp, he was received with great cordiality by Mr McDougall, who had 
a lurking feeling of companionship and good-will for all the Northwest Com- 
pany.' 97. In the name of humanity and decency why should he not have? 
And how was it to serve Astbr's interests to treat a gentleman, a visitor in 
the wilderness, an old Mend and former associate, though now a business 
rival, discourteously, or as would have been in this instance regarded by all the 
fur-hunting community, in a most unmanly, bearish, and insulting manner? 
Again speaking of another affair: 'Indeed, the whole conduct of Mr Mc- 
Dougall was such as to awaken strong doubts as to his loyal devotion to the 
cause. His old sympathies for the Northwest Company seemed to have re- 
vived. He had received McTavish and his party with uncalled-for hospi- 
tality.' 154. It was through McTavish that McDougall saved to Astor all 
that was saved from the wreck of the enterprise. The very acts which Irving 
so insidiously stigmatizes in McDougall, I would select in a biographical sketch 
as illustrative of nobleness of character. Speaking of the sale of Fort Astoria 
Irving says, 485 : ' The conduct and motives of Mr McDougall throughout the 
whole of this proceeding have been strongly questioned by the other part- 
ners.' Irving fails entirely to show how this was so, and if it was the part- 
ners that were as much to blame as McDougall ; for they were on the spot, and 


Franchere thinks the Pacific Fur Company could 
easily enough have escaped capture by a British 

should have prevented fraud, instead of which they acquiesced in nil that wag 
done. Says Franchere, 172: 'Our object being to provide ourselves before 
quitting the country, with the food and horses necessary for the journey, in 
order to avoid all opposition ou the part of the Northwest Company we en- 
tered into an arrangement with Mr McTavish.' And yet more emphal Lcally 
Mr Ross, Adv., 243, 244: 'The resolutions of Mr McDougall and McKenzie 
last winter, to abandon the undertaking, were now discussed anew; McKenzie 
now sided with McDougall.' And on page 24G: 'The resolution to abandon 
the country was adopted, and Messrs Stuart and Clarke gave it their cordial 
consent. ' Ross was on the spot and states what he saw. Irving takes his in- 
formation from Astor, who speaks of what he heard. Nor was Ross at all 
friendly with McDougall. Nor does the fact that McDougall subsequently 
joined the Northwest Company, of which so great a handle was made, im- 
peach his integrity in the least. So far as I am able to learn from a careful 
sifting of all the evidence, McDougall remained faithful at his post to the end, 
and having made the best terms possible for Astor, keeping back for himself 
out of all the property he had in charge, not one dollar, with nothing to show 
for his four years of arduous service, he was a free man with the right to en- 
gage where he would. Further than this, would the Northwest Company have 
received him and trusted him had he been traitor to his former trust? The 
fact is, Astor was exceedingly sore over this failure and must blame some- 
body, anybody, everybody. He wrote Mr Monroe, but ' waited in vain for a 
reply to this letter,' according to Hunt. And says of Hunt, 474 : ' By degrees, 
therefore, he -was brought to acquiesce in the step taken by his colleagues, as per- 
haps advisable in the exigences of the case.' Of McKenzie and Stuart, Irving 
himself says, Astoria, 4.35 : ' In the mean time the non-arrival of the annual ship 
and the apprehensions entertained of the loss of the Beaver and of Mr Hunt, 
had their effects upon the mind of Messrs Stuart and Clarke. They began 
to listen to the desponding representations of McDougall seconded by McKen- 
zie, who inveighed against their situation as desperate and forlorn ; left to 
shift for themselves or perish upon a barbarous coast; neglected by those who 
sent them there, and threatened with dangers of every kind. In this way 
they were brought to consent to the plan of abandoning the country in the 
ensuing year.' ' Had Hunt been present,' again he says, on page 499, in most 
disordered logic, 'the transfer in all probability would not have taken place.' 
And yet he has but just said that if the transfer had not been made just at the 
time it was, the property surely would have been captured by the British and 
the proceeds from the sale of it divided as prize-money among the capt< >rs; 
that the disappointment of these officers ' therefore may be easily conceived, 
when they learned that their warlike attack upon Astoria had been fore- 
stalled by a snug commercial arrangement; that their anticipated booty had 
become British property in the regular course of traffic, ' etc. 487. What shall 
we say of a writer who so mixed personal feelings with his facts and fictions? 
Hunt ' soon saw reason to repent the resolution he had adopted in altering 
the destination of the ship... He too proved the danger of departing from 
orders. The greatest blunder of all was that committed by Captain Sowles.' 
Astor was likewise 'discouraged by this supineness on the part of the gov- 
ernment. 1 < >f all the world Astor alone was faultless. In all this I have no 
fault to find with Astor. He embarked in a magnificent undertaking, lavish- 
ing money and energy upon it in a way worthy of success. Here too it happened 
success would have been a great gain to the country. He failed through a 
combination of circumstances, through the special and individual fault of no 
one man. He was as much to blame himself as any one, in fitting his a 
to their work. Let Astor curse his stars, his agents, the president i 
United States, or whomsoever he will. It is often a comfort to find a vent 
for one's ill-humor, but should we not make some allowance for words spoken 
in such a mood 1 


force. "It was only necessary," he says, to get rid 
of the land party of the Northwest Company, who 
were completely in our power, then remove our effects 
up the river upon some small stream, and await the 
result. The sloop of war arrived, it is true, but as in 
the case I suppose she would have found nothing; 
she would have left after setting fire to our deserted 
houses. None of their boats would have dared fol- 
low us even if the Indians had betrayed to them our 
lurking-place. Those at the head of affairs had their 
own fortune to seek, and thought it more for their in- 
terest, doubtless, to act as they did; but that will not 
clear them in the eyes of the world, and the charge 
of treason to Mr Astor's interests will always be at- 
tached to their characters." Franchere might have 
gone yet further, and have said: With a determined 
American at the head of affairs backed by Comcornly 
and his eight hundred warriors, they need scarcely 
have retired at all, not further certainly than beyond 
range of the ship's guns. But what would have been 
their position? What good would such a step have 
done them? There were few furs to buy about Asto- 
ria or in the Willamette Valley. The Northwest 
Company with the assistance of the now exasperated 
Walla Wallas, Palouses, and Blackfoot Indians, could 
easilj' not only have stopped all the Rocky Mountain 
passes, but have driven the Pacific Company from 
that region. Had such a plan been practicable, why 
did not Hunt, who was an American and actual com- 
mander of the company's forces, adopt it? His loy- 
alty to Astor's interests has never been questioned; 
then why did he, who was over all in authority, agree 
with the other partners in the surrender of the fort, 
and go in search of a vessel to carry them all away ? 
Because he knew it was impossible to hold the country 
and obtain supplies with their way blocked up in the 
mountains and upon the sea. Hence it seems to me 
unfair to throw the blame upon the partners present, 
and more particularly upon McDougall, after Hunt 


had authorized him to act as he did, and assisted him 
in carrying out his measures. 

We may as well, however, set aside what might 
have been done with a force of United States citizens 
under a loyal and determined commander, for there 
was no such body present. Astor did not select men 
of that character, or for that purpose. It was a 
commercial troop, and not an army. In a war with 
the United States, how should Astor expect British 
to level gun against British in his interests, or even 
in their own 1 ? Hunt saw that neither he, nor Mc- 
Dougall, nor McKenzie could compel them to it, and 
so he yielded his assent to a sale. Then why fling 
odium upon men for not accomplishing impossibilities? 
The assertion that McDougall's interests lay in the 
direction of a partnership in the Northwest Company 
is idle until proved. In the Pacific Company his 
interest was larger and his position higher than there 
there was the slighest probability it ever would be in 
the Montreal company. The interest of every mem- 
ber was the success of the Pacific Company, and all 
seemed to act upon that principle. I find not the 
slightest taint of treachery in this transaction. 

In common with McDougall, Hunt now directed 
his efforts to saving as much from the wreck as 
possible. A vessel was needed to bring provisions to 
Fort Astoria, to take back the Hawaiian Islanders, 
whose contract stipulated that they should be re- 
turned to their homes, and to transport the heavy 
goods and those of the men who preferred to return 
by sea to New York. The Albatross was under char- 
ter to the Marquesas Islands, and therefore was not 
open to engagement. Hunt therefore embarked in 
her in company with Clapp on the 2Gth of August, 
hoping to find the vessel he required upon the coast 
of California. He was carried at once to the Mar- 
quesas, where shortly after his arrival Commodore 
Porter of the United States frigate Essex entered, 
bringing with him several British whalers which he 

Hist. N. W. Cuast, Vol. II. 15 


had captured. By this arrival came the disheartening 
intelligence that a British fleet consisting of the sloops 
of war Raccoon and Cherub, the frigate Phoebe, and a 
store-ship mounted with machinery suitable for batter- 
ing down forts had sailed from Rio Janeiro the 6th of 
July for the Northwest Coast. If this was true the 
end indeed had come. 

In his great trouble, Hunt applied to Commodore 
Porter, offering to purchase one of his prizes; but the 
price ashed, twenty-five thousand dollars, being deemed 
exorbitant, Hunt refused to pay it, and requested 
the commodore to send a vessel to the assistance of 
Fort Astoria, but in the absence of express authority 
this proposal was likewise rejected. Should he fall 
in with the enemy, however, the commodore would 
defeat his plans if he felt able. The fact is, the 
United States government was taxed to its utmost 
to sustain itself upon the sea, otherwise its attitude 
toward this enterprise throughout were indeed pusil- 
lanimous. I see no excuse for Commodore Porter in 
demanding such a sum in this emergency. Without 
seamen he could only burn his prizes, and such con- 
duct seemed to Hunt like taking advantage of his 
distress. Unsuccessful on every side, Hunt sailed in 
the Albatross the 23d of November for the Hawaiian 
Islands, where he arrived the 20th of December. 
There he met Captain Northrop, and was told the 
melancholy story of the loss of the Lark. Losing no 
time Hunt bought a brig, the Pedler, for ten thou- 
sand dollars, and placing Northrop in command, sailed 
for Fort Astoria the 22d of January, hoping to be 
able to rescue some of the property and carry it to 
Sitka for safe-keeping. 

Returning once more to Fort Astoria, we find, 
some five weeks after the sailing of the Albatross, 
McKenzie with Wallace and Seton, in two canoes, 
with ten men, en route with supplies for the wintering 



The fifth day after this departure, which was the 
7th of October, greatly to the surprise of the garrison 
were seen rounding Tongue Point side by side three 
canoes, the middle one flying the flag of the United 
States and the two others displaying British colors. 
In the first were McKenzie and Clarke, supported on 
either side by John George McTavish and Angus 
Bethune of the Northwest Company. Landing, Mc- 
Tavish presented the commander at Fort Astoria a 
letter from Angus Shaw, partner in the Northwest 
Company, and uncle of McDougall, informing him of 
the sailing in March of the ship Isaac Todd and the 
frigate Phoebe, with letters of marque and instructions 
to seize everything American on the Northwest Coast. 

It appears that McKenzie had met the squadron 
near the first rapids. Clarke w T as with them, having 
left his post to accompany them. The two parties 
landed and encamped for the night. Next morning 
McKenzie and Clarke endeavored to slip away, so as 
to reach the fort before the others, and give warning 
of their approach; but McTavish was as wide-awake 
as they, setting out as early and reaching Fort Asto- 
ria as soon. 

A canny Scotch game is now played for the pos- 
session of the Columbia. McTavish with those be- 
hind him is the stronger in numbers and prospects; 
McDougall in position and possession. The British 
vessels of war may come at any moment, and thej r 
may not come at all; the chances are in favor of 
their coming, as nothing but capture or shipwreck 
is likely to prevent them. If they come, they will 
be like the monke}^ that eats the cheese. All 
that belongs to persons trading under the United 
States flag the British officers and seamen will take 
without asking, and divide it among them as their 
lawful prize. The Northwest Company may then 
have the country, and the Pacific Company may go 
their way. If they do not come, the latter may keep 
their posts and their goods. 


McTavish is not so eager to conclude terras as for- 
merly. He fences for time. He would rather see 
the Pacific Company thoroughly destroyed, so that 
they would make him no further trouble on the 
coast, than to purchase their property even at his 
own price. 

On the other hand, McDougall is determined to de- 
prive McTavish of his double chance, or force him to 
terms, or escape with his goods at the earliest pos- 
sible moment. Of course to wait for Hunt or any one 
else is out of the question. Calling a council of all 
present, partners and clerks, next day, the 8th, Mc- 
Dougall reads to them his uncle's letter. A strict 
guard is kept in the fort to avoid surprise ; at the same 
time McTavish, being short of provisions, is supplied 
by McDougall. 

McDougall now proposes to sell all the goods of the 
Pacific Company upon the coast at cost and charges, 
and skins at rates current in the London market, less 
charges of transportation and sale. This was a most 
liberal offer under the circumstances, and McTavish 
accepts. But out of courtesy to his associates, he 
will await their arrival before consummating the con- 

On the 11th of October, John Stuart and Joseph 
McGillivray, partners in the Northwest Company, 
arrive with the eight canoes, the remainder of the 
ileet of ten, and land in a cove near the factory, form- 
ing a <mmp of about seventy-five men. A conference 
is held. The terms of the proposed contract are re- 
stated. John Stuart enters his protest. On behalf 
of his company he might sanction the purchase at 
cost and charges for the goods and furs at fixed rates, 7 
which should little more than cover their cost at Fort 
Astoria, the servants of the Pacific Company to be paid 
the arrears of their wages, which amount was to be 

7 ' The whole of the goods on hand both at Fort Astoria and throughout the 
interior were delivered over to the Northwest Company at 10 per cent on cost 
and charges.' Boss' Adv., 2.32-3. If Mr Ross means 10 per cent on cost and 
freight, as he probably does, it would still be no more than cost and charges. 


deducted from the price paid. 8 McGillivray sustains 
John Stuart, affirming that this would be the best he 
should agree to. McTavish is of course obliged to 
be silent. 

Rapidly revolving the matter in his mind, for he 
has no time to think long, McDougall accepts. He 
thinks his company should receive more; he accuses 
the Northwest partners of taking advantage, but he 
is wholly in their power, and to tell the truth he be- 
lieves even this to be for the best interests of Astor. 
And he is right. Nor do I think the final offer of the 
Northwest Company by any means unfair or illiberal, 
as the sequel shows. It is true they make a profit on 
the furs, and secure the business; but they are a com- 
mercial company, and such is the purpose of com- 
merce. I greatly doubt if Astor, who sorely com- 
plains, would have made a more liberal offer had he 
been in their place. For close at hand were those who 
would have taken from the Pacific Company all they 
had, and paid them nothing. 9 

Astor, however, is greatly dissatisfied, although I 
am really at a loss to know why. "Had our place 
and our property been fairly captured," he moans by 
the mouth of Irving, 10 " I should have preferred it; I 

8 ' The following estimate has been made of the articles on hand, and the 
prices: 17,705 lbs. of beaver parchment, valued at 82, worth So; 405 old-coat 
beaver, valued at §1.00, worth $3.50; 907 land-otter, valued at $.50, worth 
85; 08 sea-otter, valued at $12, worth from $45 to $60; 30 sea-otter, valued at 
$5, worth § - 25.' Irving's Astoria, 484. 'The furs were valued at so much per 
skin. The whole sales amounted to §80,500, McTavish giving bills of ex- 
change on the agents for the amount, payable in Canada.' Boss' Adv., 253. 

9 ' This transaction took place on the 16th of October, and was considered 
fair and equitable on both sides.' Boss' Adv., 253. 'In a few weeks an amica- 
ble arrangement was made, by which Mr McTavish agreed to purchase all the 
furs, merchandise, provisions, etc. , of our company at a certain valuation, stipu- 
lating to provide a safe passage back to the United States, either by sea or 
across the continent, for such members of it as choose to return; and at the 
same time offering to those who should wish to join the Northwest Company, 
and remain in the country, the same terms as if they had originally been mem- 
bers of that company. Messrs Ross, McClellan, and I took advantage i t these 
liberal proposals, and some time after, Mr Duncan McDougall, one of tii<^ <li- 
rectors, also joined the Northwest.' Cox's Columbia River, 208. 'The nego- 
tiations were protracted by one party, in the hope that the long expected 
armed force would arrive to render the purchase unnecessary, and were 
forward by the other to conclude the affair before that occurrence should in- 
tervene.' Franchere , 8 Nar., 193. 

10 Astoria, 485. 


should not feel as if I were disgraced." In other 
words, he might have a large claim for damages. 

Still McTavish fences for time, and it was not until 
McDougall made ready his boats and threatened to 
move inland up the Willamette Kiver unless the agree- 
ment was legally executed at once, that the North- 
west partners completed the purchase. 11 One other 
hold McDougall had upon his rivals. McTavish and 
his party obtained their daily supply of provisions 
from the fort, being indebted to the Pacific Company 
even for food and ammunition. Accompanying the 
threat to move was another to cut off supplies, and 
thus the Northwest Company were brought to terms. 12 
The contract was signed the 16th of October, and on 
the 12th of November the Northwest Company took 
formal possession of Astoria. 13 Thus was scaled the 
death-warrant of the New York millionaire's brilliant 
scheme. Thus terminated the affairs of the Pacific 
Fur Company on the Northwest Coast. The greater 
part of the servants of the Pacific Company entered 
the service of the Northwest Company; after the 
affairs of the former were closed, McDougall accepted 
a partnership in the Northwest Company. 14 Toward 

11 'McDougall and McKenzie, hew-ever, saw through this piece of artifice, 
and insisted that the business should be ratified at once. McTavish, however, 
full of commercial wiles, tried to evade and retard every step taken.' Ross' 
Adv., 253. 

12 'One morning before daylight, Messrs McDougall and McKenzie sum- 
moned all hands together, seventy-two in number, and after a brief statement 
of the view of the Northwest in reference to the negotiation, ordered the bas- 
tions to be manned, the guns to be loaded and pointed, and the matches lighted. 
In an instant every man was at his post and the gates shut. At eight o'clock 
a message was sent to McTavish giving him two hours, and no more, either 
to sign the bills or break off the negotiations altogether, and remove to some 
other quarters. By eleven o'clock the bills were finally and formally signed, 
and Astoria was delivered up to the Northwest Company on the 12t!i of No- 
vember, after nearly a month of suspense between the drawing and the signing 
of the bills.' Jioss' Adv., 254. This statement is so at variance from Mr 
Irving's that I am willing to allow a little for exaggeration. That is, McDou- 
gall may have formally assumed this belligerent attitude for effect, but that he ' 
ever had any intention of firing on McTavish's camp I cannot for a moment 

13 According to Ross and Irving; Franchere says the 23d of November. 

11 This circumstance threw suspicion on his conduct, yet there is not the 
least proof that he had betrayed his trust. McDougall always bore the char- 
acter of integrity; he was a man of principle, faithful to his word, and punctual 


the end of October, McKenzie set out with John 
Stuart for Spokane and Okanagan to deliver those 
posts to the purchasers. 

The arrival at Fort Astoria from Fort William on 
the 15th of November of two Northwest Company 
partners, Alexander Stuart and Alexander Henry, in 
two bark canoes, manned, by sixteen voyageurs, did 
not materially affect the attitude of affairs, but only 
the more proved the course pursued by McDougall to 
be correct, and showed the utter hopelessness of the 
Astor course on the Pacific. The Northwest Com- 
pany were determined to drive them out. They would 
probably in time have accomplished this without the 
aid of British war-ships, in the continued absence of 
help for Astor from the United States. The new 
arrival reported the British arms thus far in the 

Scarcely more than a fortnight had passed since 
the formal delivery of the fortress of Astoria to the 
Northwest Company, when one day Comcomly came 
in breathless haste to McDougall, with tidings of a 
sail seen off the cape, which he was fearful might be a 
King George ship. "Have we not enough of these 
people among us?" he exclaimed. "Are you Bostons 
women that you permit these starving ones to take 
your fort, your goods, and drive you from the coun- 
try? And now here comes this vessel to enslave us 
all, but with eight hundred warriors at my back I do 
not fear them. I will protect you." But McDougall 
soothed his hotly perspiring and red-painted father- 
in-law, assured him that the King George men were 
no longer enemies, and sent him away happy in the 
possession of a new coat and a pocketful of tobacco, 
with instructions not to molest white people, who were 
all brothers. 

to his engagements. Ross'' Adv., 273-4. Khl6bnikof, ante, 149, re- 

marks that Clarke went to Sitka after the transfer of Astoria and lived there 
for two years, acting as tutor to Baranof's half-breed children; he also men- 
tions the arrival cf Jobson, a gunsmith, and two half-breeds. 


This was the 29th of November. Next morning 
the vessel, which was no other than the British sloop 
of war Raccoon, Black, commander, mounting twenty- 
six guns, came dashing gayly forward, and anchored in 
Baker Bay. She was immediately boarded by Mc- 
Dougall and his royal father-in-law, each with his ret- 
inue ; and it was pleasing to see the effect of civilization 
thus far upon the king of the Chinooks; for from a 
blood-thirsty warrior we find him suddenly trans- 
formed into a crafty courtier. Not knowing exactly 
why or how, he saw plainly enough that on the Colum- 
bia King George was in the ascendant. 

"Ah," he cried to Captain Black, spreading a fine 
sea-otter skin upon the deck, "the Bostons are brave, 
but they have no ships like this, no men like these," 
his eyes running admiringly from the brightly polished 
guns to the gilt-buttoned officers, and along the line 
of marines. Next day saw Comcomly approach the 
little wharf before the fort from the Raccoon, flying 
the Union Jack at the bow of his canoe, and step 
ashore in full British uniform. Upon such trifles the 
destinies of nations often turn. 

Passenger by the Raccoon was John McDonald, a 
senior partner in the Northwest Company, and com-_ 
monly called Bras Croche, Crooked Arm, who at 
once assumed command on the Columbia. Five voy- 
ageurs accompanied him. Sailing from England in 
the Pliahc, which had accompanied the Isaac Todd to 
Rio Janeiro, he there found the British squadron. 
These two ships with the Raccoon and Clicrub de- 
spatched to convoy the Isaac Todd, sailed together, 
agreeing to rendezvous at the island of Juan Fernan- 
dez. Parted off Cape Horn in a storm, three of the 
ships came together at the appointed place. After 
waiting some time in vain for the Isaac Todd, Com- 
modore Hillyer, hearing of the havoc being commit- 
ted among British traders and whalers in the Pacific 
by Commodore Porter, set sail with the Cherub and 


the Phcebe in search of him, while the Raccoon, to 
which McDonald was transferred, was .sent to destroy 
Fort Astoria. 

Great were the expectations raised in the minds of 
the officers and men on board the Raccoon, regarding 
the rich booty which the defenceless post of Astoria 
was to furnish them. Imagine their disappointment, 
therefore, when they found the prize had slipped 
their grasp by legal transfer to British subjects. The 
officers were loud in their anathemas, no less against 
the insignificance of the fortress, which they had come 
so far to lay low, than against the officers of the 
Northwest Company, who, they averred, had employed 
them as tools in commercial speculation. 

"The Yankees are always beforehand with us," 
said Captain Black to one of his officers, though what 
the Yankees had done to warrant his displeasure in 
this transaction it would be difficult to imagine. But 
it was when he landed and beheld the split-board 
pickets called palisades, and scarcely arrow-proof 
bastions and stockades, his ire and irony broke forth. 
Turning to McDonald he exclaimed: "This, then, was 
your enemy's stronghold, requiring a navy to conquer. 
Damn me ! with a single four-pounder I would batter 
it down in two hours." 

One harmless little ceremony yet might be per- 
formed before these bright-buttoned King George 
men should take their departure, a ceremony which 
even the staid English at this late day did not disdain. 
Coming on shore the 12th of December 1813, with a 
lieutenant of marines, four soldiers, and four sailors, 
Captain Black proceeded to take formal possession of 
the country, though what that term implied he had no 
better idea than Coinconily. 

An English dinner supplied the place of the Span- 
iard's mass, after which the fur company's servants 
with guns in their hands were stationed round the 
flag-staff. Captain Black then caused a British flag, 
which he had brought on shore for the occasion, to be 


run up, and taking a bottle of Madeira wine of medium 
quality he broke it manfully upon the flag-staff, cry- 
ing in a loud voice that of that country and of that 
establishment he took possession in the name of his 
Britannic Majesty, and that the place hitherto called 
Fort Astoria should henceforth be known as Fort 
George. Three rounds were then fired, artillery and 
musketry bellowing the king's health, which was drunk 
in liberal bumpers by all present, not excluding a 
few sable savages who had been admitted to witness 
a ceremony which confirmed in their minds what 
before they strongly suspected, namely, that the 
white men had all gone mad. With the first fair wind 
the Raccoon took her departure, but not until the 
officers had made a careful survey of the entrance to 
the river. 

We left Hunt at the Hawaiian Islands, having just 
purchased the brig Pecller and placed in her the cap- 
tain and crew of the lost Lark. Leaving the islands 
the 22d of January, as before mentioned, the Pedler 
cast anchor in the Columbia the 28th of February. 
Hunt expressed great dissatisfaction with regard to 
the sale, particularly as to the price obtained for the 
furs. In facing Astor it would be well to have some 
one upon whom to cast the blame; and the fact that 
after the affairs of the Pacific Company were closed 
McDougall had joined the Northwest Company, might 
be easily converted into a question of disloyalty. This 
was anything but manly on the part of Hunt, who 
represented McDougall's sale as the primary cause 
of failure, and Astor seems to have accepted these 
unwarranted statements, and Irving to have propa- 
gated them without the shadow of proof. Directing 
McKenzie, to whom the papers of the Pacific Com- 
pany had been delivered by McDougall, to forward to 
Astor the draft received in payment from the North- 
west Company, Hunt addressed a few parting words 
to his late associates, and taking with him Halsey, 


Seton, Clapp, and Farnham, he bade a final farewell to 
the shores of the Pacific, and embarked on board the 
Pedler the 3d of April. 

Directing his course to Sitka, Hunt encountered 
two United States vessels trading with the natives, 
and hiding from British cruisers. In which latter at- 
tempt at least, they succeeded well; for while at Sitka, 
the British ship Forester, Captain Pigott, arrived with 
letters of marque from England, having missed the 
traders to their no small good fortune. While at Sitka, 
Hunt was informed that after the sailing of the 
Lark, fearing she might be intercepted, Astor had 
ordered purchased in England a British bottom, to be 
sent with supplies to Astoria. That Astor might be 
informed how his interests stood in that quarter, 
Hunt left Halsey at Sitka, and sailed northward, 
landing Farnham on the coast of Kamchatka, with 
directions to proceed through Asia and across the 
Atlantic with despatches, which journey he success- 
fully accomplished. Sailing thence southward, the 
Pedler soon reached the coast of California, where she 
was seized by the Spanish corvette Tarjle in August, 
but soon released. From San Bias 15 Seton was sent 
by way of Panama, to New York, while the Pedler con- 
tinued her way round Cape Horn. Arriving safely 
upon the Atlantic seaboard, Hunt took up his resi- 
dence at St Louis, and was subsequently made gov- 
ernor of the state. 

Astor was deeply chagrined at the failure of his 
cherished scheme. Throughout his whole life the dis- 
appointment never left him. He declared he would 
never give it up, would never abandon that territory 
to the Northwest Company after their shameful tr< 
ment of him; though what they had done to him that 
he would not gladly have done to them, had he pos- 
;ed the power, the impartial student of those times 

15 Arch. Col, Prov. St. Pap. Ben. Mil, MS., xlv. 3-6. She was not, as has 
been somewhere stated, sent as a prize to San Bias. 


fails to discover. These, however, were but the idle 
threats attending defeat. The departure of Hunt for- 
ever closed the business of Astor upon the Pacific. 16 

1G In Irving's eyes, Astor's pride and Astor's money were the only 
Not a bewailing word is said in Astoria of the sacrifice of sixty-three lives in 
this speculation, not one of which was Astor's. Let us reckon them ; and 
we shall likewise find that most of these deaths were needless, arising from 
the ignorance, stupidity, or brutality of Astor's chosen agents. Thorn, of 
the Tonquin, must alone stand responsible for thirty-three, eight on the bar 
and twenty-seven at Xootka Sound, the only redeeming feature here being 
that he was among them. By the land expedition five Mere lost ; at Astoria, 
three; by the shipwreck of the Lark; eight; in the Shoshone country, nine; 
in the final departure, three. To use the projector's own words, this was the 
concern which 'was to have annihilated the South Company; extinguished 
the Hudson's Bay Company ; driven the Russians into the Frozen Ocean ; and 
with the resources of China to have enriched America.' Boss* Adv., 283. 
Other authorities which may be properly mentioned are, Kane's Wand* rings, 
177; Boston in the Northwest, MS., passim; Lfc and Frost's Ten Years in 
Or., 223: Greenhorn's Or. and Col., 294-300; Harvey's Life of McLoughlin, 
MS., 3; Victor's Biver of tht West, 43; Parker's F. ploring Tour, 155; Farn- 
ham's Pict. Travels, 446; Townsend's Nar., L82; Hine's Or. Hist., 89; Gray's 
Or., 19; Butler's Wild North Land, 317; Steven* Xorth>r"M, 4; EllicoU's 
PugetSound, MS., 17; /. -f. Astor, in Hunt's Mer. Mag., xi. 153-9; N. Am. 
B< w w, xliv. 200-4; Niles' Beg., iv. 267; A nd- rson's Northun st < 'oast, MS., 98; 
Tucker's Hist. Or.. 32-.~>; 40-1; Salem Statesman, June 7. 1871; Findlay's 
Directory, i. 362; Annates des Vn>/.,xxn. 287-91; Am. Quart. Beg.,iv. 390-4; 
D'Orbigny, Voy., 473-4; Am. St. Pap., xxi. 1009-13; Goyner's Lost Trapper, 
222-34; Evans' Or., MS., 97; Thornton's Or. andCal., i. 303; Sproat's Scenes 
and Studies, 10-11; Twiss' Hist. Or., 23-5, 235-9; Sivan's Northwest Coast, 
223-239; Baylie's Northwest Coast of America, 19th Gong., 1st Sess., II. Bept., 
213; 27th Cong., 3d Sess., II. Com. 'Bept. 1, p. 21-2; Annals Cow/rets, 1S22-3, 




The Northwest Company Masters of the Situation — Expedition to the 
Upper Columbia — The Toll-gatherers of the Cascades — Division 
of the Party at Walla Walla — Reed Teaps in the Shoshone 
Country — Doings at Okanagan and Spokane — Keith and Stuart 
Set Out from Fort George for Lake Superior— War at the Cas- 
cades — Alexander Henry in the Willamette Valley — New Site 
Surveyed for Fort George— First Northwest Brigade from the 
Mouth of the Columbia to Montreal — Destruction of Reed's 
Party by the Shoshones— Thrilling Tale of Pierre Dorion's Wife — 
Arrival of the 'Isaac Todd' at Fort George — The First White 
Woman in Oregon — Death of Donald McTavish the New Com- 
mander at Fort George. 

The defeat too often attendant on pioneer enter- 
prises is accomplished at Astoria, and the victor lias 
the field. For the present the Montreal merchants 
may lord it over a measureless area of fur-producing 
mountains and plains unquestioned; may dominate 
hordes of their fellow-men, entering in and of their 
substance slaying and eating. For, ponderous as is 
the machinery of their rivals round Hudson Bay, its 
influence west of the Rocky Mountains is yet scarcely 
felt unless, indeed, it intensifies the energy of the 
Northwest Company in that quarter. The battle- 
ground of the two great British companies lies upon 
the eastern slope, leaving the Northwest Company 
sole ruler of the western. And as for interference 
from the United States, British men-of-war will guard 
the seaward side, while the remembrance of the hard- 



ships experienced by Hunt, Crooks, and Stuart in 
their transniontane expeditions are enough to dampen 
enterprise for the present in that direction. 

The shrewd Scotchmen fully realize the lucky turn 
in their affairs; they know things cannot remain 
stationary, and they are determined to improve the 
present opportunity. Hence, expeditions from Fort 
Astoria, or, as we must now say, Fort George, rapidly 
succeed one another. 

Mention has already been made of the departure 
of John Stuart and Donald McKenzie for the posts of 
the upper Columbia. It was on the 29th of October 
1813 that the party set out. Besides the two already 
named were McGillivray, Laroche, McDonald, Reed, 
and Cox who writes a narrative of the expedition, 
with fifty-five men. 1 

Thrown off their guard at the Cascades by the 
peaceable demeanor of the natives, the party permitted 
themselves to be robbed of two bales. Hastening 
forward with the remainder of their effects, at the 
village of the toll-gatherers they encountered a for- 
midable band of sixty war-shirted savages, with drawn 
bows, dancing kangaroo-like their defiance. Halting 
for all to come up, Stuart undertook to amuse the 
kangaroo-jumpers, while his men, stealing to the right 

1 Among the chief authorities for this epoch are Ross Cox, Adventures on 
the Columbia River, 2 vols. London, 1331, and Alexander Ross, The Fur Hunt- 
ers of the Far West, 2 vols. London, 1855. Both wrote their narratives upon 
the spot. In 1811, Cox obtained a clerkship in the Northwest Company, and 
sailed the same year for Tort Astoria in the ship Beaver. He served at the 
establishments on the Columbia live years, during which time he made fre- 
quent excursions, and engaged in several battles with the savages. In one of 
his expeditions he was lost for fourteen days. In April 1S1G he was placed in 
charge of the post of Okanagan, and the following year resigned, and retired 
to Montreal. Ross was among the first to join the Astor enterprise, which he 
fully delineates in his A dveiitures of the First Settlers on the Oregon, or Columbia, 
River. He sailed in the Tonquin in 1810, and spent not less than fifteen years 
in the Columbia region, after which he settled at Red River, and wrote the 
best account of Lord Selkirk's efforts at colonization. To offset his many 
good qualities, he seems somewhat loose in his statements, and displays strong 
prejudices. He loves to parade to the front all that is bad in men, passing 
lightly over their good qualities. His descriptions are graphic, and his book 
contains much to be found nowhere else. Franchere is an excellent authority 
as far as he goes, but he left the country for Montreal in 1814. 


and left, seized some fifteen of the old men, women, 
and children, and held them as hostages until the 
stolen goods were returned. 

Arrived at Walla Walla, Reed with eight men and 
twenty horses turned toward the Shoshone country 
to trade for beaver. The rest proceeded to Okan- 
agan and Spokane, though not without molestation 
from the friends of the man who was hanged by 
Clarke for stealing his drinking-cup. From these 
posts wintering parties were despatched to the smaller 
trading establishments north and east. Cox and Mc- 
Millan were stationed among the chaste and chivalrous 
Flatheads, who peremptorily refused the all-marrying 
white man wives. Those at the other stations fared 
but little better. There seemed to be but one lucky 
suitor in those parts during this winter of 1813-14, 
and that was Pierre Michel, the hunter, who wooed 
a beautiful girl of sixteen, and by his blandishments 
won her before all the gallants of her tribe. But 
Michel had often helped them in their wars, and they 
cunningly weighed his future services before consent- 
ing to the alliance. McDonald wintered at Kam- 
loops, and in December, Montigny left Okanagan 
and joined him. On the way he was attacked and 
robbed of some horses; elsewhere in this region the 
natives were peaceable. 

McGillivray, who was in charge, found fort life at 
Okanagan intolerably dull. His men were part Cana- 
dians and part Kanakas; the latter suffered severely 
from the cold, to which they were unaccustomed. The 
snow, which was two or three feet deep, prevented 
distant excursions, and the fort boasted lew books. 
Time was divided between sleeping, masticating horse- 
fle h, sipping rum and molasses, and smoking. The 
natives were pronounced too lazy to trap. 

q McKenzie and John Stuart had completed 
their business at Spokane, they proceeded with Clarke 
to Okanagan, where they arrived the 15th of Decem- 
ber. There they were joined by David Stuart, who 


had brought the men down from Shush wap. Accom- 
panied by Ross all now set out for the lower Colum- 
bia. On reaching the Cascades, as was now becoming 
customary, the party was attacked and one man 
wounded. David Stuart and Clarke remained behind 
with the loaded canoes, while John Stuart and Mc- 
Kenzie hastened on to Fort George, where they ar- 
rived the 7th of January 1814. 2 

A few clays before, those who had been sent by the 
Pacific Fur Company to winter on the Willamette 
returned. Nothing had been heard from Reed's 
party, who were among the Shoshones, and fears 
were beginning to be entertained for their safety. 

After thus gathering the spoil, and planting new 
engineries for further harvests, the next step of the 
Northwest Company was to despatch two of their 
partners, James Keith and Alexander Stuart, with 
seventeen 3 men, all they thought they should require, 
to carry the gratifying intelligence of their new ac- 
quisition to Fort William on Lake Superior. They 
were likewise to cause preparations to be made along 
the route for the accommodation of a larger party, 
the return wave of the Astor adventure, the follow- 
ing spring. Likewise the fate of Reed's party was, 
if possible, to be ascertained. 

Keith and Stuart embarked in two canoes the 3d 
of January. Before leaving the fort, they were 
earnestly advised not to undertake the expedition 
with so few men. But the eyes of their little world 
were upon them. There had been boastings and taunts 
between the servants of the two companies, as to 
their respective knowledge, skill, and bravery as fur- 
hunters, and friends and enemies alike were now to be 
shown a thing or two. Before reaching the Cascades 
they met the party under McKenzie and John Stuart, 
who interposed another warning. "What do you 

2 Following Ross; Franchere says the morning of the 6th. But these little 
differences are wholly unimportant, and as a rule I take no notice of them. 

3 According to Cox ; Ross says twenty ; Franchere, fifteen. 


take us for? We know the woods; we are North- 
westers!" was the reply. And on they went, making 
the forest ring with their merry bravado. 

When McKenzie reported at Fort George the 
late determined attack at the Cascades, McDonald 
became alarmed, and ordered Franchere with a guide 
and eight good fighting men, well armed, to hasten 
forward to the assistance of the eastward bound. In 
less than two hours after McKenzie's arrival, Fran- 
chere was on his way; but he was too late. Before 
he could reach them the party had been attacked, and 
Alexander Stuart badly wounded. 

The canoes and a portion of the goods had been 
conveyed to the landing above, where Stuart waited 
for Keith to come up with the men loaded with the 
remainder. It was then that a native seized a bag of 
effects guarded by Stuart, who immediately pursued 
the thief, and secured the bag. But in returning he was 
surrounded by savages, who fired upon him, sending 
one arrow into his shoulder, and into his side another 
which would have proved fatal had the point not 
struck against a stone pipe which was in his pocket. 
Stuart levelled his gun, but being wet it missed 
fire. Again he levelled it, and shot the nearest as- 
sailant dead. By this time the others were upon him, 
and he would soon have been despatched had not 
several rushed to his assistance. Another native was 
killed, and the rest retired to their boats and crossed 
the river. Presently was seen, however, a swarm of 
canoes filled with warriors crossing from the other 
side. And all that remained for the travellers now to 
do was to abandon the goods and one canpc, and with 
the other to drop down the rapids and save them- 
selves. This they did, mustering below all their num- 
ber but one, an eastern Indian, who was burning to 
have a shot or two at his western brethren. The 
party waited for him as long as was safe, and then 
reluctantly proceeded. Fortunately, the brave fellow 

Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 1C 


found his way to the factory, but in a sad plight. 
When he found himself abandoned, he dodged from 
rock to rock until he gained the woods; but while on 
his way the flint from his gun dropped out, and he 
was on the verge of starvation. Then he was made 
prisoner at a village below, and was ransomed by his 
friends at the fort. 

Mr Stuart's wounds were painful, and for a time 
considered dangerous. Too late they saw their error, 
and in not the best of spirits they paddled down the 
river. They had not proceeded far when they met 
Franchere, sent to their assistance, and all returned 
to Fort George, where they arrived the 9th of January 
at sunrise. 

For obvious reasons the white men could not per- 
mit this outrage to pass unnoticed. Amongst the 
abandoned property were fifty guns and a quantity of 
ammunition, which it was not safe to leave in the 
hands of the plunderers. Again, if theft should be- 
come profitable, there would be no safety for the prop- 
erty of the white man. Nor yet would there be for 
his life, if he inflicted punishment in such a manner as 
to stir up revenge. No doubt it would be most pleas- 
ing to these fur-hunters to invade the Cascade country 
in sufficient force to assess a thousand lives for each 
of Stuart's wounds. But they knew well enough 
that a serious fight would bring on a general war, 
which would prove the end of all their glittering 

To piety and the pocket, passion must ever be sac- 
rificed. Hence, while this affair should not be passed 
by unnoticed, there must be no great bloodshed, for 
the more savages killed, the more there would be to 
pay for. 

Summoning the native chiefs in that vicinity, a 
grand council was held at Fort George, and diplomatic 
war declared. The Chinooks nothing loath accepted 
an invitation to join the party. Under command of 
McTavish sixty-two men, armed cap-d-pie, in six 


canoes carrying a small brass cannon, embarked on 
the 10th, and the third day landed on Strawberry 
Island near the foot of the rapids. 

The army now found itself without provisions, 
chiefly on account of not having brought any. By 
scouring the banks below, they were able to purchase 
forty-five dogs and one horse, which were brought in 
triumph to camp, and the stomach of the expedition 
was stayed. 

Business being next in order, a party was sent fo - 
ward to reconnoitre. The villages were deserted, but 
certain stragglers were encountered, who were in- 
formed that if the stolen property was not immedi- 
ately restored, the nation should be annihilated; and 
by way of illustration the cannon was fired. " Two of 
our people have been killed," replied the chiefs when 
told of this. "Deliver us the murderers, and we will 
give } t ou back all your property." 

McTavish then sent an invitation to the chiefs to 
parley and smoke, but the childlike savages respect- 
fully declined. Next he undertook to catch a chief, and 
in this he was more successful. Inviting one after an- 
other of the common Indians to smoke, he permitted 
them to depart, until the principal chief ventured 
in, when he was seized, firmly bound, and a guard 
placed over him. 

"Now," cried the white men, "bring in the stolen 
goods, or your chief dies." A distant howl was heard, 
and presently the plunder came pouring in until all 
the guns and about one third of the rest of the arti- 
cles were recovered. Then, as they could get no more, 
it was finally decreed that the natives might have the 
remainder in payment for their two killed. The pris- 
oner was accordingly released, and a flag given him, 
which, if he wished to signal peace, he was to present 
unfurled; and if hereafter any native approached goods 
in transit, he should surely be shot. Then all returned 
to the fort, which they reached the 22d. The truth 
is, some such course was the only safe one at the 


time; but the Chinook chiefs were ashamed of their 
white friends' cowardice. 

The post upon the Willamette 4 was now in charge 
of Alexander Henry, and thither until the spring 
brigade should start, repaired the remnant of the 
Astor adventure. It was a place of fat things and 
lea stings, a place in that day notorious for gorman- 
dizing, as Ross says, which even before the era of 
agriculture furnished the fur-hunters throughout the 
whole Columbia region well nigh all they had in the 
shape of delicacies, unless hunger had made dried 
salmon and dog-meat delicacies. Hunters were con- 
stantly kept there to bring in deer and elk, and men 
to dry the meat for the use of the factory. 

For the remainder of the winter, after a trip to the 
Willamette, Franchere was employed in visiting at 
intervals the fishing-stations of the natives, and 
trading for salmon, some of which w T ere sent fresh 
to the fort, and the remainder salted and barrelled. 
Notwithstanding advantageous offers from the North- 
west Company, Franchere made his final departure 
with the spring brigade. 

Meanwhile, Governor John McDonald, he of the 
crooked arm, sought in various ways to better the 
condition of things. The site of the fort he thought 
had been badly chosen, and after a close survey of 
both banks of the river for some distance above, he 
concluded the headland, which the Astorians had 
called Tongue Point, to be the better situation. Soil 
and drainage there were good; on either side nature 
had placed a cove which sheltered boats; and protec- 
tion from enemies by land or sea w^as better there. In 
the brain of great men are engendered great ideas. 

1 The exact locality of this establishment is nowhere given. Franchere, in 
visiting it in 1814, says, after passing the falls, ' The banks on either side were 
bordered with forest-trees, but behind that narrow belt, diversiried with 
prairie, the landscape was magnificent; the hills were of moderate elevation, 
and rising in an amphitheatre.' From which description one would infer the 
station to have been in the vicinity of where now is situated Corvallis. 


This pinnacle should be cleared, and on it a fortress 
raised which should be the Gibraltar of the Northwest 
Coast. An engineer mounted the rampart and walked 
over the ground; work was begun; great guns and 
big black balls were ordered; then the project was 

Governor John McDonald likewise desired greatly 
to map out a plan which should regulate the trad..' of 
the Columbia as the railway train is ruled, by time- 
tables; but conflict of opinion prevented this, and 
therefore this gentleman determined to leave the 
coast with the spring brigade. Here end the achieve- 
ments of John McDonald on these Pacific shores. 

It was a grand affair, this journey of the first North- 
west brigade from the mouth of the Columbia to Fort 
William and Montreal; it was at once a triumph and a 
dead-march. Ten canoes, five of bark and five of 
cedar, each carrying a crew of seven and two pas- 
sengers, ninety in all, 5 and all well armed, embarked 
at Fort George on Monday morning, the 4th of April 
1814. Of the party were John George McTavish, 
John McDonald, John Stuart, David Stuart, Clarke, 
McKenzie, Pillot, Wallace, McGillis, Franchere, and 
others, some of whom were destined for the upper 
stations. Short was the leave-taking for so large a 
Company, for there were now not many left at the fort 
to say farewell. The voyageurs donned their broadest 
bonnets; arms were glittering, flags flying, the guns 
sounded their adieu, and midst ringing cheers, in 
gayest mood the party rounded Tongue Point, and 
placed their breast against the current. 

Peaching the first fall the 10th and there buying 
and devouring thirty dogs and four horses, the sink- 

5 Ross, Fur Hunters, i. 17, places these figures at one hundred and twenty- 
four men in fourteen boats; but 1 notice Mr Ross' figures are usually 
somewhat above those of others, and many of his expressions likev. ise sound 
exaggerated, so that a careful writer naturally makes some allowance in 
repeating them. In this instance there may possibly have been i mr canoes 
and thirty-fonr men destined for other parts not mentioned by any other nar- 
rator, but it is hardly probable. 


ing of McTavish's canoe next day in doubling a 
point of rock, the accidental shooting of one of their 
number at the Dalles so that he died, the arrival at 
Walla Walla the 16th and the purchasing there for 
food of more dogs and horses, were among the chief 
incidents of the voyage. 

But now a more momentous story must be told. 
Soon after passing the Yakima River, not far above 
the mouth of Snake River, three canoes shot from 
the shore and a child's voice was heard crying, ArrStez 
done! arretez done! The party stopped, and found, 
to their surprise, in one of the boats the wife and 
children of Pierre Dorion, who, it will be remem- 
bered, had attended as hunter the expedition of John 
Reed, sent the summer previous by McDougall to 
the Shoshone region to procure food and transporta- 
tion across the mountains for the eastern-bound bri- 
gade. Mr Reed was likewise to join the hunters, 
Hoback, Rezner, and Robinson, left by Hunt and 
Crooks in the vicinity of Fort Henry, and with them 
to trap beaver. In Reed's party were five Canadians : 
Landrie, Le Clerc, Turcot, Delauny, and Chapelle, 
besides Pierre Dorion and his wife and children. The 
woman now informed the company, that of them all 
she and her children alone remained alive. 

Then she went on and told how the party had 
reached Snake River in August and had built a house 
there; how they trapped beaver all the autumn; how 
Landrie had died from the fall of a horse, and Delauny 
had been killed while trapping, and how, late in Sep- 
tember, Hoback, Robinson, and Rezner had come 
into camp in a pitiable condition, having been stripped 
of everything by the savages. 

Not liking that locality, Reed moved up the river and 
built another house to winter in. Shortly afterward 
Pierre Dorion and family, with Rezner and Le Clerc, 
went some four days' journey to a place where beaver 
were plentiful, and there erected a hut. The woman 
cooked and dressed the skins while the men trapped. 


They were very successful, and regarded the natives 
as friendly, until one evening in January Le Clerc 
staggered into the hut mortally wounded. He had 
barely strength to tell the woman that her husband 
and Rezner had boon wounded by the savagi s, when 
he expired. 

What could the pale-faced, bedizened dame of our 
civilization have done in such an emergency? With 
the characteristic self-possession and energy of the 
native American in times of danger, this woman 
paused not an instant to mourn this cruel blow, but 
acting on maternal instinct, she mounted herself and 
boys on two horses, and fled toward the establishment 
of Reed. How she listened and trembled as she 
hastened forward, fancying every sound the signal of 
approaching death. When she saw savages galloping 
in the distance, she would draw her treasures under 
cover, and hide there until the w T ay was clear again. 
A little food she brought with her, but sometimes all 
night she was without fire or water. The fourth day 
she reached Reed's. There accumulated horrors met 
her. The house was burned, the place deserted, and 
the blood-bespattered ground told too plainly how 
and why. Reed and the rest had been massacred! 

What could the poor woman now do? Where 
were they waiting and watching who should destroy 
her and her two precious boys? There was no time 
for wailing. Toward the Blue Mountains, now white 
with deep snow, she fled, and buried herself there for 
the winter, putting up bark and a few skins which 
she had brought with her for protection from the 

6 It is pure romance on the part of Irving to place this poor fellow on 
horseback and jolt him horribly for three days before he permits liim to die. 
See Astoria, 495; ( 'ox's ( 'olumbia Rivi r, i. 278; Franch re's Nar., 274. Ross, 
Adv., 279, as usual era badly mixed, killing Chapelle with Dorion 

and Rezner.and permitting the madam to ride three days becau eof a frightre- 
ceived from a friendly Indian before she sees Le Clerc .-it all. I i amusing 
to compare different accounts of the same story, all a but one 

original narrator. These things illustrate, nevertheless, fch founda- 

tions of all history. In telling this story, Irving taki 
verbatim from Rosa and I ox without a sign of acknowledgment; I 
however, were little read in America in living's day. 


cold, and killing the horses for food. Thence in the 
spring she descended to the Walla Wallas, who treated 
her kindly, and it was they who were now with her. 
This was her true story. What fiction shall equal 
it? There is not a doubt that this wholesale butch- 
ery was in retaliation for the unjust hanging done 
by Clarke for the stealing of his drinking-cup. So 
much of evil in this wilderness life may one sense- 
less act of a vain and shallow-headed man bring upon 
his fellows! The hospitality of the kind-hearted 
Walla Wallas was well rewarded by the travellers, 
who also presented the poor woman with certain com- 
forts, and then continued their way. 

After leaving some of the party at their respective 
posts, on the 18th of April the brigade passed Priests 
Rapids, and arrived on the 23d at Okanagan where 
were McGillivray, Ross, and Montigny who had taken 
service with the Northwest Company. Reembarking 
the same day, the brigade reached Kettle Falls on the 
29th. Here John Stuart and Clarke, who had left 
the party nine days previous for Spokane, to procure 
horses and provisions, returned unsuccessful. 

The brigade then divided, McDonald, John Stuart, 
and McKenzie going forward in order to send horses 
and supplies from the east side of the mountains. 
Two days after, Alexander Stuart joined the company, 
on his way to Slave Lake, his old wintering -place, 
for the purpose of bringing his family to the Colum- 
bia. Then they continued, until the 11th of May 
saw them at Canoe River. Ascending this stream 
to the end of canoe navigation, they landed where 
Thompson had wintered in 1810-11, secured the boats, 
and divided the baggage and provisions among the 
men, now reduced in number to twenty-four, each 
having fifty pounds to carry. Such articles as could 
not be carried were cached. 

Next day, the 12th, the march across the moun- 
tains to the head-waters of the Athabasca River was 
begun. Following the stream upward, first they 


waded sonic swamps, then traversed ;i dense forest, 
emerging from which they found themselves upon 
the gravelly bank of Canoe River. Owing to the 
bluffs which rose at intervals on either side from the 
water's edge, they were obliged to cross the stream, 
which here is very swift ana often up to the neck, 
ten times in one day. Four or live feel of snow lay 
upon the slope, which they were now obliged to fare. 
and softened as it was by the sun the ascent was very 
difficult. In single file, each must place his foot in the 
track of his predecessor, until holes were made two 
feet in depth. 

At length they reached an open space which the 
guide pronounced a frozen snow-covered lake, or rather 
two of them, the waters of one flowing westward, 
and the waters of the other eastward, situated between 
two rocky eminences, one of which rose like a fortress 
fifteen hundred feet above the lake. Mr J. Henry. 
the discoverer of this pass, gave it the name of 
McGillivrav Rock. Their route was now through 
the pass anil down the Athabasca River, and though 
fatiguing was not remarkable. On the 17th, they ar- 
rived at an old post of the Northwest Company 
abandoned some four years previous, and two days 
after they reached the Rocky Mountain House, then 
in charge of Mr Decoigne, where they found Mc- 
Donald, Stuart, and McKenzic, who had arrived two 
days before them. This post was more a provision 
depot for the supplying of the Northwest Company's 
people in their passage of the mountains, than a 
fur-hunting establishment. The glittering crystal emi- 
nences on which was perched the curved-horn moun- 
tain-goat, beyond the reach even of hungry wolves; 
the deep, dense forests, snow-whited and sepulchral; 
the rushing streams, laughing or raging according 
as their progress was impeded; the roistering torrent 
which no cold, dead, calm breath of nature could 
hush; these and like superlative beauties met the ■ 
of these foot-sore travellers at every turn. 


It was not the best of hotels; being unaccustomed 
to so large a number, it could neither feed them nor 
furnish bark for canoes. Down the river at an old 
post called Hunter's Lodge, Mr Decoigne said, were 
canoes en cache, and thither the party proceeded in 
such boats as they could improvise from skins and 
sticks, drowning two men, however, on the way, and 
losing part of their effects. 

Just before arriving at Hunter's Lodge, which was 
reached on the 28th, they met a messenger who 
brought letters and the news. Four new birch-bark 
canoes were found at Hunter's Lodge, and in these 
the party proceeded on the 31st. Then down the 
Athabasca, and across to Beaver River, down Beaver 
to Moore River, and up that stream to Moore Lake, 
thence to Fort Vermilion on the Saskatchewan, and 
down past Fort Montee and Cumberland House to 
English Lake. Across this they went to lakes Bour- 
bon and Winnipeg, up the Winnipeg River to the 
Lake of the Woods, and over the portage to Fort 
William, where they arrived on the 14th of July. 
And here we will leave them to find their several 
ways to Montreal and elsewhere, and return to 
own side of the continent. 


In less than a fortnight after the spring brigade 
had taken its departure, that is to say, the 17th of 
April 1814, the long looked for Isaac Todd crossed 
the bar and anchored before Fort George, thirteen 
months from England. On board as passengers were 
Donald McTavish and a new John McDonald, not 
the late governor of the fortress, partners ; two Mc- 
Tavishes, one Frazer, and one McKenzie, clerks, and a 
Doctor Swan, who was to grace the fort as its physi- 

One of the Macs, doomed to the perils of western 
life yet loath all at once to relinquish every creature 
comfort, had brought with him some bottled porter, 
canned beef, cheese, and a blue-eyed, flaxen-haired 

MISS -TAX;: BAR] 251 

female companion. It is a pity thai the first Euro- 
pean woman to stand upon the banks of the Columbia 
should have been of so questionable a character. A 
daughter of Albion, Miss -lane Barnes by name 
may it be immortal — at the solicitations of this Mac 
had resigned her position as liar-maid in a Ports- 
mouth hotel, and had come to this land of doubtful 
pleasures and profits, where at once she became an 
object of the deepest interest to all. Anything in 
the similitude of civilized woman could but call up in 
the minds of some the tenderest emotions.^ The more 
carnal-minded were scandalized that this lecherous 
Mac should so far break the laws of God and of the 
Honorable Northwest Company, as to form an unholy 
alliance with a frail fair one whose father was no 
chief, when fur-trading interests demanded duskier 
relationships. Make as many unmarried wives as 
you please of native maidens, and the great inter 
of commerce shall guard your good name, but to bring 
hither a white mistress — what will the savages say \ 

Mrs McDougall was envious, for pretty Miss 
Barnes flaunted a new frock almost every day; father 
Comcomly was curious, and one of his sons who had 
now but four wives, was amorous, wishing immediately 
to marry her. Arrayed in his richest robes, well 
painted, and redolent of grease, he came and laid at 
her feet the ottering of his heart. One hundred sea- 
otter skins her owner should have, and she should 
never carry or dig. She should be queen of the 
Chinooks, and all his other wives should humble 
themselves before her. Elk, anchovies, and fat 
salmon should be heaped upon her lap, and all the 
livelong day sin- should sun herself and, smoke. 

Miss Barnes declined these royal overtures; and, 
indeed, she fou n< 1 the society of the Columbia unsuited 
to her taste. She therefore determined to return I < 
England and bar-tending by the ship that broughl 
her out, but at Canton where the vessel touched, she 
fell in love with a wealthy English gentleman of the 


Honorable East India Company, and consented to 
grace a splendid establishment which he offered her. 
The Isaac Todd, it will be remembered, parted 
company with the three other British war-ships off 
Cape Horn. Being a dull sailer and beaten by con- 
trary winds, she did not reach the rendezvous at Juan 
Fernandez Island until the others had sailed. Con- 
tinuing thence her course for the Columbia River, 
when off California she found herself obliged to put 
into the port of Monterey for supplies. There the 
captain was told that a British man-of-war had 
entered San Francisco Bay in distress. Proceeding 
thither, he found' this vessel to be no other than the 
Raccoon, which, on leaving the Columbia, had several 
times struck so heavily as to carry away part of her 
false-keel, and cause her so to leak that she reached 
her present anchorage with seven feet of water in the 
hold. Finding it impossible to repair her, Captain 
Black had determined to abandon the Raccoon, and to 
proceed through Mexico to the West Indies, and thence 
to England; but when the Isaac Todd arrived to his 
assistance, means were found to careen the vessel and to 
put her in good sailing order. With which charitable 
deed accomplished, the Isaac Todd slowly ploughed 
northward to the Columbia, while the Raccoon took to 
the broad seas seeking whom she might devour. 

Mr Donald McTavish, just arrived by the Isaac 
Todd, was one of the oldest proprietors in the North- 
west Company. For many years he had been the 
principal manager of interior affairs, and had now 
come hither for the purpose of properly organizing 
this new department of the Columbia. He was a 
bold, blunt man, sincere as a friend, undisguised as 
an enemy. He had realized quite a fortune from the 
profits of the fur-compai y had, in fact, retired; and 
when he had explored this late vast acquisition it was 
his intention to cross the continent to Canada, and 
thence to his estate in Scotland. 


About a month after his arrival, a ease came up 
which well illustrates the fur-hunters' method of in- 
flicting justice. 

On the river two miles back of the fort was a char- 
coal-pit, where was employed a half-witted man called 
Judge. He was from Boston, and had crossed the 
continent in Hunt's party, suffering so severely on the 
way as to affect his reason. One day this poor fellow 
was found dead, his head having been split open with 
his own axe, The Judge was a harmless man; no 
reason could be assigned for the murder. 

All the neighboring chiefs were summoned by 
McTavish to assemble immediately at the fort. They 
came the next day; the matter was discussed, and a 
reward offered for the murderer. After some time 
had elapsed, the Clatsop chief informed McTavish 
that if he would send men to his village he could 
point out those who did the deed, for there were two 
of them, though not of his tribe. With no small 
manoeuvring, the seizure of the accused was accom- 
plished, and they were brought bound to the fort. 

And now a day was fixed for trial, and at the time 
appointed the chiefs with their wives assembled in the 
large dining-hall, and the prisoners were brought forth. 
Witnesses were examined, when it was ascertained 
that two years previous one of the prisoners had at- 
tempted to steal something from a tent in which was 
the Judge, who, when the thief thrust in his hand, 
cut it with his knife. Nursing his revenge, at length 
the time came, and the deed was accomplished. The 
murderers wen; unanimously pronounced guilty, and 
sentenced to be shot next morning, which was done. 
Amidst loud lamentations the friends took up their 
dead. Mr McTavish then thanked the chief men 
and women present for their attendance, paid the 
promised reward, made presents, smoked the calumet 
of peace, and dismissed the people, who departed well 
satisfied to their home-. Was not this a better way 
than for thirty or forty men to have sallied from the 


fort and begun the work of indiscriminate slaughter at 
the first village, shooting clown innocent men, women, 
and children for a crime of whose very existence those 
thus killed were not aware, and all in the name of 
humanity and justice t 

Another murder trial came up about this time, 
resulting in the execution of two natives for killing 
three of the Pacific Company's men in 1811. After 
that company had laid down its authority the criminals, 
who had fled at the time, came back and were cap- 
tured and shot. Some of the tribes not relishing 
such summary proceedings were going to war about 
it, but the arrival of the Isaac Todd distracted their 

Yet a more melancholy event happened shortly 
after. Donald McTavish, from whom was now ex- 
pected so much, embarked one day with six voyageurs 
in an open boat for the opposite side of the river, 
where the Isaac Todd was lying. A gale was blow- 
ing at the time, and when about the middle of the 
stream, by some mismanagement the sail was caught, 
and the boat, swinging round, was struck by a wave 
which filled and sank it. McTavish and all the crew 
but one were drowned. 7 

7 'The present Centreville or Knapton was originally called Todd Bay, 
from the Isaac Todd's anchoring there. The captain had sent word for the 
men at Astoria to come over and get the goods he had on board for them, as 
the ship was in the river, and the cargo was to be delivered at tackle's end. 
McTavish's errand was to induce the captain to bring the vessel over and dis- 
charge the cargo at Astoria. The tombstone which there marks his resting- 
place, calls to the mind of every visitor the sad events. ' Roberts' Recollections, 
MS. 36. 




Ross' Adventures in the Yakima Valley — Ross Attempts to Reach the 
Pacific — Affairs at Spokane — Perilous Position of the Okanagan 
Brigade — The Spokane Brigade — In Council at Fort George — 
Keith in Command — Ross Surveys the Entrance to the Columbia — 
Administration of Justice — Hostilities in the Willamette Val- 
ley—Sufferings of the Eastern-bound Brigade — Ross Examines the 
Country between Shushwap and the Rocky Mountains — Donald 
McKenzie Establishes Fort Walla Walla. 

Ross, McGillivray, and Montigny we left at Okan- 
agan the 23d of April 1814. At this fort there were 
no horses to transport inland the goods brought by 
the brigade, and none were nearer than the Yakima 
Valley, 1 one hundred miles 2 to the south-west. Ros^ 
had been in this valley before, while in the service of 
the Pacific Company; hence upon him devolved the 
duty of bringing thence a supply of pack-horses. 
The Yakima Valley was then the great aboriginal ren- 
dezvous, where thousands of Cayuses, Nez Perces, and 
other adjacent tribes met every spring to gather their 
year's supply of camass, and pelua, a favorite food of 
the sweet-potato kind, while their chiefs held councils, 
and determined the policy of peace or war which 
should govern their movements until they should 
next meet. They were rich and happy 11k 're, having 
food and clothes, and multitudes of horses. 

1 Called in those days the beautiful Eyakema Valley. 

2 Rosa calls it two hundred miles, which would bring him south of the 
Dalles; but some credit is surely due this writer that he does not more than. 

double his distances. 



With Ross on this expedition were Thomas McKay 
and three Canadians with their wives, taken to assist 
in driving the horses, for men were scarce at the fort. 
The fourth night from Okanagan the party was aroused 
by two couriers despatched by Sopa, chief of the Pis- 
quouse, to beg of them to turn back or they were all 
dead men. But danger was part of the fur-hunters' 
daily life, and they were not to be swerved from their 

Two days after, they came upon the encampment, 
which was worth risking one's life to see. Imagine a 
gathering of six thousand men, women, and children, 
like threescore tented villages huddled into an un- 
civilized city, with ten thousand horses, covering an 
area of six miles square, and all making the wild 
region ring with their shouts of merriment. Some 
were racing, gambling, dancing, while others were 
singing, drumming, yelling; the tramping of horses 
and the barking of dogs, the snarling of tied bears 
and wolves mingling with the shouts of men and the 
screams of women and children. The camp was cut 
by crooked streets, dividing the assemblage into groups, 
with here rejoicings, and there wailings. One thing 
only was lacking to lift the savage saturnalia up to the 
dignity of a white man's inferno — fire-water. 

Sopa was right. There was deep danger to the fur- 
traders in approaching such a company. Ross saw it 
when too late. Putting on as bold a face as his sink- 
ing heart would permit, he advanced to the centre of 
the camp, where stood the tent of the chiefs, to whom 
he first paid his respects. His reception was cool ; the 
chiefs were sullen; these white men who hanged for 
stealing were no favorites. To draw their thoughts 
from bloody abstraction, Ross immediately opened his 
trinkets and began to trade for horses. But as fast as 
he bought, the animals, together with those he had 
brought with him, were spirited away with ribald 
jeers and 3-elling. It was glorious to have the white 
man on the hip. But Ross well knew his life de- 


pended on his patience; so lie affected not to see their 
insults, and weni on trading. 

Two anxious days and sleepless nights thus passed, 
during which the savages would not permit the 
strangers to rook or eat their own food. They over- 
turned their kettle and put out their fire, took up 
their guns and fired them off, took from the traders 
their hats, and putting- them on their own heads, 
strutted about with brutal laughter. The third day, 
hearing that the women were to be seized as >la\ ■ -. 
he sent them secretly away that night. Xext day 
the savages were more insulting than ever. The white 
men were becoming faint with hunger, and while' 
attempting once more to prepare some food, a trucu- 
lent chief called Yaktana snatched a common hunt- 
ing-knife from the hand of one of the Canadians, who 
instantly swore he would have it back or kill the thief. 
"Stop!" shouted Ross, whose hand instantly grasped 
his pistol, as the chief and Canadian, with eyes blaz- 
ing hatred, prepared for deadly encounter. It was a 
critical moment, the most critical of their lives, in 
which a motion, a breath, the winking of an eye, 
might determine their destiny. They might kill each 
a man, and then die pierced by a hundred arrows. 
But suddenly flashed in the mind of Ross an inspira- 
tion, such as often subtile-witted fur-gatherers had re- 
ceived in dire dilemmas. And now behold how little 
a thing may turn the hearts of three thousand men. 
Drawing from his belt a knife of more elaborate 
workmanship than the other, he said to Yaktana, 
" Take this, my friend; it is a chief's knife; and give 
the other back." Yaktana did as requested. Then he 
turned the new knife over in his hand. Gradually the 
swell of sullen ferocity subsided into a smile of childish 
gratification, and holding up his prize he exclaimed, 
"See! it is a chief's knife." Fickle fortune was won. 
The white men, whose lives so lately hung by a hair, 
were sav< d. Yaktana harangued the crowd in behalf 
of him who had so adroitly tickled his fancy. The 

Hist. >". W. Coast, Vol. II. 17 


pipe of peace was brought, and presents given the 
chiefs. Approaching business, Ross remarked, " What 
shall I say to the great white chief when he asks me, 
'Where are the horses you bought?'" "Tell him 
that every one of them were given you," replied 
Yaktana, whose pride was touched. To that effect 
the order went forth ; and as quickly as might be, 
Ross and his companions escaped with their horses, 
eighty-five in number. The wives of the Canadians 
were overtaken; and although on the way back Mc- 
Kay dislocated his hip, which lamed him for life, the 
party reached Okanagan in safety. Fifty-five horses 
were then laden for Spokane. 

After a visit to his own post at Shushwap, Ross 
returned to Okanagan and undertook an expedition 
thence to the Pacific, which he had long had in con- 
templation. With three natives he set out on the 
25th of July 1814, and taking a southerly course, 
afterward turning more to the westward, he pro- 
ceeded one hundred and fifty miles, when Ins com- 
panions refused to go further, and he was obliged to 
abandon the journey and return. The guide became 
demoralized by a storm-cloud which cut a furrow 
through the forest near by, employing apparently 
stronger and sharper teeth than the demons of his 
Okanagan, and nothing could prevail upon him to 
continue the journey. 

In 1814, John George McTavish ruled at Spokane 
House, which with its several outposts comprised his 

Sixty men in nine canoes left Fort George the 5th 
of August, and after the usual interchange of shots 
with the toll-gatherers of the Cascades, resulting in 
the killing of one Canadian and several natives, the 
party passed on to Walla Walla and Okanagan. Cox 
and McMillan, with a Stuart and a McDonald, went 
to Spokane. 


This McDonald was a raw Highlander, standing i ix 
feet four, with a powerful frame, broad shoulders, and 
a profusion of long, red, bushy hair and whiskers, 
which apparently had neither been cut nor combed 
these many years. He enjoyed a Spokane wife, 
whose two children called him father. He was bold, 
passionate, but below the average Northwester in 
wisdom. He had not been at Spokane many days 
when he quarrelled with a chief whom he accu i I 
of cheating at gambling, and challenged him to fight 
a duel. The chief accepted, and told him to go with 
him to the woods and take his station behind a tree. 
When McDonald refused, but wished to fight in the 
open field, the savage asked, "Do you take me for a 
fool that I should stand up before my enemy's gun 
and let him shoot me like a dog?" McDonald was a 
man of reckless bravery, frequently joining one tribe 
in their wars against another for the mere love 
fighting. Another character sui generis, and the 
western woods were full of them, was Jacques Hoole, 
shot about this time at the age of ninety-two by the 
Blackfoot. He was on the Plains of Abraham when 
Wolfe fell, and had been in other battles. He would 
not join a trading company, but trapped on his own 

The summer's trade of Spokane was carried over- 
land to Okanagan this year in October, and thence t i 
Fort George. The return party consisted of Keith, 
Stuart, Laroche, McTavish, McDonald, McMillan, 
Cox, Montour, McKay, and McKenzie, with forty- 
two VOyageurs and six Kanakas. Leathern armor was 
now put on in passing the Cascades, but no attack 
was made there at this time. Just above fche \\ alia 
Walla River, however, an affair occurred which for a 
time threatened the most serious consequences. 

As the party were slowly poling against the cur- 
rent, several canoes filled with natives approached 
them, and in a friendly way they asked for some 
tobacco, which was given them. One boat after an- 


other of the brigade passed by, each making its little 
donation, until from one the natives attempted to take 
some articles by force, and from another a bale of 
tobacco was seized, and general plunder seemed deter- 
mined upon. The fur-traders, unwilling to resort to 
severe measures, repulsed the savages gently at first, 
striking their hands with the paddles to make them 
release their hold ; but these failing to effect the pur- 
pose, harder blows were given, and aimed at heads as 
well as hands, until shooting set in, when two natives 
w r ere killed and another wounded. Thereupon the 
assailants retired. 3 

All this was most unpleasant for the traders. Be- 
fore them was a long journey, and the country 
aroused to hostility, they would be picked off by the 
arrows of the enemy before three days had passed. 
Night was approaching. The Columbia here was a 
mile wide, and near by was an island upon which they 
intrenched themselves behind sand-banks, not, how- 
ever, until some of them had been struck by arrows. 
A cold, dismal storm came on, which lasted two days. 
Vigilant watch was kept, and the camp-fire at night 
extinguished. But upon the adjacent hills blazed 
brightly the fires of the enemy, that their prey might 
not escape them. The fur-traders prepared for the 
worst; their arms were put in the best possible order, 
and messages were written friends to be delivered in 
case of death. 

One of two courses was open, to sell their lives as 
dearly as possible, or to buy a peace, if the friends of 
the dead would accept pay. The latter alternative 
they determined to try first. Embarking from the 
island, the party landed on the northern bank. Two 
men were left in each canoe, while the other forty- 
eight stepped ashore. It was half an hour before any 

3 Ross, as usual, tells quite a different story. ' The savages,' he says, 'rode 
iato the river ou horses, from which they threw themselves, seized the canoes, 
arid proceeded to rifle them.' Fur limit, rs, i. 58. This author, however, was 
not there, and having an eye-witness for an authority, I shall pay but little 
attention to Mr Ross. 


savages made their appearance. When at a distance 
were discovered a few horsemen, a Canadiao was scut 
forward with a long pole, to the end of which was 
attached a white handkerchief, which the natives well 
understood to bo a request to parley. 

Presently two of them approached the envoy, and 
demanded what he had to say. The answer was that 
the white chief's wished to see the savage elders, and 
talk over their little unpleasantness. The horsemen 
promised to inform their chiefs; they then wheeled 
and disappeared. 

Soon they returned, and said that the relatives of the 
deceased and a number of chiefs would bo there imm< - 
diately. Twenty minutes after, slowly approached on 
foot one hundred and fifty warriors, with guns, toma- 
hawks, spears, bows, and well filled quivers. Among 
them were Sokulks, Chimnapums, Umatillas, and 
Walla Wallas, confederates now against the Shoshones. 
After the warriors, came forty of the relatives of the 
deceased, also well armed, with nearly naked bodies 
painted red, and hair cut short in sign of mourning. 
As they marched they chanted a death-song of ven- 
geance. 4 Behind all was a constantly increasing mul- 
titude of mounted men. The assemblage then fell 
into the form of an extended crescent with the mourn- 
ing party in the centre. 

Keith and Stuart, unarmed, with an interpreter, 
then advanced half-way and stopped; two chiefs and 
six of the mourners joined them. Keith offered the 
calumet, which was coldly refused. The interpn 
was t hen directed to say that the late unfortunate dis- 
turbance of their hitherto friendly relations was deeply 
tted by the white men, who were ready to offer 
compensation for the slain. "What kind of compen- 
sation V demanded the mourners. "Two chiefs 5 suit: . 
blankets, tobacco, and ornaments for the women," was 

4 'Rest, brothers, rest ! Yon shall be avenged. The tears of your widows 
shall cease to flow when their eyes behold the blood of your murderers ; 

your young children shall leap with joy, shall Bine ami shout on seeing their 
Scalps. Host, brothers, in peace ; you shall have blood !' 


the reply. The offer was indignantly refused. If the 
white men would have peace, two of their number 
must be given up to sacrifice. Calmly and firmly 
Keith assured them that that should never be. They 
were the aggressors, though he was willing to believe 
the attack unpremeditated; but if they would have 
white men among them they must respect their prop- 
erty rights. Then followed among the natives a long 
and violent discussion, part wishing to accept payment 
in goods, and part demanding blood. It was a painful 
contest to those whose fate hung upon the result. 
Gradually the ranks of the moderate party thinned, 
and those of the bloody-minded increased. Then they 
fell slowly back. The peace-offering was rejected. 
White man and red, with a firmer grasp upon their 
weapons, prepared for the ultimate appeal. A pause 
ensued, like the calm which precedes a fresh bursting 
of the storm. 

Suddenly the awful stillness was broken by the 
tramp of horses, as twelve mounted warriors clashed 
into the space between the belligerents. Throwing 
themselves from their steeds, the leader, a young 
chief of noble feature and majestic bearing, warmly 
greeted Keith, then turning to the assemblage said: 
"My countrymen, what is this that you would do? 
But three winters ago we were a miserable people 
at the mercy of our enemies. Our warriors were 
killed, our lodges burned, our wives enslaved. Now 
are we fed and clothed; now have we horses by 
thousands, and sweet sleep at night; now are our 
hearts strong within us. What brought this change? 
The white man. For our horses and furs he gave us 
hatchets and guns, and taught us how to use them. 
These make our enemies to fear us; these make us a 
nation. Why kill the white man? You would rob 
him ; but did he ever rob you ? Know you not that 
he is strong; that if you harm him his friends will 
come in numbers and cut you off; or else will say that 
you are bad men and will not come at all. Then shall 


you be lefl to the mercy of your foes. Take what 
they offer for your dead; and be it known to you if 
fighting there be, that I fight on their side." 

Had Apollo from Mount Olympus descended to 
their deliverance, the fur-traders could nol have been 
more surprised or thankful. The Morning Star, the 
young chieftain was called by the Walla Wallas, who 
worshipped him, and his oratory would have graced 
the Areopagus. 8 Soaring sometimes into the higher 
flights of metaphor, the interpreter was unable to 
follow him. Nor was his bravery overshadowed by 
his other rare accomplishments. Though hut five and 
twenty, lie boasted nineteen scalps, the trophies of 
his own prowess, and of all that assemblage there 
was none more feared. For when he now cried, "Let 
the Walla Wallas and all who love me come and smoke 
the pipe of peace with the white man," over one hun- 
dred of those whose weapons were already raised 
against the strangers hastened forward to do as they 
were bid. 

Thus, as by a miracle, a total revolution in feeling 
and opinion was made. The mourners gladly accepted 
for themselves the material reward offered them in 
lieu of their loss of the immaterial part of their 
friends. Presents were distributed to the principal 
chiefs, Morning Star receiving as a token of the dis- 
iiished services rendered by him, a handsome 
fowling-piece, with which he was greatly pies 

Proceeding, the party reached Okanagan the 12th 
of December, and the following day the Spokane 
brigade of twenty-six loaded horses departed.. Snow 
lay on the -round, and the cold at nighl was int. 
one of the horses freezing to death I 

Alter the usual spring visit to Fort George, the 
summer of L815 passed pleasantly at Spokane. There 

delivery was impassioned; and his action, although 
violent, was generally bold, graceful, ;nnl energetic. Our admirati n at the 
time knew no bourn i River, ii. '-14. 


was horse-racing on the plains between Spokane and 
Pointed Heart, where sometimes thirty steeds strove 
for high wagers in five-mile heats. At Shushwap a 
Canadian called Chasette was shot by an Indian boy. 
The following autumn on returning from Fort 
George, Keith, Cox, Montour, and McKenzie with 
fifty voyageurs were caught above the falls in the ice. 
The Canadians, becoming utterly exhausted, refused 
to proceed further than the Dalles, an almost unheard 
of attitude for any of that patient fraternity to as- 
sume. By sending to Okanagan for horses Keith 
succeeded in getting away, but most of the party 
wintered there, reaching Okanagan the 28th of Feb- 

' © © 

ruary, and Spokane the 9th of March 1816. Thus 
the years went by, each having its spring and autumn 
brigade, its several minor expeditions to various posts, 
and but little else to break the monotony. McTavish, 
Henry, and Laroche this season went to Fort Will- 
iam, Ross to Fort George, Cox taking his place 
at Okanagan; McMillan and Montour remained at 
Spokane, and McDonald at Kamloops, his old quar- 
ters. During the summer, new buildings were erected 
at Okanagan, the timber for which was floated down 
the river from a considerable distance above. A 
dwelling was erected for the person in charge, con- 
taining four rooms and a large dining -hall. Also 
two houses were built for the men, beside a store- 
house and a trading-shop. The palisades were strong, 
and fifteen feet in height. They were flanked by 
two bastions, with loop-holes for musketry above, and 
in the lower story a light brass four-pounder. 

James Keith, Angus Bethune, and Donald Mc- 
Kenzie were the chief partners of the Northwest 
Company in the Columbia district in 18 10. Alexan- 
der Stuart went east the year previous, and John 
Stuart was still in New Caledonia. McTavish this 
year visited San Francisco and Monterey in the com- 
pany's schooner Colonel Allan, lately arrived from 


London. On the coast of California he drove a lucra- 
tive business, selling English goods for needed sup- 
plies. The council at Fort George sat for four days; 
the conclusions arrived at were, that trade was scarcely 
up to original anticipations. There being no new fields 
to open, every one was appointed to his old post. 

Notwithstanding the generally unfavorable view of 
trade taken by the western council, since the occupa- 
tion of the Oregon country by the Northwest Com- 
pany, their annual ship with its bulky cargo doubled 
Cape Horn with the utmost regularity. The agents 
at Montreal, dissatisfied, sent over the mountains 
every year partners, clerks, and Canadians new to 
this district, in the hope that something better might 
be made of it. But all these could do was to fellow 
in the footsteps of their predecessors, without im- 
proving matters materially. The fact is, the richer 
regie >ns of the farther Northwest were as yet scarcely 

Ross openly avows that the Northwest Company, 
while severely criticising the management of the 
Pacific Company, took no steps to change or improve 
the original policy. The fact is, the managers of the 
two companies were in some instances identical, and 
all of them were educated in the same school. This 
writer accuses his associates of lack of energy and 
enterprise, but I cannot agree with him. Nor were 
the aggregate results in this quarter on the whole un- 
favorable, though they may have fallen short of the 
expectations of the more sanguine. Further than 
tlii-. year by year the yield of peltries increased 
rather than diminished. There were croakers in the 
company, some of the partners going so far as to pro- 
pose the total abandonment of the Pacific, bul the 
others would not listen to it. The company was about 
this time beginning to Learn that the same maxims and 
management would not apply on the western as on 
the eastern slope. Let the natives of the two regions 
suddenly change places and both would perish. The 


inhabitants of the thick woods and swamps of the 
east could no more endure the treeless plains of the 
Columbia, than those of the warm, dry western slope, 
with its short winters, its rivers abounding in fish, its 
forests in game, and its plains in nutritious roots, 
could thrive in the cold, damp regions of the east. 
And the wise fur-trader will regulate his affairs, not 
by precept or tradition, but by the exigencies of the 

Up to this time New Caledonia had obtained goods 
from across the mountains to the east; now it was 
determined that all supplies for the Northwest should 
be drawn from the Columbia. And not only should 
the district of the Columbia supply the Northwest 
with goods, but California also. To this end the 
company's schooner traded to the south as well as to 
the north. It was determined also to build fewer 
forts, and trust more to trading expeditions. In car- 
rying into effect these new ideas, the department of 
the Pacific was divided into two parts, an inland and a 
coast department, with a chief over each. A change 
was likewise made in the conveyance of goods and 
the periodical expresses; natives, except in the annual 
brigade, to take the place of Canadians. 

Under the new arrangements, Mr Keith presided 
at Fort George, with full control of the shipping, 
general outfitting, and coast trade. To McKenzie, 
formerly of the Pacific Company, was assigned the 
direction of inland affairs, though his appointment 
gave offence to some. Three weeks of the summer 
of 1816 were occupied by Captain McClellan of the 
Colonel Allan, assisted by Poss, in making a survey 
of the bar at the entrance to the Columbfa. The 
Colonel Allan sailed from the Columbia for China with 
furs and specie in August. Before sailing, the ship's 
surgeon, Mr Downie, committed suicide. 6 

6 Physicians entering the Columbia, like the early clergy of Victoria, seem 
to have been peculiarly unfortunate. Before this, Doctor White had jumped 
overboard in a fit of insanity, ami Doctor Crowley of Edinburgh had been 
sent home to stand his trial for murder. 


Tt was sometimes puzzling to know what to do with 
criminal offenders in these parts. While the Colonel 
Allan was lying off Fort George, a Boston ship, Rey- 
nolds, master, entered the river, and sent on shore in 
irons a Russian renegade, by name Jacob, a black- 
smith, who had been stirring the crew to mutiny. 
After the ship had .sailed, the man, under the most 
earnest promises of reform, was released and set to 
work. It was not long, however, before he fell into 
his old ways, and enticed eighteen Kanakas to desert 
for California, which place once reached, all were to 
be as angels in heaven. Keith immediately despatched 
five natives to join the deserters in disguise, and if 
possible persuade them to return. They were suc- 
cessful. The Islanders all returned the third day. 
Jacob then took to thieving as a profession, robbing 
the fort one night by scaling the palisades, and enter- 
ing it in open day disguised as a native woman. Then 
joining a disaffected band of natives he stirred them 
up still more against the white men. 

Said Ross to Keith one day, "Give me thirty men, 
and I will bring this villain to you bound." " ' 
shall have fifty," Keith replied. Surprising the camp 
in the dead of night, Jacob was captured and brought 
to the fort. There he was kept in chains until op- 
] ortunity offered to send him to the Hawaiian Islands. 

Jealousy or opposition was not often openly mani- 
! between partners of the Honorable Nortbw< t 
Company; but Keith did not like Donald McKen- 
zie's appointment. The latter arrived at Fori George 
with instructions from Montreal to establish imme- 
diately a post among the Walla Wallas or Nez Percys. 
"It is too late," said Keith. "Your plans are wild. 
I have no men." McKenzie replied, " Here are the 
instructions of the council, obey them, and leave the 
rest in me." 

After much wrangling, McKenzie was given a 
meagre outfit. So hazardous was this undertaking 


regarded, that not a man about the fort would accom- 
pany McKenzie as his second. It was this very 
quality of dogged determination and fearless energy, 
that actuated the council in choosing this man for 
that mission, hoping thereby to infuse new life into 
the western business. 

With forty men McKenzie embarked from Fort 
George, and reached the Cascades without accident. 
There, instead of quarrelling with the natives, as had 
been the custom of late, he made friends with them; 
gave presents, took the children by the hand, and ap- 
pointed agents of observation for the purpose of bring- 
ing to punishment those who injured travellers, in 
which capacity the chiefs were proud to act. So com- 
plete a revolution did this man bring about in one 
short day, that the valuable cargo of a boat which 
was wrecked in the rapids, being intrusted to one of 
the chiefs, was kept untouched, and finally restored at 
the expiration of six months. After a thorough ex- 
amination of the condition of trade in the interior, 
McKenzie returned, reaching Fort George the 16th 
of June 1817. 

Meanwhile ten men had been sent to the Wil- 
lamette to trap beaver. The natives demanded tribute 
for the privilege of hunting on their lands. The trap- 
pers paid no attention to them, but kept their way up 
the river, and soon the banks were lined with savages. 
A shower of arrows was answered by a round of shot, 
which killed a chief, and obliged the trappers to re- 
turn. A party of twenty-five was then sent to pacify 
the natives, which was done by paying for the dead 
man. But scarcely was this compromise effected be- 
fore another quarrel ensued, in which three natives 
wore killed, obliging this party to return with all 
haste to the fort. 

Forty -five men in three boats, with two field-pieces, 
wore then sent, under Ross, as a diplomatic and mili- 
tary embassy. Arrived at the falls, they found the 
natives there congregated on the west bank to oppose 


their passage. Landing on the opposite side, they 
planted their guns, and endeavored to open negotia- 
tions. The savages would none of them. White flags 
and calumets were thrusl aside for the death-song an ! 
war-dance. Patience was now the white man's I 
weapon. Three days were permitted to pass, when 
the chiefs began to think tobacco-smoking preferable 
to so long a siege of windy grief. So three warriors 
jsed the river, and stood a< some distance from the 
white man's ramp. Taking his flag, Ross weni alone 
to meet them. The pipe was offered and n fused. 
•• What want you here?" asked the savages. " I *ea< 
was the reply. At length the red men deigned to 
smoke: a quantity of merchandise completed the 
treaty, and the embassy returned to the Columbia. 
These were the terms of the treaty, and they \ 
observed for several years thereafter. The white men 
should be permitted to trap in the Willamette Valley ; 
and it* at any time the red men felt themselves 
grieved, they must not resort to violence, but must 
apply for redress to the white chief at the fort. 

As the East India Company debarred for the mo I 
part British bottoms, except their own, from the 
waters of the Indian Ocean, the Northwest Company 
found themselves unable to accomplish much in I 
quarter, and were driven to employ United State 
shipping in their commercial intercourse with China. 
Nor were the Red River difficulties without their 
effect on the affairs of the Columbia by restric 
supplies, and distracting the attention of the part- 


The brigade leaving FortGeorge the 16th of April 
1817, numbering eighty-six men. part destined for the 
upper Columbia and pari for the east, embarked in 
two barges and nine canoes, under a salute of seven 
guns. They found the natives all along their roul i 
more disaffected than ever before. Almosl universally 
they had of late become possessed with the idea that 


they should have tribute, as lords aboriginal of the 
soil, from all intruders. 

Those of this brigade bound overland were Beth- 
ime, McDougall, McGillivray, Alexander McTavish, 
and Cox. They intended to cross the mountains to 
Fort William and Montreal with eighteen men; but 
on arriving at Canoe River, where the long portage 
began, so great had been the hardships endured thus 
far that seven of the men were completely exhausted 
and too ill to proceed. Hence they were sent back 
in one of the canoes. But as they were letting their 
boat down the Dalles des Morts, the line broke and 
the boat with all their provisions and effects was lost. 
Starvation stared them in the face. Their only hope 
was to reach Okanagan three hundred miles distant, 
which in their emaciated condition was impossible. 
One after another they fell by the way, the survivors 
feeding on their flesh, until but one remained, a ghastly 
object, to reach the fort and tell the tale. 

Although many expeditions had been made be- 
tween posts, and from the upper country to the sea, 
the same paths for the most part were trod, and but a 
small portion of the great western region had yet 
been seen by European eyes. I have noticed the 
abortive attempt of Ross to reach the sea from 
Okanagan. Subsequently he was delighted in re- 
ceiving orders from head-quarters to examine the 
country between his post at Shushwap and the 
Rocky Mountains. Two Canadians and two natives 
were his companions, and on the 14th of August 
1817, the party set out from Shushwap on foot, 
each man carrying besides his arms, upon which alone 
dependence was placed for provision, a blanket, awl, 
fire-steel, needles and thread, tobacco, and six pairs of 
Indian shoes. 

Their course was north for three days, then due 
east, with Thompson River on the right and Frazer 
River on the left. Reaching the Rocky Mountains 
at Canoe River, they spent two days on that stream, 


following it to its junction with the Columbia, and 
thence returned to Shushwap the 29th of Sep- 
tember, having met much game, lmt without notable 


Meanwhile Donald McKenzie was ubiquitous. Now 
we find him at Fort George, now at Okanagan, Spo- 
kane, Kamloops, or Shushwap, and then at Fort 
George again. In April 1817, with twenty-two men, 
he made a tour to the Shoshones, which was prelim- 
inary to the most important movements in that dire - 
tion. In earlier days his reputation turned more on 
his abilities as a shot, and an eater of horse and i 
flesh, than a business man; but it now appeared that 
for managing savages and manipulating . fur-trading 
matters, he far surpassed any one in all the North- 
west. During the season of 1817, by his wisdom 
and prudence, insurrection was prevented, and the 
country saved to the company. He inspired his sub- 
ordinates with enthusiasm, and displayed a, wonderful 
faculty for accomplishing important results through 
unconscious agents. And this was the man against 
whose wild imaginings and impracticable schemes, as 
they considered them, his methodical and inactive 
associates so lately railed. 

Up to the' present time, and contrary to the wishes 
of the magnates of Fort William, McKenzie's pi 
for establishing a post among the Walla Wallas had 
been frustrated by the partners at Fort George. It 
was plain enough to the mind of any man who would 
allow his brain to act, that a posi near the junction of 
the two branches of the Columbia would be de- 
sirable, it was the natural centre of thai immense 
fur-bearing region drained by the Snake River coi 
in from the south-east, and the Columbia from the 
north. The Snake, or Shoshone country, hitherto 
regarded as somewhat dangerous, was attracting i 
attention of late. Northern brigadesfrom Fori Ge< 
now made their first stop ai '• Ikanagan, and goods for 


Spokane were conveyed in that unnecessarily long 
and roundabout way, for no other reason than that 
such a route had been established in earlier times 
when the country was but little known, and it would 
now be some trouble to change it. 7 

Inaccessible as was Spokane, it had become the 
rendezvous of the country lying between the two 
great branches of the Columbia. There had been 
some thought of removing this establishment to the 
grand fork of the Columbia, but it was needed where 
it was; and yet an inland metropolitan post was re- 
quired at the junction of the tw T o rivers. To this 
post goods could be brought up from the sea in barges 
at much less expense than in bark canoes, and thence 
distributed to the north and south and east. 

I sa}^ all this was plain enough to any eyes that 
would see. The eyes at Fort George, however, were 
impervious to this light; but not so the council at 
Fort William. In the summer of 1818, peremptory 
orders were received at Fort George from head- 
quarters to place at the disposal of McKenzie one 
hundred men, for the purpose of erecting a fort among 
the Nez Perces or Walla Wallas, 8 and these orders 
were supplemented by a sharp reproof for the ob- 

7 See Ross' Fur Traders, i. 137. 

8 Ross speaks of this establishment always as located among the Nez Perces, 
and it is called on his map Fort Nez Perce, and yet it is placed among the 
Walla Wallas, and was later called Fort Walla Walla. It is located on his 
map on the east bank of the Columbia, distant above the "Walla Walla River 
about one third of the way to the mouth of Snake River. Dunn on his map 
applies the name Nez Perce to Snake River, and locates Fort Nez Perce" at 
the junction of Snake River and the Columbia. The exact boundaries of the 
Nez Perce" territory were at this time unknown. The fact that Snake 
River was sometimes called Nez Perce" River, signifies that the nation 
was supposed to occupy that river nearer its mouth than ever was the case. 
Since the earliest times on record the Walla Wallas have inhabited this terri- 
tory, while the Nez Percys have always lived some distance to the east of 
them, on both sides of the Clearwater. The term Nez Perce River gave the 
fort its first name, but it soon became known only as Fort Walla Walla, and 
such I shall hereafter designate it. The site was the north side of Walla 
Walla River and the east side of the Columbia, where W'allula now stands. 
Evans' Hist. Or., MS., 187-8; Gray's Hist.Or.,42. Wilkes' Nar. U. 8. Explr. 
Ex., iv. 418. which gives a cut of it, erroneously states that the post was 
built owing to an Indian attack on a party under Ogden. Mr Pambrun, 
when in charge, planted a garden. Tovmsend's Nur. loo; Lee and Frost's 
(Jr., 123. 


stacles which had been thrown in his way these past 
two years. 

The meD and means were furnished according to in- 
structions, and on the 11th of July 1818, Mr McKen- 
zie, seconded by Ross, encamped with ninety-five men 
on the east bank of the Columbia, about half a mile 
above the Walla Walla River, which was the site 
selected for the new establishment, called at first Fort 
Perce*, but shortly afterward Fort Walla Walla. 
When the country was flooded, the spot was an island ; 
at low water it was a peninsula. It was still famous 
as the place where Lewis and Clarke ratified a peace 
by general feasting. 

* The position was commanding. Before them, as 
placid as powerful, lay the noble Columbia, here more 
like a lake than a river. Beyond were verdant hills ; 
on the south were rugged bluffs between tw T o towering 
rocks called the Twins, while to the north and east 
was a wild expanse of plain. 

No demonstrations of joj on the part of the lords 
aboriginal welcomed the new-comers. " What do the 
white people here?" asked the red bantlings of their 
red papas. "Are they going to kill us as they did 
our relatives?" The savages held themselves aloof. 
It was soon seen that their friendship, if desired, must 
be paid for. 

McKenzie had not many goods, nor provisions. 
Drift-wood was the only building material accessible, 
and this was not fit for all purposes. The greater 
part of the timber had to be cut a hundred miles dis- 
tant, and floated down the stream. Meanwhile, the 
savages congregated about the place in sullen and 
speechless multitudes. They wanted pay for the 
building-material used, and finally refused to sell 
the fort-builders food, which caused them no small 

The work, however, went on to completion. One 
hundred feet square were enclosed in palisades of sawn 
timber thirty inches wide by six inches thick and 

Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 18 


twenty feet long. These were topped with a range 
of balustrades four feet high, with loop-holes and slip- 
doors. There were two bastions and an inner gallery ; 
a water-tank, w T ith a capacity of two hundred gallons, 
was placed at each angle as security against fire. Be- 
side the outer wall was an inner one likewise of sawn 
timber twelve feet high. Within the inner palisades 
were houses of drift-logs and one of stone. It differed 
in this respect from most other establishments, that 
the natives were not admitted within the fort, but were 
obliged to trade through an aperture eighteen inches 
square, communicating with the trading -room, and 
guarded by an iron door. Trade and exploring expe- 
ditions were next in order. But before much could 
be accomplished in this direction it was necessary to 
have an amicable understanding with the natives. 
With great difficulty and after much smoking and 
many presents this was finally accomplished. And 
not only did they promise friendship with the white 
people, but engaged in a peace treaty with the Sho- 
shones, whom they delighted above all things to kill. 
Trade w T as then opened, and briskly prosecuted. 
Two hundred horses w T ere bought, and toward the 
end of September fifty-five men went into the Sho- 
shone country with three hundred beaver-traps and a 
supply of trading goods. The expedition was under 
the command of McKenzie, while Boss remained in 
charge of the fort. The oldest and most renowned 
of the Walla Walla chiefs about this time became 
greatly disheartened over his affairs. War and 
disease had lately taken from him five noble sons, 
and now another, the last and youngest, his Ben- 
jamin, was taken, and the old man said he should not 
remain behind. Begging a burial-box from the 
white man, that his best beloved might be buried in 
the latest fashion, he directed the grave to be dug 
and the coffin lowered. Then the heart-broken 
father threw himself into the grave, and ordered it 
to be filled, which was done amidst loud laments. 


As an apostle of peace, McKenzie crossed the 
Blue Mountains, and introduced himself to the 
Snake nation; whereat they were greatly pleased, 
as indeed savages always are at anything new. 
Some twenty-five Iroquois of McKenzie's company 
revolted, and went trapping on their own account. 
No sooner were they their own masters than they 
traded all their effects for Shoshone women, and 
dropped to the lowest depths of demoralization. 
Tired at length of this, they returned to their alle- 

After an absence of six months McKenzie re- 
turned to Fort Walla Walla, and in April 1819 
with six Canadians he ascended Snake River to 
the Nez Perce country on another trading tour. To 
strengthen him in his new position, fifteen additional 
men were sent him under Kittson, a man with more 
confidence than discretion. For neglecting to set a 
watch at night his horses were all stolen. They 
were caught, however, and returned to him, after 
two days of anxiety, by McKenzie's men sent to the 
assistance of the advancing party. Returning in 
July well laden with furs, Kittson was attacked by 
a war party, and lost two men. After delivering Ids 
furs at the fort, Kittson returned with his men to 
McKenzie, whose success in these parts was now 

But notwithstanding his utmost exertions, Mc- 
Kenzie found it impossible to maintain peace between 
these fierce mountain tribes, or even to escape their 
evil designs upon the whites. On one occasion during 
Kittson's absence McKenzie was left at his encamp- 
ment with only three men to guard a valuable supply 
of goods. The opportunity was too tempting to be 
resisted by those with whom thieving was a national 
virtue. Collecting about the camp in largo numbers, 
they shoved the white men back and began to take 
the goods. Seeing that some desperate remedy alone 
could save them, McKenzie seized a keg of gunpowder, 


and lighting a match threatened them all with in- 
evitable destruction. Instantly the camp was cleared, 9 
and with lowering front the savages sneaked away. 
Kittson, then en route between the camp and the fort, 
was attached, and two of his men were killed. 

Collecting his scattered forces to the number of 
seventy-five men, McKenzie, nothing daunted, made 
from this encampment a second excursion into the 
Shoshone country. War with the Blackfoot was 
then fiercely raging, and frequent hostile encounters 
rendered trapping and traffic anything but safe or 
agreeable occupations. Three of his Kanakas were 
murdered by the native banditti. After a season of 
anxiety McKenzie returned to Walla Walla in June 

In 1820, the belligerent Wascos at the Dalles were 
so far tamed as to permit the establishing at that 
point of a trading-post, which was done, and placed 
in charge of James Birnie. The post was not of long 
continuance. 10 

9 It was at this same post that Archibald McKinlay performed a similar 
feat, making himself out no less a hero of a gunpowder plot story than Mc- 
Kehzie, from whom he may originally have obtained the idea. 

10 Michell, in the Dalles Mountaineer, 23d April 1869; McKay, in the Dalles 
Mountaineer, 28th May 1869. James Birnie was a native of Aberdeen, Scot- 
land. He entered the service of the Northwest Company in 1817. After a 
year in Montreal he was sent to the Columbia. Engaged in minor duties 
the first two years, we see him in 1S20 establishing a post at the Dalles. 
Later he was several years in charge of Fort George, Astoria, where he suc- 
ceeded John Dunn, and in 1833 he was appointed to the charge of Fort Simp- 
son. He was again at Fort George from 1840 to 1846. After retiring from 
the service, he made his home at Cathlamet, where, after his death, Decem- 
ber 21, 1864, at the age of 69 years, his family continued to reside. His 
many sterling qualities made him highly respected, while his kindly dispo- 
sition and genial manner won the hearts of all who knew him. Anderson's 
Northicest Coast, MS., 70-1; Strickland's Missions, 139; Portland Oregonian, 
Dec. 29, 1864; Roberts Bee, MS., 100. 




Lin: and Character of Harmon— His Stay at Moxtagni; a la Basse, 
qeon Lake, Chepewtan, and Dunvegan — In Cdmi-anv with 
Stuart He Enters New Caledonia — Quesnel Reestablishes Fort 
b — A Chief Chastised — Harmon's Travels— Stuart's Manage- 
ment — First Arrival of Supplies in New Caledonia by way of the 
Pacific — Harmon Returns Home— Affairs at Fort George — Das- 
tardly Attack of Keith's Men upon the Cowlitz and the (Jmp- 
quas — Donald McKenzie — Restoration of Astoria, or Fort George, 
to tue United States. 

Turn again to the New Caledonian district. On the 
28th of April 1800, Daniel Williams Harmon, then 
clerk, subsequently partner, in the Northwest Com- 
pany, set out from Montreal for the far Northwest, 
Mr Harmon has left us a printed record. 1 

His first engagement was seven years' service as 
clerk. The absence of Christian rites troubled him 
not a little, for he was one of the few among the fur- 
traders who carried, his religion into the wilderness. 2 

'.! Jourrt I of Voycuji i and Travels in tfo Interiour of North America. An- 
dover, I ! | trait and map. In the original deed-poll of coalition 

between the N and the Hudson's Bay Companies, his name stands 

beside those of the father ai I er of Malcolm McLeod. 'A pious 

Green Mountai oled in Vermont, took service in the north, and 

11 and bravely bis work, was, it would seem, promoted to the charge 
of the higher plateau now under consideration, and which he retained for 
several y< a S. Ee, Oil retirement, published his journals, and the frequency 

i his work is evidence of his merit.' McL< 
So scarce is II; i : that even McLeod had never seen a copy. Itisre- 

viewed in the London Quarterly, January 1822, which ser 

• "/., 291. It is also reviewed in Nouvelles Annates des Voy., xiv. 
55-68. Sec also Victor 's Or., 2G-7. 

2 'Our men play at cards on the Sabbath the same as on any other day. 
For such improper conduct I once reproved them ; but their reply was, there 

1277 j 


He did not cross the mountains at once into New 
Caledonia, but remained on the eastern side, stationed 
first at one fort and then at another for some ten years. 
In May 1805, while at Montagne a la Basse, he en- 
tered into an arrangement with Mr Chaboillez to 
make a tour of discovery to the head- waters of the 
Missouri. The party, to consist of six or seven 
Canadians and two or three Indians, was to set out 
early in June, making the Mandan village on the Mis- 
souri their first stopping- place. Thence they would 
proceed to the base of the Rocky Mountains in com- 
pany with the Mandans, who went thither every year 
to meet and trade with the natives from the western 
slope, and return in November. Owing to ill-health 
Harmon never undertook the journey. Laroche, 
however, attempted the tour, but went no farther west 
than the village of the Mandans. 

The winter of 1807-8, Harmon spent at Stur- 
geon Lake in company with Doctor McLoughlin, 
whom he found a most agreeable companion. Slowly 
working his way westward, September 1808 saw him 
at Fort Chipewyan, the general rendezvous for the 
Athabasca district, where goods were set apart for 
the many different posts of that department, and 
where flocked the fur-traders from a thousand miles 
northward and westward, from the Mackenzie River 
and the Pacific seaboard. From the latter region 
Simon Fraser arrived while Harmon was there. 

From Fort Chipewyan Mr Harmon ascended Peace 
River, reaching Fort Vermillion the 2d of October, 
Encampment Island Fort the 7th, and Dunvegan the 
1 0th. Here in company with John McGillivray and the 
McTavishes he passed the winter. The well built fort 
was pleasantly situated in the midst of open plains, and 
with buffalo, moose, red deer, and bear meat, a fair 
supply of vegetables from the kitchen-garden, a good 
collection of books, and agreeable companions, fur- 
is no Sabbath in this country, and, they added, no God nor devil; and their 
behavior but too plainly shows that they spoke as they think.' Journal, Gl. 


trading became quite bearable. At Fort St John, one 
hundred and twenty miles up the river, was stationed 
this winter Mr F. Geodike. 

In May 1800, the McTavishes, McGillivray, and 
Geodike proceeded eastward, while Harmon remained 
at Dunvegan. Shortly after their departure, Simon 
Fraser and James McDougall arrived at Dunvegan, 
the former from the Rocky Mountain Portage, one 
hundred and eighty miles above, and the latter Prom 
Xew Caledonia, which Harmon pronounced four hun- 
dred and fifty miles from his station. After spend- 
ing most of the day with Harmon they continued 
their journey in four canoes toward Rainy Lake. 

The monotony of the winter in this region had been 
broken only by the death of Andrew Mackenzie, 
natural son of Sir Alexander Mackenzie, at Fort Ver- 
million, and the starvation of several Canadian fami- 
lies who came into these parts free, that is, not belong- 
ing to either of the great companies, to hunt beaver. 
One man, it was said, killed and ate his wife and 
child, and then he died. In the spring of 1809, eleven 
canoes, loaded with furs, were sent east from Fort 
Dunvegan and the neighboring stations. In June. 
garden-seeds were well up, with good prospects for 
abundant supplies for the ensuing winter. 1 
barley was harvested the month following. About 
this time, John Stuart came over from New Caledonia 
for a supply of goods, returning in July. 

In October, Harmon's heart was made glad by the 
arrival of letters from his friends, brought by A. R. 
McLeod, he and a company in three canoes being 
on their way to Xew Caledonia. In those clays 1< ; 
from home were a treat scarcely expected more than 
once or twice a year; but the Peace River Pass was 
now becoming quite a thoroughfare between the • 
and the west, so that facilities for sending letters v 
more frequent here than in many other so far disl 

The following spring, D. McTavish again wenl ea -i . 


and also J. Clarke, John Stuart, and H. Faries, with 
their respective companies. 

On the 6th of October 1810, John Stuart arrived 
at Dunvegan from Fort Chipewyan, with four canoes 
laden with supplies for the Rocky Mountain Portage 
and New Caledonia. By this arrival, Harmon received 
among other letters one signed jointly by three of the 
Northwest Company partners, requesting him to pro- 
ceed to New Caledonia and take charge of affairs 
there ; or if he preferred to do so, he might place him- 
self under the command of Stuart until spring, during 
which time he would have acquired sufficient knowl- 
edge of the country to manage matters alone. 

Harmon preferred to avail himself of Stuart's ex- 
perience for a time before assuming chief command 
west of the mountains. Hence on the 7th of October 
the two traders left Fort Dunvegan, stopping at Fort 
St John to prepare provisions for New Caledonia. 
Thence Stuart embarked in three canoes on the 11th 
for Rocky Mountain Portage, Harmon following him 
next day. There, at the station which is now called 
Hudson's Hope, they left a portion of their goods, 
and crossed to the western end of the portage, where 
they found some of their people of the Northwest 
Company repairing four old canoes which offered at- 
tractions only to men weary of life. Nevertheless, 
into them they piled their baggage, and were soon 
en route again up the river. Arriving at the junc- 
tion of F inlay River, they took the south branch and 
proceeded to McLeod Fort. There Stuart remained 
for a time, while Harmon with thirteen laborers crossed 
over to Stuart Fort, where, after a fortnight's travel, 
he arrived on the 1 7th of November. 

On the 12th of December, Harmon sent J. M. 
Quesnel with a small supply of goods to Fraser 
Lake, to reestablish the post there, as it had been 
for a time abandoned. On the 18th, Stuart with 
a small party passed Stuart Fort for Fort Fraser, 
and shortly afterward Harmon followed him. 



As these were days of intoxication, before absolute 
monopoly regulated the morals of the region, new 
year's day was the signal anion-' the Canadians for a 
grand debauch, which the sober savage begged leave 
to witness. Drinking set in, and quarrelling soon 
followed, whereat the natives hid themselves, saying 
the white men had run mad. When they saw those 
who had raved the loudest in the morning becoming 
quiet in the afternoon, they said the white man's 

Harmon's Map. 

senses had returned to him. Then they went their 
way, wondering how such superior beings should vol- 
untarily lay aside their reason for a time and become 

In April 1811, Harmon abandoned the Fraser Fort 
and returned to Fort Stuart. Shortly afterward lie 
sent most of his men to McLeod Fort to prepare for 
a journey cast, and in a few days followed them with 
QuesneL A little native boy nut yet four years old, 


called George Harmon, of whom he was father, accom- 
panied him on his way to the United States, whither 
Harmon was sending him, under the charge of Quesnel, 
to be educated. A daughter was soon after born to 
him, whom he called Polly Harmon; for this good 
man's piety did not prevent his propagating the natives 
of that wilderness wherever he went. Yet to these 
dusky offspring Harmon was most affectionately at- 
tached, and he always endeavored to do his duty by 
them. His feelings toward them and his treatment 
of them in every respect, were the same as if they had 
been born of a white mother in lawful wedlock. After 
sending away this boy, as he believed for his good, he 
returned to Stuart Fort; and so dejected were his spir- 
its in consequence, he says, that he passed four of the 
most miserable days of his life. And when some two 
years later, Harmon heard that his boy was dead, he 
was overwhelmed with grief, while the mother was 
thrown, if possible, into still greater distress, being 
delirious the whole night after receiving the intelli- 

Bio- Knife was the name the natives ouve Harmon, 
for he sometimes carried a sword; and though during 
the eleven years he had spent in the Indian country 
he had never struck an Indian, it now devolved on him 
to chastise a chief named Quas, or else be called a 
coward, and lose his influence in those parts. Har- 
mon tells the story at some length. Briefly, it is as 
follows: Quas, to display his importance before his 
followers, insisted that Harmon should give credit to 
an Indian not worthy of it. Harmon refused, where- 
upon Quas bantered Harmon as to his business qual- 
ifications, saying that he managed his affairs as well as 
any white man. Then he asked credit for a small 
piece of cloth, which was readily granted; but on 
showing him one piece of cloth after another, he 
affected disgust with them all. Then Harmon felt 
it his duty to punish him, which he did by beating 
him over the head with a stick. The chief cried to 


his warriors, several of whom were present, bo seize 
his assailant; but they dare not touch him; and there- 
after none among them ranked higher than 

In the autumn of 1811 Peace River was frozen be- 
fore the usual supplies were brought up, so that in 
December Harmon was obliged to bring the goods 
over with clogs and sledges. He set out on the 20th 
with twenty men, and returned in time for the first of 
January festivity, accompanied by McDougall. 

During this month of January 1812, Harmon 
visited the native village of Tachy, situated at the 
other end of Stuart Lake. He found the people 
indolent, and consequently poorly fed and clad. Then 
with McDougall and twelve of his own men and 
two Carriers, he made a journey to the terrii 
of the Xateotetains living to the westward. Few of 
■ people had ever before seen white men, and on 
their approach they showed by warlike g how 

they would defend themselves in case they weir • 
attacked. They were armed with bows and arrows, 
clubs and axes. When informed by the stran > 
that they had come to supply their necessities and 
purchase their furs, respect and hospitality were pro- 
fusely proffered. 

Continuing their journey, they the next day came 
>n four other villages, whose people told them how 
white men ascended their river from the Pacific Oct 'an 
and sold goods to their neighbors on the west, from 
whoi 1 1 1 hey purchased. In February Harmon made an 
eight <lays' jaunt to Fraser Lake, and was everywhere 
well received by the natives. 

Letter from David Thompson, dated at Ilko- 
y< 'i »< i the Columbia River the 28th < >f August 

1811, Harmon now first receives intelli the 

fort-builders at the month of the Columbia, who call 
themselves the Pacific Fur Company. This letter 
had been on the way eight months, when the distance 
might easily be travelled in thirty days. The reason 


of this was that instead of sending it through direct 
by a single messenger, it was delivered by Thompson 
at one of his posts down the Columbia to the ad- 
jacent tribes, with instructions to pass it on to the 
next tribe, and so on until it should reach its destina- 
tion. The wonder is that it went through at all. 

In May, Harmon went to McLeod Lake to despatch 
his eastern express, and while crossing a small lake on 
a sledge, one of his men, Pierre Lambert, fell through 
the ice and was drowned. The winter of 1812-13 
was spent by Harmon in company with John Stuart, 
at Stuart Fort. With them were twenty-one laborers, 
one interpreter, five women, and a troop of children. 
While on a fur-trading excursion to Fraser Lake the 
two friends narrowly escaped being killed by certain 
Indians, who w T ere incensed against the interpreter's 
wife; but courage, coolness, and kind words finally 
pacified them. 

With five voyageurs and a Carrier Indian, Har- 
mon left Stuart Lake the 6th of February 1813 for 
Fort Dunvegan, for the purpose of transacting some 
business with McGillivray. There he was informed 
that the British had taken Niagara and Mackinaw. 

Accompanied by six voyageurs and two natives, 
John Stuart on the 13th of May embarked at Stuart 
Lake in two canoes with a small stock of goods as 
pocket-mone}^, and six weeks' provisions, for the pur- 
pose of finding, if possible, water communication 
between that point and the Columbia River. Should 
his efforts prove successful, it was the intention of 
the Northwest partners to obtain supplies and make 
returns by that route, building vessels somewhere on 
the Pacific coast to ply between the Columbia River 
and China, and thus avoid the long land travel from 
Canada. On reaching the Columbia, Stuart was 
to be joined by John G. McTavish, who was to ac- 
company him to the ocean. This left Harmon in the 
full superintendence of affairs in New Caledonia. 

At these far interior posts the officers had leisure 


enough. Harmon says thai not more than one fifth of 
his time was occupied by business. But at every post 
were books, and among them many thai were worth 
reading. Gloomy reflections sometimes arose as he 
thought of his civilized home, some thirteen years 
having now passed since he left it; but mosl of the 
time he was contented and cheerful. No small por- 
tioo of his time was occupied in religious resolves, 
which he conscientiously endeavored to carry out. 

Joseph La Roche, who had accompanied John G. 
McTavish to the Pacific the summer previous, arrived 
at Stuart Lake the 7th of November 1813. The 
4th of Februaiy following, Donald McLennan arrived 
with the intelligence of the purchase of the property 
of the Pacific Fur Company by the Northwest Com- 

During these years, Harmon was chiefly occupied 
in baling and shipping down Peace River the furs 
collected at the several posts under his charge, and in 
receiving and distributing the supplies of goods sent 
him. 1 1 was monotonous enough thus being shut in the 
wilderness for nineteen years, and an agreeable com- 
panion was most highly prized. " Happy arc those/' 
he exclaims, while laboring under the disappointment 
of losing McLennan, who he had hoped would have 
remained with him during the summer, "happy are 
those who have an amiable and intelligent friend with 
whom they can at pleasure converse!" 

The first goods sent into New Caledonia by way of 
the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River of which 
Harmon makes mention, arrived at Stuart Fort the 
18th of October 1814. They were brought from Fori 
George in two canoes by Joseph La Roche, who on 
arrival was sent by Harmon once more to reestab- 
lish Fort Fraser. La Roche was soon relieved by 
Harmon himself, who soon after was joined by Stuart 
and McDougall, who took him with them to Stilla to 
purchase salmon of the natives. The 11th of Janu- 
ary 1815 Harmon set out with six meu and two 


natives to visit the Naskootains 3 who had never before 
held intercourse with white men. 

As spring came on, a small piece of ground at Fort 
Eraser was inclosed in palisades for a vegetable gar- 
den, and potatoes, beets, onions, carrots, and parsnips 
planted, besides a little corn and barley. The summer 
of 1815 Stuart passed at Stuart Lake, and Harmon 
at Fraser Lake. The narrative about this time be- 
comes very sentimental and very religious. The 
writer sighs for companionship like a sick school-girl, 
and throws in pages of protestations, prayers, and 
high resolves. Although his desire to return to his 
old home was never so great as now, yet in the spring 
of 1816 Harmon agreed with George McDougall* to 
remain in the country two years longer as clerk of the 
Northwest Company. 

The winter of 1816-17 came on early with its cold 
white coverings. As usual, salmon dried during the 
summer was the chief subsistence alike of white 
man and red. In December, fifteen sledge -loads of 
this food were sent by Harmon from Fort Fraser 
to McLeod Fort to supply the winterers there as 
well as the spring packers. The summer was very 
dry, there being not a drop of rain for months. In 
May, Harmon set out on a visit to Fort Chipewyan, 
returning the 1st of September. On the 3d of Octo- 
ber Fort Fraser was burned; most of the property, 
however, was saved. 

The year 1818 was partly spent by Harmon in 
preparations to return to his native land, on which 
he was now fully determined. To this end George 
McDougall in February 1819 took his place at Stuart 
Fort, where of late he had been stationed, while Har- 
mon himself proceeded to McLeod Fort, and thence 
the following summer to Montreal and Vermont. 

3 For full accounts of all the aborigines of this locality, see Native Races, i. 
114-37, 146. 

4 This George McDougall came out from Canada to Red River the summer 
previous with Lord Selkirk's party. Becoming dissatisfied with the treat- 
ment of John Clarke, his superior, he left the settlement, and joined his 
brother James McDougall west of the mountains. 


I have beeD thus minute in giving the somewhat 
tame events from Harmon's journal, from the fact 
that it is the only historical record we have of this 
region during this period; and as the time was of 
ill-' earliest, incidents assume importance, which at a 
later date would be deemed insignificant. One crown- 
ing noble act this man Harmon did on emerging 
from the wilderness, which partners with nnore gen- 
tlemanly pretensions might well have followed. His 
uncouth children with their Indian mother he did not 
desert, hut took them all with him to his old home, 
made the woman his lawful wife, and educated his 
children in all his own high and holy principles. 

Events call us once more to Fort George. The 
attention of the magnates there in charge was di- 
vided between the receiving and disbursing of the 
annual outfits, and the cultivation of trade with the 
aboriginals of the Willamette and the Cowlitz. Keith 
was in many respects an excellent man, but he pos- 
sessed a remarkable faculty for bungling business. I 
will cite an instance : 

Oskononton was an Iroquois, one of the twenty- 
five who had revolted from McKenzie. He crept 
hack an emaciated penitent to Fort Walla Walla, and 
from there was sent down to Fort George. Shortly 
afterward he joined a party of his countrymen to trap 
on the Cowlitz, where, in attempting with some of 
his wild comrades to force the women, he was killed. 
The party returned to the fort and represented the 
affair as an unprovoked murder, whereupon Keith 
sent thirty Iroquois, under Ogden, 5 to investigate the 

rea somewhat conspicuously in Northwest Coast 
affairs. He was a son of Chief Justice Ogdcn of Quebec, ami joined the 
Northwest Company in 1811. Tfia earlier days 

. ith occasional visits to California. Rising i i 
in the II I bmpany, in 1831 he left the Snake country, and in 1835 

: factor in charge "t the district <>t New Caledonia. A1 fch 
sixty lie died at Oregon City, in the. house of his son-in-law, Archibald Mc- 
Kinlay. in 1854. McKinlay's A'»;-.. MS., II; Andersoi MS., 23; 

Portland Oregonian, Sept. 30, L854. Allen, /A///.. MS., • den had 

been .-i \\ ild youth, and though possessing much ability, was still fond of tricks 
,in later years.' 


matter, a choice of instruments which no competent 
manager could by any possibility have made. Arrived 
at the Cowlitz camp, without awaiting orders from 
their leader, these eastern barbarians raised their guns 
and fired, bringing down men, women, and children. 
Twelve persons wholly innocent of any crime were 
killed before the eyes of the Cowlitz chief. Howhow, 
who that moment was assisting Ogden to find the 
murderer, was sickened, enraged, as well he might be. 
Ogden attempted to pacify him, begged him to visit 
the fort where all should be explained and rectified, 
but all to no purpose. Every other effort proving 
unavailing, a husband from among the white chiefs 
at the fort was promised Howhow's beautiful young 
daughter. This Avas more than the fond father could 
withstand. A guard was promised him to and from 
the fort, as he would have to pass over the lands of 
his enemies, the Chinooks. The princess was brought 
to the fort and happily married. After the days of 
rejoicing were over, Howhow was permitted to leave 
the fort to return without a guard, being attended 
only by his own immediate followers. The conse- 
quence was, before they had proceeded three hundred 
yards, the Cowlitz were fired upon by some Chinooks 
in ambush. The stupid sentinel cried out that the 
fort was attacked by Howhow and his men, and 
against them the guns of the bastion were discharged, 
wounding two of the Cowlitz. Soon the mistake was 
discovered and Howhow brought into the fort. Keith 
attempted to explain, but Howhow was a changed 
man. In stern and sulky meditation he took leave of 
his white son-in-law, loaded with presents, but yet 
suspicious and revengeful. 

Thus driven by their own misconduct and stupidity 
from the Cowlitz, fresh attention was directed toward 
the Willamette. Already there were trappers enough 
in that quarter, but the graceless Iroquois must have 
a hunting-ground somewhere. Hence, sixty men, 
under two half- breed Canadian clerks, ascended the 


Willamette, and crossed over to the Umpqua. The 
natives were peaceful and timid. They did not ob- 
ject to the trapping on their premises, but they did 
not wish to barter furs, exchange horses, or seii wives. 
As the white men encroached upon their privacy, the 
natives retired. One day as the latter ww<> breaking 
up camp in order to escape their persecutors, the 
trappe*rs seized the horses of the Indians in order to 
insure their return. The owners resisted, whereupon 
the trappers fired upon them, killing fourteen innocent 
and inoffensive persons, who had not even drawn an 
arrow in self-defence. The survivors tied, the hunt- 
ers pursuing. How many more were killed in the 
flight was never known. 6 A guilty fear then seized 
the wretches, and falling back upon the Willamette, 
four of their number were sent to Fort George to 
tell how they had been attacked and well nigh massa- 
cred by the treacherous and blood-thirsty savages of 
the Umpqua. Retribution, however, was at hand. 
Camping while en route at Oak Point, the four mes- 
sengers were murdered by five Tlatskanai, of the 
same band as that which in 1811 had killed three 
of the Pacific Company's men. As soon as the Oak 
Point murder was known at the fort, a party was 
sent in pursuit of the assassins, who w T ere captured 
and tried, and four of the five convicted and executed. 
By these and like mismanagements the returns at 
Fort George were this year, 1819, reduced 4,000 
beaver, equivalent in money to £G,000. 

Another year was spent by Donald McKenzic in th 
Snake country, closing on his return to Fort Walla 
Walla, the 10th of July 1821. Next year he crossed 
the mountains to York Factory, and was sh< >ri ly alter 

c Tt is with heart-felt Borrow that Iftnd it my duty to register so dastardly 
an outrage perpetrated under Northwest Company rule. would 

be that the friends who did it were eastern savages, [roquois, whom they 
found it extremely difficult to control. We well know that such deed 
disavowed and lamented by the members of the Northwest Company, most 
of all men. 

Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 19 


made governor of the Red River Colony, a position 
second only to that of governor-in-chief. After filling 
that office for ten years, he removed with his family 
to Mayville, New York. 

In the summer of 1818, there arrived at Astoria 
the remnant of a party of twenty-five led by Louis 
Pichette from Canada the year previous, and who 
had wintered on the plains. Seven of the company had 
died upon the way. After spending several years each 
at Forts Vancouver, Colville, and Hall, Pichette finally 
took a farm at Champoeg, where he died in 1876. 7 

By the treaty of peace between Great Britain and 
the United States signed at Ghent the 24th of Decem- 
ber 1814, it was agreed that all territory and places 
taken by either from the other during the war should 
be immediately restored. In pursuance of this agree- 
ment, on the 18th of July 1815, James Monroe, 
secretary of state, notified Mr Baker, charge d'affaires 
of Great Britain to the United States, that measures 
would be taken to reoccupy the post of Astoria, on 
the Columbia River, without delay, at the same time 
asking a letter to the person in charge, giving orders 
for its restitution. 

Mr Baker replied that he had no authority from 
his government to furnish such a letter, and referred 
the secretary to Vice-admiral Dixon, of his majesty's 
naval forces on the Brazil station, whose command 
included the Pacific. There the matter rested until 
September 1817, when the sloop of war Ontario was 
ordered to the Columbia peaceably to assert the 
sovereignty of the United States in the territory ad- 
jacent. The captain of the sloop, J. Biddle, and J. 
B. Prevost were appointed joint commissioners to 
carry these instructions into effect. 8 

7 The Salem Statesman, Dec. 22, 1876, claims for him that he was the first 
white man to settle in Marion county. There are so many claimants to the 
honor of first settler here and elsewhere, that it is not always easy to de- 
termine the truth. 

8 Annals Cong., 1822, app. ii. 2130-1 ; President's Message, April 15, 1822; 
GreenJww's Or. and Cal., 307; Evans'' Hist. (Jr., MS., 103. 


Pre vest and Biddle had not been many days absent 
on their mission when Mr Bagot, the British minister 
at Washington, addressed inquiries to Mr Adams. 
secretary of state, relative to the destination of the 
Ontario, and the purpose of her voyage, which being 
answered, Bagot remonstrated, saying thai the North- 
west Coast was early possessed by Great Britain as 
part of her dominion, and that the post upon the 
Columbia was not captured during the war, but was 
sold by one commercial company to another for a fail- 
consideration, and did not therefore conic within the 
provision of the first article of the Ghent treaty. 

Mr Bagot lost no time in communicating to his 
government the state of affairs, which immediately 
became a matter of discussion between Lord Cas 
reagh, British secretaiy for foreign affairs, and Mr 
Rush, United States minister in London. Castlen sag] i 
regretted that the British government had not been 
notified of the intended occupation of the Columbia by 
the United States before the sailing of the Ontari 
Great Britain claimed dominion over that territory. 
He now proposed to submit the matter to arbitration. 

To this Mr Bush objected. He would not admit 
that there was any ground for an arbitration, any 
just ground upon which England could claim dominion. 
Y\ as not the territory in the possession of the United 
States before the war? he asked. Did it not fall by 
belligerent pressure? How, then, under treaty stipu- 
lations requiring mutual restitution could possession 
be withheld? Castlereagh admitted the right of tic 
1 nited States as the party in possession pending ne- 
gotiations. He lamented only the manner of ol Gaining 
possession, fearing disturbance in consequence. To 
prevent misunderstanding in this transfer, lie requested 
the colonial secretary, Lord Bathurst, and the Lords 
of the admiralty to expedite the proper orders to the 
person in charge of the fort, which was done. I udeed, 
the British government displayed a magnanimous de- 
sire to avoid any hostile collision between the repre- 


sentatives of the respective governments in these 
distant parts. 

Continuing her voyage the Ontario reached Valpa- 
raiso in February. No orders had yet been received 
from the British government for the delivery of Fort 
George, and it was now evident that no British officer 
nor any agent of the Northwest Company would as- 
sume the responsibility of voluntarily relinquishing 
the post. Yet the orders of the United States govern- 
ment must be obeyed. And the Ontario must com- 
plete her mission so far as possible. It was clearly 
evident, however, that what was now done at the 
Columbia Biver would be empty form, whereas some- 
thing might be gained by further conference with 
British powers. In view of these several aspects of 
the case, it was finally arranged that while Mr Prevost 
remained at Valparaiso, Captain Biddle should pro- 
ceed to the Columbia in the Ontario, and take formal 
possession of Fort Astoria, which was done on the 9th 
of August. The Ontario then returned to the South 

Meanwhile Lord Bathurst's order 9 for the surren- 
der of Fort George to the United States had reached 
Bio cle Janeiro, and was sent by Commodore Bowles, 
commander of the British naval forces in the South 
Sea, to his senior officer in the Pacific, Captain Sher- 
iff. Prevost was still at Valparaiso, and Captain 
Sheriff immediately informed him of his receipt of 
the order, at the same time offering him conveyance 

9 Which was in these words : 
' To the partners or agents of the Northioest Company residing on the Columbia 

'Intelligence haying been received that the United States sloop of war 
Ontario has been sent by the American government to establish a settlement 
on the Columbia River, which was held by that state on the breaking out of 
the last war, I am to acquaint you that it is the Prince Regent's pleasure- 
without, however, admitting the right of that government to the possession 
in question — that in pursuance of the first article of the treaty of Ghent, duo 
facility should be given to the reoccupation of the said settlement by the 
officers of the United States; and I am to desire that you would contribute, 
as much as lies in your power, to the execution of his Royal Highness' com- 
mands. I have, etc., etc., 



to the Columbia, which was thankfully accepted. The 
1 chosen for this errand was the British frigate 
Blossom, ( laptain I [ickey. 

The Blossom entered the Columbia the 1st <»f Octo- 
ber, and on the 6th the surrender was made. 
British flag was lowered, and that of the Urn 
Stateswas hoistedin its place. 1 " Placards declaratory 
of the surrender were placed on either side of the en- 
trance to the river, one on Cape Disappointment, and 
another on Point Adams. These were afterward 
moved by the natives. 11 Mr Keith then addressed 
inquiries to Mr Prevosl respecting the position and 
imercial interests of the Northwest Company on 
the Columbia, to which Mr Prevost replied that the 
action of his government he could not determine, but 
that the Northwest Companymight restassured that 
their rights would be respected, and that no necess 
existed for the immediate abandonment either of the 
Columbia River or of Fort George. 12 

10 House Com. Bep't, No. 1<>1, 25th Cong. 3d. Sess., p. 7. 
"Prom Monterey, Mr Prevost wrote the secretary of state the 11th of 
November 1818, with copies of the acts of delivery and acceptance, all oi 
which documents accompanied President Monroe's message to Cod 
April 17. \^22. The act of delivery by the British Commissioners is in 
these words: 

' In obedience to the commands of his Royal Highness the Prince 
at, signified in a despatch from the Right Honorable Earl Bathurst, 
Bed to the partners or agents of the Northwest Company, hearing 
date the 27th of January 1818, and in obedience to subsequent ord 

2 ith of July last, from William H. Sheriff, Esq., captain of his maj 
ship A we, the undersigned, do, in conformity to the first article 

of the treaty of Ghent, restore to the government of the United States, 
through its agent, J. B. Prevost, Esq., the settlement of Fort < reorge on the 
River < iolumbia. (liven under our hands in triplicate at Port George, Colum- 
bia River, this 6th clay of October, 1818. 

'P. Hickey, Captain of his Majesty's ship Bl 
' James Keith, of the Northwest Company.' 
The act of acceptance by the United States Commissioner reads as follows: 
'I do hereby acknowledge to have this day received, in bi half of 
ernment of the United States, the possession of the settlemenl 
. in conformity td the first article of the treaty of Ghent. G 
md in triplicate, at Fort George, Columbia River, this 6tb d 
ber 1818. J. B. Pbevost, agent for the TJ\ 

12 This correspondence should be given in full. 
Mr Keith to Mr Pn 

'FoetGeoege, Columbia River, October 6, I 
Now that the restitution and the settlement have been ma dr. and that 
the Northwest Company are still allowed to occupy it in the prosecution of 


The purchase of the Pacific Company by the North- 
west Company was not known by the plenipotentiaries 
at the treaty of Ghent, yet provision to meet such an 
emergency had not been neglected. Such an event, 
or rather the capture of Fort Astoria by the British 
forces in the Pacific, likely enough had occurred during 
the war, in which case, or in any case, no claim that 
might be set up by the British government to the 
Northwest Coast, or any part of it, should for a 
moment be recognized. 13 The Ghent commissioners, 

their commercial pursuits, permit me to submit to you the following important 
queries, to which I recpiest a candid and explicit reply: Whether or not you 
feel authorized on behalf of the United States, to tender me any assurance, 
or to afford any security that no abandonment or relinquishment of said set- 
tlement will be claimed by your government in favor of any of its subjects, 
to the ejectment and exclusion of said Northwest Company, prior to the final 
decision of the right of sovereignty to -the country between our respective gov- 
ernments? And pending such discussion, as also in the event of such sov- 
ereignty being confirmed to the United States, may the Northwest Company 
implicitly rely on the justice and equity of your government, that adequate 
allowance will be made for any extension or amelioration of aforesaid settle- 
ment, or of the trade dependent thereon, of which circumstances may from 
time to time suggest the propriety ? I have the honor, etc. , 

' James Keith, 
'J. B. Prevost, Esq. Acting for self and Northwest Company.' 

Mr Prevost to Mr Keith: 

'Fort George, Columbia, October 6, 1818. 

'Sir: In answer to your note of this morning I have the honor to state 
that the principal object of the president in sending me thus far was to obtain 
such information of the place, of its access, and of its commercial importance, 
as might enable him to submit to the consideration of congress measures for 
the protection and extension of the establishment. From hence you will per- 
ceive that, until the sense of the government may be taken upon my report, 
any assurance I might offer to meet the wishes expressed by you, would be as 
unauthorized as unavailing. I, however, sir, have no hesitation in saying 
that should it hereafter comport with the views of the nation to foster the 
settlement, any claim of the Northwest Company, justified by the usages of 
nations, will be liquidated with great liberality; and that, should its policy 
induce a system of exclusion, it will never extend to your removal without 
sufficient notice to prevent loss and injury to the company. I cannot take 
my leave, sir, without expressing my approbation of the manner in which an 
establishment so precarious has been managed, nor without offering a. hope 
that the same judicious course may be pursued, under the change of flag, for 
its success, until the pleasure of the president can be known.' 

'James Keith. J. B. Prevost.' 

13 Under date of 22d of March 1814, James Monroe, secretary of state, 
wrote the plenipotentiaries of the United States, that in the event of a treaty 
with Great Britain, and a reciprocal restitution of territory, they should have 
it in recollection that the United States had in their possession at the com- 
mencement of the war, a post at the mouth of the river Columbia, which 
commanded the river, which ought to be comprised in the stipulation, should 
the possession have been wrested from us during the war. 'On no pretext can 


on behalf of the United States, had been instructed to 

recognize no British claim to territory south of the 
forty-ninth parallel. On the other hand, in the relin- 
quishment of Fort George, the British government 
by no means acknowledged the right of the United 
States to the Oregon territory. By the present trans- 
fer matters were simply placed as before the war, with 
boundary and title yet to be determined. 

Among ether questions growing out of the treaty 
of Ghent, yet unsettled, was that of the partition line 
between the British American possessions and the 
United States, west of the Rocky Mountains. An 
agreement was drawn up between the powers that all 
differences should be settled by convention, which was 
signed in London the 20th of October 1818. Then it 
was agreed that the Northwest Coast, by whichsoever 
claimed, should, for ten years from the date of the 
convention, be open to subjects of both nations; nor 
was this agreement to be to the ultimate prejudice of 
the claim of either to any part of that territory. The 
settlement of the boundary question was simply post- 
poned, it being inconvenient and unnecessary to de- 
termine it at that time. 14 

the British government set up a claim to territory south of the northern 
boundary of the United States. It is not believed that they have any claim 
whatever to territory on the Pacific Ocean. You will, however, be careful 
Bhould a definition of boundary be attempted, not to countenance in any man- 
in ir or in any quarter, a pretension in the British government to territory 
south of that line.' See Annals of Congress, 1814-15, app., 1375. 

li Annals of Congress, 1822, i'i. 2130-42; Am. Strife Papers, For. Bel., v. 
582; Barton'sDeba • ?, v. 399, x. 301; President's Messages, Dec. 29, 1818, Feb. 
•22. 1819, April 15, 1822, Jan. 31, 1826, and Accompanying Dor.; Evans' Or., 
MS., 101 l: GreenJtow's Or. andCal., 306-14; Gray's Hist. Or., 20, 37; Vic- 
tor's Riv> r of the West, 32-3; Dix's Speeches, i. 47; Anderson's Northwest Coast, 
M.S., 4, 100. 




Title of the Hudson's Bay Company to Rupert Land— Boundary, not 
Title, the Question in Dispute — Jurisdiction of Courts — Ruin 
from Rivalry Imminent— The Northwest Company's Opposition to 
Lord Selkirk and his Colonization Scheme — The Two Companies 
before Parliament — The Ministry Interpose Mediation — The 
Question of Compromise Debated— Terms of Union— Passage of 
the Act Empowering the Crown to Grant Exclusive License of 
Trade— The Grant of 1821 — The Assignment in 1824 of the North- 
west Company — The Deed-Poll of 1834— The Renewal of License 
in 1S38— The Settlement of the Boundary Question in 1846— The 
Grant of Vancouver Island in 1849. 

It lias been many times mentioned that in 1821 
the Northwest Company and the Hudson's Bay 
Company became one corporation ; how the companies 
were united has nowhere been told. After quiet oc- 
cupancy for a hundred and fifty years, the title of 
the Hudson's Bay Company to Rupert Land might 
scarcely be questioned by a rival association. Al- 
though France claimed the country when the charter 
of Charles II. dated the 2d of May 1670 was made, 
and although the grant never had been permanently 
ratified by parliament, the claim of the adventurers 
of England had been tacitly acknowledged by govern- 
ment in various ways. 

In the first place, the incorporators and their suc- 
cessors were made lords proprietors of the lands 
granted, which were to be held in free and common 
socage, and not in capite, or by knight's service. It 


was a five and absolute gifi . subject to revocation only 
by the power that made it, exclusive in its terms, 
and requiring the recognition of royal authority only 
by a promise to pay the grantor or his successors two 
elk and two black beaver, whenever one of them 
should enter the territories so granted. The com- 
pany might colonize wherever they chose, appoint 
mors, make laws, and administer justice. Over 
the natives of the granted territory their power was 
absolute, involving life or death; their own people 
they might punish in minor matters, or even for high 
offences if no appeal was made to England. It' such 
appeal was made, the company must send prisoners 
thither; likewise subjects of Great Britain, other 
than those employed by the company, found within 
the territory, might be arrested and sent to England. 
The fact that King' Charles might as righteously 
have granted his cousin Rupert land in Fiance, or 
Italy, or Saturn, or the sun, as round Hudson Bay, 
made no whit difference, so long as the protection 
which backed his gift was strong enough to break 
down opposition. 

The chief question in dispute between the adven- 
turers of England and the merchants of Montreal was 
not one of title to Rupert Land, although the North- 
west Company did claim that the grant of Charles 
II. was invalid, lacking the sanction of parliament. 
An act confirming the charter was passed by Parlia- 
ment in 1G90, but for seven years only, and no longer. 1 
An attempt was made to renew the charter at the ex- 

1 .Martin, TJie Hudson's Bay Territorit s, 45, asserts that thisact makes the 
grant perpetual, yet in the same breath lie admits that it expired at the end 

a years. 'MrM. Martin says "forever." Heputsth 
and would leave readers who do not n i at the font of a page, in 

small type, with the belief that the charter of the Hudson's Bay I 
confirmed by Parliament forever. There cannot be anything more grossly un- 
true.' Fitzgerald's I'. /..!)::. The truth of the matter is thai the bill was 
drawn making the charter to hold forever. The Mouse of < !ommons decided 
it should be valid but for ten years. The House of Lord down 

i years -and no longer.' Tims it becamea lav. ; awing 

a new bill, a. rider was attached limiting the time to seven years. Tims Mr 
Fitzgerald's criticism is just. Mr Martin obviously wished to deceive, and like 
all who deal in untruths, he made a bungling affair of it. 


piration of the seven years. A bill was introduced, 
but the company seeing it was going against them 
withdrew it, lest they should be ruined by defeat. 
Nevertheless, government regarded the corporation 
with no special disfavor, recognizing the claims of the 
adventurers of England when such recognition was 
almost equivalent to a renewal of the charter. 2 

While the adventurers of England exercised 
almost sovereign power round Hudson Bay, in the 
Indian countries, as the region west of Rupert Land 
was called, their authority was questioned. In order 
to determine the matter, on the 11th of August 
1803, that is to say, in the forty -third year of the 
reign of George III., an act was passed by parlia- 
ment for extending the jurisdiction, not of the Hud- 
son's Bay Company, but of the Canadian courts 
of justice over this territory. By this act justices 
of the peace for the Indian countries might be 
created by the governor of Lower Canada, who should 
be empowered to commit offenders until they could 
be conveyed to Canada for trial. Minor offences, and 
all offences committed in the Indian countries, were 
to be tried in the same manner as if committed in 
Canada. This act remained in force until the union 
of the Northwest and the Hudson's Bay companies. 
But it was disputes concerning boundaries rather than 
those of title, which brought on the bloody conflict 
between the two companies. Until their fellow-coun- 
trymen, following north-westward the pathway of the 
great lakes, had penetrated beyond Superior, and even 

2 Recognition is found in the treaty of Utrecht in 1713; in the treaty of Ore- 
gon 1846; in various acts of Parliament— as, for example, the 2 William and 
Mary 1690; 6 Anne, cap. 37; 14 George III., cap. 83; and 1 and 2 George I\ ., 
cap. 66. On the other hand, we might say that the territory granted did not at 
the time, under the then recognized law of nations, belong to England, and 
was not so determined until the treaty of Utrecht in 1713. The treaty of 
Utrecht does not guarantee the company's privileges, but only remunerated 
them for their losses. The treaty of Ryswick, signed in September 1697. pro- 
vided for the appointment of commissioners to determine whether Rupert 
Land belonged even then to France or to England. A portion of the Red 
River territory claimed by the company, the government did not hesitate to 
yield to the United States, thereby admitting the absence of title. 


Winnipeg, the adventurers of England scarcely left 
the shores of Hudson Bay. Bui suddenly their pre- 
tensions assumed broad proportions. At first they 
were satisfied with the lands drained by streams flow- 
ing immediately into Hudson Bay. l>ut afterwards 
I'm. I'm-- rivers having their sources a thousand miles 
away, falling into lakes which fed the streams flow- 
ing immediately into Hudson Bay, they thereupon 
claimed territory equal to twice their original domain, 
and finally the I 'acific and Arctic oceans alone bounded 
their avarice. 

To the Red River country and the region wesi 
and north-west of lakes Winnipeg and Athabasca, 
the Northwest Company deemed their righi quite 
as good as that of the Hudson's Bay Company. The 
latter was satisfied with nothing short of absolute 
and unlimited monopoly. Upon these conditions 
alone could they at once preserve the game and 
regulate 1 the fur market of the world. There were 
no doubt advantages arising from such a policy, 
provided this whole region was to be forever kept 
alone for fur-producing purposes. Only by some 
such method could the diseases and demoralizations 
of civilization be kept from the natives. If under 
any conditions the existence of a grinding monopoly 
can be aught else than a curse, it was here, where 
competition signified intoxicating drink and exter- 
mination of animals. 

For some time past it had been clearly evident that 
if the hitter rivalry of the two great companies was 
continued much longer, both would be ruined by it. 
Obviously one would succumb before the other; bul 
victory would come too late Each was inflicting a 
mortal wound, and success was as fatal as failure. In 
this emergency the friends of both compani 
measures for a reconciliation. Following the Red 
River affray, attempts were made to bring the more 
conspicuous among the belligerents on both sides I i 
trial, though without much success, li was extremely 


difficult for the courts of Canada or of England to 
reach these wars in the distant wilderness. It was 
almost impossible to apprehend offenders, or to find 
witnesses when the persons sought did not choose to 
be found. In the unexplored west were millions of 
hiding-places safe to the fur-hunter, but fatal to his 

The Northwest Company, as we have seen, was 
exceedingly wide-awake and enterprising, and by its 
superior talent and energy it gradually undermined 
even the solid foundation of the adventurers of Eng- 
land trading into Hudson Bay. While at the height of 
their rivalry, before the Hudson's Bay Company had 
scarcely crossed the Rocky Mountains, the Northwest 
Company had a thriving establishment on the bank of 
the Columbia., with a chain of posts extending from 
Lake Superior, and trade established on the shore of 
the Pacific southward to California and northward to 
New Archangel. By 1817 more than three hundred 
Canadians were in their service on the western slope 
alone, and three ships had brought them supplies 
round Cape Horn, returning with rich cargoes of furs 
to Canton and London. During the war of 1812 
they opposed the United States with a company of 
their voyageurs, commanded by officers of the com- 
pany, who not only served without .pay but furnished 
their own outfit and stores. 

Lord Selkirk's Red River colonization scheme they 
felt to be as unjust as it was insulting, and they deter- 
mined to resist it to the death. Nor did they attempt 
to shirk the responsibility of their actions, or the 
acts of their agents after they had brought matters 
to a bloody issue. They believed themselves still to 
be right, and upon their conviction they were willing 
to stake their lives. 

Fortunately, however, for all concerned, there was 
yet remaining one feature favorable to reconciliation. 
Red River colonization was the project of Selkirk, 
and not that of the directors of the Hudson's Bay 


Company: and although his lordship with his m< 
could buy shares which would enable him to outvote 
his associates in council, their influence with the gov- 
ernment outweighed his. 8 

Throughoul their entire disagreements each com- 
pany was eager to have its side of the story properly 
placed before government. The Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany was never without its influence in politics, and 
there were able men in England to represenl the 
Northwesl ( lompany. 

During the war with the United States the prop- 
erty and hunting-grounds of the Northwest Company 
were much more exposed than those of the Hudson's 
Bay Company. Hence in February L814 a memo- 
rial was presented the secretary of state for the colo- 
nics, asking that direct communication might be 
opened with their posts through Hudson Bay. At 
the same time Selkirk was begging the protection of 
ernment against dangers threatened by the Ind- 
ians , -it the instigation of the Northwest Company. 
In 1815 the government expressed its desire to do 
justice on both sides, hut it felt the subjed to he «>n<- 
of great difficulty. Then followed the affray at Red 
River, when it became absolutely necessary for gov- 
ernment to take action in the matter. Inamored 
nite form than ever before, the proceedings of the 
rival associations were broughi before parliament in 
June 181*.), and their affairs closely investigated. In 
1820 Lord Selkirk died, and thus was removed 
main instrument in the late dissensions. 

The question of a settlement of difficulties was 

thoroughly debated in parliament, hut without much 

success. The breach could never he healed by stat- 

- which could never be enforced. Finally the min- 

•TheNorthwi i were not di r rivals on this 

scon. I in it all but one objeel said they, which was ' to di 

Northwest < 'ompany from the trade and obtain the monopol) •■• it; and bow- 
i ■ incere Lord Selkirk may originally have been in his plans of coloniza- 
tion, the colony was subsequently converted into an < t this object, 
Canadian from the Indian country. N> 


istry, deeming the matter of sufficient importance to 
interpose its mediation, effected a compromise by 
which the two companies became united under one 

First of all, an agreement of partnership was entered 
into on the 26th of March 1821, whereby the two com- 
panies should share equally the profits of the trade for 
a term of twenty-one years, beginning with the outfit 
of 1821. Each company was to furnish an equal 
amount of capital, and the profits were to be equally 
divided. 4 Although it was less a merging of one into 
the other than a union upon equal terms, the name 
of the older and chartered company alone was retained, 
thus giving the new association whatever respectability 
or benefits attached to it. The interests of the con- 
solidation were divided into one hundred shares, forty 
of which were held by the chief factors and the chief 
traders, and the remainder by partners or share- 
holders in Canada and Great Britain. The forty 
shares, belonging as they did to the active workers of 
the association, were in some respects privileged; for 
instance, should loss occur in one year, it was to be 
made good out of the profits of the following year. A 
general account accompanied by an inventory was to be 
made out annually on the 1st of June, and such profits 
as were not paid to shareholders within fifteen days 
were to draw five per cent per annum interest. No 
expenses for colonization purposes or for any other 
schemes apart from trade should be a charge upon the 
new association. 

The governor and directors of the consolidation, 
henceforth to be known only as the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany, were empowered to appoint district governors 
who should preside at the councils of chief factors, 

4 Each contributed either in money or in stock £200,000. The capital stock 
of the Hudson's Bay Company at this time was but £100,000, and they were 
obliged to call in a like amount to make their contribution equivalent to that 
of the Northwest Company. After the union, profits were added to the prin- 
cipal after paying ten percent dividends annually, until the capital stock was 
£500,000. See House Commons Rept., 345. 


and see executed all the acta authorized or imposed 
by parliament. Three chief factors, in addition to the 
president, should constitute a council: and in the 
absence of chief factors, the number mighi be com- 
pleted by senior chief traders. Two of the three coun- 
cillors should decide any question noi vetoed by the 

The appointment of twenty-five chief factors and 
twenty-eight chief traders was rendered necessary 
by the terms of this deed. These were named from 
the former servants of each company alternately. 
Thus in every respect the two companies came to- 
gether upon an equal footing. Eighty-five [.arts were 
made (.('the forty shares to be divided among the chief 
factors and the chief traders, of which subdivisions 
two were given to each chief factor, and one to each 
chief trader. The seven shares left were again sub- 
divided, and distributed as awards among the old and 
meritorious servants of both associations. 

The terms of union being thus agreed on, the next 
step was to obtain an act of parliament empowering 
the crown to grant to any person, or body corporate, 
the exclusive privilege of trading with the natives of 
any part of hyperborean North America not already 
granted to the Hudson's Bay Company, and noi being 
any part of the United States, or any part of* the ter 
ritory west of the Stony Mountains, which, by the 
convention of 1818, it had been stipulated should be 
open to the subjects of both powers for ten years, or 
any of the provinces of North America. Thus under 
the new rSgime the old question of title was to 1"' 
firsi and forever settled. 

This ad was passed the 2d of July 1821. It was 
constructed to fit the emergency, and with the Bole 
object of consummating the union of the rival com- 
panies. The license which, under the provisions the 
crown might grant, should not run for any longer 
period than twenty-one years. For the first twenty- 
one years no rents should be received; afterthat time 


the government might demand whatsoever rent might 
be deemed just. 5 A record of the names of all persons 
employed by the company should be sent the secre- 
tary of state each year; and the company should give 
bonds for the proper delivery for trial of any charged 
with criminal offence, as well as for the fulfilment of 
any other stipulation. All minor offences were to 
be tried by magistrates appointed by the crown. 
Criminal cases, involving capital punishment and civil 
suits, where the sum involved should be over two 
hundred pounds, were to be brought for trial before 
the court of Upper Canada. Last of all, nothing in 
this act should affect the rights of the Hudson's Bay 
Company under their former charter. 

All being thus duly prepared, on the 21st of De- 
cember 1821 the king granted the united companies 
exclusive trade with the Indians of North America 
according to the provisions of the act of the 2d of 
July. The grant was made to the Company of Ad- 
venturers of England trading into Hudson's Bay, and 
to William McGillivray, Simon McGillivray, and 
Edward Ellice on behalf of the Northwest Company. 
The servants of the company were commissioned jus- 
tices of the peace, and the jurisdiction of the courts 
of Upper Canada was extended to the shore of the 
Pacific. Thus was secured to every British subject 
west of the Rocky Mountains the protection of Brit- 
ish law. 

Whatever rights or interests yet remained to the 
Northwest Company were in 1824 formally assigned 
to the Hudson's Bay Compairy, in whose name alone 
the business was thereafter conducted. A deed-poll 
for ascertaining the rights and prescribing the duties 
of chief factors and chief traders and for the general 
management of the business was made the 6th of 
June 1834. 

5 By the actual tonus of the grant, no rent was required for the first four 
years; for the remainder of the term of '21 years, five shillings were to be 
paid yearly on June 1st, 'into our exchequer.' Greenhow, Or. ami L'uL, 47o. 


About this time attention began to be once more 
directed to the question of a north-wesl passage, 
which bwice before since the charter to Prince Rupert 
had broken ou1 in spasms; once in L719, when Cap- 
tain kniivit endeavored to sail the frigate Albany and 
the sloop Discovery from Churchill Factory through 
the Strait of Anian in order to load them with the 
gold of California; and again in L 769 when Hearne 
found the Frozen Ocean. Now come forward Simp- 
son, Dease, and Back and talk of explorations. Al- 
though the subjecl had always been distasteful to the 
company, they could not ignore it because it was one 
of the specified objects of the charter, this and the 
conversion of the natives to Christianity. But if in- 
vestigation into the nature and extent of contiguous 
domain was to be made, they would rather make it 
themselves. It was better they reasoned, and cun- 
ningly, that the company should do the seeing and re- 

A general awakening followed. Arctic explorat i< >ns 
wer taken under the company's wing; the supply of 
spirits to the natives was reduced; missionaries were 
called for, signs were hopeful. Patriotism, piety, and 
enterprise were all employed by the monopolists as a 
feint which should guard their privacy. Gathering 
strengthwith a renewal of righteousness, the company 
deemed this opportunity as good as another for the 
renewal of their charter. Parliament had invested the 
crown with power, as we have seen, to granl a license 
elusive trade for a term of twenty-one years 
only. Since the last grant, seventeen years ha 1 
passed, leaving but four years to run. The end was 
rapidly approaching. Seeing that the time was favor- 
able to their purpose, they determined to avail them- 
selves of it. Whal mighl be the condition < f things 
four years hence no one could tell. They could now 
p,,int to their benefactions. J )oing good was tiresome 
and expensive; they could nol long exist under the 
strain. Besides, explorations and conversions broke 

Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 20 


exclusivencss and interfered with trade. Taking in 
view all these considerations, the company determined 
at this time to apply for a renewal of their license, 
instead of awaiting the expiration of the full term. 
And they were successful. Upon the surrender of 
the former grant a royal license of exclusive trade 
with the Indians in certain parts of North America 
for a further term of twenty-one years was issued to 
the Hudson's Bay Company the 30th of May 1838. 

After reciting the terms of the grant of 1821, the 
new license invests the company with all its former 
powers and privileges, the conditions as to rent re- 
maining unchanged. Right was reserved, as in the 
former grant, to revoke the grant in so far as the 
same extended to territories subsequently to be colo- 
nized. This reservation gave the crown the right 
at any time to form colonies within the territories 
granted, to establish such government as it should 
deem best, withdrawing from the control of the com- 
pany such territory as should be necessary for that 

At this time the boundary between the United 
States and British America west of the Rocky Moun- 
tains was still unsettled. By treaty of the 15th of 
June 1846, however, the forty-ninth parallel was made 
the dividing line, thus obliging the fur company to 
abandon its twelve posts south of that bound. 

On condition of promoting its colonization, the Hud- 
son's Bay Company, in 1849, obtained a crown grant 
of Vancouver Island, particulars of which will be treated 
elsewhere. At the expiration of its second charter 
in 1859, the license of exclusive trade was not renewed; 
British Columbia was erected into a crown colony, 
and the great monopoly took its place among the rest 
as a private trading corporation. 



» TBEm Chief Factors and Chief Traders forConj 
Tin-.n: Trade in Rupert's Land \m> North America, and roi 
taining Tin: Rights and Prescribing thj Duties ot those Officers. 

To all to whom these presents shall come. The Governor and Company of 
Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Kay. Bend greeting. Whereas, 
his majesty, Bang Charles the Second, did, by his royal charter, constitute 
rnorand company of adventurers of England trading into Hudson's 
Bay into a body corporate with perpetual succession, and with pow< r to elect 
a governor and deputy-governor and committee for the management of their 
trade and affairs. Now, know ye that the governor and companj of adven- 
turers of England trading into Hudson's Bay, commonly called the Hudson's 
Bay Company, being duly assembled according to the provisions of Baid 
charter, do make, ordain, and constitute the following lows and ordinances, 
rules and regulations, and direct them to be observed by all governors, chief 
factors, chief traders, and other officers and persons appointed bj the said 
governor and company to conduct and superintend the trade of the said gov- 
ernor and company in their territory of Rupert's Land, or in other places in 
North America, and they do hereby direct that the said trade shall in future 
be carried ou and conducted under and subject to the articles, provisions, 
rules, and regulations hereafter mentioned and contained, that is to say: 

ARTICLE I. The present and the future chief factors tor the time be 
■wholly employ themselves in the superintendence of the trade with the Ind- 
ians and other persons, and also of all business relating to the said tra 
whether within the territory of the said governor and company .ailed Ru- 
pert's Land, or in other places in North America where the said governor and 
company have the power of carrying on trade with the Indians or other p< r- 
Bons in furs or other articles. 

II. The present and future chief traders for the time being shall wholly 
and exclusively act as traders and conduct the business as such in their 
respective departments and under the orders and regulations to be from time 
to time given to them respectively by the respective governors in council i i 
the respective districts, but without entitling any chief trader to sit as a mem- 
ber of council, or to have any vote therein in respect of any 

discussed except in such special cases as are hereinafter mentioned. 

III. The chief factors for the time being duringtheir continuance in office 
gether with any governor or governors to be from time to time 

appointed by the said governor and company, and in case more than one sm h 

governor shall be there present, then together with the senior of 

emors, or in case of the absence of all such governors, then 

with other p r on or persons who may be specially appoint 

governor and company, as president thereof, constitute the councils for 

regulating the trade and affairs of the said governor and company, as well 

without as within the limits of their territory; but to constitute a council 

not less than seven members, whereof three at least Bhall b 

shall be pr< Bent, besidi a the governor or president ; and in case at any time 


there shall not be present seven chief factors to constitute such council, then 
the deficiency in the number of chief factors, over and above three, shall 
be made up and supplied at the time by or out of the senior chief traders 
(according to the duties of the commissions), who shall be present at the time 
and place where the council is intended to be Iiolden, and they shall be sum- 
moned accordingly, and shall or may set and vote as members of the said 
council. It being, nevertheless, expressedly understood that in ordinary cases 
no council shall be deemed to be lawfully constituted unless three chief 
factors, at least, are present, besides the chief factor, if any, acting as 

IV. Each council to be constituted as aforesaid, shall make arrangements 
with respect to the trading posts and stations, and the respective outfits for 
carrying on the trade, and the wintering residence of the chief factors and 
chief traders, and of the clerks, and others in the service of the said company 
in the territories and places aforesaid, as well under the charter of the said 
governor and company as otherwise, and the same shall be fixed and settled 
by the respective governors and council in their respective departments. 

V. Each council, constituted as aforesaid, shall, in its department, ascer- 
tain the result of the preceding year's trade at each post within such depart- 
ment, and be guided thereby iu regulating the outfit for the then following or 
current season. 

VI. All matters whatsoever, which may be determined upon by each 
council, constituted as aforesaid, shall be distinctly and fully minuted in the 
book to be kept for that purpose, to be called 'The Council Minute Book,' 
and a copy of such minutes shall be made out, and signed by the said gov- 
ernor or president and members present at the council, vouching the same to 
be a faithful copy of the minutes made at such council, which copy shall 
be annually transmitted by the governor or president to the governor and 
company in England, or their committee. 

VII. Each council so constituted as aforesaid, shall be authorized to 
make rules and regulations for the management and conduct of the trade, and 
otherwise relating thereto, from time to time, as they may think fit; and such 
rules and regulations shall remain in force until objected to by the governor 
and company in England, or their committee, according to the provision here- 
after contained. 

VIII. Each council so constituted as aforesaid, shall have full power 
and jurisdiction to inquire or cause inquiry to be made into the conduct cf 
the chief factors, chief traders, clerks, and servants, in the territories and 
place aforesaid, or of any one or more of them, and to impose such mulcts and 
fines for misconduct, as the said council shall from time to time think fit, but 
such mulcts and fines so imposed may be varied by the governor and com- 
pany, or their committee, and shall not be enforced until ratified or varied by 
the governor and company, or their committee. 

IX. If, owing to death or other cause, the governor, or other president 
appointed by the said governor and company, shall not be present, or if there 
shall be a want of sufficient members, or on any other account, the persons 
who may have met together in council, may adjourn from time to time. 

X. In case of the death or absence of all the governors, and of any other 


pecially appointed to preside by the governor and company, i 
said, the senior chief factor of each district, and w ho Bhall for the time being 
I..- present, shall temporarily preside at such respective council, and if the 
number of chief factors hereby required to form such respective lull council 
cannot, from the intemperate state of the Beason, or from any othi 
ordinary circumstance, assemble within any given period fixed by the said 
governor and company, or their committee, at the usual places respectively 
appointed for holding the councils, whether original or adjourned, 
many of the chief factors of each district ordepartment as can assi mbl 
assisted bj as many of the chief traders of the same district or department, 
as, for the time being, can conveniently be assembled for the purpose, re- 
spectively form a temporary council, to determine the necessary outfits and 
and siuh temporary council may adjourn, from 

occa si tay require; subject, nei 

by the original council, in case the same can lie assembled during the Bitting 
or adjournment of the temporary council. 

XI. [f any chief factor or chief trader misconduct or misbehave 

so as to injure the said trade in any manner howsoever, and shall tic reoi be 
convicted by proof to the satisfaction of tic governor and council, or the 
majority of the members thereof within the district to which th 
ing shall belong, ami which governor and council shall have power to hear 

and determine all charges of that nature, tin- governor, with the 

of the majority of the council before whom such charges shall I" 
-hall have power to expel or remove the chief factor or chief trader so offend- 
ing; and the share or shares belonging to the chief factor or chief trader so 
offending shall be forfeited; and the same shall thereupon beci 
in such manner, for the benefit of the succeeding chief factoror chief trader to 
he substituted in the room of the offending party, as the said govei 
company, or their committee, shall think fit, provided, nevertheless, no chief 
factoror chief trader shall he so removed or expelled by th 
and council unless a. majority shall concur in the sentence, aid im 
]■ moval or expulsion shall be subsequently ratified by the governor an.l com- 
pany, or their committee. 

XII. It shall not be competent to any governor or council to dismiss any 
clerk for misconduct, without first obtaining the sanction of the governor and 
company, or their committee, in that behalf, except in cases of habitual intox- 
ication or fraudulent or wilful misapplication of property intrusted to him, in 

either of which lasl mentioned cases it shall be competent to th \rernorand 

council of the department wherein such misconduct maj arise, i I their own 
authority to dismiss such clerk at once, and in all other cases of misconduct 
the governor and council Bhall or may suspend him from his situation until 
the pleasure of the governor and company, or their committi • 

I known. 

XIII. The chief factors or chief traders who Bhall from time to time 
winter in the Indian country, shall delivei aorand council 
of the district \\ herein Mich chief factors or chief traders Bhall respectively 
act, and every year or oftener if required, a true ace, nut and invent 

the goods, provisions, o i in hand, an 


the furs, peltries, and of all debts due by Indians and canoemen, and also true 
accounts of the expenditure of goods and effects committed to their respective 
charges ; and also such information as may tend to elucidate the state and 
condition of the trade under their respective management at the time. 

XIV. The chief factors and chief traders shall not on their separate 
account, distinct froni the said trade, enter into any trade, business, or com- 
merce whatever, neither directly nor indirectly, or be in any wise concerned 
or interested therein, neither with Indians nor with any other person whom- 
soever; and every such chief factor or chief trader so offending, shall for each 
such offence pay the sum of £1,000 to the governor and company as stated, 
or liquidated damages. 

XV. The present and future chief factors and chief traders during their 
continuance to fill such office, and as a compensation for their performance 
of the duties imposed, or to be hereinafter imposed, on him or them as such 
chief factor or chief trader, shall have, or be entitled to, such share or shares in 
the gains and profit of the said trade as are hereinafter specified, 

XVI. That for the purpose of ascertaining from time to time the true 
state and condition of the stock and capital, and of the gains and profits of 
the said trade, inventories of such trading goods, provisions, and stores as 
on the 1st day of June 1834, or the usual period of closing the spring trade 
of the outfit of 1833, and on the same day or usual period in every succeed- 
ing year during the continuance of the said trade, may remain on hand at the 
several depots, stations, or posts, in the territories and places aforesaid, occu- 
pied in carrying on the said trade, as the part undisposed of to the Indians, 
of the outfit of the year then immediately preceding, shall be made out as 
soon as may be afterwards, and that thereupon the same shall be valued at a 
tariff, to be from time to time determined upon by the said governor and 
company ; and the amount of such valuation shall be allowed as a credit in the 
account of the outfit of the year immediately preceding, and shall be made a 
charge in the accounts of the outfit of the year then next following ; and the 
same goods, provisions, and stores shall be considered as a part of the outfit of 
the year then next following, provided always, that in such inventories and 
valuations shall be included all debts which on such first day of June, or such 
usual period, may be owing to the said trade from traders, clerks, guides, inter- 
preters, canoemen, and laborers or other persons, except Indians, for ad- 
vances and supplies; but debts due from Indians shall be included without 
any valuation being put thereon. And a general account shall on the first 
day of June 1836, and on every succeeding first day of June during the con- 
tinuance of the said trade, be stated and made out in the manner following, 
that is to say, in stating and making out such account on the first day of 
June 1836, there shall be placed on the debit side of the said account, the 
amount of the valuation to be made as before mentioned, of the goods, 
provisions, stores, supplies, debts, and other articles, of which inventories 
are to be taken as before mentioned, and which are to form part of the 
outfit of the year 1834, together with interest at five per cent per annum on 
such amounts, from the first day of June 1834 to the 1st day of June 1836, 
and also the amount of the charge for the goods, provisions, and stores, 
ordered and to be ordered for the outfit of the year 1834, together with 


interest at bhe a the sums forming Buch amount, from the re- 

spective times of the payment of bhe same sums to the I t daj of Jum L836, 
and also the amount of the valuation to be made of the Hudson's Bay House 
in London, \\ i t U Its appointments, including the furniture therein, and of 
the ships which Bhall on the same 1st day of June 1834 belong to the said 
governor and company, together with interesl at the Bamerate on such amount 
for the period last aforesaid; and also the amounts of such of the <■ | 
be incurred up to the 1st day of June 183.~>, in respect 

of the said governor ami company, together with interest at the same rate, on 
the amount of such expenses from the respective times of the payment thereof 
up to the 1st .lay of June L836. And there should be placed on the credit side 
of the said account, the amount of the valuation to be made before mentiom d 
of such trading goods, provisions, and stores, as on the 1st day of June 1835, 
or the usual period of closing the spring trade of 1835, might remain on hand 
at the several depots, stations, or posts, as aforesaid, and of I 
included in such « alua I i< in i as af< >resaid,and also the amount of the then value of 
the Hudson's liay House for the time being in London, with its appurtenances, 
and the furniture therein, and any other property which shall b 
the trade on the 1st day of June 1835, together with interest at the rate afore- 
said on both amounts from the 1st day of June 1833 to the 1st day of June 
1S3G, and also the net amount to arise from the sale of the furs, peltries, and 
other articles, to be received as the returns of the outfit of the year 1834, after 
deducting all expenses attending or relating to the sale thereof, together with 
interest at the same rate on the sums forming such net amount, from the re- 
spective prompt days of the sale of the said furs, peltries, and other articles, 
till the 1st day of June 1S36, an^ that the balance of the said general account 
shall, in the event of such balance being on the credit side of the said account, 
be deemed to be the gains and profits in respect of the outfit of the year 1 834 ; 
and that the general account to be settled and made out on the first day of 
June 1S37, and on every succeeding first day of June during the continuance 
of the said trade, shall be stated and made out, adjusted and settled upon the 
like principle as the account to be stated and made out on the first day of 
June 1S3G, and in the same manner as far as circumstances will admit, in re- 
gard to the details or particulars thereof. 

XVII. The clear gains and profits arising from the said trade so to be 
ascertained as aforesaid, shall be considered as divisible into one hundred 
equal shares, whereof forty shares are and Bhall be appropriate -1 to such person i 
as now are chief factors and chief traders, and hereinafter mentioned in articles 
xix. and x\'., and to such persons as shall from time to time hereafter be ap- 
pointed by the said governor and company, chief factors and chief traders to 
succeed them, or as a temporary provision to chiei chief traders, 

already retired, and as named in article xxi., and BUCh | nay liere- 

d on the retired list, as hereafter mentioned. 

XVIII. The said party shares of gains and profitsare and shall be sub- 
divided into eighty-five Bhares of equal amount. 

XIX. Each of the present chief factors, namely, Colin i: ibertson, John 
George McTavish, Alexander Stewart, John Clarke, I leorge Keith, John Dugald 

i. John (diaries, John Stuart, Edward Smith, John McLoughlin, 


James Keith, Joseph Brioley, Angus Bethune, Donald McKenzie, Alexander 
Christie, John McBean, William Mcintosh, William Connolly. John Rowand, 
James McMUlan, Allen McDonnell, Peter Warren Dease, John Lee Lewes, 
Roderick McKenzie senior, and Duncan Finlayson, and also the future chief 
factors for the time being, and holding a commission as such, and while he 
shall continue to fill the office of chief factor, shall have, or be entitled to, 
two of the said eighty-five shares of gains and profits, as a compensation for 
his performance of the duties appertaining to the office of chief factor. 

XX. Each of the present chief traders, namely, Jacob Corrigal, Thomas 
McMurray, Donald Mcintosh, John Peter Pruden, Hugh Faries, Augustus 
Cameron, Simon McGillivray, John McLeod, Alexander Roderick McLeod, 
Alexander Fisher, Samuel Black, Peter Skeen Ogden, Cuthbert dimming, 
Francis Heron, John Steveright, Robert Miles, Colin Campbell, Archibald Mc- 
Donald, John Edward Harriet, Robert Cowie, Donald Ross, John Work, Will- 
iam Tod, James Hargrave, Nicar Finlayson, Richard Hardisty, John Tod, 
John McLeod junior, and Murdoch McPherson, half shares, and also of the 
future chief traders for the time being, and holding a commission as such, and 
while he shall continue to fill the office of chief trader, shall have, or be en- 
titled to, one of the said eighty-five shares of gains and profits, as a com- 
pensation for his performance of the duties appertaining to the office of chief 

XXL The remaining six and a half shares shall be applied for the benefit 
of James Keith, Alexander Kennedy, Alexander McDonald, John Spencer, 
Robert McVicar, Joseph Felix Laroche, Roderick McKenzie, John Warren 
Dease, Emilius Simpson, Alexander McTavish, and Joseph McGillivray, being 
chief factors and chief traders who have retired from the service, or their 
representatives, and to fulfil the condition entered into by the said governor 
and company with them, and the said shares as they fall in shall from time to 
time be applied by the said governor and company according to article xxx. 

XXII. The chief factors and chief traders who winter in the interior 
shall be allowed out of the general stores belonging to the said trade, such 
articles of personal necessaries as have been customarily allowed, without being 
charged for the same, and in addition to their respective interest in the trade, 
and according to the present scale of allowance, as appi-oved by the governor 
and company, or their committee, and all other articles consumed by the 
party, or improperly expended by him, shall be charged to the private account 
of the party by whom the same shall have been consumed, or improperly 

XXIII. Any one, or more, of the present or future chief factors and chief 
traders for the time being, may retire at any time hereafter, upon the 
following terms, that is to say: 

A chief factor for the time being, entitled to two eighty-fifth shares, and 
a chief trader for the time being, entitled to one eighty-fifth share, shall be 
permitted to retire upon the following allowances, that is to say, after having 
held his commission four years, he shall be allowed to hold his share or shares 
as the case may be, for one year next after his retirement, and half of his share 
or shares for the next succeeding six years, or which shall, or may be, respec- 
tively held by him or his representatives respectively during the respective 


period mentioned in this article, and in the computation of service a 

the present chief factors and chief traders shall be included the r< 

times for which they have already served; but uo more than thn 

: ;■ twochief factors and twochief traders, shall beallowed to retire in 

a, unless he or th< y i 
shall have given on i year's pn \ Lou - notii e in writing to I 

. a,! the option of retirement shall only be seniority in each class, ac- 
cording to the dates of their respective commissionsj provided always, that 
whenever there are chief factors an 1 chief traders on the re: ire, I list who shall 

hold to the extent of twenty-one shares, then and in such 

; ; factor or chief trader allowed to retire and receive the 
allowances provided under this article until ther* y by the falling 

in of a sufficient bhatp 

and company, or their committee, shall think lit. 

XXVII. Three chief factorsand two chief traders shad be allowed to 
leave the territory, or place aforesaid, ou furlough in each 

lated at an annu Lve council of each d 

ing to a rotation list, and each such furlough, for the time being, is not 
I one j ear without the express consent of the governor and company, 
or their committee, or unless the party be prevented from returning at tho 
m of his furlough from severe illness, and any factor or trader 
absenting himself after the expiration of such furlough, without leave of tho 
governor and company, or their committee, except from severe illness, to bo 
proved to the . l oi the governor and company, or their committee, 

shall he deemed and considered as having retired or vacated his situation or 

XXVIII. The chief factors or chief traders not taking advantage of rota- 
tion shall not be entitled to any furlough till i: ■ to their turn, 
but they may exchange their rotation with any other chief factor or i hi< f 
trader upon obtaining nevertheless the previous consent of the governor and 

, ive districts. 

XXIX. The governor and company, or their committee, shall be at lib- 
. my time, upon or after the first day of June 1839, to place upon tho 

retiring list the present chief factors and chief traders, or any one or more of 
them, and from time to time, upon and from the first day of June I 
any subsequent years; and also any chief factor or chief trader who 

shall he hereafter appointed, and who shall have served for the space of four 

id as to each or any of them, upon and from the first da; 
which shall first happen next after the expiration of such his or 
tivc four years' bi n ice, or upon and from the first day of June of an 

but then, and in ever ' • whether 

i led tohold, I i 
beingpla h retired fist, under this article, the v 

next SUCC ars the One half of his share or shares, according as 


trader, it being intended that every chief factor and chief trader shall, in 

case he lives and fills the office, have, for five years a1 least, his full 

. and one half share or shares for the six next succeeding years. 


XXX. That upon the falling in of any of the said eighty-five shares held 
by any of the chief factors or chief traders or their representatives or parties 
claiming under them, and mentioned in article xxi., and the said governor 
and company shall appoint a person or persons to such share or shares, when 
the said governor and company, or their committee, shall think it expedient 
so to do ; and in case of their appointing a chief factor or chief factors, or chief 
trader or chief traders, then the person or persons to be appointed as chief 
factor, or as chief factors, shall be selected from the persons then holding 
the situation of chief traders, and the person or persons to be appointed chief 
trader or chief traders, from the then clerks of the said governor and com- 

XXXI. Regular sets of accounts, made up the preceding 1st day of 
June, shall be sent out annually by the outward-bound ships of the season, to 
to be laid before the councils of the said company, and if no objections iu 
writing to the same be transmitted by the homeward-bound ships belonging to 
the -said company in the following year, such accounts shall be considered as 
approved, and be thenceforth binding and conclusive as a settled account. 

XXXII. By the same, or like, outward-bound ships of the season, each 
chief factor and chief trader and each clerk respectively in the service shall 
have his private account transmitted to him, and the balance shall be either 
paid to him by bills drawn by him and made payable in London on every loth 
day of April, or be paid to any person authorized by him as agent to receive 
the same and to settle the account or accounts for the time being, in respect 
of such balance, on the same being made up on the 1st day of June as afore- 
said, or if the said party prefer to leave such balance in the hands of the said 
governor and company, and notify the same to them, the governor and com- 
pany will either allow him interest for the same as may be agreed on, or at 
the option of the said governor and company invest the same in the purchase 
of parliamentary stock, and receive, and when received credit, his account with 
the dividend thereof. 

XXXIII. No chief factor or chief trader who may retire, nor the repre- 
sentatives of a chief factor or chief trader, shall after such retirement or 
death be at liberty, or have any right to respect or question the accounts 
mentioned in article xxxi., but shall respectively be concluded by the certifi- 
cate of the governor and company, or their committee, testifying to their 
correctness as far as respects their shares and interests therein. 

XXXIV. No person becoming entitled as assignee of the share or shares 
of a retired chief factor or chief trader, or the representatives of a deceased 
chief factor or chief trader, shall be entitled to derive any benefit therefrom, 
as such assignee or representative, unless such person within eighteen cal- 
endar months, respectively next after his respective title or claim shall occur, 
shall give notice thereof to the said governor and company at the Hudson's 
Bay House in London, or their house in London for the management of 
their concern ; and cause the several instruments under which he respectively 
derives title as such assignee or representative to be then duly registered in 
the books of the said governor and company. 

XXXV. The chief factors and chief traders now appointed, and every 
chief factor and chief trader, from time to time to be appointed by the gov- 


ernor and company, for the superintendence and management of the Bald 
trade or concern, shall -within eighteen calendar months, next after the date 
hereof, with respect to the present chief factors and chief traders here before 
named, and with respect to all future chief factors and chief traders, shall 
within twelve calendar months next after the date of their respective com- 
mission, enter into a covenant or agreenu ol w Lth the said governor and com- 
pan\ . for the due observance and performance by them, the said chief factors 
and chief traders, of all conditions, agreements, ordinances, rules, regulations, 
mentioned and contained, and also all other ordinances, rules, and regu- 
lations, to be from time to time duly made, ami the termsthereof as tar as the 
same are, <>r shall he. applicable to them respectively, and for payment to the 
Baid governor and company of the sumof Ml, 000 as liquidated damages for every 
wilful breach of each such condition-, agreements, rules, and regulations by 
the parties respectively covenanting, and for the acceptance by them respec- 
tively of the several provisions hereby made, or to be made, for them, and 
every such appointment shall be voidable in case the appointee therein named 
shall omit or refuse to enter into such covenant or agreement within the time 
hereinbefore mentioned on that behalf. 

And lastly, the said governor and company shall be at liberty, eith 
by-law of the said company or in any other manner, to set aside ami deter- 
mine, or alter or vary from time to time, any one or more of the several arti- 
cles hereinbefore contained, and either wholly or in anyone or more of the 
particulars therein mentioned, provided always that the same shall not in 
any wise disturb nor affect any right to which the person or persons who for 
the time being shall be chief factor or chief trader of the said governor and 
company, and in their actual employment at the time, or who having been 
chief factors or chief traders of the said governor and company, shall for the 
time being be upon the retired list of the said company or their representa- 
tives or assignees, may be entitled under articles xvii., xviii., xix., xx., xxi., 
xxiii., xxiv., xxxi., or xxxii., with the consent of the person or persons whose 
rights shall be so affected, in writing, first had and obtained, hut in either 
respects all and every such determination, alterations, ami variations to bo 
made as aforesaid, shall or may take affect and be carried into execution, any- 
thing hereinbefore contained to the contrary notwithstanding. In witness 
whereof the said governor and company have caused their common seal 
hereunto affixed, this sixth day of June, in the fourth year of the rei 
our sovereign, Lord William the Fourth, by the grace of God of the United 
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland king, defender of the faith, and in the 
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty four. 




Introduction; — Chronological Resume of Title-foundations — Epochs of 
Discovery, Exploration, and Fur-trade— Overland Occupation- 
Treaties, Controversies, and Comments— Merits of the Case before 
Discussion — Statement of Claims, 1S17 — Rush and Gallatin versus 
Robinson and Goulburn — Treaty of 1818— Joint Occupation— Its 
True Meaning — Boundary Treaty of 1819 between Spain and the 
United States — The Northwest Coast in Congress, 1820-2 — Debates 
of 1823 — Mr Benton's Warning in the Senate — United States and 
Russia — Treaty of 1824— Statement of American Claims— Congres- 
sional Debates of 1824 — Bill for the Occupation of the Columbia — 
Monroe Doctrine. 

What was to be the national ownership of the 
Northwest Coast ? This was the famous Oregon 
Question, first raised between Great Britain and the 
United States in 1818, and finally settled by a treaty 
establishing boundaries in 1846. It was a controversy 
which throughout the period mentioned, particularly 
in its later years, was a subject of constant popular 
agitation, besides giving rise at intervals to diplomatic 
negotiations and arguments between representatives 
of the two nations. As the trouble approached solu- 
tion volumes were written and printed on its merits. 

Since the cooling of partisan strife, less has been 
said upon the subject; yet it is one that richly merits 
our careful study, one that cannot fail to interest the 
reader of north-western annals, and one that may now 
be treated clearly and with all due comprehensiveness 
in a comparatively brief space. In contemporary dis- 
cussions not a few of the arguments employed on both 

(31G \ 


sides were weak, including a large amount of irrelevant 
matter which may now be profitably eliminated. All 
the facts on which the resped ive nal ional claims were 
made to rest, except a few so slightly and indirectly 
connected with the history of the Pacific Statesasto 
require only brief mention, are elsewhere pul bef re 
the reader with all desirable detail and explanation, 
notably in the first chapters <>!* the preceding volume 
devoted to the subject of maritime exploral ion. Yei I 
deem it essential to give here, as an introduction to the 
Oregon Question, in a compacl and chronologic order, 
such facts as figured prominently in the controversy, 
with such brief comments <>n their significance as will 
save repetition and confusion in the pages that follow. 
The quality of right, it is needless to say, was based 
on relative rights, on the conventional and interna- 
tional codes, and had little to do with inherent or 
natural right vested alone in the natives. 

In 1543, in the interest of Spain, Ferrelo, of Ca- 
brillo's expedition, sailed up the coast to the latitude 
of 44 as he reported and believed. In 1570 Drake, an 
Englishman, reached, according to his belief and that 
of hi- companions, a latitude between 40° and 48°, the 
best supported interpretation of their opinion fixing 
the limit at 43°. In L603 Aguilar, commanding one 
of Vizcaino's Spanish exploring vessels, also reached 
a point which by his observations was in 43°. These 
latitudes were not questioned in early times, and 
indeed there was then no good reason to doubl 
accuracy. Jn this first epoch of exploration, therefore, 
Spain was entitled, so far as discovery could give a 
title, to about one hundred miles of the Northwest 
( loast. To-day there is reason to doubt t hal either of 

the three ] ui \ i g ,-i t ,,fs named really passed the latitude 
of 42°; if the doubt is less in the case of 1 >rake than of 
the others, it is chiefly for want of evidence to the 
contrary: and the difference, so far a- title i> con- 
cerned, i.s in a - nse counterbalanced by the doubt 


whether the discoveries of Drake as a freebooter, or 
outlaw, could confer any territorial rights whatever 
upon his nation. As a matter of fact, not much im- 
portance was attached in later discussions on national 
title, to the discoveries of these earliest voyagers. 
The topic was vague, and full of difficulties; neither 
England nor Spain could derive any definite advantage 
from it; and it is as well for us to regard the coast 
above 42° as an undiscovered country throughout the 
seventeenth century and three fourths of the eigh- 

The second epoch of discovery and title-founding 
included, like the first three expeditions, two Spanish 
and one English; but unlike the first its events are 
clearly recorded, and leave no room for doubt or dif- 
ficulty respecting results. Perez in 1774 sailed up 
to about the latitude of 55°, noted the present Dixon 
entrance and the islands and points about that strait, 
followed the coast southward, anchored at Nootka 
Sound, and sighted the coast at several different points 
both above and below Nootka. In 1775 Heceta and 
Cuadra, in two vessels, extended the Spanish explora- 
tion up to 58°, saw from a short distance nearly the 
whole extent of the Northwest Coast, discovered the 
mouth of the Columbia River, and landed to take 
formal possession in latitude 47° 20', and at tw T o points 
on the Alaska coast, besides exploring the harbors of 
Trinidad and Bodega on the California coast. In 1778 
Captain Cook, in command of a British exploring 
expedition, touched the coast in latitude 44° 55', and 
made observations for a hundred miles below, subse- 
quently sighting Cape Flattery, making a careful 
survey of Nootka, and then proceeding to make an 
extended exploration of the Alaska coast, already dis- 
covered by the Russians. I think that there can be no 
doubt that the explorations of 1774-5 gave to Spain 
as valid a title as mere discovery could give to all the 
Northwest Coast, and that Cook's later survey, less 
extensive but in several respects more accurate, gave 


to England no title whatever. A country can be dis- 
covered but once. If accuracy of Burvey is fco be 
taken into the account, large portions of the country 
in question arc still undiscovered. English writers 
and diplomatists would perhaps never have ventured 
to base any territorial claims on Cook's voyage if the 
Spanish voyages had been satisfactorily recorded. Yet 
no1 only wore the Spaniards the true discoverers, luit 
a printed narrative in English of Heceta's expedition, 
with allusions to that of Perez, was in circulation 
before Cook's narrative appeared. 

Meanwhile the Russians from the north had dis- 
covered America, and in 1741 had touched the coast 
as low as latitude 56°. There was never any definite 
settlement of boundaries between Spain and Russia. 
The former claimed that her possessions extended to 
Prince William Sound, and the latter at times ex- 
tended her claims to the Columbia; but the respective 
claims were not zealously urged, and resulting contro- 
versies had very slight bearing at any time on the 
present subject. 

Also preceding the Spanish discovery of 1774-5 
were certain acts affecting international boundaries 
east of the Rocky Mountains, which were made to 
figure beyond their merits in the Oregon Question. 
In 1762—3 Canada and all French possessions east of 
the Mississippi were ceded to great Britain; while the 
rest of Louisiana — that is of French territory west of 
the Mississippi— was ceded to Spain. No boundary 
had ever been established between the French and 
English possessions. By the treaty of Utrecht in 
1713 commissioners were to fix such a boundary so as 
to give to England all rivers and places belonging to 
Hudson Bay, that is presumably along the heights 
separating waters flowing into that bay from those 
tributary to the St Lawrence and the .Mississippi; 
but no such line was established. No boundary was 
needed east of the river after 1763, all being English 
territory. Neither had any western limit ever been 


fixed or needed for the English or French possessions. 
But Louisiana may naturally be regarded as having 
included all lands drained by western tributaries of 
the Mississippi. Writers have indulged in long dis- 
cussions respecting some of these points, but I have 
no room for the differences of opinion, which do not 
materially affect the question at issue. 

By the treaty of 1783, acknowledging the inde- 
pendence of the United States, the north-western 
boundary was defined by a line running clue west from 
the most north-western point of Lake of the Woods 
to the Mississippi, and thence down that river. This, 
though sufficient for the needs of the time, was no 
boundary at all; for the head-waters of the river are 
some eighty miles directly south of the lake, to say 
nothing of the difficulty of finding the most north- 
western point of a lake of such peculiar shape. 
Whether the dominant idea of the makers was a line 
between latitudes 49° and 50° or a direct line from 
the lake to the river at its nearest point was an enigma 
left for future diplomac}^ to solve. 

In 1785 the English fur-trading vo} r ages began 
with Hanna's trip. About forty British traders vis- 
ited the coast before 1800. Their local discoveries 
were extensive in the aggregate, but results were im- 
perfectly recorded. A few details made to figure in 
later discussions will be noted in their order. These 
traders founded no settlements or permanent trading- 
posts which could serve as a base for national claims. 

In 1786 La Perouse, in the French interest, sailed 
along the coast from north to south. In its bearing 
on the matter of title this exploration is similar to 
that of Cook. 

Barclay, in a vessel from Ostend, under the flag of 
the Austrian East India Company, discovered but did 
not enter the strait afterward called Fuca, in 1787. 

Duncan, an English trader, was the first to sail 
through the passage between Queen Charlotte Island 
and the main in 1787-8. 


In 1788 the American fur-trade began with the 
voyage of Kendrick and Gray. Before L800 about 
forty vessels had visited the coast, and later the Amer 
icans monopolized the trade. My remarkson the Eng- 
lish traders apply equally to the Boston men so far as 
discovery and settlement are concerned. 

[t was also in L 788 thai Meares, an English trader, 
whose vessel for special purposes was under Portu- 
colors, erected a small building at Nootka for 
temporary trading facilities, though he claimed to 
have purchased lauds from the Dative chiefs. Meares 
also built and launched this year at Nootka the firsl 
vessel ever constructed on the Northwesl Coasl ; and 
lie was the first to enter the strait discovered by 
Barclay, to which he gave the name of Juan de Puca. 
Furthermore he visited the mouth of Heceta's great 
river, and decided that no river was there. He 
claimed to have taken possession of the strait for 
Great Britain, but there is some reason to doubt his 

In 1789 Spain sent an expedition to take formal 
possession of Nootka, to erect a fort, and to found a 
permanent settlement. This Spanish establishment 
was maintained for six years, receiving supplies regu- 
larly from San Bias. 

This same year Meares and his English company at- 
tempted to found a permanent trading-posi at or near 
i, but were not permitted by the Spaniards to 
do so: and in the ensuing quarrel three English ves- 
r< taken as Spanish prizes. 

1 1 was claimed that in 1789 Kendrick the A 
can trader, not only penetrated the Strait of Euca, 
but sailed through into the Pacific above. The evi- 
dence is uot, however, sufficient to establi h t': : fact. 
\i Britain in 1 790 not only dema ided from 
Spain a restoration of such property as had been 
■;i Nootka, but protested against the Spanish 
claim to exclusive ownership of the Northwe I ( 'oast. 

Spain had to yield both points, and by the C0n-> 
IIist. N". w. 6oABT, Vol. II. \ii 


vention of October 28, 1790, it was agreed that 
in future the whole coast above the places already 
occupied — that is in spirit, above San Francisco, but 
literally perhaps above Nootka — should be free to 
both nations for trade, navigation, and settlement, 
each nation having also free access to all establish- 
ments of the other. 

As to the territorial rights bestowed by mere dis- 
covery, there are many differences of opinion among 
competent authorities. Most writers hold that dis- 
covery must be followed within a reasonable time by 
steps toward occupation in order to create a title which 
other nations are bound to respect. But whatever the 
nature of the discovery title, it evidently belonged to 
Spain alone, down to 1790; and it is equally evident 
that after the Nootka convention Spain relinquished 
her right to exclusive ownership. She could regain 
it only by actual occupation of the coast, or by obtain- 
ing a voluntary or enforced acknowledgment of her 
right from other nations. 

From 1790 to 1792 Spain in three successive ex- 
plorations, those of Quimper, Elisa, and Galiano, en- 
tered the Strait of Fuca, and made a thorough survey 
of the inland waters. In the last year the English 
explorer, Vancouver, made a like exploration, being 
for a part of the time in company with Galiano, and 
being the first to emerge into the Pacific, proving the 
Nootka region to be an island. Vancouver extended 
his survey further north; and northern explorations 
were also made for Spain by Fidalgo in 1790, by 
Malaspina in 1791, and by Caamaiio in 1792. The 
operations of these three years, especially those of 
the English explorer, which were more fully made 
known to the world than the others, were vastly im- 
portant for the advancement of geographical knowl- 
edge; but they had no importance as bases for national 
claims to the Northwest Coast. Both English and 
Spanish explorers took formal possession in the name 
of their respective sovereigns at several different 


points; but obviously under the convention of L790 
ceremonies had no possible force. 
1m 179] Captain Kendrick purchased from the 
chieftains, taking i\rn\^ signed with their marks 
and duly \\ itnessed, large tracts of land in the Nootka 
region. It is remarkable thai in later discussions so 
littl ■ prominence was given to ELendrick's purchas 
as an element of United Stales title. On it migh 
have been founded a stronger argument, to say the 
. than some that were persistently urged. This 
same year the Americans 1 milt a house for winter 
rs at Clayoquot; and built a schooner, which 
was launched the next spring. 

In 1791 Fidalgo founded a Spanish post at Port 
z Gaona, or Neah Bay, within the strait; but 
it was abandoned before the end of the year. 

bh Gray and Vancouver in \7\)-2, as Hcceta and 
Meares had been before, were at the mouth of the 
Columbia. The Englishman convinced himself that 
there was no river, or at least no safe navigable open- 
ing there; while the swift current prevented the 
American ('rem entering. But in May of the same 
year Gray returned and crossed the bar, being the 
firsl to enter the river, which he ascended some twen- 
miles, bestowing on it the name of his vess I 
the Columbia. From the American point of view in 
years this was the discovery of the river and 
'!_' -i clement in the United States title I i 
the coast. The river had, however, been discov- 
"Venteen years before, and Gray's act, though 
in reality a re-discovery, musl not be allowed to as 
sume a too great or overwhelming superiority over 
fHeceta. However this may be, ] havealready 
! my conviction that in 1702 there was no 
this c >as1 for such discovery as could 
give national sovereignty. Gray's ad might under 
certain circumstances have been regarded as a 
toward occupation conferring title; that isj if he had 
gone to Boston, and on returning with an American 


colony for the mouth of the Columbia, had found an 
English post established there by men who had known 
his plans, his government might plausibly have claimed 
an exclusive right to settle at that point. 

In November of the same year Broughton of Van- 
couver's expedition also entered the Columbia, and 
followed its course much further than Gray had done. 
This navigator, making a fine distinction between the 
river and its estuary, advanced a theory beside which 
the assurance of the American discovery dwindles 
into modesty itself: namely, that Gray had never seen 
the river nor been within live leagues of its entrance. 
English diplomats, however, did not found their claims 
to any great extent on this theory. 

In 1793 was accomplished the first overland expe- 
dition to the Pacific, by Alexander Mackenzie, an 
English explorer and fur-trader. His route was up 
the Peace Eiver and down the Fraser — believed then 
and later to be the Columbia — crossing from the river 
to the coast just above latitude 52°. 

A treaty of 1794 between Great Britain and the 
United States provided for a joint survey to regulate 
the boundary line of 1783, in the region of the upper 
Mississippi and Lake of the Woods, the geographical 
absurdity of that line having become somewhat ap- 
parent; but nothing was done in the matter. 

In 1794-5 the Nootka controversy in its last phases 
was settled. The Spanish commissioner had taken 
the ground that as no property except the ships had 
been taken from Englishmen in 1789, therefore there 
was nothing more to be restored; but the Englihs 
commissioner had demanded that the port of Nootka 
should be given up. By the treaty of 1794, both 
nations agreed to a formal abandonment of the place, 
and it was formally abandoned by representatives of 
both nations in 1795. After this time either Spain 
or England might settle on, and thus acquire title to, 
any part of the coast except Nootka. Neither power 
ever took any steps toward the formation of such 


settlements; neither power gave any further attention 
officially to the coast j and soon the region was prac- 
; n by all but American fur-traders. 
r between Great Britain and Spain broke out 
in L 79 6, lasting practically until L809. The effect of 
this war on the Nootka treaty has been the subject 
tuch discussion. It is generally admitted thai as 
a rule treaty obligations are ended by war between 
the parties; but also that recognitions of right in a 
ay be perpetual, and that various conventions 
and compacts may be from their very nature indo- 
or Avar. On the pari of England it 
laimed that the Nootka convention, recognizing 
the right of British subjects to settle on the N 
west : v loasi , was permanent in its nature, and could not 
be affected by a war, unless in that war Great Britain 
should be forced to definitely relinquish her right. In 
the American view on the other hand, the convention 
was but a series of concessions by Spain, England 
obtaining merely the privilege of establishing p 
for temporary purposes of trade in Spanish territory. 
By this view Spain's exclusive sovereignty and owner- 
ship remained unimpaired, and the privilege of course 
expired with the declaration of war. Yet the privi- 
lege must not be regarded as a purely commercial one 
by Americans, because in 181-1, before the United 
■ s became a party to the question, all commercial 
treaties in force before 1796 between Spain a] 
land were restored. These two countries never had 
controversy on the subject; and the only point at 
is the validity of the title subsequently trans- 
mi ! by Spain to the United States. 

Tho discussion is of interest I do not deem 

it necessary fco present its intricate complicate 
b 'i e the decision, whatever it may be, has no real 
bearing on the question of title If the NTootka con- 

ined in f r I 796, of <• »u] 

had no exclusive title to transmit to a third pow 
but if the convention was (ado I by the war, it by no 


means follows that Spain had such a title, or that 
England had lost her right to settle on the coast. 
Spain's title was at its best in 1789. She had then 
all the title that discovery alone could give, supple- 
mented by actual occupation of Nootka. The discovery 
title alone was of doubtful validity in the eyes of the 
world. The occupation of Nootka, though valid and 
legitimate at the time, was not really intended as the 
beginning of a permanent and wide-spread extension 
of Spanish settlement northward, but rather as a 
temporary expedient to keep foreigners away until the 
country's value could be ascertained. With the lapse 
of time, even if Nootka were still held, the purpose of 
Spain would become apparent, and the nations would 
by no means admit her right to exclude foreign settlers 
from a long stretch of coast which she neither occupied 
nor had any immediate intention of utilizing. Such 
being the case, what shall be said of Spain's title, when 
instead of enforcing her exclusive claims she by treaty 
admitted England to equal rights with herself? when 
.she not only did not extend her posts but abandoned 
her only establishment on the coast? when she not 
only failed to exercise her rights of navigation and 
commerce under the convention, but saw without pro- 
test the fur-trade of the north-west monopolized by 
Americans ? when high Spanish officials made no secret 
of the fact that there was no intention to occupy the 
country? Will the most ardent supporter of the dis- 
covery title claim that its validity could have endured 
through all this? Can any one believe, for instance, 
that Spain had a right to prevent the Winships in 
1810, or As tor in 1811, from establishing a post on 
the Columbia? 

In 1797 Finlay crossed the mountains by Peace 
River in about 56°, giving his name to a branch of 
that stream. 

From 1800, as has been stated, the coast fur-trade 
was almost exclusively in the hands of Americans 
without official protest from any other nation. 


Tn 1800, Louisiana, in all its original extent west 
of the Mississippi, but without specified boundaries in 
the north-west, was m\rd by Spain back to France. 

In 1803 the same territory was ceded by France to 
the United States. As the boundary on the west 
was presumably the Rocky Mountains, this acquisi- 
tion gave the United States a new interest in the 
Pacific territory, now in a sense adjoining her own 
ions. It also gave a new importance to the 
matter of a northern boundary. 

In a convention of 1803, never ratified, it was 
agreed that the boundary between English and Amer- 
ican territory should be from the Lake of the Woods 
to the Mississippi River by the shortest line. 

Spain by no means, however, admitted that the 
Louisiana lately purchased by the United States 
extended to the Rocky Mountains, as appeared from 
negotiations on the subject in 1804, which led to no 
result, but only to hopeless disagreement. 

Fraser and Stuart, for the Northwest Company, 
crossed the mountains, and founded on McLeod Lake 
the first British post in the territory. 

Lewis and Clarke, in 1804-6, accomplished for the 
United States, what Mackenzie had done before for 
England, that is, they made an overland exploration 
to the Pacific. Their route was down the Clearwater, 
Snake, and Columbia rivers, touching also the Salmon 
and Clarke branches in the Pocky Mountains, and 
reaching a latitude somewhat above 47° in the interior. 
Having spent the winter from November to March 
in camp on the south bank of the Columbia near its 
mouth, they returned in 180G by way of the head- 
waters of the Missouri to the eastern states. This was 
an official government exploration, but that il 
an announcement to the world of the intention oi 
the American government to occupy and settle the 
countries explored/ 7 as one writer declared, may be 
questioned. It gave the same kind of a title that 
Mackenzie's expedition had given to further 


north, that is, no title at all, unless followed by actual 

In 1806, Russian officials of high rank favored the 
founding of a post on the Columbia, to prevent that 
region from falling into American hands, but nothing 
was accomplished in this direction. 

In 180G-7 the boundary east of the mountains was 
again the subject of negotiation; and by a treaty, like 
the preceding ones never ratified, though approved b}>- 
both governments, it was fixed on the parallel of 49°, 
as far westward as the possessions of the respective 
parties might extend, but not to the territory claimed 
by either beyond the Rocky Mountains. It is notice- 
able that President Jefferson objected to the last con- 
dition as "an offensive intimation to Spain that the 
claims of the United States extend to the Pacific 
Ocean." The choice of 49° seems to have originated 
in an erroneous impression from certain old maps that 
such was the line fixed between French and English 
possessions in 1713. 

In 1806 two forts were established on Fraser and 
Stuart lakes respectively, and having founded Fort 
George in 1807 at the confluence of the Stuart and 
Fraser rivers, in 1808 the two adventurers who had 
named those streams went down the latter to its 
mouth, in latitude 49°. 

It was also in 1808 that Russia made some com- 
plaints respecting the movements of American traders; 
and in the negotiations which resulted, it was Stated 
that the Russian American fur company claimed the 
whole coast to and beyond the Columbia. 

The Missouri fur cornpairy having been organized in 
1808, Henry, one of its agents, founded in 1809 a 
trading-post on the Henry branch of Snake River in 
about 44°. This was the first establishment by citi- 
zens of the United States west of the Rocky Moun- 
tains; but on account of Indian hostilities it had to be 
abandoned in 1810. 

The Yvinships of Boston attempted in 1810 to estab- 


lish a trading-posl on the south bant of the ( lolumbia, 
aboi ove its mouth : but the scheme was 

abandoned on account of the hostile attitude of the 

In I 8 LO Thompson, of the Northi 
exploring I lie river that bears his Dame, \ tear 

the junction of Canoe River and the main Columbia 
in nlx.nt 52 . In the spring of L811 he continued his 
journey down the river, taking poss< ion by raising 

i ;m various points, to I lie ! pokane in 
and there a posi was established b; or Mc- 

] >onald, in what month does n< ■ Thorn] 

\. ■ :plore the main ( lolui ib i he 

moi • Snake. He doubtle intended to I 

i for his company and for ! at the 

month of the Columbia, where he arrived in July; but 
ho was too la1 . 

The 'ur Company of New York, org; 

by Aster in 1810, sent out by sea a party which in 
March 1811 founded the post of Astoria on the south 
bank of the Columbia near its mouth. Later in the 
year this company sent men up the river to found a 
posl at the mouth of the Okanagan in about 48°; and 
q the Clearwater and Willamette were occu- 
pied for a time as stations by parties of trappers. 

The most, that can be claimed for t lie aci s of Astor's 
pany is that they gave to the United States the 
f territorial rights as England had gained 
from the founding of forts Fraser, Stuart, i nd others 
in the north; that is, that the founding of Astoria 
ate aci of occupation, giving a national 
title — permanent if the settlement should not be 
abandoned — to a certain territory, the< .tent of which 
would depend on subsequent operations of this com- 
pany and others. There was nothing in what had 
be< . arily prevented eitherthi i 'acific 

or I mpanies from extendin ; their posts 

n< rth or outh, leaving the question of boundari< - to 
be ettled lal 


In admitting this American claim founded on 
Astoria, however, it is necessary to overrule some 
very plausible objections on the English side, to the 
effect that the Pacific Fur Company was merely a 
mercantile firm, and as such was not definitely author- 
ized by government to establish posts west of the 
Rocky Mountains; that a majority of the partners 
were British subjects, Astor himself being a German 
by birth; that the British partners obtained from the 
minister of their nation an assurance that in case of 
war they would be respected as British subjects and 
merchants; and that Astor before beginning active 
operations offered to the Northwest Company a share 
in the enterprise. Yet whatever force these objections 
may have had seems to have been lost by the failure 
of Great Britain to insist on them when, as will be 
seen, an opportunity presented itself for doing so. 
That the establishment of the northern trading-posts 
gave to either of the respective nations any claim to 
exclusive ownership of the whole coast, or of broad 
sections of it apart from the points actually occupied, 
cannot be admitted. 

In 1812 the Russian American Fur Company es- 
tablished a post near Bodega on the California coast. 
This was done without the consent of Spain or of 
any Spanish official; and the establishment was kept 
up for about thirty years in spite of oft repeated pro- 
tests from Spain and Mexico. Russia, however, never 
laid claim to any territorial possessions in California 
by reason of the company's settlements at Bodega and 

By the terms of partnership the Astor company, 
if successful, was to continue for at least twenty years, 
but if unprofitable might be dissolved by the partners 
at any time within five. In 1813 it was contemplated 
by members at Astoria to abandon the enterprise on 
account of the war between England and the United 
States, and the consequent impossibility of obtaining 
supplies or protection from New York. Later in the 


■ year it was determined, however, instead of 
simply abandoning the posl and dissolving the com- 
pany, to sell out the property to fche NTorthwesI 
Company; and the bargain was concluded, the price 
being $80,500. [mmediately after the sale the British 
man-of-war Raccoon appeared, and the British flag 
was raised over Fori George, by which name Astoria 
was now for a time to be known. 

It has been charged thai the nationality of the 
idenl partners had an influence in this transaction, 
though I doubt it. But whether they acted for the 
besl interests of their company, or in good faith 
toward Astor, is a question that lias no bearing on 
the present discussion, and is fully considered else- 
where. Had they been Americans by birth and in 
feeling, they might or might not have refused to 
negotiate a sale, and have held Fort Astoria until 
forced to abandon it, but I think it would have made 
little difference. Such action, however, could only 
have had an influence on the question of title eventu- 
ally, by their success in maintaining themselves in 
possession of the interior for several years, and a 
consequent readiness to reoccupy Astoria, and con- 
tinue the original enterprise from 1818. That they 
would or could have done this seems to me on fche 
le improbable; but the point is not an esse itial 
one, as will presently appear. 

Air it tion of sonic interest,th - 

which was greatly lessened if net remo 1 ub- 

sequeni m , was whether the .\ 

could by a sale of its property transfer th< sovereign- 

(Jnited States to England. Apj 
not if the original founding had be< 
\y. 1 by 1 nmenl wit h a 

but it wa ich an act; it 

a purp i se; and the permanent aha I 
post would have put it in the 

ary and Winship, so f. con- 



By the treaty of 1814 Great Britain agreed to 
restore to the United States all places taken during 
the war. There was no allusion to territory west 
of the Bocky Mountains, or to boundaries; though 
the American plenipotentiaries had been instructed 
to consent to no claim on the part of England to terri- 
tory south of latitude 49° in the region of the Lake of 
the Woods. 

From 1813 until 1818 the Northwest Company 
remained in undisturbed possession of Fort Astoria. 
In 1817 the United States took steps to assert their 
claim to the post under the treaty. The British 
minister remonstrated to the effect that the place was 
not captured during the war, but that it had been 
abandoned by the Americans who voluntarily sold the 
property to an English company, so that no claim for 
its restitution could be founded on the treaty of 1813. 
The American government insisted, however, on its 
right to Astoria, and after some discussion both at 
Washington and London, Great Britain yielded the 
point, and admitted the American right to be rein- 
stated and to be the party in possession while treating 
on the title and negotiations on the subject and that 
of the boundaries were about to be commenced. Ac- 
cordingly Fort Astoria was formally restored, and 
the flag of the United States was raised in Novem- 
ber 1818, though the English company remained for 
many years in possession. 

That the United States had a right to require and 
that Great Britian was under a legal obligation to 
make this concession has been doubted by some, but 
this doubt has no special bearing on the present topic. 
It is enough that the restoration was made. 

It is important, however, to understand the exact 
purport of the act, since there was a manifest tendency 
in later years to exaggerate its importance. It was in 
no sense a recognition of the American title to the 
Northwest Coast, or to that part of it lying south of 
the Columbia. It was merely, as stated, an admission 


of a right of the United States to be the party in 
possession at Fort Astoria while treating on thetitle. 
!t had do bearing necessarily on any territory beyond 
the precincts of Astoria. It was at mosl an agree- 
ment thai if the United States should after investiga- 
tion be deemed by the founding of Astoria or by other 
earlier acts to have acquired an exclusive ownership 
of thecoasl or any pari of it, England would nol urge 
the transfer of L813 as destroying thai title; and it 
implied on the other hand thai if the exclusive title 
was found to belong to England, the United States 
could nol urge the retransfer of 1818. Or to look at 
the matter from another poinl of view, if the Amer- 
icans should renew their fur-trading operations, estab- 
lishing posts or settlements as they had a right to do, 
they could not be deprived by their rivals of the 
desirable position at the mouth of the Columbia. 

Thus in the form of an introduction the Oregon 
title has been brought down to the date of 1818 when 
controversy began. I have disposed of each subdi- 
vision briefly, because each expedition has been de- 
scribed in detail before. If in my comments I may 
seem to have decided in advance the whole question 
at issue, dismissing somewhat too summarily the 
lengthy arguments of abler men on several phases of 
the question, I have to say that this course has been 
taken deliberately with a view to economize space and 
avoid useless repetition in what is to follow — in chap- 
ters, not volumes — where the tenor of the arguments 
will necessarily appear. It is well also to remind the 
reader thai during the discussion from 1818 to 1846, 
many of the facts in the case were by no means so 
i known as now. Both parties repeatedly based 
some of their conclusions on inaccurate statements of 
fact. And above all it should he remembered that the 
many able men who wrote on this question were 
without exception advocates and partisans on one 
side or the other, whose real opinions we have d - 


means of knowing, and whose only aim was to win 
their case. 

In 1818 the Northwest Company were the only 
occupants of this broad territory, where they had sev- 
eral forts, or trading -posts, to the possession of one 
of which, however, by the voluntary act of Great 
Britain, the United States was entitled. Neither 
nation had any just claim to exclusive ownership of the 
whole or any large part of the territory between 42° 
and 55°; both had the right to hunt or settle at any 
unoccupied point ; each had a rightful title to the posts 
it had already established, and might rightfully found 
others; either nation might interfere to protect its 
subjects if wronged in local quarrels; and finally, if 
neither party withdrew, there must arise a Question 
of National Boundary, to be settled solely by the ter- 
ritory occupied at the time. Such was the state of 
affairs in equity before 1818; such it became more 
practically, and in a sense legally, after that date, as 
we shall see. 

While the correspondence of 1817 was not strictly 
speaking a part of the main controversy — since the 
United States demanded and England conceded the 
restoration of Astoria, not because of a just title to 
that region, but simply because the place had been 
occupied by Americans, and had been taken during 
the war — yet this negotiation was in a sense the 
beginning of that controversy; for the American 
commissioners to Fort Astoria were instructed to 
" assert in a friendly and peaceable manner the claims 
of the United States to the sovereignty of the 
adjacent country ;" and the British minister in his 
turn protesting, affirmed that "the territory itself 
was early taken possession of in his Majesty's name, 
and had been since considered as forming part of his 
Majesty's dominions." Moreover, England at the same 
time in instructions to her representatives declared 
herself " not prepared to admit the validity of the 
title of the government of the United States to this 

UNDEB I>: • C7SS] IN. 335 

and the representative in consenting to 
the restoration of the post held by the United States 
at the outbreak of the war was to "assert in suitable 

3 the claim of Great Britain to thai territory, upon 
which the A.merican settlement must be considered 

icroachment." Thus were the respective claims 
first asserted, though somewhat vaguerj ; and argu- 
ments were reserved for the future. 1 

vera! distinct subjects inv< Ived in the 
international negotiations of these years, and settled by 
the treaty of I sis, only two of which, however, have 
any connection with the subject under consideration, 
and those deemed the least important of all. They 
were the questions of title to the Northwest Coast, 
and of iliv boundary west of Lake of the Woods, and 
both were treated practically as one matter. Richard 
Rush and Albert Gallatin represented the United 
States by President Monroe's appointment of May 

'On the restoration of Astoria to the United States and the i 

, the authorities are as follows : President's Mess, and />■■■.. Dec. 
29, 1 118, April 1">. 17. 1822, the last and n ag found in 

p. Z?eZ.,iv.85] S;aAaoinAnnalsefCongress,17thCong., 
I Addington's British 26,iald.,\i. 

L826, in Id., vi. 670; Brit; 
. I }19 20, Iv'l 2, as cited by Twiss, Or. Quest.,V, 
: or last named, also Greenhow, Or. and Cal., 306 16,452 3, 

give a very satisfactory account of the Mimic subject. 'J lie E 
tract : iry Adams' letter of May 20, ISIS, to Mr Hush. theAmerican 

. is interestir. ag the attitude of the United Sti 

was o pated that any di -ted in the Bi 

■ t title with us on the bord 
moti for reserve or concealment. I a 
to Lord Castlereagh, rather in conversation than in any formal mi oner, 

k the minuteness of the pi 5ts either to ' 

Britai I , involved in this concern; and the unwilling- 

for that reason, of this government to include it among I 
Berio i with them. At the same fci at give him to un- 

oot unless in a manner to avoid i n in the 

Erom the nature of things, it in the • 
shou! 3 importance to t n 

iposi d that < rreat Britain would 6 

States leave her in undisl E all her holds upon I 

and . all h< r actual possessions 

fairly expect that she will not think 

y and alarm 
I dominion in North Amei i 
Bolid ; '.vent until all possibility of hi r pn v< ating ii hall have 

vanished.' .1- / . 


22, 1818; while the interests of Great Britain were 
intrusted to Frederick John Robinson and Henry 
Goulburn. The United States, so far as may be 
judged by Mr Adams' instructions, did not deem 
present action on either of the two matters as of 
pressing importance, especially the determination of 
lights and boundaries on the Pacific, now that its 
right to the Astoria post was admitted. Indeed, he 
declared that in that region, "save pretensions, there 
is no object to any party worth contending for;" but 
"from the earnestness with which the British govern- 
ment now returns to the object of fixing this boundary, 
there is reason to believe that they have some other 
purpose connected with it, which they do not avow, 
but which in their estimation gives it an importance 
not belonging to it, considered in itself." 2 

The topics that interest us first came up at the 
third conference in London on the 17th of September. 
Each party was disposed to think its nation had the 
better title to the Northwest Coast; but the arguments 
submitted were brief and superficial. As reported by 
Gallatin and Rush, "the British plenipotentiaries 
asserted that former voyages, and principally that 
of Captain Cook, gave to Great Britain the right 
derived from discovery ; and they alluded to purchases 
from the natives south of the Columbia River, which 

2 Adams to Gallatin and Rush, July 28, 1818. He adds that England having 
given up her claim to a line to the Mississippi, and even to the navi- 
gation of that river, the north-western boundary would seem of no importance 
to her ; but 'the new pretension of disputing our title to the settlement at the 
mouth of the Columbia either indicates a design on their part to encroach, 
by new establishments of their own, upon the 49th parallel of latitude, 
south of which they can have no valid claim upon this continent ; or it mani- 
fests a jealousy of the United States, a desire to check the progress of our set- 
tlements. Their projects . . .in 1806. . .and 1814 were to take 49°. . .west, as far 
as the territories of the United States extend in that direction, with a caveat 
against its extension to the South Sea, -or beyond the Stony Mountains, upon 
which two observations are to be made. . .secondly, that they always affected 
to apply the indefinite limit of extension as far as the territories extend, to the 
territories of the United States, and not to those of Great Britain, leaving a 
nest-egg for future pretensions on their part south of latitude 49°. The coun- 
ter-projects for the line on our part therefore were. . .along that parallel, due 
west, as far as the territories of both parties extend in that direction, and 
adopting the caveat against extension to the Pacific' 


they alleged to have beeD made prior to the American 
revolution;" and the Americans, "so far as discos 
gave a claim, ours to the whole country on the waters 
of the Columbia River was indisputal ; had 

derived its name from thai of the American ship com- 
manded by Captain Gray, who had first discovered 
and entered its mouth. It was first explored, from its 
sources to the ocean, by Lewis and ( Jlarke, and before 
the British traders from ( Janada had reachedany of its 
waters. The settlement at Astoria was also the first 
permanent establishment made in that quarter;" still 
"we did not assert that the United States had a per- 
fect right to that country, but insisted that their claim 

rood against Great Britain." The Brit- 
ish plenipotentiaries showed a desire during the whole 
negotiation to unite the two subjects, being unwilling 
to agree to a boundary east of the mountains, unless 
an agreement could be made respecting the western 
region. Accordingly, the Americans proposed an 
tension of the line due west on the parallel of 49° 
to the Pacific Ocean. 3 This Robinson and Goulburn 
would not accede to, intimating that the Columbia 
River would be the most convenient boundary, and 
declaring that they would agree to none that did not 
give them the harborat the river's mouth in common 
with the United States. This meeting with no favor, 
proposed at the conference of October 6th that 

aountains the territory between latitudes 
45° and 49 should be free for purposes of trade to both 
nations, neither to exercise sovereign authority within 
those limits, but this agreement was not to prejudice 
the claim- of cither or of any other power. 1 Rather 
than assent to this, the Americans preferred to leave 

3 Annex B. to protocol of third conference. This was to affect i 

. 3 w ithout reference to the claims of any other nation. 'I he 
subjects of both p also to have fi * and 

. I equal privileges of trade, in all i >n '1"' 

Northwest Coast, and the naw 
intersected by the boundary wae 

i of fifth confi ■ itli tho 

; i it stipulated forfree navigation of th Riv< r. 

Hist. N.W. Coast, Vol. II. 22 


the whole matter on both sides of the mountains in 
abeyance; but at the next conference they proposed 
amendments, making the whole western region free 
for trade instead of that portion between 45° and 49°. 
The proposition thus amended with other verbal 
changes was again presented by the Englishmen on 
October 13th, and after another amendment submitted 
by the Americans at the eighth conference, by which 
the agreement was limited to the period of ten years, 
it was approved by both parties, and the treaty was 
signed on October 20, 1818. 

By this convention, or treaty of joint occupation, 
the Northwest Coast became free to subjects of Great 
Britain and the United States for a period of ten 
years. The question of title or national sovereignty 
was left exactly as it stood before. As far west as the 
Rocky Mountains the parallel of 49° was made the 
permanent boundary. 5 

As I have previously remarked, the treaty of 1818 
left the two nations in respect of their rights on the 
Northwest Coast exactly where they stood before, the 
natural and equitable right of English or American 
subjects to trade, hunt, and settle where they pleased 
being now formally acknowledged. Each party merely 
reserved the right to prove, or insist on, ten years 
later, an exclusive ownership, founded on events pre- 
ceding 1818, not to be affected by anything done by 
either side after that date. There was no quarrel; 

5 The treaty negotiations and preliminary correspondence are given in 
full in the President'* Mess, and hoc, Dec. 29, ISIS, 15th Cong., 2d Sess., 
under heading Great Britain, Conventionof October 20, 1S18, in American State 
Papers, For. Bel., iv. 348-407. The parts relating particularly to the sub- 
ject are on pp. 371-2, 374, 376-7, 380-1, 3S4, 391-3, 395, 397, 40G. 'Art. 3. 
It is agreed that any country that may be claimed by either party ou the 
Northwest Coast of America westward of the Stony Mountains, shall, together 
with its harbors, bays, and creeks, and the navigation of all rivers within the 
same be free and open, for the term of ten years from the date of the signature 
of the present convention, to the vessels, citizens, and subjects of the two 
powers, it being well understood that this agreement is not to be construed 
to the prejudice of any claim which either of the two high contracting parties 
may have to any part of the said country, nor shall it be taken to affect the 
claims of any other power or state to any part of the said country ; the only 
object of the high contracting parties, in that respect, being to prevent dis- 
putes and differences among themselves. ' 


but each party reserved the right to quarrel af a 
later date, and under favorable circumstances, should 
the country prove worth the trouble. Neither at- 
tached greal Importance to the subject at the time; 
neither had much faith in its own exclusive right, 
;m1 a vague idea that it was at leasi equal to that 
the other. Neither really expected ultimately to 
prove the validity of its old exclusive title, unless 
possibly it might sometime be enforced by war, or 
to avert war: but should it appear in the end- and 
they mere than suspected perhaps what the reader 
knows, that it must so appear — that there was no 
exclusive title on either side in 1818, then subsecp' 
acts of occupation would become potent, and in this 
respect each was willing to trust the future. It was 
not expected, however, that ten years would make 
any radical change in the situation, and each party 
hoped for some advantage from the slight modifica- 
tions likely to occur. 

England saw the territory in the actual possession 
of the English Northwest Company, who would nat- 
urally extend their operations; it w T as doubtful if 
Astor's, or any other American company, would 
reenter the field as rivals; it was not likely that set- 
tlers would be attracted to this distant country \'m- 
many years, especially while the title remained unde- 
termined; and still less likely that the United States 
government would maintain posts in advance of com- 
mercial and agricultural occupation. The America 
on the other hand, had little fear that any other E 
lishmea than fur-hunters would occupy the coasl ; 
they believed the Pacific Company would renew its 
operations; they hoped settlers mighl be induced to 
3S the continent; at any rate they had unlim- 
ited faith in the future development n[' their nation, 
and were content to leave their rights in abeyance 
until such time as they might be ready 1" exer< 
them. The decision was a wise and equitable one for 
both pan i 


Throughout the ten years named in the treaty the 
English fur-hunters remained in possession of the 
territory, their rivals failing to exercise the privileges 
conceded to them. Meanwhile there occurred a series 
of events which had an influence on this subject, though 
the importance of some of them in this respect has 
generally been exaggerated. 

The first was the signing of the Florida treaty 
between the United States and Spain on Feb. 22, 
1819. The negotiations preceding this treaty were 
long and complicated; but the boundary in northern 
regions was an unimportant feature in the discussions. 
In 1805 the United States had proposed a line run- 
ning north from the sources of the Red River; while 
Spain had preferred a boundary commission to explore 
the unknown region north of Red River and investi- 
gate documents bearing on the title; but nothing 
was done. 6 At the beginning of 1818 the Spanish 
plenipotentiary, Luis de Onis, wrote: " The right and 
dominion of the crown of Spain to the Northwest 
Coast of America as high as the Californias, is not 
less certain and indisputable, the Spaniards having 
explored it as far as the 47th degree, in the expedition 
under Juan de Fuca, in 1592, and in that under the 
Admiral Fonte to the 55th degree in 1640." That 
the Spanish claim was thus founded on the fictitious 
discoveries of Fuca and Fonte shows how little was 
known or cared about the matter; the claim was not 
disputed, and the subject was dropped until the ques- 
tion of boundary came up near the close of the nego- 
tiation. Spain had wished in exchange for Florida 
to obtain everything west of the Mississippi; but 
attention was given almost exclusively to the south. 
On October 31st Mr Adams proposed as a bound- 
ary the Red River, Rocky Mountains, and the line 
of 41° to the Pacific. This was the first intimation of 

6 President's 3Iess. and Doc, Dec. 6, 1805, Sth Cong. 2d Sess., in American 
State Papers, For. Bel, ii. 662, 665; Twiss, Or. Quest., 231, also cites British 
and Foreign State Papers, 1817-18, 321, but gives the date of a document 
cited incorrectly. 


a claim to territory west of the mountains; and ai 
first Spain would not listen to anything of the kind. 
but soon viewed the idea more favorably. In Jan- 
uary L819, Onis proposed a line from the source of 
the Missouri to the Columbia, and down thai stream 

ie Pacific. This being rejected, he proposed the 

upper Arkansas and line of 41 to the Multnomah, 

or Willamette, and down the river to the ocean. 

in respon d the upper Arkansas and 

line of 41° to the Pacific, whereupon Onis suggested 

from the Arkansas to the Multnomah, and 43 
from the latter stream to the ocean. Finally Onis 
for Spain proposed 42° from the Arkansas to the 
Pacific, and Adai 1 to this in behalf of the 

United States. The treaty was signed according 

By this treaty "His Catholic Majesty rvdr^ to the 
United States all his rights, claims, and pretensions 
to any territories cast and north of the said line, 
and. . .renounces all claim to the said territories for- 
ever." That is, the United States acquired the Spanish 
title to the Northwest Goad above the latitude of 
. I have already shown that Spain had no rights 
in that territory except that of making settlements in 

<iate Papers, For. /,'</., Lv. 455, 530-2, 615-23, b 
1819., 15th Cong., 2d Seas.; 
13, cites also the British am vpers of L617 

contii 'Art. :i. The boundary li 

the two countries, west of the Mississippi, shall begin on the Gulf of Mi 
at the mouth of the rive:' Sabine, in the sea, continuing north al a 

.!; of that river to the 32d degree of latitude; then© 
due north, to of latitude where it strikes the Rio Roxo 

en following the course of the R 
e of longitudi I ad 23 from \. 

then crossing the said Red River, and running thence by a line due - 
river Arkansas; thenee following the course of the southern 

source, in latitude- [2 north; and thence 

i :' latitude to the South 

But, if th( 
River shall or south of latitude 42 < 

He Bhall run from the said bo 
may I aid ] arallel 

prop" also to be ac< 

but there was no rooi 

■ i.tly ratified by Mexico in 


unoccupied spots, even her 'claims and pretensions' 
having been virtually abandoned since 1795. The 
validity of the title acquired in 1 8 1 9 was, however, the 
subject of much argument in later years, as we shall see. 
Immediately after the signing of the treaty, in 
1819-20, an exploring expedition was sent out by the 
United States to the great west. 8 "One most impor- 
tant fact, in a political point of view," says Greenhow, 
"was completely established by the observations of 
the party; namely, that the whole* division of North 
America drained by the Missouri and the Arkansas, 
and their tributaries between the meridian of the 
mouth of the Platte and the Rocky Mountains, is 
almost entirely unfit for cultivation, and therefore 
uninhabitable by a people depending upon agriculture 
for their subsistence. • And late observations have 
shown the adjoining regions, to a great extent west of 
those mountains, to be still more arid and sterile. These 
circumstances as they became known through the 
United States, rendered the people and their repre- 
sentatives in the federal legislature more and more 
indifferent with regard to the territories on the north- 
western side of the continent. It became always 
difficult and generally impossible to engage the atten- 
tion of congress to any matters connected with those 
countries; emigrants. from the populous states of the 
union would not banish themselves to the distant 
shores of the Pacific whilst they could obtain the 
best lands on the Mississippi and its branches at 
moderate prices; and capitalists would not vest their 
funds in establishments for the administration and 
continued possession of which they could have no 
guarantee. From 1813 until 1823, few if any Amer- 
ican citizens were employed in the countries west of 
the Rocky Mountains, and ten years more elapsed 
before any settlement was formed or even attempted 
in that part of the world." 9 

8 Long's Account of Exploring Expedition, 8vo, 2 vols. Philadelphia, 1S23. 
9 Greenhow's Or. and C'al., 322-3. 


In 1 he Nortl I ( iompany was merged in 

the Hudson's Bay Company, the latter remaining in 
; don of the western country. The change had 

i. i bearing whatever od the question of title. 

At theendof L820 the Northwesl ( Joasl ma lei 
appearance in th js of the United States. "On 

motion of Mr Floyd a committee was appoinl 
inquire into the situation of the settlements upon the 
Pacific Ocean, and the expediency of occupying the 
Columbia River." This was on December L9th, and 
on January 25, L821, the report of the committee was 
read in the house. In this document the question of 
title wi I some length with frequent allu- 

sions to facts of doubtful accuracy. For instance 
congress was told that "in the year 1785-6 
lishment was made at the mouth of the Columbia 
River by Mr Hendricks;" that Lewis and Clarke 
"built Fort Clatsop, yet to be seen" — really the ex- 
plorer's winter camp — those events being at a time 
when the Spanish settlements were "in lai 
north upon the Colorado of California;" and that five 
posl i besides Astoria had been established by A 
company. Great force was given to the Spanish exclu - 
sive title, which even England had virtually acknowl- 
edged in 1790 by her willingness "to treat for the 
enjoyment of privileges on that coast." That the 
United States through Spain, France, and her own 
establishments had the undisputed sovereignty of the 
coast from latitude G0° down to 36 there could be no 
doubt; and it was equally clear that the occupation of 
late territory would be most profitable. 
Accordingly a bill was introduced in twelve sections 
for the occupation of the Columbia, grant of lands to 
settlers, and regulation of Indian affairs. 10 The bill 
was referred to a committee. At the end of the 
year, on motion of Mr Floyd, another committee was 

10 Ann 

■ . Jan. 25th, in Id., 
Benton's Abridg. Debates in Congress, viL 74-81. 


appointed to "inquire into the expediency of occupying 
the Columbia River and the territory of the United 
States adjacent thereto;" which committee reported 
in January 1822 with a bill probably like the former, 
which was read twice and committed as before. 
Meanwhile a resolution had also been adopted calling 
for information from the secretary of the navy re- 
specting the expense of surveying Pacific ports of the 
United States and of transporting artillery to the 
Columbia. 11 

At the end of the year, Dec. 17th to 18th, the mat- 
ter came up for discussion in committee of the whole, 
and after a long speech by Mr Floyd, other members 
showing no disposition to speak, the bill was reported 
to the house. In the following debate two members 
spoke in its favor and one against it; but the house 
was apathetic and further consideration Avas deferred. 
A remarkable feature of the debate was the absence 
of allusion to the treaty of 1818. There was not the 
slightest doubt expressed as to the title of the United 
States to the Northwest Coast. Those that favored 
the measure dwelt on the value of the fur-trade and 
the whale-fishery, and the grandeur of a republic 
stretching from sea to sea; while Mr Tucker opposed 
it simply because he did not wish to accelerate the 
inevitable progress of the population westward, believ- 
ing that the peoples east and west of the mountains 
"must have a permanent separation of interest." 12 

The Columbia project was again discussed in the 
house of representatives in January 1823, and increased 
interest was manifested, though not enough to pass 
the bill. The debate doubtless had its eifect in edu- 
cating the American people into an implicit faith in 
the validity of their national claim to the Northwest 
Coast; for as before, no opponent of the measure ex- 

11 Annals of Congress, 17th Cong., 1st Sess., 529, 553, 560-1, 744. 

12 Benton's Abridg. Debates hi Congress, vii. 30-2-407; Annals of Co?igress, 
17th Cong., :.'</ Sess., 355, 396-424, 430. According to amendments it was 
proposed to occupy the country ' with a military force, ' and a salary was 
named for the ' Governor of Oregon.' 


pressed doubt of the perfect right to occupy. They 
doubted the value of the territory in question; dwell 
on its distance from American civilization; objected 
to anything like colonization under a republican govern- 
ment; deemed the occupation practicable bul inex- 
pedient, at least for the present; and alluded to the 
Rocky Mountains as a natural boundary, across which 
no line of commercial communication could ever extend. 
The advo the other hand affirmed, instead of 

silently assuming as before, the validity of the title; 
bul no arguments were wasted in proving what nobody 
doubted; and their eloquence was expended in show- 
rious, profitable, and politic a thing it 
would be iiow to extend the republic across the w! 
continent, I append a few extracts from the deba 
The bill was tabled; and by a vote of one hundred I > 
sixty-one the house refused to take it up again. In 
all this there was not a hint at the rights of England 
p the treaty of joint occupation. 
In February,' Mr Benton brought the matter up in 
the senate, with a motion and a speech. The moti< m was 
"that the committee on military affairs be instructed 

18 ' The only nations on earth who have ever made any claims to these regions 
ipain, Russia. . . Spain never had any prel rthan 

ised by her province of Louisiana,' and her rights were trans- 
fco the Unit ' . 'The emperor of Russia will 

quarrel with us for anything we may do south of his latitude of 51 .' England 
had anyposs< I b lieve never pretended to any ti 

:' the Columbia. T> territory n 

'would have continued, it maybe presumed, 
the boundary between us beyond the Rocky Mountains, if 
'.' 'She restored to us possession of our settl 
mouth of the Columbia, without the least intimation in all berm 
tions on the subject of any question as to our ti 
shoal I by us, can we believe that other nations will] 

? If they do: I Learn 

land had poa 
of the Columbia, what should we do? We should then b 
ourri ity of our territory. \. 

id cannot abandon any part of it 

A'. )". ' How oftenarewe n mind< I ol Amer- 

I is made a coi inned 

- our own domain I* Vt. ' For bis part 

] u . AV ; ettlement woi made 

in any period of time to which a 
men \ d our views. 1 'To my mind, sir. no 

more visionary than that of an internal comm i and 


to inquire into the expediency of making an appro- 
priation to enable the president of the United States 
to take and retain possession of the territories of the 
United States on the Northwest Coast of America." 
Benton's motives and methods of treating the sub- 
ject were radically different from those of congressmen 
who had spoken before. His aim, he said, "was to 
prevent the country in question from falling into the 
hands of another power." He knew that the public 
mind was tranquil upon this point; but he believed 
that this tranquillity arose, not from an indifference to 
the loss of the Columbia River and the great country 
drained by its waters, but from a belief that our title 
to it was undisputed, and the possession open to our 
citizens whenever the government would permit them 
to enter upon it. The contrary of all this he held to 
be the fact, and he w^ould undertake to show to the 
senate: "First, that our claim of sovereignty is dis- 
puted by England. Second, that England is now the 
party in possession. Third, that she resists the pos- 
session of the United States. Fourth, that the party 
in possession in 1828 w T ill have the right of possession 
under the law of nations until the question of sov- 
ereignty shall be decided by war or negotiation." 
In support of these propositions Benton referred to 
documents with which the reader is familiar; he re- 
garded the nominal restitution of Fort Astoria as by 
no means a relinquishment of the English title ; and in 

Columbia. The God of nature has interposed obstacles to this connection, 
which neither the enterprise nor the science of this or any other age can over- 
come.' ' He was ready to admit that neither England, Spain, nor Russia had 
the right, or probably would have the disposition, to complain of the measure/ 
' The measure is not called for by any great public interest.' Tracy of N. Y. 
Mr Mallary offered an amendment, or substitute, of which the first section was: 
' That the president be authorized and required to occupy that portion of the 
territory of the United States on the Pacific Ocean, north of 42 J , and west of 
the Rocky Mountains, with a military force, and to cause a suitable fort to 
be erected on the Oregon River. . .which tract of country is hereby declared 
to be the territory of Oregon.' 'Gentlemen are talking of natural boundaries. 
Sir, our natural boundary is the Pacific Ocean. ' Baylies of Mass. ' The spirit 
of migration should rather be repressed in your citizens than encouraged.' 
Breckenridge of Ky. Mr Little of Maryland presented a petition of farmers 
and mechanics in favor of the bill. Annals of Congress, 17th Cong., 2d Sess., 
5S3-G02, 078-700, 1077-1206. 


support of this third point ho noted that the British 
minister in two interviews with the secretary of state, 
referring to the bills for the occupation of the Colum- 
bia "suggested thai ( rreat Britain had claims on the 
north-west coast of America, with which lie conceived 
that such occupation on the part of the United States 
would conflict ; and requested to be informed what 
were the intentions of the government of the United 
States in this respect." 14 

While the reader who is acquainted with the facts 
may not be unduly influenced by the assurance with 
which American statesmen assumed the unquestion- 
able validity of their count it's exclusive title and 
ridiculed Great Britain's 'pretensions,' and while it is 
true that the measure urged in some of its features 
was contrary to treaty obligations, yet it must be 
borne in mind that the measure was defeated, and 
that the agitation at this time was in certain respects 
a legitimate and necessary one. The United States 
had no title, it is true, but citizens had a right by 
occupation to lay for their country the foundation of 

Abridg. Debates of Congress, vii. 363, 3GG-9; Annals of Con- 

, 235, 248-51, 27t. The committee of foreign rclas 

tions having been substituted for that of military affairs, the motion war 

I to; but on February 25th, that committee was discharged from furthes 
consideration of the matter. A few additional quotations from Mr Iknton't 
speech may be necessary to show his spirit. 'This' — referring to the 
quotation in my text — 'is resistance and resistance in the most imposing form- 
It goes the whole length of unqualified opposition. . .England has virtually 
to arrest the progress of a legislative act in the congress of the 
United States — an attempt which, if I am not greatly mistaken in the temper 
of the American people, will accelerate the measure it was intended to im- 
pede.' In the case before the senate the United States have a right oi 
session under the treaty of Ghent' — really only to Astoria by the terms of the 
restoration — 'and a right of entry under the treaty of 1818; but the latter 
is already half run out, and the former must be considered as abandoned if 
not renewed and effectually asserted.' He speaks of two wide-spread i 

that the English recognized the 49th degree as the boundary I 
; and second, that the United States granted to her the use of the 
I and the trade of its inhabitants for the period of ten years. The 

tains possession by virtue of his own cl 
and each agrees to tolerate the possession of the other for ten years.' ' I 
the linger of Russia in the trc; I y of 

E nd, securing to herself the means of strengthening 1 osions 

by joining to them the "claims" of all other "powers and states."' 'The 
republic, partly through its own remissness, partly from the concessions of 
our mi London, but chiefly from the bold j ad, is 

in imminent danger of losing all its territory beyond the Rocky Mountains.' 


a legitimate title to a large part of the territory ; and 
it was important that the people should not be caught 
napping, and so permit their prospective title to go by 
default. There doubtless was such a popular impres- 
sion as Benton's warning was intended to remove. 
His four points were all well made and timely. More- 
over, it was well to create a public sentiment for the 
time when negotiations for a new treaty would be in 
order. But for many } T ears the question attracted 
very little popular attention either in the United 
States or in England. 15 

Meanwhile, in 1821-4, there were in progress 
certain negotiations between the United States and 
Russia which should be noticed here. 

A dozen years earlier there had been some unsuc- 
cessful negotiations for the regulation of trade, during 
which the Russians had implied that their possessions 
rightfully extended at least down to the Columbia, 
while the United States gave expression to the idea 
that the Spanish title probably had extended up to 
60°. Now on September 4, 1821, the emperor, in a 
formal edict approving certain rules of the Russian 
American fur company, declared that the Northwest 
Coast down to latitude 51° belonged exclusively to 
Russia, and prohibited all foreign vessels from ap- 
proaching within a hundred Italian miles of an}*- part 
of that coast. In February 1822, Secretary Adams 
called on M. Poletica, the Russian envoy, for an ex- 

lb NUes' Register, always reflecting very fully the spirit of the American 
press, has little on this topic of Northwest Coast occupation before 1S30. In 
1821, however, xx. 21-5. it takes from the National Intelligencer a communi- 
cation from William D. Robinson dated Jan. 1.3th, giving an account of the old 
explorers, urging the importance of further exploration by the United States, 
and dwelling also on 'the policy and necessity of our government fixing on a 
place on the Pacific Ocean for a commercial and military post.' To it is joined 
a shorter article on the same topic written by Commodore Porter in 181.3, in 
which he says, ' We possess a country whose shores are washed by the At- 
lantic and the Pacific.' And as late as 1S25 the Register, xxix. 151, says : ' The 
project of establishing a chain of military posts to the Pacific, and of building 
up a colony at some point near the mouth of the Columbia River, is again 
spoken of in the newspapers. We hope that it will be postponed yet a little 
while. It is the interest of either the old Atlantic, or of the new states in the 
west, that a current of population should now be forced beyond the present 
settled boundaries of the x'epublic. ' 


planation of that extraordinary edict. In reply, that 
official defended the right of his nation to the terri- 
tory claimed, on the grounds that tin- discoveries of 
Bering and Chirikof in 1741 had extended to 40°; 
that Haro, in 1789, had found eight Russian estab- 
lishments in latitudes 48° and 49°; and that 51° Was 
midway between Sitka and the Columbia, besides the 
usual protestations of undisputed rights of discovery 
and possession. The first two statements were not 
true, and the third not relevant; to say nothing of 
there being no possible defence of the hundred-mile 
prohibition. Mr Adams alluded to the fact that the 
charter of the fur company did not extend Russian 
claims below 55°, and trusted that an interdiction 
manifestly incompatible with American rights would 
not be enforced; while M. Poletica, with a warning 
against trouble for which American traders could only 
accuse their own imprudence, promised to refer the 
er to his emperor. 10 
Resulting negotiations between Russia and the 
United States were carried on in 1823-4 by Mr Mid- 
dleton and Count Nesselrode at St Petersburg. Rus- 

16 President's Mess, and Doc, April 17, 1S22, in Annals of Congress, 17th 
- is., 2130-59; also in Ameri < 'or. Bel., iv. 856-64. 

Quarterly /'■ m w, xxvi. 3-43-G, of January IS - -''-', some comments woo 
made on the Russian policy ami the edict of 1821: 'Whether this wholi 
usurpation of 2,000 miles of sea-coast, to the greater part of which Russia can 
have no possible claim, will be tacitly passed over by England, Spain, and the 
United States, the three powers must interested in ir, we pretend not to 
know; but we can scarcely be mistaken in predicting that his Imperial Majesty 
will discover, at no distant period, that he has assumed an authority and 

1 a principle which ho will hardly be permitted to i Two 

somewhat carious admissions by this English writer are the following: ( 0n 
the ground of priority of discovery it is si lear that England 

has if claim to territorial possession. On this principle ii woul I jointly 
belong to Russia and Spain;' and 'the whole country from lat. -"ii 30' to tin; 
boundary of the United States in latitude is , or thereabouts, is now and has 

sen in the actual possession of I mpany.' in 

tin- North American Rem 22, xv. 370-401, wasalso published an 

mation of the Russian claims to the Nbrthwi i oi America,' 

written apparently by Captain William Stui is a sound 

one, but does not cl ity for the United dythe 

privilege of tier to .din 

the British parliament, and appears to have created considi rabl i citement.' 

July 27. 1822, xxii. 349, contains i 
Times and the Liverpool Mercury. The former says: 'So sunk has the country 
been by its misfortunes that the imperial document has been permit 


sia made a feeble effort to substantiate her claims as 
based on discovery; tried to avoid the issue by the 
assertion that the boundary question was one between 
herself and England, in which the United States had 
no interest; even set up the plea that the treaty with 
Spain gave the United States a right only to territory 
north of 42°, and not to anything west of the merid- 
ian where that line touched the coast; struggled some- 
what earnestly against every proposition involving 
free trade on her coasts; and finally consented to a 
treaty on reasonable terms. So far as her exclusive 
pretensions below 55° were concerned, Russia was 
altogether in the wrong, even if her rival was not 
entirely in the right; and the intricacies of the nego- 
tiation have but slight importance in history. The 
treaty was signed on April 5th ( 1 7th), 1824. By it the 
boundary was fixed at latitude 54° 40', beyond which 
neither nation was to found any establishment or to 
resort without permission to those of the other; though 
for a period of ten }-ears the vessels of either nation 
were to have free access for trade and fishery to all 
interior waters of the other's territory. Thus Russia's 
claims below 54° 40' were relinquished, as had been 
those of Spain above 42°, to the United States; and 
the field of controversy between the latter and Great 
Britain was clearly defined. 17 In February 1825 a 
treaty was concluded between England and Russia, 
by which the latter again relinquished her claim not 
only to the region below latitude 54° 40', but to the 
broad interior up to the frozen ocean. 13 The United 

pass without one individual of the British parliament having ventured to 
observe upon it. Luckily for the -world the United States of America have not 
submitted with equal patience to the decrees of the autocrat.' The Register 
of 1S23, xxiv., lias references to the matter on pp. 16, 112, 146, 245, 2S1, 310. 
This subject attracted much more popular attention than the dispute with 
Great Britain. In the last item alluded to the debate in the English parlia- 
ment is described, when in regard to a question of Sir James Mcintosh, Mr 
Canning replied that his government had protested against the Russian ukase, 
and that negotiations were still pending. 

17 All the correspondence, etc., including the treaty, is found in the Presi- 
dent's Mess, and Doc., Dec. 15, 1824, in American State Papers, For. Eel., v. 

18 The boundary was 54° 40', Portland Channel, to 56°, summit of coast 


States made do formal objection, though that power 
had protested in advance that it, would not be bound 
by any convention made by England separately. 

Bui the record of these negotiations, while unim- 
portant so far as the Russian aspepts of the matter are 
concerned, had much importance in its bearingon the 
English pretensions; because, in the first place, it con 
tained incidentally a much fuller statemenl of the early 
title-giving transactions than had before been extant ; 
and secondly, it included vrvy definite assertions, not 
only of an exclusive claim on the part of the United 
3, but of the principles constituting what was 
known later as the Monroe doctrine. It was the desire 
of the United States, since English interests as well as 
Americanwereat stake, that a joint convention between 
the three powers should be formed, similar to that of 
1818; and a clause was also suggested to the effect that 
Russia should found no establishments south of lati- 
tude 55°, the United States none north of 51°, and 
Great Britain none north of 55°, or south ol 51 ", 
though there was indicated a willingness to accept 
49° instead of 51°. After some hesitation England 
refused to join in the negotiations, partly, as we may 
suppose, because of the latitude suggested, but eh icily 
because of the recent action of the American congress 
and promulgation of the Monroe doctrine, which not 
only was displeasing to Great Britain, but was likely 
to be equally so to Russia, and might cause a kind of 
defensive alliance between the two powers against 
American pretensions. I append a series of brief 
quotations, to illustrate the position now assumed by 
the United States. 19 

mountains, and 141st meridian north to the ocean. On 

claims, pp. 34-2-3, that this treaty virtually annulled 
: noted that in the former, Russia had merely agreed 

no t tos< the line; while in the latter that line is called l jthe line 

□ between the possea ions oi the tu 

of the United States from I- to m on ! ' >cean we 

f ,],,. , i Loration, and the i ttlement oi Asto- 

ria. •'!!.; territory is to the United States of an impoi ance which do pos- 
session in North America can be to any European nation.' ' It is not to be 


In congress the matter was again brought up at 
the end of 1823, by a motion of Mr Floyd to "inquire 
into the expediency of occupying the Columbia or 
Oregon river," and by the committee then appointed 
a bill was reported in January 1824. An estimate of 
expense for the transportation of troops was obtained 
from the quartermaster -general, the amount being 
$30,000. In April a letter was submitted from 
General Jesup on the advantages and difficulties of 
the proposed occupation. This officer strongly favored 
the measure from a military point of view; expressed 
the opinion that there should be at least three posts 
on the Columbia; and added: "They would aiford 
present protection to our traders, and on the expi- 
ration of the privilege granted to British subjects to 
trade on the waters of the Columbia, would enable 

doubted that long before the expiration of that time (ten years) our settlement 
at the mouth of the Columbia River will become so considerable as to offer 
means of useful commercial intercourse with the Russian settlements. ' The 
principle of the convention of ISIS was that the Northwest Coast ' could not 
be considered as the exclusive property of any European nation.' ' With the 
exception of the British establishments north of the United States, the remain- 
der of both the American continents must henceforth be left to the manage- 
ment of American hands.' ' The right of the United States to the Columbia 
River, and to the interior territory washed by its waters, rests upon the dis- 
covery ' by Gray, exploration by Lewis and Clarke, settlement of Astoria, and 
acquisition of the rights of Spain, ' the only European power who, prior to 
the discovery of the river, had any pretensions to territorial rights . . . the 
waters of the Columbia extend by the Multnomah to 42°. . .and by Clarke's 
River to 50° or 51° . . . To the territory thus watered, and immediately contigu- 
ous to the original possessions of the United States . . . they consider their 
right to be now established by all the principles which have ever been applied 
to European settlements on the American hemisphere. ' . . . ' It is not imaginable 
that in the present condition of the world any European nation should enter- 
tain the project of settling a colony on the Northwest Coast. That the United 
States should form establishments there with views of absolute territorial right 
and inland communication, is not only to be expected, but is pointed out by 
the finger of nature, and has been for many years a subject of serious delibera- 
tion in congress. A plan has for several sessions been before them for estab- 
lishing a territorial government on the borders of the Columbia River. It 
will undoubtedly be resumed at their next session, and even if then again 
postponed there cannot be a doubt that in the course of a few years it must 
be carried into effect. ' ' The American continent henceforth will no longer 
be subject of colonization . . . the application of colonial principles of exclusion, 
therefore, cannot be admitted by the United States as lawful upon any part of 
the Northwest Coast, or as belonging to any European nation. ' Adam*, July 22, 
1S23. ' It appears probable that these two nations (Spain and England) have 
not now any possession upon the Northwest Coast between 42° and 60°.' M'al- 
dleton. ' Great Britain, having no establishment or possession upon any part 
of the Northwest Coast of America, she can have no right or pretension, except 
.such as may result from her convention with Spain.' Id., Report to Adams. 


us to remove them from our territory and to Becure 
the who],' to our citizens.' 

In the discussions of I December some slighi allusion 
was made to English rights under the treaty, but 
alwavs to temporary rights only, there being no doubt 
expressed of the title of the United States. Mr 
Buchanan thought that the free-trade of the treaty was 
diametrically in opposition to the establishmeni of the 
proposed port of entry. Mr Smyth admitted thai Eng- 
land had a military post at the mouth of the( Jolumbia, 
and a righi to retain it until the expiration of the term 
of ten years. Mr Trimble held that "our rights will 
erase at the end often years; and. instead of our people 
having the exclusive right to trade there after October 
we shall he excluded from the trade entirely; 
whereas if we take possession now as we ought to do, 
and have a char right to do, the rights of the British 
traders and navigators there will cease in October 
! 28. England has only the color of a claim, hut to 
this she has wrongfully superadded an actual posses- 
sion: and we must speedily reoccupy the country, or 
we shall have to treat for its reclamation at an obvi- 
ous disadvantage." Mr Cook even "wished to press 
upon the house the question whether the establisl Lment 
of the contemplated post, taking formal and effectual 
possession of that region, would not be viewed by 
England as an infraction of the treaty." But for the 
mosl part the discussion, as before, related to the 
expediency rathei- than the right of occupation, some 
members also favoring a. colony and a territorial gov- 
ernment for Oregon, while others preferred a mere 
military post. The bill was passed December 23, 
L824, by a vote of I L3 to 57. As it never became a 
law it is not necessary to notice its features more 
fully. 21 

78, 1203, L622, 
"234."). Ji ited April "_!<■. 1824. 

" Annals of Congress, 18th Cong., U St .. M 27, 36 61; B ' Abridg. 
DebaU j ofCongn ss, viii. 202 21. Mr FI03 L called attention to the Columbia 
region "as the only point 1 rh< re a naval powi r can reach tli«' 

III- 1- N.'\V. COAST. \. .- II 


In his message to congress of December 1823, 
President Monroe had said, referring to the negotia- 
tions affecting the Northwest Coast: "The occasion 
has been judged proper for asserting as a principle in 
which the rights and interests of the United States 
are involved, that the American continents, by the 
free and independent condition which they have as- 
sumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be con- 
sidered as subjects for future colonization by any 
European powers." This was the subsequently famous 
' Monroe doctrine.' Of course this announcement had 
no effect on the respective rights of Great Britain and 
the United States ; but it naturally offended the former 
power, and, as supplemented by the policy of congress, 
and especially by Jesup's proposition to "remove 
British subjects" at the expiration of the ten years, 
was a most formidable obstacle to the success of the 
negotiations to be recorded in the next chapter. In 
his message at the end of 1824, President Monroe 
suggested "the propriety of establishing a military 
post at the mouth of the Columbia, or at some other 
point in that quarter within our acknowledged limits," 
recommending an appropriation to send a frigate for 
the necessary exploration. 22 

East India possessions of our eternal enemy Great Britain. ' By occupying it 
'we take the strongest and surest security of Britain for her future good- 
behavior.' We also 'procure and protect the fur- trade, worth to England 
three millions of dollars a year.' England 'wants nothing now, to give her 
the entire control of all the commerce of the world for ages to come, but a 
position on our western coast, which she will soon have unless you pass this 

22 American State Papers, For. Bel., v. 246, 35S. 




Negotiations of 1S24— HrjsKissoN and Canning— Adams' Instructions 
io Rush— Statement of the American and British Claims— Prop- 
ositions Rejected— Merits of the Case— Monroe Doctbine— Occu- 
pation of Oregon in the Senate, 1825— Views of Benton and 

Others— Key-note of American Sentiment — Baylies' Report, 1S2G — 
Negotiations of 1826-7 — Gallatin versus Huskisson and Adding- 
ton— Claims and Counter-claims— Exclusive Title of the I 
States, with British Objections — Discovery— Settlement— Con- 
tiguity— Spanish Title— Nootka Convention— Cumulative Title- 
United States Offer 4'J 3 and Navigation of the Columbia— Eng- 
land Offers the Columbia and Southern Shore of Fuca Strati 
Not Accepted— Joint Occupancy Indefinitely Extended— Gali \- 
tin's Suggestions of Policy— Congressional Discussion of 1828-9. 

In the negotiations of London, 1824, England was 
represented by William Huskisson and Stratford 
( '.inning, and the United States by Mr Rush. The 
instructions of Secretary Adams to the latter have 
already been cited at some length. 1 In them it is 
stated as a reason for opening negotiations so long- 
before the expiration of the existing treaty: "This 
interest is connected in a manner becoming from day 
to day more important with our territorial rights; 
with the boundary relations between us and the Brit- 
is! i North American dominions ; with the whol< i sysl em 
of our intercourse with the Indian tribes; with the 
fur-trade; the fisheries in the Pacific Ocean; the com 
merce with the Sandwich Islands arid China; with our 
boundary upon Mexico; and, lastly, with our political 

1 See note 19 of the preceding chapter. 


standing and intercourse with the Russian Empire." 2 
After Great Britain's refusal to treat for a joint conven- 
tion with the United States and Russia, the American 
envoy continued his efforts to secure a separate treaty, 
combining this subject with several others respecting 
which negotiations were pending. It came up first 
at the eleventh conference on April 1, 1824, and was 
discussed, verbally for the most part, at several subse- 
quent conferences, until July 1 3th. The spirit of the 
discussion on both sides was shown in Mr Rush's 
report of August 12th, in which he announced the 
failure of his efforts. 3 

Mr Rush, in accordance with his instructions, made 
a definite announcement of his government's claim to 
exclusive ownership of the Northwest Coast. From 
Spain the United States had obtained in 1819a right 
"surpassing the right of all other European powers on 
that coast," Spain having lost "all her exclusive colo- 
nial rights recognized" by the Nootka convention of 
1790, both because of the independence of the Spanish 
American States, and of her renunciation of all claims 
above latitude 42°. But apart from the right acquired 
from Spain, "the United States claimed in their own 
right and as their absolute and exclusive sovereignty 
and dominion the whole of the country west of the 
Rocky Mountains from the 42d to at least as far up 
as the 51st degree of north latitude," a right de- 
pending on the discovery of the Columbia by Gray 
from the sea and by Lewis and Clarke from the inte- 
rior, and on the Astor settlement. Moreover, he an- 
nounced the Monroe doctrine, that no part of the 
American continent was longer open to colonization 
by foreigners. Having thus clearly set forth the 

2 The instructions of July 22, 1S23, are given also in American State Papers, 
For. Pel, v. 791-3. 

3 American State Papers, For. Pel, v. 553-64, 5S2, being the report of 
Rush, protocols of those conferences at which the Northwest Coast was con- 
sidered, and a few other papers on the subject. The whole correspondence on 
six topics of discussion, of which the Northwest Coast was only one, and not 
a prominent one, is found in Id., 510-82, being the President's JIcss. and Doc, 
Jan. 20, 1S25. 


principles involved, the American envoy proposed as 
a settlement of the question, an extension of article 
3 of the convention of 181s for an additional period 

often year-, with a stipulation that during thai time 
no settlements should be made by the subjects of 
Greai Britain south of latitude 5 I , or by Americans 
north of that line. 

The English commissioners refused to accept either 
principles or proposal. "They said that Great Brit- 
ain considered the whole of the unoccupied parts of 
America as being open to her future .settlements in 
like manner as heretofore, as well that portion of 
the Northwest Coast between the 42d and the 51st 
degrees as any other parts. She had not, by her con- 
vention with Spain in 1700, or at any other period, 
conceded to that power any exclusive rights on that 
coast where actual settlements had not been formed. 
She could not concede to the United States, who held 
the Spanish title, claims which she had felt herself 
obliged to resist when advanced by Spain." Nor would 
Great Britain admit the validity of the discovery by 
Captain Gray; or that the entrance of a private indi- 
vidual into a river, even if it were the discovery, could 
give the United States a claim up and down the coast 
to regions that had been previously explored I > v offi- 
cially despatched British expeditions like that of Cook. 
It was added, in part erroneously, that "on the coast, 
a few degrees south of the Columbia, Britain had made 
purchases of territory from the natives before the 
United States were an independent power, and upon 
that river itself, or upon rivers that flowed into it. her 
subjects had formed settlements coeval with, if not 
prior to. the settlement by American citizens a1 its 
mouth." Drake's exploration up to is was also al- 
luded to, the America us in reply setting the limit at 
43°, and referring to Fuca's voyage and Aguilar's up 
to L5°. The Englishmen denied mosl emphatically 
thai the restoration of Fort Astoria under the treaty 
of Ghent had any bearing on the title; and also that 


the Nootka convention had recognized or implied any 
exclusive title belonging to Spain. 

Great Britain proposed, however, pretending con- 
cession, to accept as a boundary the line of 49° from 
the mountains to the north-east branch of the Colum- 
bia, known as McGillivray River, and down the river 
to the sea, neither party to found establishments be- 
yond this line, but those already founded not to be 
disturbed for ten years, the whole region to be free 
for trade to both parties for the same period, and the 
navigation of the Columbia to be forever free to the 
vessels of both nations. This was rejected, as was 
in its turn the amended proposition of the Americans 
offering the latitude of 49° instead of 51° as a boun- 
dary. Thus nothing was effected by the Americans, 
and the convention of 1818 remained in force. Mr 
Rush found the British representatives very inde- 
pendent in their tone, and by no means disposed to 
be conciliatory, but rather to complain of the attitude 
recently assumed by the United States. 

Thus the United States openly asserted exclusive 
ownership of the Northwest Coast. The title resting 
on the Spanish claim and on the operations of Gray, 
Lewis and Clarke, and Astor was now deemed per- 
fect. Apparently each of the two elements consti- 
tuted about three fourths of a title, the two combined 
amounting to a title and a half; whereas if either had 
been perfect, and the other consequently nothing, the 
sum total would have been only one title. Thus each 
element was ingeniously left weak enough to give the 
other strength. Great Britain disputed the exclusive 
title of the United States, but claimed none for her-, 

Though not presented in its full strength by Hus- 
kisson and Canning, who made more blunders than 
Rush, the position assumed was a sound one, how- 
soever the proposition to adopt the Columbia as a 
boundary might be regarded. That Gray's entry 
into a river previously discovered, on a coast repeat- 


edly explored by vessels of different nations, even 
as supplemented by Lewis and Clarke's exploration 
of eastern branches up to 47°, could give to the 
United States a title to the whole coasl north and 
south to the supposed head-waters of the main ( lolum- 
bia, first explored for hundreds of miles by British 
subjects; and of the Multnomah, explored by Eng- 
lish hunters if at all, is a proposition thai cannot 
wholly be sustained. 4 The right of Great Britain 
rested solely on the actual occupation by her fur- 
hunters of several points in the territory; but occupa- 
tion by fur-hunters is quite different from occupation 
by settlers. The right of the United States rested 
on the occupation of Fort Astoria and a few other 
points, the validity of which had been conceded by 
England. How long the validity of such a possession 
would continue without actual occupation is a question 
that seems never to have been discussed; perhaps 
until the expiration of the ten years. Neither right 
amounted to anything like an exclusive title, but the 
British was a little less absurd than the American. 
Had each claimed the right to exclude the other, 
they would have been about upon an equality. I 
cannot think that the United States possessed the 
right to exclude English settlers south of the Colum- 
bia, or that the English had the right to exclude the 
Americans north of that line; indeed the latter claimed 
no such right. At this stage of the proceedings and 
for these many years it was simply a matter for arbi- 
tration. 6 

*It should also be noted that Fraser Paver, discovered by the Spaniards in 
or before 170-'. Mas explored for some distance by Mackenzie in 1793. This, 
accordin,' to 1 1 1 « ■ American theory of 1824, would certainly give England a 
better title down to 49° than Lewis and Clarke's later operations could 
the United States above that latitude. Twiss, Or. Quest., 284 ■">. points out 
the inconvenience of Rush's theory as applied to such streams as the Columbia 
and Fi 

5 Mr Greenhow, Or. and CaJ., 340-1, comments as follows on one phase of 
the negotiation: 'The introduction by him (Mr Rush) oi the Nootka conven- 
tion as an element in the controversy was according to express instructions 
from his government. It appears to have been wholly unnecessary, ami was 
certainly impolitic. , No allusion had been made to that arrangi ment in any 
of the previous discussions with regard to the north-west coasts, and it Mas 


The announcement of the Monroe doctrine had, of 
course, no bearing on the merits of the question, or 
on the rights of European nations. The United 
States had a right to announce and maintain this pol- 
icy of self-defence, and by force or a standing threat 
to employ force, to prevent European colonization on 
the Northwest Coast, or in any other part of Amer- 
ica, if they possessed the power. 6 

At the end of 1824, as we have seen, the lower 
house of congress had passed a bill for the occupation 
of the Oregon Territory, and President Monroe had 
recommended the measure in his last message. In 
February 1825 the bill was discussed in the senate, 
chiefly by Barbour of Virginia, Dickerson of New 
Jersey, and Benton of Missouri. The two questions 
considered by Mr Barbour were, Have the United 
States a right to the territory proposed to be settled? 
and, Is it politic now to occupy it in the way proposed 
by the bill? Both of these questions he decided most 
emphatically in the affirmative, without entering very 
fully into detail, but referring with approval to the 
arguments of Mr Rush in the recent negotiations. 7 

doubtless considered extinct ; but when it was thus brought forward by the 
American government in connection with the declaration against European 
colonization, as a settlement of general principles with regard to these coasts, 
an argument was afforded in favor of the subsistence of the convention of 
whiclT the British government did not fail to take advantage, as will be 
hereafter shown. If the Nootka convention were, as asserted by the secre- 
tary of state, a definitive settlement of general principles of national law 
respecting navigation, etc., it would be difficult to resist the pretensions of 
the British plenipotentiaries with regard to the territories west of the Bocky 

G The Monroe doctrine is believed to have been devised secretly by repre- 
sentatives of the United States and England as a measure against the Holy 
Alliance, to prevent the re-occupation by Spain of her former American col- 
onies. To assert it against England so soon and in so petty a matter was, to 
say the least, a very peculiar pnase of American diplomacy. 

7 ' If,' as Mr Barbour bebeved, 'America in the spirit of friendship and for- 
bearance had made a sacrifice to Bussia of five degrees of her just claims on the 
Northwest Coast, and in the same spirit had been willing to make an equal 
sacrifice to Great Britain ( ! ), ' he hoped ' on her part she would eagerlv seize this 
proof of good-will, and close with the terms proposed. Be that as it may, the 
United States can yield no further. As a consequence our claim must be held 
as unquestionable many degrees to the north of the proposed settlement. As 
a matter of curiosity, and indeed as connected with the question in hand, one 
may be permitted to recur to the pretensions of the European nations to the 



Mr Dickerson in opposing the measure did not 
doubt the validity of his nation's title, though he 
more aearly took that ground than any American 
speaker that had preceded him. " It is true," he said, 
"by the operation of certain causes we have acquired 
thai territory; but that circumstance surely imposes 
upon congress no obligation to provide for its occupa- 
tion or population, unless the interests of the United 
States should require it;" 8 and this he denied. "Ore- 
gon can never he one of the United States. If we 

extend our laws to it, we must consider it as a colony." 

And he expressly declared that the adoption of the 
measure "would interfere with existing relations 
between the British government and ours." "This 
treaty expires in 1828, until which period it will be 
highly improper to take possession of this territory 
by military force, or to establish a port of entry there ; 
or indeed to exercise any act of possession or occupa- 
tion we did not exercise at the period of making this 
treaty; more especially in that part of the territory 
to which the British government laid claim, however 
unfounded." The measures could but provoke a col- 
lision needlessly; at any rate, diplomatic methods 
should be exhausted; and "should the negotia- 
tions occupy many years, it ought to excite no regret . 
as it would give the unhappy natives of that region a 
little more time to breathe upon the face of the earth, 
before the final process of extermination. If the 
two governments would make a perpetual treaty, to 

different portions of the new world. Spain, under w bom we claim (?), baa un- 
questionably the undivided credit of its first discovery, and to the extent to 
wbich this fact goes, the best title, to which she has superadded the 
the head of the Christian world, in the person of the pope; and however 
ridiculous the latb r may seem at this time, at the time of the exercise oi this 
high prerogative it was respected by the civilized world.' 

lie describes the hill as follows-. 'By the present hill, that portion of 
country lying on the Pacific Ocean, uorth oi the I2d degree, and w 

i [us, is to 1'- erected into the territory of Oregon, without 

defining its northern boundary. The president I «upy the same with a 

military force, and cause a suitable fortification to be erected. The Indian 

I for a tract uoi exceeding 30 miles square. I 
port of entry. . .whenever he shall think the public good may requin 
to appoint officers,' etc 


take no further possession of that territory than they 
now have, they would do more for the cause of 
humanity than has been done in the present age." 
On this senator's motion the bill was laid on the table. 
But it was taken up again a few days later, though 
it appears from remarks made at the time that there 
was no intention of passing the bill during this session, 
in order to give Mr Benton an opportunity of exjDress- 
ing his views. The senator from Missouri regarded 
Mr Dickerson's speech as "a general assault upon the 
principle, the policy, and the details of the bill;" and 
his own avowed purpose was "to expose and confute 
those parts of the gentleman's argument in which he 
had favored the pretensions of Great Britain at the ex- 
pense of the rights and interests of his own country." 
Beginning with the false assumption that Dickerson 
had admitted the validity of the English title north 
of the Columbia, the speaker proceeded to indulge in 
a series of brilliant misrepresentations of the question 
at issue. The spirit of his remarks and the accuracy 
of his statements are clearly illustrated by the appended 
extracts from his speech. 9 

9 'The moment we discovered it [the Columbia] she [England] claimed it; 
and without a color of title in her hand she has labored ever-since to overreach 
us in the arts of negotiation, or to bully us out of our discovery by menaces 
of war. In 1790 Captain Gray of Boston discovered the Columbia; and in 
1803 Lewis and Clarke were sent to complete the discovery of the whole river, 
and to take formal possession in the name of their government. ' No such 
possession was taken, to say nothing of the inaccurate dates. 'In 1793 Mac- 
kenzie had been sent to effect the same object; but he missed the sources of 
the river. . .and struck the Pacific 500 miles north of the Columbia.' Yet he 
found a river flowing into the Pacific farbelowthe head-waters of the Columbia, 
as Mr Benton does not add. Having at first alleged the discoveries of Cook and 
the purchase of lands from the natives, 'in subsequent negotiations the British 
agents further rested their claim upon the discoveries of Mackenzie in 1793, 
the seizure of Astoria during the late war'— no such point had been urged — 
' and the Nootka Sound treaty of 1790,' which in fact had as yet been mentioned 
only by the United States. ' Such an exhibition of title is ridiculous, and would 
be contemptible in the hands of any other power than that of Great Britain. Of 
the five grounds of claim which she has set up, not one is tenable against the 
slightest examination. Cook never saw any part of the Northwest Coast in 
the latitude of the Columbia'— but, yes, in latitudes claimed by the United 
States. As to the sale of lands, the natives 'are said to have residedto the 
"south" of the Columbia; by consequence, they did not reside upon it, and 
could have no right to sell a country of which they were not possessors; ' yet 
the land was still within the United States claim, or would have been had 
not the sale and land been entirely mythical. Mackenzie's trip has been 


The argument, like many another presented in later 
years, derived its force or plausibility from the un- 
founded assumption thai England like the United 
States claimed an exclusive title to the Northwest 
( !oast. Moreover, attention was drawn almost wholly 
to the mouth of the Columbia and to the post of 
Astoria. It was not difficult to show thai England 
had no right to expel the Americans from Astoria; 

already mentioned. On the seizure of Astoria Mr Benton says: 'Mr B 
[iu 1817] was remonstrating against the occupation by the United Stal 
the Columbia, and reciting that it had been taken possession of in his ma] 
oame, during the late war. "and had since been considered as forming a part 
of his Majesty's dominions." The word "since" is exclusive of all previous 
pretensions; and the Ghent treaty, whirl, stipulates for the restoration of all 
the captured posts, is a complete "extinguisher to this idle pretension. 1 Now 
tins is a deliberate misrepresentation. Instead of the words 'during the late 
war/ Mr Bagot had used the word 'early,' referring to a period Ion- pre- 
ceding the war, as Mr Benton well knew. The clause of the Nootka con- 
vention relied upon by England 'is that which gives the right of landing i a 
parts of the Northwest Coast not already occupied, for the purpose of carrying 
on commerce and making settlements. The first inquiry is whether the i 
in the latitude of the Columbia was unoccupied at the date of the Xootka 
treatv. The answer is in the affirmative. The second is, whether the English 
landed upon this ci >ast while it was so unoccupied. The answer is in the nega- 
tive'— this is not true unless by latitude of the Columbia its mouth only is 
considered— 'and this answer puts an end to all pretension of British claim 
founded upon this treaty, without leaving us under the necessity of recurring 
to the fact that the permission to land and make settlements, so far from con- 
templating an acquisition of territory, was limited by subsequent restrictions. ' 
There were no such restrictions to the erection of temporary huts for the per- 
sonal accommodation of fishermen and traders only. 'The truth is, Mr Presi- 
dent, Great Britain has no color of title to the country in question. She 
up none. There is not a paper upon the face of the earth in which a British 
minister has stated a claim . . .the claim of Great Britain is nothing but a naked 
pretension, founded in the double prospect of benefiting herself and injuring 

aited States. The fur-trader, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, isat the bottom 
of this policy.' Mr Benton inaccurately stated that the line of 49 ' was fixed by 
commissioners under the treaty of Utrecht. ' This boundary was acquiesced in 
for a hundred years. By proposing to follow it to the summit of the Rocky 
Mountains the British government admits its validity; by refusing to follow 
it out they become obnoxious to the charge of inconsistency,' etc. Benton 
would not "consume the time of thesenate in tracing the titles of Spain. They 

universally known to have been valid against Russia to latitude 58 .and 
against England throughout its whole extent. Having dif ques- 

tion of title, Benton took up that of possession. On this point he took 
four positions: '1. That the United States bad the rigl it oi True 

only bo i;iv as the postof Astoria was concerned. '2. Thai I Q had 

the' actual possession. 3. That she resists the possession of the United S 
—not the possession of Astoria. '4. That alter 1828 the part] in po 
will have the right of possession until the question of title shall be d< 
by arms or negotiation.' But for some gross exaggerations of Dickerson's 
positions, the arguments on these points were simil 

Benton in an early session, as already noted. Finally he presented an argu- 
ment in favor of the desirability and expediency of occupying the territory. 


that she claimed no such right was left entirely out 
of sight. The real question, the right of the United 
States to exclude British subjects — who had preceded 
the Americans on the coast both as explorers and 
traders, who had been the first to explore a large 
part of the Columbia, and who were in fur-trading 
possession of the country — from the. broad tract of 
coast and interior stretching northward to the head- 
waters of the Columbia, a right resting on the facts 
that Americans had been first to enter the river, 
to explore its eastern branches, and follow its main 
course to the sea — this question was not discussed 
at all. I am well aware that it is not my duty to 
reply to partisan speeches in congress; but I have 
noticed this one at considerable length because in 
it was struck the key-note of what became later 
the prevalent American sentiment, one of unintelli- 
gent, but for the most part honest, derision of the 
British 'pretensions' on the Northwest Coast, which 
made it well nigh treason to doubt the perfect validity 
of the United States title. Mr Benton concluded 
by stating that whatever use the republic might 
eventually decide to make of her Pacific territories, 
"there were certain preliminary points on which he 
believed that both the senate and the people of the 
United States would cordially agree, namely, neither 
to be tricked nor bullied out of their land, nor to 
suffer a monarchical power to grow up upon it." Then 
the bill was again laid on the table. 10 

President Adams in his message of December 6, 
1825, renewed the recommendation of his prede- 
cessor, alluding to the plan of military occupation as 
"already matured in the deliberations of the last con- 
gress." 11 

The only other congressional allusion to the subject 
in 1825, was a resolution introduced in the house 

10 Annals of Congress, ISth Cong., 2d Sess., 684-714j Benton's Abridg. De- 
bates of Congress, viii. 183-98. 

11 American State Papers. For. Bel., v. 765. 


by Baylies of Massachusetts to employ the sloop-of- 
war Boston to explore the Northwest Coasl between 

latitudes 42 e and 49°. 12 

That portion of the president's message relating to 
tlic establishment of a military post at the mouth of 
the Columbia was referred by the house to a select 
committee of which Mr Baylies was chairman, 18 and 
which presented two M>niewJiat lengthy reports dated 
January 16 and May 15, 1826. u The former was 
mainly filled with details respecting the country, its 
geography, soil, climate, productions, the value of its 
fur -trade, and the probable expenses of its occupa- 
tion. The second contained some additional and, to us, 
rather startling details of north-western geography, 
derived from one Samuel Adams Ruddock, who in 
1821 made a trip overland to New Mexico and thence 
to Oregon. Suffice it to say of Ruddock's trip, that 
his route was by Lake Timpanogos, in latitude 42 , the 
principal source of the River Timpanogos, the Mult- 
nomah of Lewis and Clarke, and down that river to 
the Columbia! 

But this report was chiefly filled by a narrative of 
the early voyages of discovery and exploration, and an 
examination of the question of title. The narrative 
was naturally not free from petty errors, which I have 
no space to chronicle. Gali, Fuca, and Fonte are 
given a place as discoverers whose statements can no 
longer be questioned, the discoveries of the first 
extending to 57° 30'. The most important errors were 
the statements that down to 1792, "that long range 
of coasl stretching from 44' 33' to 47° ;V. was wholly 
unknown; it had not even been descried,'"' making 
Gray the only discoverer; that no British subjects 

12 Benton's Abridg. Debatt j o/Congrrew, viii. 600-3; Cong.DebaU s,19thCong., 
■ 15. An amendment urged was to include in tl 
cry of the north-"« ■ 

ntinent (Lewis and Clark ■ called for in the house. / 


ibably on Dec. 7, 1825. Cong. Debates, 19th I - ,797. 

li Northwest Coast of America, Reports of Special > 
1826,in U. 8. Gov. Doc., 19th < ong.,1 tSess., II. 1: , 213. 


had any posts whatever on the western side of the 
mountains before the founding of Astoria; and that 
consequently all the posts of the united Northwest 
and Hudson's Bay companies "for all national and 
legal purposes are now and have been for several 
years in the possession of the United States." With 
this view of the facts it is not strange that the 
committee decided the American title to be indis- 
putable; while as to the British claim, "never was 
a great nation driven to such miserable expedients 
to cover that inordinate ambition which, not satisfied 
with half the world, seeks to add this little territory 
to her unwieldy colonial empire." Drake's voyage is 
the only element of the English title that is deemed 
worthy of serious consideration, and naturally presents 
but few difficulties. "After a careful examination of 
the British claim the committee have unanimously 
come to the conclusion that it is wholly unfounded. 
Neverthless, the minute examination which has been 
made by the English navigators of parts of this coast, 
ought perhaps to secure to the nation who patronized 
them something more than could be claimed as a 
positive right; but we think the offer of Mr Bush to 
continue the boundary along the 49th parallel of 
latitude was as great a concession as would be com- 
patible with our interests, our honor, or our rights." 
And the report concludes as follows: "The indiffer- 
ence of America stimulates the cupidity of Great 
Britain. Our neglect daily weakens our own claim, 
and strengthens hers; and the day will soon arrive 
when her title to this territory will be better than 
ours, unless ours is earnestly and speedily enforced." 
With these reports a new bill for the execution of the 
proposed measures seems to have been introduced, 
but if so it was laid on the table; and there was no 
further action on the subject till the end of 1828. 15 

15 The report of May loth is indorsed as 'referred to the committee of the 
whole house to which is committed the bill,' etc., showing that there was 
such bill. And Greenhow, Or. and Gal. , 344, says a bill was introduced and 


There were several special reasons why a definite 
settlement of the Oregon Question at an early date 
was desirable to both parties. England looked with 
much anxiety upon the agitation in congress, indi- 
cating a disposition on the part of the United States 
to occupy the territory in spite of the treaty. Should 
such a step be taken it would be necessary either to 
relinquish, in a manner repugnant to British pride, 
lights well founded and often boldly asserted, or to 
use force in defending the possession of a country not 
worth fighting for. Neither was a collision desirable 
to the United States. However, there was the warn- 
ing of Senator Benton that after 1828 by the law of 
nations Great Britain would be the party rightfully 
in possession if no steps of occupation were taken 
before that time. But it had become apparent to 
statesmen that such occupation as the treaty justified, 
that is the founding of posts at unoccupied spots 
giving only local title, was not practicable for the 
government, while no individuals or companies were 
likely now to enter the field of commerce as rivals of 
the English company. Settlers might cross the moun- 
tains in time, but not yet. The only way to avoid an 
undesirable, costly, and disadvantageous quarrel Mas 
to obtain from Great Britain an acknowledgment of 
American rights by a settlement of boundaries, or, 
that being impracticable, to secure a continuance of 
the joint occupation of 1818. 

Canning, British secretary of foreign affairs, made 
known in April 1826 to the United States minister, 
King, the disposition of his government to resume 
negotiations, and in June Clay sent Gallatin his in- 
structions. He was authorized to offer an extension 
of the line of 49° to the Pacific as a boundary. 

laid on the table. But in the printed record of congressional di bat I 
not the slightest record of any such bill, nor even of the reception and refer- 
ence of Baylies' reports. And when the matter came up in 1828,1 - 
begins abruptly with the consideration of 'a bill,' etc. Mr Greenhow is evi- 
dently somewhat confused in the matter, for he does not mention th< 
of the bill in 1824. 


" This is our ultimatum, and you may so announce it. 
We can consent to no line more favorable to Great 
Britain." 16 If no boundary could be agreed upon, the 
treaty of 1818 might be continued in force for an- 
other term of ten years. Huskisson and Addington 
represented the British government, and the first 
series of negotiations took place in London in No- 
vember and December 1826. 17 

In these negotiations, as recorded in the protocols 
of the different conferences, in the various proposi- 
tions offered on one side or the other, in Gallatin's 
reports to his government, and in the formal state- 
ments of national claims presented by both parties, 
the Oregon Question was much more fully and satis- 
factorily discussed than ever before. Errors of fact 
were largely eliminated, and missing links in title were 
supplied as a rule by complicated arguments on points 
of international law, usage, and justice, rather than 
by misstatements of early explorations. I shall attempt 
to give as complete a view of the respective claims as 
is possible without undesirable repetition of what has 
been said in preceding pages. 

For the United States was claimed as before an 
exclusive ownership of the north-west, founded, first, 
on the discovery and exploration of the Columbia 
River by Gray, and Lewis and Clarke. 13 On the 

16 Yet if the line should be found to cross the Columbia or any of its 
branches below the head of navigation, British subjects may have the right of 
navigation to the ocean. Five years may be allowed for removing any set- 
tlements existing beyond the line. 

"President's Mess, and Doc, Dec. 12, 1S27, 20th Cong., 1st Sess., in Amer- 
ican State Papers, For. Eel. , vi. 639-706. Two other topics were negotiated at 
the same time, a commercial convention and one respecting the north-eastern 

18 By these discoveries the United States had a right to claim against 
Great Britain and every other nation the whole territory drained by that 
river and its various branches ; together with a certain portion of the coast 
north and south of the river, citing the usage of England and other nations 
in granting charters to all territory watered by certain rivers. ' The extent 
of territory which would attach to first discovery or settlement might not in 
every case be precisely determined ; but that the first discovery and subse- 
quent settlement within a reasonable time of the mouth of a river, particularly 
if n«ne of its branches had been explored prior to such discovery, gave the 
right of occupancy, and rdtimately of sovereignty, to the whole country drained 
by such river and its several branches, has been generally admitted.' 


other hand it was denied thai Gray's entry into the 
river's mouth was anything more than "a step in the 
progress of discovery," since other aavigators, par- 
ticularly Meares, had preceded Gray on thai pari of 
the coast, and had even visited and named the bay 
which the river flows; while Broughton, imme- 
diately after ( rray, made much more extensive explora- 
tions. Ami especially was it denied that Gray's act, 
even if it had been the real discovery, could confer a 
title i;i exclusive sovereignty to such a vast extent of 
territory as was claimed. The argument was not a 
conclusive one, though it might have been strength- 
ened by an allusion to Heceta's discovery of the 
mouth of the Columbia. 19 

The title of the United States was founded, sec- 
ondly, upon the establishing of Fort Astoria, preced- 
ing that of any other power on the river. On behalf 
of England it was claimed that some of Thompson's 
posts on the Columbia were built before Astoria, which 
was not proven. It was admitted that the United 
States had a right to Astoria, but denied that such 
a post at the mouth, any more than Gray's entrance, 
could give title to so vast a territory. In this con- 

19 The charters cited by the United States were declared to be valid only 

•linst other subjects of the power granting them. That is, 'Had the 

United States thought proper to issue in 1700, by virtue of their national 

authority, a charter granting to Mr Cray the whole extent of country watered 

directly or indirectly by the river Columbia, such a charter would no doubt 

been valid in Mr Gray'a favor as against all other citizens of the United 

3. But can it be supposed that it would have been acquiesced in by 

either of the powers — Great Britain and Spain — which in thai simp yea 

preparing to contest by arms the possession of the country'' 'As I 

to discoveries,' says Gallatin, 'they refer to Meares' and Dixon's voyages to 

prove that the prior right, as respects the Straits of Puca or Gulf of Georgia, 

contestably theirs, several English vessels having entered them 
i ain I rray did. The inference which I understood them to <h 
bo far as the United States and British discoveries could constitute a tit: 
could establish none along the sea-coast north of the Columbia, the whole 
coast having, without reference to Drake or Cook, been explored by British 
aavigators prior to the date of any American discovery.' I ■ ' rray a 

act as the Americans alleged that 'the fact of the coasi extending 

from 42 to 50 being once known, the sole object of discovery for subsequent 
.tors was the entrance of straits, or of a large river communicating with 
the interior of the country. It was what Meares sought and what he failed 
had been the case with Maurelle, and others of his predecessors, and 
as also the case with Vancouver, who had in his journal recorded the 

Hist. N. W. Coast. Vol. II. 21 


nection the Americans claimed that the restoration 
of Astoria in 1818 was a recognition of the validity of 
their title, while the others held that the post had 
been restored under the treaty of Ghent, and had no 
bearing implied or expressed on the title of adjoining 
territory. This had been clearly enough expressed 
verbally and in instructions at the time; but Gallatin 
considered rather the absence of any written and for- 
mal reservation from the act of restoration. 

A third ground on which Gallatin based his country's 
claim, \tas that the territory in dispute if not a part of 
the Louisiana acquired in 1803, was at least contiguous 
to that region, and therefore belonged more naturally 
to the United States than to any other power. Occu- 
pants of Atlantic frontage or undefined inland area 
usually claimed back to the Pacific. Moreover, the 
destiny of Oregon to be settled from the United States 
rather than from Europe, was made an element of a 
kind of natural title. Addington denied that Louisi- 
ana had ever extended to the Pacific, nor would he ac- 
cept the theory that contiguity and destiny were to be 
deemed as solid foundations of exclusive sovereignty. 20 

Fourthly — I pay no attention to the original 
order of the propositions — the United States title 
was that derived from Spain by the treaty of 1819, a 

20 ' The United States claimed a natural extension of their territory to the 
Pacific Ocean, on the ground of contiguity and population, which gave them a 
better right to the adjacent unoccupied land than that of any other nation. 
This was strengthened by the doctrine admitted to its fullest extent by Great 
Britain, as appeared by all her charters, extending from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific, to colonies established then only on the borders of the Atlantic. In 
point of fact the occupancy on which Great Britain principally relied was 
solely owing to that westwardly extension of their trading settlements of 
Hudson Bay and its waters.' 'It will not be denied that the extent of con- 
tiguous territory to which an actual settlement gives a prior right, must 
depend in a considerable degree on the magnitude and population of that settle- 
ment, and on the facility with which the vacant adjacent land may, within a 
short time, be occupied, settled, and cultivated by such population as com- 
pared with the probability of its being thus occupied and settled. ' ' By refer- 
ring to the most authentic French maps it will be seen that New France was 
made to extend over the territory drained, or supposed to be drained, by rivers 
emptying into the South Sea.' From 1717 Louisiana 'extended as far as the 
most northern limit of the French possessions in North America, and thereby 
west of Canada or New France. The settlement of that northern limit still 
further strengthens the claim of the United States to the territory west of the 
Rocky Mountains;' how, is not very apparent. 


title regarded as perfect against thai of any other 
European power at the time of transfer, and for a 
territory extending up to latitude 60 * But England 
denied that Spain had in 181!) any title whatever. If 
the matter had uot otherwise been sei at rest, said Mr 
Huskisson, "nothingwould be more easy than to demon- 
strate that the claims of Great Britain to that country 
as opposed to those of Spain, were so far from vision- 
ary or arbitrarily assumed, that they established more 
than a parity of title to the possession of the country 
in question " either as against Spain or any other 
nation." This was hardly true; but Great Britain 
could not be expected now to admit the validity of a 
title about which she had been ready to fight thirty- 
six years earlier. 

However, the whole question had, it was claimed — 
and this was the key-stone of the British position in 
the negotiations of 1826-7 — been definitively set at 
rest by the Nootka convention of 1790. " Whatever 
the title may have been, either on the part of Great 
Britain, or on the part of Spain, prior to the con- 
vention of 1790, it was from thenceforward no longer 
to be traced in vague narratives of discoveries, several 
of them admitted to be apocryphal, but in the text 
and stipulations of the convention itself." " 

Previously to that time Spain had asserted an ex- 
clusive right, which England had disputed; but by 
the treaty the Northwest Coast was thrown open to 
the subjects of both powers, and practically to those 
of other nations, for all purposes of commerce and 
settlement, the sovereignty remaining in abeyance. 
This convention preceded not only Gray's discovery, 

21 Mr Clay says: ' By the renunciation and transfer contained in thi I 
with Spain of 1819, our right extended to the 60th degree of north latil 
And Gallatin: 'Byvirtneof their treaty with Spain, the United States claimed 
all which Spain might have lawfully claimed north of 42 , eitb< r aa derived 
from Spanish discoveries or by virtue of rights of sovereignty acknowl 
by other nations, and by Great Britain particularly;' and again: 'The United 
States have an undoubted right to claim both byvirtueof fixe Spanish di 
I their own.' 

^Huskisson and Addington'e Statement, i:<v.',. This statement and QotUattn t 
Counter-statement are reproduced in Qreenhoufa Or. and Col., 1 1G-05. 


but the Spanish transfer of Louisiana, and the later 
quitclaim above latitude 42°. Therefore with the rights 
acquired in 1819, they said, "the United States neces- 
sarily succeeded to the limitations by which they were 
defined and the obligations under which they were to be 
exercised. From these obligations and limitations, as 
contracted towards Great Britain, Great Britain cannot 
be expected gratuitously to release those countries 
merely because the rights of the party originally bound 
have been transferred to a third power." * 

This position was a new one, and one to which the 
American envoy was not prepared to make a full 
reply. His objections, besides the evasive one that 
this plea could affect only one of the several elements 
of the American title, were, however, threefold. First, 
that the Nootka convention was an instrument merely 
of a commercial nature, by which Spain without re- 
linquishing her exclusive rights or acknowledging any 
rights on the part of England, made a series of tem- 
porary concessions in return for others made by Eng- 
land, the settlements permitted being temporary posts 
for trade with the natives. Second, that even if the 
word 'settlement' was meant in its most unlimited 
sense, the stipulations were not made with a view to 
the ultimate territorial claims of the parties; the 
promiscuous and intermixed settlements, each free to 
subjects of either nation, were declared " incompatible 
with distinct jurisdiction and sovereignty;" and indeed 
the exclusive dominion was expressly left in abeyance. 
In other words, the right of exclusive sovereignty 

23 Or, as Mr Gallatin puts the British claims: 'The United States cannot 
claim under their treaty with Spain, any greater right than Spain then had; 
and as the Nootka convention has no reference to the discoveries, and is un- 
limited in its duration, they cannot resort to any Spanish discovery in support 
of their presumed title to any part of the country. This convention must be 
considered generally as having become an international law, at least for the 
Pacific; superseded* the claims ascribed to mere prior discovery; set aside the 
exclusive pretensions of Spain to the north-west part of America, and opened 
it to the commerce and settlements of all countries whatever, including the 
United States. Actual occupancy and regard to mutual convenience are, 
therefore, the only basis of any arrangement for the establishment of a boun- 
dary, for the partition, between the only powers having settlements or laying 
claims thereto, of a country which was heretofore held in common.' 


was simply suspended instead of extinguished, on both 
sides; so that when the question of ownership should 
finally come up, cadi claimant must refer not to the 
settlements founded since and under the convention, 
but to the original rights before the convention. 
Third, the Nootka convention, unless of the purely 
commercial character indicated above, was terminated 
by the war between Spain and England. 

As to the first objection, that the convention of 
1700 was a mere commercial and temporary concession, 
implying an exclusive title on the part of Spain rather 
than destroying it, and also that the settlements per- 
mitted were not compatible with the exercise of local 
sovereignty, I have already expressed decided opinion, 
and said perhaps all that is needed respecting the 
Nootka convention in all its aspects. The second 
objection involving the true meaning of the stipula- 
tion which left the sovereignty in abeyance, and the 
third, that the convention, not being such an acknowl- 
edgment of rights as the British deemed it, was ter- 
minated by war, might give rise to a verycomplici 
discussion on points of international law. The qu 
tions involved arc such as cannot be decided positively. 
I excuse myself, however, from the discussion, with 
its confusing net-work of citations from numerous con- 
flicting authorities, because I do not deem the decision 
in any sense essential. If the Nootka treaty was still 
in force in 1819, Spain clearly had no exclusive title 
to transfer to the United States; but if, on ace 
of the war, it was no longer in force, it by no m< 
follows that she had such a title. Whatever may be 
the interpretation of the treaty, I cannot admit, nor 
do I beli V any intelligent man will claim at this date, 
that Spain's title resting on discovery wa trong 
enough to remain intact and merit unlimiti 
from the nations after formal abandonmenl of I he ter- 
ritory in 1795. 24 Spain had the right, in common with 

a Mr Greenhow, Or. and Col., 321, admits, 

stances the title of Spain to the countries north of the bay of Sun i'runcisco, 


other nations, particularly England, to settle on un- 
occupied parts of the Northwest Coast. This was all 
the right the United States could obtain from her in 
1819; and it was worthless, because that right was 
already possessed. 

Finally Gallatin urged that if no one of the ele- 
ments of United States title was quite perfect, alto- 
gether they had a cumulative force amply sufficient 
to constitute an exclusive ownership. 25 On the other 
side it was held that one only of the three claims, those 
based respectively on discovery, acquisition from Spain, 
and contiguity, could be valid. " They are, in fact, 
claims obviously incompatible the one with the other. 
If, for example, the title of Spain, by first discovery, 
or the title of France as the original possessor of Lou- 

however strong it may have been in 1790 or 1796, in virtue of discoveries and 
settlements, must be allowed to have become considerably weaker in 1819 
from disuse, and from submission to the acts of occupation by other powers. 
Thus whilst it may be doubted that either of those powers could in justice 
claim the sovereignty of the country occupied by its subjects without the con- 
sent of Spain, the latter could not have claimed the exclusive possession of 
such country, or have entered into compacts with a third power respecting 
trade, navigation, or settlement in it agreeably to any recognized principle of 
international law. Still less could Great Britain have claimed the right to 
exclude other nations from the sovereignty of the regions traversed by the 
Columbia, in which her subjects had made no discoveries, and which had been 
first occupied by the United States, unless upon the ground of conquest during 
war, barred by the treaty of Ghent. ' Thus whilst the title . . . derived by the 
United States from Spain. . .was undoubtedly imperfect, though not from any 
possible effect of the Nootka convention, yet that title, in addition to those 
previously possessed by the Americans . . . appears to constitute a right in their 
favor, stronger than could be alleged by any other nation, if not amounting 
to an absolute right of sovereignty.' 

25 ' To each of them, taken by itself, objections might be made, tending to 
show that it did not constitute a complete right of sovereignty. Considered 
together, and supporting each other as they did, they appeared to us to estab- 
lish our claim on the most solid foundation.' ' But it is the peculiar charac- 
ter of the claim of the United States that it is founded on both principles, 
which in this case unite both in its support, and convert it into an incontes- 
table right. It is in vain that, in order to avert that conclusion, an attempt 
is made'to consider the several grounds on which that right is urged as incom- 
patible one with the other, as if the United States were obliged to select only 
one and to abandon the others. In different hands the several claims would 
conflict one with the other; now, united in the same power, they support each 
other. The possessors of Louisiana might have contended, on the ground of 
contiguity, for the adjacent territory on the Pacific, with the discoverers of the 
coast, or of its main rivers. The several discoveries of the Spanish and Ameri- 
can navigators might separately have been considered as so many steps in the 
progress of discovery, and giving only imperfect claims to each party. All those 
various claims, from whatever considerations derived, are now brought united 
against the pretensions of any other nation.' 


isiana be valid, then musi one or the oilier of these 
kingdoms have been the Lawful possessor of thai I 
ritory at the moment when the United Stat< - claim 
to have discovered it. If, on the other hand, the 
Americans were the firsi discoverers there is aeces- 
sarily an end of the Spanish claim; and ifpriority of 
discovery constitutes the title, thai of BVance falls 
equally : ground." The objections semi well 

taken, notwithstanding the ingenious American d< • 
of" admitting one element to bo not quite perfect in 
order to give some value to others, and secure a large 
and more than perfect aggregate. 

The following quotations from the statement of 
Huskisson and Addington will put the British position 
in a clear light, their arguments in opposition to the 
American claim having been already presented. "It 
is highly desirable to mark distinctly the broad differ- 
ence between the nature of the rights claimed. Over 
a large portion of that territory, namely, from the 4 2d 
to the 49th degree, the United States claim full and 
exclusive sovereignty. Great Britain claims no ex- 
clusive sovereignty over any portion of that territory. 
Her present claim, not iu respect to any part, but to 
the whole, is limited to a right of joint occupancy in 
common with other states, leaving the right of exclu- 
sive dominion in abeyance. In other words the pre- 
tensions of the United States tend to the ejection of 
all other nations, and among the rest, of Great Britain, 
from all right of settlement. The pretensions of Gr< at 
Britain, on the contrary, tend to the mere maintenance 
of her own rights." " It only remains for Great Brit- 
ain to maintain and uphold the qualified rights which 
she now possesses over the whole of the territory in 
question. Tic le right&are recorded and defined in the 
convention of Nootka. They embrace the right to 
navigate the waters of those countries: the righl to 
settle in and over any part of them; and the righl 
freely to trade with the inhabitants and occupiers <>f 
the same. These right- have been peaceably exerci 


ever since the date of that convention — that is for a 
period of nearly forty years. Under that convention 
valuable interests have grown up in those countries. 
It is fully admitted that the United States possess the 
same rights, though they have been exercised by them 
only in a single instance, and have not since the year 
1813, been exercised at all; but beyond these rights 
they possess none. To the interests and establish- 
ments which British industry and enterprise have 
created Great Britain owes protection. That pro- 
tection will be given, both as regards settlement and 
freedom of trade and navigation, with every attention 
not to infringe the coordinate rights of the United 
States. Fully sensible at the same time, of the 
desirableness of a more definite settlement, the British 
government will be ready at any time to terminate 
the present state of joint occupancy by an arrange- 
ment of delimitation. But such arrangement only can 
be admitted as shall not derogate from the right of 
Great Britain as acknowledged by treaty, nor prejudice 
the advantages which British subjects, under the same 
sanction, now enjoy in that part of the world." 26 

Such were the respective views entertained as to 
title. Mr Gallatin's offer in behalf of his country was 

26 ' It is a fact admitted by the United States, that -with the exception of 
the Columbia River, there is no river which opens far into the interior on the 
whole western coast of the Pacific Ocean. In the interior the subjects of 
Great Britain have had for many years numerous settlements and trading- 
posts; sevei-al of these posts on the tributary streams of the Columbia itself ; 
some to the northward, and others to the southward of that river; and they 
navigate the Columbia as the sole channel for the conveyance of their prod- 
uce,' etc. Mr Gallatin in reply denies 'that the trading - posts of the 
Northwest Company give any title to the territory claimed by America, not 
only because no such post was established within the limits claimed when the 
first American settlement was made, but because the title of the United 
States is considered as having been complete before any of those traders had 
appeared on the waters of the Columbia. It is also believed that mere 
factories, established solely for the purpose of trafficking with the natives, 
and without any view to cultivation and permanent settlement, cannot of 
themselves, and unsupported by any other consideration, give any better title 
to dominion and absolute sovereignty than similar establishments in a civilized 
country.' Mr Twiss, Or. Quest., 316, cleverly points out that this would 
iitterly undermine any claim of the United States resting on the Astoria set- 


the line of 49° as a boundary from the mountains to 
the ocean, together with navigation of the Columbia 
should thai river or any of its branches prove to be 
navigable above the lino.- 7 This offer was made "ina 
genuine spirit of concession and conciliation;" since 
by accepting it England would get a clear title to five 
degrees of latitude on the Pacific, over most of which 
the United States title properly extended. The only 
modification of this offer which Mr Gallatin showed 
any disposition toallow,thoughitwasnot formally pro- 
posed, was to give up the southern end of Vancouver 
Island, or the mouth of Eraser River if it should 
prove to be below latitude 49°, in return for regions 
above the line in the interior; but this was not 
approved by Mr Clay. 

The British offer was to make the Columbia the 
boundary up to latitude 49°, accepting that line be- 
tween the river and mountains. The navigation of 
the- river was to be forever free to vessels of both 
nations.- 3 This also was offered as a concession, 
because "to carry into effect this proposal Great 
Britain would have to give up posts and settlements 
south of the Columbia, On the part of the United 
States there could be no reciprocal withdrawing from 
actual occupation, as there is not. and never lias been, 
a single American citizen settled north of the Colum- 
bia." Mr Gallatin objected that this division would 
leave England in exclusive naval command of the 
: since the harbor at the river mouth was fitted 
only for commercial purposes, while north of Fuca 
Strait the coast abounded with deep ports for naval 
station-. Whereupon Mr Huskisson, admitting the 

blished within fifteen years, and meanwhile tlie 
! It was anticipated I 

ie a, perpetually fri < 

doubt that the river was navigable above 19°. There wa 

to what should be considered a u an. 

- s On the Americans objecting that the channel of the Columbia 
mouth was so close to the northern hank as to give the i-. iommand 

ered a stipulation that no work 
at the mouth or on the banks of the river to hinder I 
tion by vessels or boats of either party. 


force of the objection, offered to concede a detached 
territory, namely the peninsula formed by the Pacific 
above Gray Harbor, the Strait of Fuca, Admiralty 
Inlet, and Hood Canal, including the fine harbor of 
Port Discovery. 

Naturally with views of national rights so radically 
different, neither party would accept the offers of the 
other ; and it soon became apparent that no boundary 
could be agreed upon. 29 Accordingly the other alter- 
native, a continuance of joint occupancy was con- 
sidered. On account of certain conditions desired by 
England this matter had to be referred to the gov- 
ernment at Washington; and the negotiation was 
consequently suspended until June 1827, when the 
conferences were resumed, continuing until August. 
Charles Grant took Huskisson's place before the 
matter was concluded. 

In negotiating for a continuance of joint occupancy 
the Americans preferred a simple renewal of the 
treaty of 1818 for an additional period of ten years, 
without any other alteration than the omission of the 
clause relating to the claims of other powers, both 
Spain and Russia having relinquished their claims 
since the date of the treaty. The British government 
preferred a longer period, and earnestly contended for 
the addition of certain conditions. The following 
additional clause was first proposed : " It is further 
agreed that, during the said term of fifteen years, 
neither of the contracting parties shall assume or exer- 
cise any right of exclusive sovereignty or dominion 
over any part of the said country, nor form therein 
any establishment in support or furtherance of any 
such claim." 30 Subsequently the latter part of the 

29 A settlement of title on parts of the territory, leaving an intermediate 
space for joint occupancy, Avas informally proposed by Gallatin, but was not 
favorably received either by the British representatives or by the United 
States Government. 

30 Says Gallatin : ' The second article is intended not only to prevent the 
establishment of a territorial government by the United States, but also to 
establish the general doctrine that no exclusive sovereignty can be assumed or 


clause was modified to read: "Nor shall any settle- 
mem* which may now exist, or which maybe hereafter 
formed therein by either party during the said term 
en years, be at any time adduced in support 
or furtherance of any claim to such sovereignty or 
dominion." And finally Addington contended for the 
insertion in the treaty of some article defining the 
rights of the parties under the joint occupancy, or at 
least for an expression in the records of the English 
view respecting those rights. But Gallatin declined 
to accept anything of the kind. If there was any 
doubt respecting the rights of his nation under the 
l reaty, that doubt must not be removed. 

In these propositions and refusals both parties had 
in view the action of the United States congress. 
The proposed occupation of the Columbia was con- 
trary in several respects to the spirit of the treaty, 
as was well known to both parties; therefore Great 
Britain desired and the United States opposed an 
agreement on what steps the latter might legally take. 
Gallatin clearly thought it might be advantageous for 
his country in the near future to consider what Eng- 
land would permit rather than what might be right- 
fully claimed. In the verbal discussions, however, he 
made one good point in defence of the proposed i 
lishment of a territorial government; namely, thai as 
England had already extended her criminal juris- 
diction over the territories occupied by the trading 
companies, the United States would be obliged to 
establish some form of government, having no other 
way of exercising a similar jurisdiction for the pro- 
tection of subjects. 31 It was also maintained, and 

1 over any part of the country in its present situation, and, by implica- 

ction may be exercised sufficient to pre erve ord< c 


Mr Clay: 'The form of territorial governmi which is 

most approved by our i a a govemmenl m lit be considered 

ible with the second article if it wi easimple 

of the third articleof the convention of 1818, Greal Britain will have 

abundant security in the good faith of the United St olfilment 

of all its stipulations.' Ami Gallatin: '1 understood it to be the opinion 

of the- British plenipotentiaries that there could I 


plausibly, that the proper medium for either party to 
express its view as to what would be an infringement 
of the treaty was neither the treaty itself nor the 
records of the conferences, but a diplomatic note 
through the ordinary channels. 

The English plenipotentiaries refusing their assent 
to a renewal of the treaty for a fixed period without 
conditions, and the Americans declining to accept any 
conditions whatever, a compromise was agreed to at the 
conference of July 27th, to the effect that the treaty 
of joint occupation should be indefinitely renewed sub- 
ject to abrogation at any time by either party on 
twelve months' notice ; and this convention was signed 
on the 8th of August. 32 

Thus the question at issue was left exactly in its 

lishment of military posts, or to a jurisdiction confided by each power to its 
own citizens or subjects, and that any outrages committed by either such 
citizens or subjects on those of the other nation ought not to be considered as 
acts of»national aggression unless authorized by government.' 'Any impedi- 
ment to the free navigation of harbors and rivers, the laying duties or 
establishment of any custom-house, the removing or disturbing any British 
settlement, and the exercise of any jurisdiction over British subjects, would 
be considered as infractions of the condition. But it must be observed that 
they would be equally considered as infractions of the existing article without 
tin- additional condition.' 'The establishment of a distinct territorial gov- 
ernment west of the Stony Mountains would also be objected to, as an attempt 
to exercise exclusive sovereignty. . .It was suggested, and seemed to be 
acquiesced in, that the difficulty might be obviated, provided the erection of 
a new territory was not confined exclusively to the west of the mountains ; 
that it should be defined as embracing all the possessions of the United States 
west of a line that should be at some distance and east of the Stony Moun- 
tains.' ' By the act of parliament of July 2, 1821, Great Britain has assumed 
such jurisdiction as suited her own purposes. The United States on their 
part have not assumed or exercised auy sovereignty or jurisdiction. When- 
ever this may become necessary, they have the same right to do it in the 
manner most suitable to their institutions and to the pursuits of their subjects. 
The same reliance may bo placed on their violating no existing agreement. ' 

32 'Article 1. All the provisions of the third article of the convention on 
the 20th of October ISIS, shall be, and they are hereby indefinitely extended 
and continued in force, in the same manner as if all the provisions of the 
said article were herein specifically recited. 

' Article 2. It shall be competent, however, to either of the contracting 
parties, in case either should think fit, at any time after the 20lh of October 
1S2S, on giving due notice of twelve months to the other contracting party, to 
annul and abrogate this convention; and it shall in such case, be accordingly 
entirely annulled and abrogated after the expiration of the said term of notice. 

' Ai'ticle 3. Nothing contained in this convention, or in the third article of 
the convention of the 20th of October 1818, hereby continued in force, shall 
be construed to impair or in any manner affect the claims which either of the 
contracting parties may have to any part of the country westward of the 
Stony or Rocky mountains.' 


former state. Both nations formally reserved the 
right to assert their full claims in future unaffected by 
offers made during the negotiations. The remarks 
made in the preceding chapter about the settlement 

of 181s will for the most part apply equally well to 
that of 1827. "No unworthy concession was made, 
no loss of dignity or right was sustained on either 
side; and to break the amicable and mutually profit- 
able relations then existing between the two count ries, 
<ni a question of mere title to the possession of terri- 
tories from which neither could derive any immediate 
benefit of consequence, would have been impolitic and 
unrighteous," says Grecnhow. 33 The nature of the 
respective claims being alone considered, the result 
was a triumph for Great Britain. That nation had 
also the advantage of actual possession and of pros- 
pective profits in the fur-trade. But so far as per- 
manent possession was concerned, the advantage was 
on the side of the United States; for under the 
arrangement they might defer the final assertion of 
their pretended exclusive rights until the circum- 
stances should be favorable, permanent settlers being 
much more likely to come with time from the United 
States than from England. 

Thus each nation obtained what most favored its 
own real interests. For it was clearly evident from 
the spirit of the whole negotiation, and particularly 
from the offer, that neither existing settlements, nor 
others formed during a period of fifteen years, should 
ever be adduced in support of title, that Great Britain 
did not look forward to a permanent possession of the 
Northwest Coast. Indeed, according to Gallatin's 
report to Clay, Huskisson in the course of the discus- 
sion several times repeated that there was no inten- 
tion to colonize the country. "They have certainly 
no other immediate object than that of protecting the 

S3 Or. and Col. "."il. 'No settlements could' (were likely to?) 'be formed 
in the territory beyond the Rocky Mountains, by which it could acquire a 
population, while the arrangement subsisted.' 


Northwest Company in her fur- trade." In every other 
respect the question appeared to be with them rather 
one of national pride than anything else. 34 Again, 
and exactly to the point: "National pride prevents 
any abrupt relinquishment of her pretensions; but 
Great Britain does not seem indisposed to let the 
country gradually and silently slide into the hands of 
the United States, and she is anxious that it should 
not, in any case, become the cause of a rupture between 
the two powers." 35 

In his report of August 10, 1827, in which, as 
already cited, he explained the national feeling of 
England respecting the territory in dispute, Mr Gal- 
latin also took the liberty of making some very perti- 
nent suggestions on the policy that should be observed 
by the United States under the renewed treaty; that is, 
as to what steps of occupation might be taken without 
causing a collision with Great Britain. That nation 
would, he believed, insist on three restrictive condi- 
tions. First, "that no custom-house should be erected, 

34 It was doubtful if the offer respecting the settlement was not intended 
'to establish clearly, and to impress on their subjects that Great Britain 
neither now nor hereafter means to claim such exclusive sovereignty.' 'Not 
only from them, but from several other distinct quarters, it is certain that 
their pride was sorely wounded by that part of the late president's message 
which declared that America was no longer open to European colonization. 
Those parts of the second report of a committee of the house at the last 
session. . .gave great, fresh, and additional offence. I think it not improbable 
that we might have come to an arrangement had it not been for those causes. 
The Northwest Company is also very inimical, and has no inconsiderable 
weight.' Mr Huskisson said that 'the removal by the United States of any set- 
tlement made by British subjects would be considered as an act of aggression ;' 
but Astoria was considered as in possession of the United States, and had 
indeed been abandoned in favor of Vancouver across the river. ' In making a 
final agreement with the United States she considered the whole country as 
still open equally to both parties, and to be divided as such and on that 
principle.' ' There was in the course of the conversation more susceptibility 
shown by the British plenipotentiaries than was called for by my observations. 
That the United States had no light to dispossess a single British subject, or 
in any way to exercise jurisdiction in any part of the territory in question 
was again repeated, saying, however, that they claimed no such right on their 
side. The latter part of the conversation was more conciliatory. ' 

35 1 have been unable to find 'the gross misstatements with regard to the 
discoveries of the Americans, the extravagant and unfounded assumptions, 
and the illogical deductions in the document presented by them (the British 
plenipotentiaries) to Mr Gallatin,' mentioned by Mr Greenhow, Or. and CaL, 


nor any duties or charges on tonnage, merchandise, or 
commerce, be raised by either party in the territory 
of the Rocky Mountains." And this, indeed, 
would favor the United States by promoting settle- 
ment, especially as, with duties on articles for trade 
with the Indians, Americans could not compete with 
the English company. Second, "that the citizens and 
subjects of the two powers residing in or resorting to 
the' territory in question should be amenable only to 
the jurisdiction of their own country respectively." 
This subject should be determined by a positive com- 
pact, as might readily be done. 38 Third, "that no 
military post should be established by either party in 
the territory." That is, the right of the United 
States to establish such posts was not denied, but if 
the right were exercised Great Britain would be 
obliged to found similar posts ; and with such forts ex- 
isting on both sides, the dangers of collision and the 
probable difficulties of a peaceful arrangement would 
be greatly increased. This was as clear from the 
American as from the British standpoint. "Its real 
difficulty," says Gallatin frankly, "consists in that 
Great Britain having a much larger military estab- 
lishment than the United States, may, with no greater 
inconvenience, make larger detachments for any ser- 
vice of this kind; and that if she once takes posses- 
sion in this way, independent of the collisions it may 
occasion, it will render an ultimate relinquishment of 
that portion she would naturally occupy much more 
difficult on her part." The United States would have 
preferred that the American military posts should be 
deemed a kind of equivalent of English trading-posts 

36 Respecting the jurisdiction at Astoria, the post naturally to be first occu- 
pied, Mr Gallatin BUggests 'that the settlement and restitution of Astoria 
may be forcibly urged as strengthening the claim of the United States to the 
whole territory; but that it would be dangerous to adduce those incidents as 
giving a stronger claim to the absolute sovereignty over thai Bpot than on any 
other part of the territory. As there can be no higher title or right than 
that of such sovereignty, the argument could not be pressed without acknowl- 
edging that the right of the United States to the residue of the territory was 
something less than one of absolute sovereignty. ' 


for the protection of subjects and citizens; but Great 
Britain was not likely to appreciate the benefits of 
such an arrangement. 

It was believed by Gallatin, with much reason, 
that all these conditions might be arranged to the 
satisfaction of both parties; that of the military posts, 
presenting the greatest difficulties, by "the erection 
of a territory having for its eastern bound a line within 
the acknowledged limits of the United States, and 
describing the country over which the jurisdiction 
was to extend, generally, or in terms similar to those 
used in the act of parliament." The chief prospective 
obstacle to the success of this moderate policy, and 
that which these suggestions were doubtless intended 
to aid in removing, was the policy of an over-patriotic 
and excessively anti- British minority in congress. 
Could these men be kept in the minority by the con- 
tinued union of members who saw the subject in its 
true light and those who did not believe Oregon to 
be worth the occupation, the prospects of the United 
States on the Northwest Coast were very bright. 

Before the treaty and negotiations of 1827 were 
published, there was reported by the congressional 
committee on the Oregon Territory, of which Floyd 
was chairman, "a bill to authorize the occupation of 
the Oregon Biver," which came up for discussion 
after the treaty was made public, and occupied the 
attention of the house of representatives almost ex- 
clusively from Dec. 23, 1828, to Jan. 9, 1829. 07 This 
bill provided for the military occupation of the North- 
west Coast from latitude 42° to 54° 40', and the erec- 
tion of a fort; for the establishment of a territorial 
government over that extent of country, including the 
appointment of civil officers; for the establishment of 
a port of entry, with custom-house, revenue officials, 

37 Congressional Debates, 20th Cong., 2d Sess., 125-95; Benton's Abridg., x. 
273-315. Of this bill, before its appearance in committee of the whole on 
Dec. 23, I find no record whatever; not even a copy of the bill itself in it3 
original form, its purport having to be made up from the debate. 


and enforcement of United States revenue laws; and 
for grants of lands to American settlers." 8 It appeared 
thai petitions were extanl from companies iD different 
states composed of men who were willing to emigrate 
to Oregon if assured of protection and favored with 
certain privileges. Accordingly, at an early stage of 
the debate, an amendment was proposed to -rant large 
tracts of land to these associations, and to a certain 
extent to take their proposed establishments under 
government protection. 

As to the perfect validity of the United States 
title to the Northwest Coast no speaker expressed 
the slightest doubt; but beyond this point there was 
hopeless divergence of opinion. Floyd, as in earlier 
times the chief defender of the measure, in several long 
speeches, with two or three associates, maintained that 
Oregon was a very desirable possession in every 
respect; that it rightfully belonged to the United 
States; that Great Britain would not fight in support 
of her unfounded pretensions; and that if she did re- 
sist the righteous claims of the republic, so much the 
worse for Great Britain. They also tried to make it 
appear that the proposed occupation was not contrary 
to the spirit of the treaty, being no more than Eng- 
land had already done by the establishment of trading- 
posts which were really forts, and by extending the 
jurisdiction of Canada over those regions. 39 

38 Some friends of the measure claimed, that as no definite time was speci- 
fied for ita being carried into effect, it practically provided for the previous 
abrogation of the treaty by the required notice of twelve months. This was 
not admitted by its opponents. 

3a Mr Floyd said: ' There is nothing more clear than that the title of the 
United States was pond to all the territory west of the Rocky Mountains, from 

36 t" 61 .' 'It is tli tlypoint on the globewhere a strong power canstrike 

at the British possessions in the East Undies.' 'Js it possible for an American 
congress to submit not only to the murder of our citizens in those regions, but 
to the darinj the British parliament in passing a law extending 

the jui the courts of upper Canada over the whole Lndian country? 

Sir, my country ought qoI to submit to this for a single m >ment. [f England 
has not yet learned to re ped the sovereignty and rights of the confedi 
she must he taught that lesson; and, sir, it must and shall be taught her; and 
that, too, at oo distant day, in a way which she will not easily forget.' Mr 
Richards. .n deemed the title indubitable, and the country well worth the 
probable cost. He would beashamed to favor the surrender of such a country 
Hist. N. W. Coast, Vol. II. 26 


But few congressmen, however, took this radical 
ground; and they were apparently outnumbered hy 
those who regarded the Oregon territory as worthless, 
not worth occupying even if there were no opposition. 
Let Great Britain have it if she cared for so barren 
and inaccessible a tract, which was doubtful. More- 
over, they dreaded any future extension of a republic 
that was already large enough. Bates of Missouri 
"could not repress the utterance of his solemn wish 
that the base of the Rocky Mountains were an ocean 
bounding the United States, instead of the vast wil- 
derness that extended beyond them." That Oregon 
could ever be a state in the union was not admitted 
for a moment. Mitchell of Tennessee opposed the 
measure as involving useless expense, besides the risk 
of complications with England. 

Polk of Tennessee made an able speech to prove 
that certain portions of the bill — that is, the estab- 
lishment of a territorial government, the enforcement 
of revenue laws, and the granting of lands to set- 
tlers, were contrary to the treaties of 1818 and 1827, 
and a violation of the national faith. In this incon- 
trovertible position he was supported by Strong and 
Storrs of New York, and b}^ others. Some of these 
men, if not convinced that the bill was a violation of 
the treaty, did believe it would be so regarded by 
Great Britain, leading to a useless collision; and they 
evidently appreciated the advantages of "lettinorwell 
enough alone," being like Gallatin assured of Eng- 

to Great Britain; but he did not believe England would 'readily wage war 
with the United States to make conquest of that country;' it would be too 
risky. Mr Gurley said: The convention 'confers reciprocal rights, and im- 
poses reciprocal obligations. Great Britain has given a practical construction 
of the convention. She has erected forts, and in 1821 extended her laws and 
civil jurisdiction over the country.' He thought the United States might do 
the same. ' If Great Britain had violated the convention, it was no longer 
binding upon us; if she had not, neither should we by the passage of the bill. 
...We would not abandon our rights even at the expense of war. Great 
Britain had as much to lose by a war as we had, and she had too much prudence 
and foresight to engage in it imnecessarily. We had come out of two wars 
with that nation with honor both at home and abroad; and if it was the will 
of heaven that we should again be involved in that calamity, the same result 
would follow. ' 


land's disposition to let the country "gradually and 
silcntlv slide into fche bands of the United States;" or 
at least they believed it hut right to give the required 
notice of twelve months before taking any steps what- 
ever toward occupation. 40 

There was a strong opposition to the project of 
granting lands with special protection and privileges 
to companies, on the ground that such action would 
promote monopoly, proprietary government, coloniza- 
tion, and injustice to the mass of immigrants. 41 This 
amendment was therefore defeated; the features ob- 
jected to by Mr Polk were dropped, and other amend- 
ments were adopted ; so that the bill was completely 
changed from its original form when finally submitted 
to vote. It now provided that the president should 
be authorized to erect one or more forts west of the 
mountains, and between latitude 42° and 54° 40', and 
to garrison them with troops for the protection of citi- 
zens engaged in commercial or other pursuits; that he 
should cause the country to be explored before sending 
troops, if he deemed it best; and that the jurisdiction 
of United States courts should be extended over the 
country in such a way as to punish all crimes com- 
mitted there. The sum of $25,000 was to be appro- 
priated to carry into effect the provisions of the act. 

The measure was now in its strongest form. Ther< • 
was nothing in the bill which the United States might 
not -do in accordance with the treaty; and there were 
many who felt that the United States ought to make 
some use of the privilege of joint occupancy, instead 
of leaving the British in sole possession. So firmly 
had the Hudson's Bay Company become established 
in the country that do great American company was 
likely to enter the field against them. If the country 

*°Gorham of Massachuseti , y forcibly thai 

this time no oot ■ i "- value <>t the < br . i 

actio i -t England, and no □ 

v for any change of policy by the United States. 

;1 Mr Weems also objected, on the ground of the injustice to be ■lone to 
the Indians. 


was to be occupied at all it must be by individual 
hunters and small associations. There were absurd 
reports afloat that American hunters had recently been 
killed by or at the instigation of the English com- 
pany; 42 few perhaps really believed such reports; but 
it was obviously essential to afford protection for the 
lives and rights of Americans if they were expected 
to occupy the country, even if danger from Indians 
or from each other only was to be apprehended. 
And there were but few who opposed exploration. 

The difficulty was, as Gallatin had suggested, that 
while the United States had a perfect right to estab- 
lish military posts, Great Britain had the same right, 
with superior advantages. With garrisoned forts on 
both sides the chances of a peaceful settlement, and 
especially of a peaceful abandonment by England 
would be much diminished. This view of the matter 
doubtless influenced many to join their votes to those 
of the members who did not want Oregon at any price. 
By a vote of ninety-nine to seventy-five, the house 
refused to order the bill to its third reading, and thus 
defeated it. 

In negotiations and discussions of later date no new 
light whatever was thrown on the Oregon Question ; 
but its real merits were rather obscured by the popu- 
lar excitement in America. It will therefore be no 
longer necessary, as in my limited space it would be 
impossible, to give a detailed resume of discussions in 
congress and in the public journals, though both 
speakers and writers succeeded in twisting the subject- 
matter'into a variety of interesting forms. 

42 Said Everett: 'The truth is, something should be done to keep pace 
with the British settlements, and to protect our hunters and trappers. The 
territory is now overrun with the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company. 
Under a nominal joint occupancy they monopolize it. They are there in great 
numbers ; armed of course, supported by a chain of forts, and whenever the 
American trappers, comparatively few in number, and unsupported by any 
forts, make their appearance they are driven off, and if they make resistance, 
are killed.' He had lately heard from reliable sources 'that eight Americans 
Lave been shot by the British hunters,' and others to the same effect. Dray- 
ton, Cambreling, and Ingersoll were among the most prominent in urging the 
measure for protection alone. 



1830-1 sl(i. 

A Popular Question— Ami:i:h'\vTi;\im-krs- Tin: Mission series TheGov- 
eunment Seeks Information— Reports on the Oregon Territory— 
The Agitation Renewed en Congress, 1841 — Senator Linn's Ef- 
forts — Presidents' Messages — Congressional Debates— Patriot 
Faith in the Title— Political Campaign of 1844 — Polk's Policy 
The Question in Parliament— Hostile Rumors— Speeches vnd Kii \ > 
of 1844-5 — Final Debate— A Resolution Passed to Annul the 
Treaty— Pamphlets Circulated — Diplomatic Settlemeni Great 
Britain Yields- Treaty of 1S46— Authorities Cited— Greenhow, 


For about ten years after the discussion noted al 
the end of the preceding chapter, nothing was said of 
the Oregon Question in congress; and the topic was 
much longer neglected in diplomatic circles. Nor did 
anything occur during this period to affect in the 
slightest degree the rights of the respective parties to 
the controversy. Yet though congress, absorbed in 
other matters, no longer paid attention to the Oregon 
Question, the people had taken it up, to some extent. 
Colonization and trading schemes were often pro- 
posed, and so far as the latter were concerned, some- 
times carried out. 

The American fur companies, under several nanus, 
explored the Rocky Mountains, and ventured to com 
pete with the Hudson's Bay Company beyond them. 1 

1 The relinquishmenl of the Oregon Territory to the Hudson's Bay < fcrarpany 
was voluntary on the part of the firsl American companj thai of Smith, 
Sublette, and Jack ent into it. Smith having been attacke 

the Qmpqua River by [ndians, escaping only with his life, and an 
at Fort Vancouver in a destitute and Buffering condition, late in the autumn 

i as'J ) 


though inconsiderably for a period of years, or until 
the increasing number of companies forced all into 
active rivalry with each other. Of the adventurers 
who tried their fortunes in this field, Wyeth and 
Bonneville were conspicuous examples, and failures. 
Their exploits are elsewhere recorded. Of those who 
ventured to attempt colonization was Kelley, whose 
schemes ended in even more disastrous failure. It 
was not until American missionaries entered in and 
possessed the country as neither traders nor colonizers, 
though in reality very willing to become both, that a 
foothold was gained for the occupation of Oregon by 
American settlers. For the history of this move- 
ment, and the subsequent emigration to Oregon, the 
reader is referred also to the History of Oregon. From 
the time the missionary reports commenced to reach 
the United States from Oregon, together with the 
petitions of these and other first settlers in the val- 
ley of the Willamette, congress was frequently re- 
minded of the expectations of the people, up to the 
time when the first real emigration party set out to 
cross the plains for the Columbia River. 

Though congress had for some time ceased to discuss 
the Oregon title openly, the government had not been 
idle, but was collecting information from every source, 
and placing it within reach of the people, in the form 
of congressional documents. 2 Such w^as the report of 

of 1829, was kindly entertained through the winter, his furs recovered and 
purchased from him by the Hudson's Bay Company, and he assisted upon his 
return to the rendezvous in the mountains. Later, a keen competition was 
carried on all over the middle ground between the head-waters of the Lewis 
or Snake river and the main Columbia. The story of Jedediah Smith is 
fully told in chap. xix. this volume. See also Hist. Cal, this series; also 
Hist. Or., passim. 

-In a note to Greenhow's Or. and Cal, 377, he names several of these gov- 
ernment documents, as the following: 'Report to Senate, with maps, and a 
Bill for the Occupation of Oregon, presented by Mr Linn, June 6, 1838;' 
' Reports of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, of the House of Representa- 
tives, respecting the Territory of Oregon, with a map, presented Jan. 4 and 
February 16, 1839, by Mr Gushing, accompanied by a bill to provide for the 
protection of the citizens of the United States residing in that territory, or 
t ading on the Columbia River, and various documents in proof '—from which 
I have made several extracts in other parts of this history; 'Memoir, His- 
torical and Political, on the Northwest Coast of North America, and the 


the cbmmittee on foreign affairs, by Mr Cushing, 
which contained the reports of Wyeth, Slacum, and 
Kelley, the letter of Jason Lee, the first petition of 
the Oregon settlers, and other matter. From this 
time, Mils were annually brought before congress, 
having for their objed the civil and military posses- 
sion of the country. They came up in every shape, 
i,, l, ( .th branches of the national legislature, and ema- 
nated, qo1 as formerly, from one or two individuals, 
but from many. 

In 1842 Lord Ashburton arrived in the United 
States, furnished with instructions and powers for the 
settlement of certain questions long pending between 
tli.' United States and Great Britain; and the im- 
pression generally prevailed both in Great Britain 
and the United States, that the Oregon Question 
would be disposed of with the others. In this, how- 
ever, the people were disappointed. The introduction 
of this subject being known to be prejudicial to nego- 
tiations at that time very important to the nation in 
other respects, the president regarded it as most 
advantageous to waive this one, which, though equally 
important, was not so pressing. 3 The exclusion of the 
Oregon Question from the treaty of August 1842, 
increased, says Greenhow, the excitement respecting 
that country in the United States, and an excitement 
was soon after created in Great Britain. 4 

As early as January 8, 1841, Linn of Missouri in- 
troduced in the senate a joint resolution to authorize 
the adoption of measures for the occupation and set- 
tlement of the territory of Oregon, and for extending 

adiacent countries, with a map. and a geographical view ntries, 

by Robert Greenhow, Translator and Librarian to the Dej 3tate, 

presented Feb. 10, L840, by Mr J. inn: 'Reportof Hon. J. Et. Poinsett, Sec- 
retary of War, in relation to the establishment of a line of Military Posts 
from the Missouri River to the Columbia, L840;' 'Reporl oi the Military 
Committee of the Eou - of l:> presentatives, on th< 

tion and Defence oi the Columbia Countries,' presented '<■., Mr Pendleton, 
Mav -J-. 1842. 

nt M' »., I ■ 6, 1842. 

ftow't Or. and ' '"/., 379. 


certain portions of the laws of the United States over 
the same. At the beginning of the second session of 
the same congress he introduced a bill providing for 
its occupation and settlement; and again in December 
he reported another bill for the same purpose, making 
a speech in its support April 13, 1842, and contin- 
uing to bring it up at every opportunity during 
the session, notwithstanding the pending negotiations 
concerning the north-eastern boundary, which other 
senators urged as a reason for remaining silent on this 
question. This bill, which I have occasion to notice 
elsewhere, passed the senate early in February 1843, 
and had the effect of stimulating emigration to Oregon. 
Many went to Oregon in the belief that they were to 
receive not only government protection, but a gift 
of land also, as a reward for occupying the country 
for the United States in opposition to Great Britain 
as represented by the Hudson's Bay Company. The 
failure of any bill to pass both houses left the people 
of Oregon in that anomalous condition which makes 
their history unique among the other states of the 

But every year that now passed added to the 
interest of the subject. It was not only talked of 
in congress, 5 but in the public prints of England 

5 President Tyler, in his message of December 5, 1843, informed that body- 
that the United States Minister at London had, under instructions, again 
brought the subject of the Oregon boundary to the notice of the government 
of Great Britain, and that ' while nothing would be done to compromise the 
rights of the United States, every proper expedient would be resorted to, in 
order to bring the negotiations in progress of resumption to a speedy and 
happy termination.' Gong. Globe, 28th Cong., 1st Sess.. pt. i. 6. On the 11th 
of December Hughes of Missouri gave notice of a bill for the organization of 
a territorial government, to be called the Oregon Territory; and also a bill 
for surveying and constructing a military road from Fort Leavenworth to the 
mouth of the Columbia River, and for establishing military posts on the same. 
/'/., 41. Several attempts were made to have that portion of the president's 
message that related to Oregon, referred to the committee on territories, in- 
stead of the committee on military affairs, whei*e it made no progress. Dec. 
20th Wentworth of Illinois introduced a resolution, 'That the president 
should be requested to furnish the house, if consistent with the public interest, 
all the correspondence between the United States Government, or any other 
power,' in relation to the discovery, possession, title, and boundary of the 
Oregon Territory. Id. , 54. The correspondence here asked for was afterwards 
furnished by President Polk to congress, in February 1846, and is to be found 


and the United States, as also in those of France and 
Germany; and on both sides of ijhe Atlantic books 
and pamphlets appeared arguing the Oregon title, 

in the Cong. Globe, xv. 333-5. On Jan. 4, 1844, Owen of Indiana intro- 
duced a resolution in the bouse, that the presidenl be required I i give bh< 
twelve months' notice to Great Britain required by the second article of the 
convention of 1827, and that on the expiration of that time the United states 
should annul and abrogate the said convention. Id., ?8th Cong., IstSess., pt. 
i. 103. The same day Hughes introduced the bill for the organization ol 
Oregon Territory of which he had given notice, which was referred to the 
committee on territories, and ordered to be printed. On the same day 
Wentworth's resolution asking for information of the presidenl on the Oregon 
Question, was considered and adopted. To this request tin: president replied, 
on the L8th, that 'all such correspondence bad from time to time been laid 
before congress, except some recent correspondence with our minister near 
the court of St James, which it was not deemed expedient to lay before con- 
gress on the eve of the arrival of a minister from England, with whom 
negotiations would be opened at an early period.' Id., 163. Hughes, on 
the -2dth, offered a resolution similar to Owen's, requiring the president 
to give the twelve months' notice, which resolution was negatived. Id., 
168. On the 23d Ingersoll, from the committee on foreign relations, to 
which Owen's resolution had been referred, returned answer that it was 
considered inexpedient for congress, at that time, to act in any manner 
upon the subject referred to in the said resolution. Id., ITS. On the 
following day Owen made a speech on the Oregon boundary, in which 
he animadverted upon the practice of senators and others in letting fall 
remarks which might prejudice the claim of the United States, and quoted 
a sentence from one of Calhoun's speeches, in which that gentleman bad 
said that 'the portion of territory really in dispute between the two countries 
was about three degrees of latitude, that is, about one fourth of the whole.' 
This, he thought, was leading to an admission concerning the extent of terri- 
tory claimed. Did any one imagine that Packington had not read that speech, 
or doubt that he would come prepared to take advantage of it? He advocated 
a more independent position toward Great Britain, and made an eloquent 
appeal for protection for the Oregon settlers, drawing at the same time a 
striking picture of the frontiersmen who were taking possession of the country. 
'Oregon will soon be occupied — an armed occupation, too. And occupied by 
whom? Not by smooth-chinned, trim-uniformed cadets from West Point, but 
by veteran pioneers, from whom old age itself, though it whitens their locks, 
cannot steal their strength and their fire, by fierce young hunters of the fron- 
tier who heard the warwhoop in their cradles, and who burn to emulate the 
exploits — to avenge the death, perhaps, of their fathers; by a partisan army, 
in short, of Nimrod warriors, who, with their knives at their belts, and their 
long rifles on their shoulders, fear nothing, red or white, in the form of a 
man.' He urgently advocated passing a 'notice' bill, after which it would be 
unquestionably proper to do for Oregon what its people had a right to expect. 
II.. 1SG. On the 11th of March, Brown of Tennessee, chairman of the com- 
mittee on territories, reported a bill extending the civil and criminal juris- 
diction of the courts of the territory of Iowa, south and west of said territory 
to the Pacific, which was ordered to be printed along with the reporl ol the 
committee. The bill extended jurisdiction west of the Rocky Mountains, 
from latitude 42 to 54° 40* north. It gave 640 acres of land to each inhab 
of any state or territory who might have already remdved, or might there- 
after remove to that country and cultivate and use thi tm foi five years. 
Also 16 I acres for the wife of such inhabitant, and the like quantity to each 
child taken there, or born in the country. It further provided for another 
judge to be appointed for the territory of Iowa, who should resid 
and also for tiie appointment of justices of the peace. The sum of (100,00 I 


some of which I shall notice presently. It was made 
the issue on whicl} the presidential campaign of 1844 
was founded. Congress had given the initiative to 

was appropi'iated to build forts on the main pass to Oregon, and within it, 
and to carry into effect the other provisions of the bill. Id., 366. Meantime, 
the subject was not left out of consideration in the senate. A lengthy debate 
took place on the 8th of January in which Benton as usual took a conspicuous 
part, and in which Crittenden and Morehead of Kentucky, Archer of Vir- 
ginia, Berrien of Georgia, Allen of Ohio, Woodbury of New Hampshire, 
Buchanan of Pennsylvania, and others participated. The debate was princi- 
pally upon the subject of the pending negotiations, and was consequent upon 
a resolution offered by Allen some time before, that the president should 
be requested to lay before the senate, if in his judgment the public in- 
terests would not be prejudiced by his so doing, a copy of any instructions 
■which may have been given by the executive to the American minister in 
England on the subject of the title to, and occupation of, Oregon since 
the 4th day of March 1841, with a copy of any correspondence which might 
have passed between the United States government and that of Great 
Britain in relation to that subject since that time. Id., 28tk Con;/., 1st Sess., 
pt. ii. 9S-104. The tone and manner of this debate show a jealousy in the 
senate of the power of the executive to place the nation in a certain position 
toward another power of which it might not approve. Allen referred to a 
declaration of Lord Palmerston in the house of commons, March 21, 1S43, 
that if the senate had passed a bill, as reported, 'for immediately taking 
forcible possession of the whole territory of Oregon ; and if the senator who 
brought in the bill had expressed his conviction that the American claim 
would immediately be acquiesced in by Great Britain, if it was only urged, in 
what he was pleased to call a proper manner, it is impossible, I conceive, that 
this lull should pass the other branches of the legislature ; but if it were to 
pass, and to be acted upon, it would be a declaration of war.' In partial 
opposition to this Allen also quoted from Sir Robert Peel, who had reminded 
Lord Palmerston that he had ' made no allowance for the position of a govern- 
ment so open to popular influence as that of America. We, however, deal 
with the executive government and not with the senate. We have proposed to 
that government to consider the means of effecting a conciliatory adjustment 
respecting the Oregon Territory, and have met with no repulse, but have 
received assurances in reply to our proposition, that the executive govern- 
ment of the United States is anxious to come to an adjustment of that ques- 
tion; and we have every reason to hope that unless we revive the former 
animosity, and embitter the feelings between the two countries, an attempt 
to settle the question by negotiation will be satisfactory. The noble lord says 
the senate has passed a bill which I believe it has not passed. [Linn's bill, 
passed February 6, 1S43.] I think the votes were equally divided; but what- 
ever the senate may do, it is impossible for the executive government to ap- 
prove of such a bill, after having expressed a desire to negotiate. The noble 
lord says the adoption of that bill would be a cause of w^ar. I will not discuss 
hypothetical causes of war, when, as I have said, the executive government 
has signified to us its desire to maintain peace, and to effect a satisfactory 
adjustment of the question of the Oregon Territory. I trust in the assurances 
of the executive government, and I will not believe that it will give its 
consent to a legislative measure at variance with those assurances.' 'The 
president is here told,' said Allen, 'that he has already so far pledged this 
government to that of England, on the Oregon Question, as to render it im- 
possible for him to sanction such a bill as that which passed the senate. Con- 
gress is here told that its action will be unavailing, as the president stands 
pledged to Great Britain to interpose the veto power. Now, sir, this declara- 
tion of the English minister is either true, or the contrary; and in either case, 
and for equal reasons, the president should inform congress of the actual state 


the people in censuring President Tyler's course 
towards Great Britain, as weakly conciliatory. They 
wanted an executive qoI afraid to assert the right of 
the United States to the whole of Oregon, 8 and were 

of the facts; because, whether true, or the contrary, it equally relates to 
the action of congress. 1 Allen referred to the sacrifices made of territory in 
the recent settlement of the north-eastern boundary, from fear of disturbing 
the harmony of the two countries, and the same sacrifices were likely to occur 
in the contemplated negotiations. Archer considered Allen's remarks as 
tantamount to a determination to have war, rather than yield an acre > I 
territory, and thought, that since England wished to negotiate at our own 
door, dining the period of a peace mutually agreed upon, it was an attitude 
that ought not to be maintained. Mr Morehead considered it only proper 
under the circumstances, to leave the president to the exercise of his legiti- 
mate functions, and the senate to theirs. He was not so sensitive as the 
senator from Ohio, to the declarations of the British parliament; they were 
worth as much as those of the United States senate, and no more, and neither 
bound their respective governments. Benton spoke in favor of the resolu- 
tion; and contended that the senate had a right to assist in the formation of 
a treaty before it was made, and consequently a right to know the state oi 
every negotiation before it was concluded. The constitution said the presi- 
dent was to make treaties by and with the advice and consent of the senate. 
President Washington had given the example of consulting the senate, of 
which Benton adduced examples. The practice had, however, been departed 
from. The treaty of 1842 was an example of this departure; but the treaty 
was made and ratified, as it would not have been if the senate had been con- 
sulted beforehand. 'In this way a treaty was carried through this body , which 
was, in fact, almost unanimously disapproved, and Which has since subjecti d 
us to the keenest ridicule of the British parliament.' A similar case was now 
pending, and the president had asked no advice; the senate had offered none. 
There was a bill before the senate, the same as had before been passed, which 
Mr Robert Peel had pronounced impossible for the president to sign. Why 
could not the president sign it, if it passed both houses? The facts should be 
known, if the president is really committed to Great Britain on this point. 
As regarded the resolution, the right to information was clear. .Mr Berrien 
denied the right of the senate to call for any information relative to the presi- 
dent's negotiations with foreign powers, or to throw upon him the responsi- 
bility of refusing it. The right was not expressed in the resolution, which 
requested the president, if in his judgment he thought best, to furnish the 
information. The practice of the first president had long since hern discon- 
tinued, and would at present lie inexpedient. To make public the instn.< 
to tin- American minister, would have an injurious influence on the prop «i d 
negotiations. The instructions of the British government would remain 
while those of the United States would be exposed. He urged the senate, in 
case the resolution was not withdrawn, to reject it. A sharp disi u don fol- 
lowed on the propriety of passing the resolution. Mr Crittenden thought it 
the right of the senate to do so. if they thought proper, bu1 thai 
pedient. Mr Buchanan would vote advice to the president, if he should find, 

the instructions had been received, that this was neo 
tie- country from any improper sacrifice. He hoped the author of tin- resolu- 
tion would permit it to he laid upon tin- table, and thai Q< v ! 
similar one in executive session. The question being taken on thi a lop 
the resolution, it was rejected by 31 nays to 14 yeas. I 
1st S 88., pt. 'J. !IS 104. 

6 An election trad published by the Democratic Association of Wash- 
ington City, and entitled Oregon, commences : 'Whether Oregon shall remain 


willing and anxious to support him in doing so. The 
election of Mr Polk to the presidency having been 
secured, increased and strengthened the excitement 
concerning the title to Oregon, and at the commence- 
ment of the second session of the twenty-eighth con- 
gress, 7 the question came up almost immediately, in 

ours, or is to be surrendered to Great Britain, is one of the questions to be 
settled in the presidential election of 1S±4; for whilst James K. Polk is 
pledged to retain the whole of this great territory, Henry Clay is also 
pledged to surrender nearly one half of it to England. In his letter of April 
'23, 1844, James K. Polk declared that 'the authority and laws of the United 
States be established and maintained' in the Oregon Territory, and 'let the 
fixed policy of our government be, not to permit Great Britain, or any other 
foreign power, to plant a colony, or hold dominion over any portion of the 
people or territory.' The democratic national convention of Baltimore, which 
nominated Mr Polk for the presidency, unanimously resolved ' that our title 
to the whole of the territory of Oregon is clear and unquestionable; that 
no portion of the same ought to be ceded to England or any other power. ' 
On the other hand it was urged against Mr Clay, that in 1826, while secretary 
of state, in his instructions to Mr Gallatin, he first declared that Groat Brit- 
ain had not, and could not make out ' even a colorable title to any portion of 
the Northwest Coast.' Yet in the same communication he had authorized 
Mr Gallatin to 'propose the annulment of the convention of 1818, and the 
extension of the line on the parallel of 49°, from the eastern side of the 
Stony Mountains, where it then terminated, to the Pacific Ocean,' together 
with the free navigation of the Columbia, should the 49th parallel cross any 
navigable branch of that river. The writer held that by this official commu- 
nication Mr Clay was pledged to give up all north of 49°, and hence was not 
a suitable representative of the nation. On such unexpected events do 
the fortunes of men turn! There is much more in the tract, for which I have 
not room. 

7 Mr Atchison on Dec. 19, 1844, introduced a bill to ' organize the govern- 
ment of Oregon, and for other purposes.' A debate ensued, on an attempt 
being made to refer it to the committee on foreign relations, which was 
known to be unfriendly to any bill of like import; Atchison, Benton, and 
Bagby of Alabama, urging its reference to the committee on territories, while 
Archer, Morehead, and Woodbury opposed it. The bill was finally referred 
to the committee on foreign relations, where it seems to have been quietly 
disposed of. Cong. Globe, 28th Cony., 2d Sess., 38, 48. On Jan. 13, 1845, a 
petition was presented to the senate by Allen of Ohio, with the proceedings 
and resolutions of a meeting of the citizens of Zanesville, Ohio, in favor of 
the annexation of Texas to the United States, and for the extension of the 
laws of the United States, by the erection of a territorial government over the 
territory of Oregon. The petition was referred to the committee on foreign 
relations. Id., 128. Meantime the house sent in a bill, which was reported 
back with an amendment. In February, another bill from the house, for the 
organization of a territorial government over Oregon, was presented in the 
senate, and reported back with an amendment, like the former. Id., 256. On 
the 3d of March, Atchison moved to postpone previous orders, and take up 
the house bill (439) to organize a territorial government in the Oregon terri- 
tory, and for other purposes. A debate on the propriety of considering such 
a bill during the pending negotiations and on the last day of the session fol- 
lowed, in which it was evident the measure would be crowded out, as it had 
bciii postponed during the session. On the motion to postpone previous or- 
ders, and take up the Oregon bill, the vote stood 21 for, and 23 against it. 
Id., 3S7-S. 


both houses, though in the senate it was not permitted 
to go beyond an occasional debate on the propriety of 
discussing the question at all, during the consideration 
of it by tlie plenipotentiaries. 

All scruples of the nature professed by the senate 
were weakened, if not removed, by the inaugural 
address of President Polk, who asserted it to be his 
duty to "maintain, by all constitutional means, the 
right of the United States to that portion of our ter- 
ritory which lies beyond the Rocky Mountains. Our 
title to the country of Oregon is clear and unques- 
tionable; and already are our people preparing to per- 
fect that title by occupying it witli their wives and 
children." He declared it the duty of congress to 
protect the Oregon emigrants; and that the laws of 
the United States should be extended over them in 
the distant region they had selected for their homes, 
and that every obligation imposed by treaty or con- 
ventional stipulations should be sacredly respected. 8 

It is not to be supposed that the agitation in the 
United States was passing unobserved in England.'' 
Mr Roebuck asked Sir Robert Peel, in the house of 
commons, what measures had been taken to counter- 
act the efforts in the United States congress, to annex 
Oregon; asserting with a spirit even more partisan 
than that of the Oregon emigrants, that the United 
States had no rights west of the Rock}^ Mountains." 1 
Lord John Russell also reviewed the title to Oregon, 
in the house of commons, April 4, 1845, on the ground 
taken by Falconer, citing also Farnham and Wilkes; 
saying that he had been informed that there were 
twenty thousand persons in the Oregon Territory, 

8 Conn. Cfobe, 1844-5, 39a 

9 Tin; London Times said that 'President Polk's messagi terms 
of war, or conclusive negotiation. War was too mon bro to bi thoughtof, 
except after every effort at a compromise had been exhausted,' etc. Or. - 
tutor, Sept. :;. 1846. 'The president".- message met \\i:Ii v( ■ . g< Q( ral favor, 
and was considered a fair and statesman-like document, both at home and 
abroad.' Id., Sept. 17. 1846. 

10 Hansard's Pari. D<J>'0<<, 7s, IZo-G. 


scarcely one hundred of whom were Americans. He 
asserted moreover, that there was no port in all Ore- 
gon except the Columbia River, and gave a history of 
the negotiations of 1824, referring to the declaration 
of President Monroe, that colonization would not be 
thereafter allowed on the American continent; which 
position, as well as the right of the United States to 
the whole of Oregon, he said the British commission- 
ers had denied, and should continue to deny. 11 

In answer to a call for information on the subject 
of the pending negotiations, Sir Robert Peel replied, 
as he had replied to Mr Roebuck, by professing igno- 
rance of the state of affairs, as the correspondence 
had not yet been made public. 

On the same day, the subject being under discussion 
in the house of lords, it was inquired by Lord Claren- 
don what course her majesty's government would 
pursue, under the circumstances, 12 and answered by 

11 The boundary proposed by Mr Canning in 1824, Lord Russell declared 
with much reason to be ' giving a very considerable territory to the United 
States. It was giving them a valley watered by a river as large as the Colum- 
bia where it joins the McGillivray, called the Willoughley (Willamette? i. and 
all the territory south of the Columbia, and between the Columbia and the 42d 
parallel, where the British possessions commenced. ' This, Lord Russell thought 
as fair as the United States could reasonably expect; and it had been rejected, 
while the United States, instead, claimed the whole; and the president had 
called upon the people, with their wives and children, to go and occupy it. ' 
No offer should be made granting more than Mr Canning had proposed. Han- 
sard's Pari. Debates, lxxix. 17S-201; Id., 1323; Id., lxxi. 402; Id., lxxii. 229. 

lL ' Lord Clarendon resented the tone of Mr Polk's inaugural, on the question 
of the Oregon boundary, and spoke of this, and other indications, as ' cir- 
cumstances which seem but too probable from the extraordinary tone of the 
president's address, and the apparently studied neglect of that courtesy and 
deferential language which the governments of different countries are wont to 
observe when publicly treating of international questions. It is hardly 
possible to believe that any negotiations upon this subject are pending, or 
that they have ever been commenced, or even proposed, if we are to draw 
from the president's speech the inference which it must naturally suggest; for 
not only does he not make the slightest allusion to them, but he formally 
announces that the right of the Americans to the Oregon Territory is clear 
and unquestionable ; and it is consequently difficult to understand upon what 
ground he could justify the right of their government to negotiate at all upon 
a matter not doubtful; for whatever predilection they may have for acquiring 
what does not belong to them, they certainly exhibit none for giving up what 
is indisputably their own; and if their government accordingly did consent to 
negotiate, it would seem that it could only be upon the basis that England 
was unconditionally to surrender her pretensions to whatever might be 
claimed by the United States.' Lord Aberdeen, to whom the inquiries of 
Lord Clarendon were addressed, declined going into explanations, but said, 


Lord Aberdeen, that "England had her rights and 
dare maintain them," as the sentiinenl was repeated in 
( )regon by Lieutenant Peel. 

It must be understood that while the diplomatic 
representatives of both nations expressed their views 
always calmly and with courtesy, though using all 
their skill to keep out of sight the weak points in 
their respective arguments, outside of these negotia- 
tions such moderation was by no means observed. We 
have presented some specimens of the tone in parlia- 
ment and in congress, and that of newspaper arti- 
cles may be easily imagined. There can be no doubt 
that many Englishmen and many Americans believed 
in the justice of their country's exclusive right to 
Oregon; and it is therefore not strange that there 
was much popular declamation, threatening, and even 
bluster. The Americans proposed to take possession 
of a country that belonged to them; any hint from 
English sources at possible resistance was received as 
an insult and a wrong, and vice versa. The most 
preposterous rumors of intended outrages on settlers 

'I -wish to state that the negotiation which has taken place, and is still pending 
upon this subject, was commenced immediately after the signing of the 1 reaty 
Oi Washington in 1842, ' and adverted to President Tyler's answer to the senate, 
given on February 19, 1S45, that the negotiation was being carried on in a very 
amicable spirit, and there was reason to hope that it might be brought to a 
close within a short period. This was the latest information he had on the 
subject. The new cabinet was not yet formed, and nothing Mas known of its 
temper. As for Great Britain, her position was the same as in 1818.. 'I am 
accustomed,' said Lord Aberdeen, 'almost daily to sec myself characterized as 
pusillanimous, cowardly, mean, dastardly, truckling, and base. I bopi I 
need no1 say that I view these appellations with indifference. I view them, 
indeed, really with satisfaction, because I know perfectly well they 
mean, and how they ought to be, and are translated. I feel perfect ly satisfied thes vituperative tern is are to be translated as applicable to conduct con- 
i ii nt w it ii jus, ire, reason, moderation, and common-sense. My lords, I consider 
war to ]>,■ t ho greatest folly, if not the greatest crime of which a country could 
be ml' . i ttered into.' His Lordship concluded bj saying that 

'we possess rights, which, in our opinion, are clear and unque tionable; and 
by thi God, and your Bupport, those rights w< ire 
to maintain.' Hansards fur/. Debates, Lxxix. 115-24. Lord Clarendon 
quoted tin' langui i President Polk concerning emigration I ■ ' 

li that Great Britain was not actuated 'bj a d< ire for 
andizement, but by a sincere love of peace, and i most Lendly 

i ited States. 1 But, on the other band, hi wa equally 
sure i!i i E Great Britain would be determined nol I 

own undeniabl bments, or clamor, or menace. Id. 


by British trappers and their savage allies were widely 
credited. Errors in statement of historical fact, so 
common on both sides in the earlier stages of the dis- 
pute, were pointed out as deliberate falsehoods, and 
corrected with an air of triumph. In congress a Mon- 
treal paper was quoted, to the effect that but a 'small 
meal' would be made of the troops of the 'free and 
enlightened;' and an old Indian, that the "crows will 
soon be picking out their eyes." 13 In England less 
was said and written on the subject, and in a quieter 
tone; yet the friends of the fur company were not in- 
active; and in the little that was said on this topic 
there appeared from time to time the insulting sneer 
by which the Briton delights to make himself offen- 
sive, above all men who dwell on earth. 

The twenty-ninth congress opened with a message 
from President Polk, that promised the advocates of 
'all of Oregon or none,' the consummation of their 
hopes. He gave a full history of the past negotia- 
tions with Great Britain, and declared that the civil- 
ized world would see in these proceedings a spirit of 
liberal concession on the part of the United States, 
and that their government would be relieved from all 
responsibility which might follow the failure to settle 
the controversy. 14 

13 Cong. Globe, 2Sth Cong., 1st Sess., ii. 244. 

14 'All attempts at compromise having failed, it becomes the duty of con- 
gress to consider what measures it may be proper to adopt for the security 
and protection of our citizens now inhabiting, or who may hereafter inhabit, 
Oregon, and for the maintenance of our just title to that territory. In adopting 
measures for this purpose, care should be taken that nothing be done to violate 
the stipulations of the convention of 1 S27, which is still in force. . . . Under 
that convention, a year's notice is required to be given by either party to the 
other, before the joint occupancy shall terminate, and before either can 
rightfully assert or exercise exclusive jurisdiction over any portion cf the ter- 
ritory. This notice it would, in my judgment, be proper to give; and I 
recommend that provision be made by law for giving it accordingly, and 
terminating, in this manner, the convention of the Gth of August 1827. It 
will become proper for congress to determine what legislation they can in the 
mean time adopt, without violating this convention. Beyond all question, the 
protection of our laws, and our jurisdiction, civil and criminal, ought to be 
immediately extended over our citizens in Oregon. They have had just 
cause to complain of our long neglect in this particular, and have, in conse- 
quence, been compelled, for their own security and protection, to establish a 


There is a statemenl by Eolmes of South Car- 
olina, thai it was a speech by Calhoun in the senate, 
thai caused "public opinion fco wane from its high 
tone, the pulse of warto beal fainter and fainter, until 
; ,t Lasi the presidenl perceived there was an energy 
in the people that must com.' down like a voice of 
thunder againsl his measures;" thus throwing the 
'fifty-four forty' party measures upon the shoulders of 
Polk, instead of upon the people, whom he was trying 

tO follow. 

Ee recommended that notice should be given to 
Great Britain of the abrogation of the then existing 
convention, that the laws of the United States should 
be extended over Oregon, with as little delay as pos- 
sible; thai laws governing their intercourse with the 
Indian tribes of the plains should be extended beyond 
the Rocky Mountains, and an Indian agency be es- 
tablished in Oregon; that for the protection of emi- 
grants, a suitable number of stockades and block-houses 
for forts should be erected along the usual route be- 
tween the Missouri frontier and the Rocky Mountains, 
and that an adequate force of mounted riflemen be 
raised to guard and protect them on their journey. 
He recommended also the establishment of an over- 
land mail, to be carried once a month. Whether 
more than this could be done before the expiration of 
the year's notice, he left it for congress to decide. He 
avowed it as his opinion that the pioneers of Oregon 
should receive donations of land; that to doubt that 
this would be done as soon as the convention was 
annulled, was to doubt the justice of congress; and 
pending the year's notice, it was worthy of considera- 
tion whether such a promise might not be made to 

••At the end of the year's notice," said Polk, 

p rov j imenl for themselves. Theyare anxious to haveourlaws 

.:,,[ over them, and I recommend that this be done bj congress, with 

as little deL e, in the fall extent to which the British parliament 

have pi sded in regard to British subjects in that territory, bj theu 

July 2, 1821. I 

Hist. N. W. Coast. Vol. II. 20 


should congress think proper to give that notice, "wo 
shall have reached a period when the national rights 
in Oregon must either be abandoned, or firmly main- 
tained. That they cannot be abandoned without a 
sacrifice of both national honor and interest, is too clear 
to admit of doubt." 15 

Congress took the president at his word. The first 
business brought before the house was the considera- 
tion of a petition from the legislature of Oregon. 16 

The petition asked for all those things which the 
president had suggested granting, and more. It called 
for lands to be surveyed as well as donated ; for navy- 
yards, and for the establishment of commercial regula- 
tions that should enable them to compete successfully 
with the Hudson's Bay Company. The petition was 
ordered to be printed, and was afterwards referred to 
the committee on territories. 

On the 19th of December, Douglas of Illinois re- 
ported a bill in the house to protect the rights of 
American settlers in the territory of Oregon, until 
the termination of the joint occupancy of the same. 
Bowlin of Missouri also submitted a number of reso- 
lutions, for surveying the waters of Oregon and explor- 
ing it by land; for sending troops to aid and protect 
the emigrants; for establishing an Indian agency, and 
providing for the gradual extinguishment of the Indian 
title; for commencing the public surveys; for organ- 
izing the militia of Oregon, and arming it for self-de- 
fence; and for establishing a mail to Oregon by means 
of small detachments of otherwise unemployed soldiers. 
The resolutions were laid over for debate. 

The memorial from the legislature of Oregon was 
ordered to be printed for reference to the committee 
of the whole on the state of the union. Douglas on 

13 Cong. Globe, xv. 7. Mr Polk here enunciated the doctrines of the demo- 
cratic party of that period. ' The United States, sincerely desirous of pre- 
serving the relations of good understanding with all nations, cannot in silence 
permit any European interference on the North American continent, and 
should any such interference be attempted, will be ready to resist it, at any 
and all hazards.' /(/. 

lu Cong. Globe, xv. 12. 


the following day offered some resolutions in relation 
to Oregon." On the 9th of January L846, Bowlin 
introduced a bill in the house for the organization of 
a territorial government in Oregon. 

The position of affairs with regard to the Oregon 
Question at the opening of congress, was such that, do 
whal they would, the national legislators could nol well 
make it worse. Negotiations were suspended, owing 
to the wholly irreconcilable views of the plenipoten- 
tiaries. One party or the other would have to yield, 
or the question would have to be submitted to arbi- 
tration. This the United States government declined/ 8 
and democratic senators denounced. 

Nor were the members of the British parliament 
silent in those days. Lord John Russell, the leader 
of the whig party in England, and others, spoke 
somewhat freely on the subject, so much so as t i 

17 ' 1st. Resolved, That the title to any part of the Oregon territorysouthi »f5 1" 
40' of north latitude is not open to compromise so as to surrender any pari i f 
said territory. 2d. Resolved, That the question of title to that territory should 
not be left open to arbitration.' Laid over for debate. Cong. Globt . K\ . 86. 

18 'There are obvious considerations into "which I need not enter here, grow- 
ing outof the relative situation of that country and ours with those powers 
i t Europe from \\ limn an arbitrator would almost necessarily be selected, and 
out of the influence she possesses over their counsel, and, 1 may add. grow ing 
out of the nature of our institutions, and the little favor these enjoy at present 
upon the east, in continent, which may well have made the governmi n1 I- ■ 
tate fcosubmit important interests, at this particular juncture, to such a. tribu- 
nal. It may well have thought it better to hold on to our right, and to hold 
on also to our remedy, rather than commit both to a royal arbitrator. War is a 
great calamity, and ought to be avoided by all proper means: but there are 
calamities greater than war. and among these is national dishonor. 1 I 
the senate. Cong, Globe, 29th Cong., lslSess.,45. 'I am sure there is no 
party, and I trust there are few individuals in this country who are prepared, 

even in an extreme spirit of compromise, to accept the st Liberal offer that 

England has yet made. Her pretensions and ours are so widely sep 
thatr no middle ground on which to meet. Our mo 

claim, and her most liberal offer, Leave the parties asunder bj si ven di 
of Latitude, and by a large portion of the territory in question. What then 
is our condition ? Canwerecede? Can we stand still ; ormust • 
.\- to receding, it i- neither to be discussed nor though! of. I refer to 
to denounce it a denunciation which will find a response in everj Ami 
bosom. Nothing is ever gained by national pusillanimity. And the © 
which seeks to purchase temporary security by yielding to unjusl pn 
, . buys present ease a1 the expense of permanent honor and 
thewind toreap the whirlwind. Ihave i 
here, that it is better to fight for the first inch of national ten it 
the last. It is better to defend fche door-sill than the hearth-stone the pop h 
than the altar.' Id. 


render justifiable in the eyes of many the belligerent 
tone of the twenty-ninth congress. 19 The remarks of 
Cass were made on his introducing some resolutions 
in the senate, inquiring into the condition of the na- 
tional defences. Mangum of North Carolina, in dis- 
cussing the resolutions, said, that though he should 
deplore a war, it was to be preferred to surrender- 
ing the rights of the United States or compromising 
their honor.' 20 He, however, thought the resolutions 
unnecessarily pressed on the senate, and was willing 
to leave everything with the executive. Allen hoped 

19 'The president of the United States has made, as I have already read to 
the house, a peremptory claim to the whole of this territory. He has claimed 
the whole possession of it for the United States, and has in an unusual man- 
ner called upon the people of the United States, with their wives and chil- 
dren, to occupy that territory. That district is becoming, on account of the 
ports on the Columbia Eiver, more important every year. After that state- 
ment of the president of the United States, I consider it impossible that her 
majesty's government should not endeavor to obtain a speedy solution of this 
question. I am sure they will find it impossible to allow the present unde- 
fined and unsettled state of relations between the two countries to continue 
without danger; that the people of the United States, acting upon the sugges- 
tions of the president, may endeavor to disturb British subjects in rights which 
they hold in virtue of existing treaties, and may produce a state of things 
dangerous to the peace of the two countries. For my own part, I will say, in 
all moderation, that I am not prepared to say that this country ought to put 
forward any arrogant pretensions. I do not pretend to define — what it properly 
belongs to her majesty's advisers to. define — the diplomatic proposals that 
should be made, I will not pretend to say what line ought to be laid down; 
but this I will say, that I do not think we can make any proposal which will 
be less than the proposal made by Mr Canning [that was the line on the parallel 
of 49°, to the Columbia, near its mouth], with any regard for our own interest 
or our own honor. [Bringing the 49th parallel near the mouth of the Columbia 
shows the geographical knowledge of his lordship.] I may be told that it does 
not matter if this rocky and barren territory should be claimed or occupied 
by the United States. Yes, sir, I must say it does matter. It cannot be a 
matter of indifference that a large territory, to which we have a better and a 
j uster title, should be yielded to what I must call a blustering announcement 
on the part of the president of the United States.' London Morning Chronicle, 
April 5, 1845, Report o/Parliamt ntary Pro,:, edings. Sir Robert Peel also said 
on the same occasion: 'We trust still to arrive at an amicable adjustment of 
our claim; but, having exhausted every effort for the settlement, if our rights 
shall be invaded, we are resolved, and we are prepared, to maintain them.' 
Id., Cong. Globe, xv. 49, Lord Ashburton was of opinion there would be no 
war. 'It would be madness,' he said, 'to become involved in war for a 
country worthless in itself, and for a mere question of honor, for it was im- 
possible to deny that both countries had pretensions to the territory in dis- 
pute.' Hansard's Pari. Debates, lxxxiv. 1112-20. 

20 Whenever that extreme measure shall have been determined on, and the 
vote by yeas and nays recorded on our journals, he believed there would not 
be found in the senate, or in the country, a single anti-war man. 'No, sir; 
differ among ourselves on all minor questions as we may, whatever collisions 
of opinion there may be among us on mere party topics, or subjects of domestic 


the resolutions would pass without the obstruction 
of a solitary vote. To rejed them would be to vir- 
tually declare that they would not prepare for any 
emergency that might arise from their foreign re- 
lations, a position which the United States should 
ii. .1 assume. "Great Britain," he said, "is a power 
whose policy is known throughout the civilized world, 
and need not be defined. Great Britain is a power 
who conducts her negotiations with a fleet upon the 
coast of the power with whom she negotiates; ever 
ready to settle questions that cannot be settled by 
words, by resorting in practice to the ancient Gallic 
maxim of casting a sabre into the scale." On the other 
hand, the United States, by the very nature of their 
institutions, wore always unprepared for the terrible 
emergency of war, having no standing army to depend 
upon. We have, however, he said, a standing militia, 
a nation with a military organization. 21 

The resolutions of Cass continued to be debated 
for several days, the only opposition made being in 
the form of a protest from Webster, Archer, Berrien, 
Clayton, and others, against their being considered as 
a war measure, instead of a peace measure. 

On the 16th of December they were put to vote, 
and adopted unanimously. Correspondence was en- 
tered into with the navy department. Several bills 
were introduced for the building of steam frigates. 22 
An increase in the army was attempted, and the as- 
pect of affairs was decidedly warlike throughout the 
first session. Getting bills as far along as a second 
reading is comparatively easy, when the topic is a 
popular one; but passing them, when they involve 
cither money or blood, is a matter of much delibera- 
tion; hence all the bills originating in the Oregon 

policy, whenever a proud, arrogant, and, he would add, grasping enemy, 
strikes a blow at us, or by trampling on our rights or honor, compels as 
to assume a belligerent position, we shall all be found a I • ■ and 

presenting an unbroken phalanx, merging all party opposition, and deter- 
mined to resist tin- aggression. 1 ' ".••;/. Qlobt , xv. 47. 

-' < ;,.,,/. Gloh . xv. 49. 

**C<mg. Globe, xv. 226, 252, 


controversy were put off, on one pretence or another, 
though hardly a clay passed during the session, that 
the Oregon Question was not brought up in some 

On the 10th of February 1846, the president of the 
senate announced for debate a series of resolutions. 
First a joint resolution advising the president of the 
United States to give notice to the government of 
Great Britain annulling the convention of the 6th of 
Auo-ust 1827. An amendment accompanied the reso- 
lution, reported January 8, 1846, striking out all after 
"joint resolution," and making it read " to annul and 
abrogate the convention of the 6th clay of August 
1827, between the United States of America and 
Great Britain, relative to the country westward of the 
Rocky Mountains." 

Another joint resolution offered January 26th by 
Crittenden set forth in very measured terms that 
a convention had been formed, which it was now 
desirable to terminate, in order that the territory in 
question might not longer suffer the evils of a divided 
allegiance, and that therefore now the necessary steps 
should be taken to abrogate that convention; and in 
his resolution authorized the president of the United 
States, at his discretion, to give the British govern- 
ment the notice required; but provided, that in order 
to afford ample time, such notice ought not to be 
given till after the close of the existing session of 
congress. Other resolutions were submitted on the 
subject of the recent negotiations, approving the terms 
i ilered by the president, as proper for him to make, 
in the spirit of peace and compromise; and others to 
the effect that the country included within the parallels 
of 42° and 54° 40' was the property and part and 
parcel of the United States, and that the abandon- 
ment or surrender of any portion of territory of Ore- 
gon would be an abandonment of the honor, character, 
and best interests of the United States. 


Mr Allen of Ohio opened the debate with a few 
remarks on the conduct of Great Britain toward the 
United States since the treaty of peace of 1783, and 
the unfriendly feeling in Europe toward the United 
States and free institutions. Whether the notice 
they were about to give Great Britain should Lead to 
Avar, was not a question to be taken into considera- 
tion; he did not believe she would go 1<> war in this 
case; her statesmen were too wise for that. 23 

The discussion of the joint resolution giving notice 
to Great Britain of the abrogation of the convention 
of 1827 was carried on until the 27th of April, when 
the resolution was signed by the speaker of the house 
of representatives and the president of the senate, 24 
after considerable controversy concerning its form. 

23 The limits of this history will not permit even a partial review of the 
speeches made on the Oregon Question during the first session of the twenty- 
ninth congress. They were by every man of any note in either house, 25 
senators and 80 representatives. 

'-''The joint resolution, as passed, was as follows: 'Whereas, by the con- 
vention concluded the 20th day of October 1818, between the United States 
of America and the king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ire- 
land, for the period of ten years, and afterwards indefinitely extended and 
continued in force by another convention of the same parties, concluded the 
6th day of August, in the year of our Lord 1827, it was agreed that any 
country that may be claimed by either party on the Northwest Coast of 
America, westward of the Stony or Uocky mountains, now commonly called 
the Oregon Territory, should, together with its harbors, bays, and creeks, and 
tin- navigation of all rivers within the same, be free and open to the vessels, 
citizens, and subjects of the two powers; but without prejudice to any claim 
which either of the parties might have to any part of said country; and witli 
this further provision in the second article of the said convention of the 6th 
of August 18-27. that either party might abrogate and annul said convention 
on giving notice of twelve months to the other contracting party. And 
whereas, it lias now become desirable that the respective claim., of the 
United States and Great Britain should be definitely settled, and that said 
territory may no longer than need be remain subject to the. evil consequences 
of the divided allegiance of its American and British population, and of the 
confusion and conflict of national jurisdictions, dangerous to the cherished 
peace and good understanding of the two countries. With a view, then 
that stej.~ be taken for the abrogation of the said convention of the 6th of 
August 1827, in the- mode prescribed in its second article, and that the att< is 
tion of the governments oi both countries may be more earnestly directed to 
the adoption of all pro] er measun s for a speedy and amicable adjustment of 
the .. d disputes in regard to said territory: Resolved bytfo & 

of. and ll< oj R pri entatives of the United States of America in Congress 
assembled, That the president of the United Stab ■ be, .Mel he La I 
authorized, at his discretion, to • ive to the governnv nl i 
notice required by the Becond article of the said convention of the Gth of 
August li>27, for the abrogation of the same. 1 


Those who believed the title of the United States un- 
questionable from the 4 2d parallel of north latitude 
to 54° 40', were unwilling to leave it to the discretion 
of the president, but wished the president to be re- 
quired by congress to give notice to Great Britain of 
the abrogation of the convention, and at the same 
time that measures should be taken to enforce the 
United States claim at the expiration of the period 
of twelve months. More moderate counsels, however, 
prevailed, and the resolution was passed as stated, and 
immediately approved by the president, who caused 
McLane, the American minister at London, to be 
instructed to give the requisite notice to the British 
government; which was done the 22d of May. 

Congress and the people understood, at this time, 
the actual position of affairs between the two govern- 
ments, the late correspondence of the plenipotentiaries 
having been laid before the house of representatives 
by the president on the 7th of February 1846, and 
published. 25 Mr Faran of Ohio, in a speech deliv- 
ered April 14th in the house of representatives, pre- 
sented the case as it stood, very clearly. 26 He showed 
that in the offers of Great Britain, she had not moved 
from the position of claiming the Columbia River for 
the boundary line. This was in fact the real subject 
of the dispute. To possess the Columbia in whole or 
in part had been the determination of both govern- 
ments from the commencement of negotiations. A 
climax had now been reached in the struggle, when 
one or the other must recede from its position. 

The conciliatory language of the joint resolution, 

25 Cong. Globe, xv. 333-5. 

26 The offers made in the recent negotiations of 1844-5, in addition to what 
had been offered in earlier years, were as follows : British offer of August 26, 
1844 : 'In addition to the previous offers of July 13, 1824, and December 1, 
1826, to make free to the United States any port or ports that the United 
States might desire, either on the Mainland or on Vancouver's Island, south 
of latitude 49°. Rejected. United States offer of July 12, 1845: To divide 
the Oregon Territory by the 49th parallel of north latitude, from the Rocky 
Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, and to make free to Great Britain any port or 
ports on Vancouver's Island, south of this parallel, which Great Britain might 
desire. Rejected.' 29th Cong., 1st Sess., Cong. Globe, app. 


as adopted by congress, and approved by the president, 

had a <2ood effect in England,-'' when- the war feeling 
in the United States, and the numerous publications 
on the subjeet of the United States title, had begun 
to be viewed with some alarm.' 28 The number of the 
latter was very great. Many of the speeches of both 
senators and representatives were printed in pamphlet 
form, and circulated wherever the United States mail 
was carried. 29 

In addition to the congressional documents with 
which the people were liberally supplied, a number 
of writers took up the question and discussed it in 
a variety of forms, which I notice elsewhere. The 
nature of the subject precluded the possibility of add- 
ing any new facts to those already known. The object 
of the writers seemed to be to keep the subject be To re 
the people, and impress upon them their right to the 
country in dispute. In this respect the institutions 
of the United States gave them an advantage over 
Great Britain. While Englishmen did not disguise 
their contempt for a government in which the people 
had a controlling influence, 30 it was none the less true 
that this very intimacy of the people and the govern- 

27 Hansard's Pari, Debates, 86, 1424. 

28 Lord Clarendon asking for information from the secretary of foreign 
affairs, on the subject of the negotiations going on in Washington, March 17, 
L846, said: 'Your lordship will bear in mind that although the langua 

the two governments, as far as we are acquainted with it, has been inspired 
by public sentiment ; and although the information which reaches us from 
America is of the same character, yet we cannot disguise from ourselves that 
the two countries appear to be gradually, but involuntarily, drifting towards 
war,' to which Aberdeen replied, that from papers in his possession, 'an 
inference might fairly be drawn not favorable to the probable future r< 
oi the negotiations.' Hansard's Pari. Debates, lxxxiv. 1112-20. 

29 Some of these congressional documents, stained by time, are before me: 
<hr< ,,'.- ■'/'/>< i)rr l rpationofOregon,Jan.23-4,l$<L&i Crittenden's Speech on tlu ",-. 
gonQm stion, April 10, 1846, 10 pages; A 'ties' Speech on the <) rc\p> u V" *'""'. March 
]'.K 1846, II pages; Barrow's Speech on the Oregon Question, 30th of March 
1846, 16 pages; U'iek's Speech on the Oregon Question, Jan. 30, 1846, 7 p 
Weiitirnrth's I!* -.marks on the Oregon Hill, Jan. '27, 1845, 6 pages; Id., Speech, 
Jan. 24, 1S44. A conciliatory speech of Webster's, delivered at Boston, on 
the Oregon Question, is quoted in the Polynesian oi March 1 I, 1846. 

.'•Roberts, in his Recollections, calls this *a government from below.' Ee 
was annoyed and injured by the way in which American institutions conflicted 
with personal rights derived from a decaying corporation, toward which they 
entertained a national antipathy, 


ment was what defeated the pretensions of Great 
Britain in the settlement of the Oregon Question. 

While the people and the parliament of Great 
Britain were far less well informed on the merits and 
the progress of the question than the Americans, they 
also had their writers who took up the subject with 
partisan zeal, and discussed it with some ability, 
though with a small degree of fairness. 

In the midst of this excitement the question was 
suddenly brought to a close. On receipt of the notice 
and joint resolution, the British government, without 
loss of time, instructed its plenipotentiary, Packington, 
to make a new proposition for the settlement of the 
controversy, 31 which was accepted with as little loss of 
time by the United States. 

The treaty offered by Great Britain was considered 
by the senate, to whom the president sent it for advice 
on the 18th of June, 32 when Benton made a speech 

31 Lord Brougham again desired to know of Lord Aberdeen whether the 
reports in circulation in the American and English public prints, that the 
Oregon boundary questions had 'been brought to an amicable conclusion, and 
one honorable to both parties,' were true. Aberdeen replied that they were, 
and said that when he saw that congress had adopted resolutions of such a con- 
ciliatory and friendly disposition he "did not delay for a moment, but putting 
aside all ideas of diplomatic etiquette' prepared a draft of a convention which 
was sent by the packet of May 18th to Packington, to be proposed for the 
acceptance of the United States government. Packington had written that 
his proposal had been submitted to the senate by the president, who was 
advised by that body, after a few hours deliberation on three several days, by a 
vote of 38 to 12, to accept. The president had immediately acted on the 
advice, and Buchanan had sent for and informed Packington that 'the condi- 
tions offered by her majesty's government were accepted without the addition 
or alteration of a single word.' Hansard's Pari. Debates, 87, 103S. 

32 Treaty between the United States of America and Her Majesty the Queen 
of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, concluded at Washington 
on the 15th of June 1S46. 

Article I. From the point of the 49th parallel of north latitude where 
the boundary laid down in existing treaties and conventions between Great 
Britain and the United States terminates, the line of boundary between the 
territories of the United States and those of her Britannic Majesty shall be 
continued westward along the 49th parallel of north latitude to the middle of 
the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island, ami thence 
southerly, through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca's Straits, to the 
Pacific Ocean. Provided, however, that the navigation of the whole of the 
said channel and straits south of the 49th parallel of north latitude remain 
free and open to both parties. 

Article II. From the point at which the 49th parallel of north latitude 
shall be found to intersect the great northern branch of the Columbia River, 
the navigation of the said branch shall be free and open to the Hudson's Bay 


upon its ratification. The view taken by the senator 
was, that the 49th parallel was the real Line of right 
and convenience between the two powers; the one 
offered Great Britain since the time of Jefferson; and 
wonderfully adapted to the natural divisions of* the 
country, and the actual possessions of the two countries. 
It parted the two systems of water — those of the 
Columbia and Fraser rivers — as naturally and com- 
modiously on the west of the mountains, as it parted 
on the east side of the same mountains the two systems 
of waters which belonged, on the one hand to the 
gulf of Mexico, on the other to Hudson Bay; and on 
both sides of the mountains it conformed to the actual 
discoveries and settlements of both parties. There 
was not on the face of the earth, he said, so long a 
line, and so straight, and so adapted to the rights of 
the parties and the features of the country. Jefferson 
had offered it in 1807; Monroe in 1818, and again in 
1824; Adams in 1826; Tyler in 1842; and Polk in 

( lompany, and to all British subjects trading with the same, to the point where 
the said branch meets the main stream of the Columbia, and thence do\i a the 
said main stream to the ocean, with free access into and through the said river 
or rivers : it being understood that all the usual portages along the line thu i 
described shall, in like maimer, be free and open. In navigating the said river 
or rivers, British subjects, with their goods and produce, shall be treated on 
the .s.uue footing as citizens of the United States; it being, however, always 
understood that nothing in this article shall be construed as preventing, or 
intended to prevent, the government of the United States from making any 
i. emulations respecting the navigation of the said river or rivers not inconsist- 
ent with the present treaty. 

Article III. In the future appropriation of the territory south of the 
49th parallel of north latitude, as provided in the first article of this treaty, 
the possessory rights of the Hudson's Bay Company, and of all British sub- 
jects w ho may be already in the occupation of land or other property lawfully 
acquired within the said territory, shall be respected. 

Article IV. The farms, lands, and other property of every description 
belonging to the Pugel Sound Agricultural Company, on the uorl b i ide ol the 
( lolumbia River, shall be confirmed to the said company. En case, howev< 
situation of those farms and lands should be considered by the United St 
be of public and political importance, and the United States government 
shoidd signify a desire to obtain possession of the whole, or i E any part 
f, the property so required shall betran ferred to the said overnment 
to be agreed upon between the | a 

Article V. The pi ball 1" ratified by the presidenl of the 

United Mates, bj and with t la • advice and consent, of thi 

by her Britannic majesty; and the ratification shall be exchanged at London 
at the expiration of six months from the date hereof, or sooner if DO 
Greenhow'a Or. and Cal., 482; Oregon Spectator, March 1. 1847; Tribum Al- 
manac, lo47, 10; Oregon, Organic Law and Treaty Limits, i>4-0. 


1845. Thus for a period of about forty years the United 
States government had tendered this boundary to the 
government of Great Britain. 

The deflection through the Strait of Fuca, leaving 
out Vancouver Island instead of dividing it, was right 
and proper also. 33 It left the United States all they 
desired in the waters of Puget Sound and all the bays 
and inlets connecting therewith; and with them the 
small cluster of islands, probably of no value, between 
the Haro channel and the continent. 34 

Of the second article of the treaty, with regard 
to the free navigation of the Columbia, Benton said 
that it fell so far short of what Great Britain had 
previously demanded, and the United States offered, 
that it amounted to a relinquishment of the whole 
pretensions with regard to that river. The navigation 
was to be free to a few British subjects during the 
term of the Hudson's Bay Company's present charter, 
who were to be subject to the laws and regulations 
applying to United States citizens. 35 

Respecting the third article of the treaty which 
regarded the possessory rights of the Hudson's Bay 

33 Benton held that the island was worthless, and not necessary for a port, 
since the mouth of the Columbia was better known as a good harbor; and that 
there was no necessity 'to go north three hundred miles to hunt a substi- 
tute port in the remote and desolate coasts of Vancouver Island. That island 
is not wanted by the United States for any purpose whatever. Above all, the 
south end of it is not wanted to command the Straits of Fuca. It so happens 
that these straits are not liable to be commanded, either in fact or in law. 
They are from fifteen to thirty miles wide — rather too wide for batteries to 
cross their shot — and wide enough, like ail the other great straits of the 
world, to constitute a part of the high seas, and to be incapable of appropri- 
ation by any nation. We want nothing of that strait but as a boundary, 
and that the treaty gives us. With that boundary comes all that we want in 
that quarter, namely, all the waters of Puget's Sound, and the fertile Olympic 
district which borders upon them.' Cong. Globe, app., 1846, 867. 

3i Cong. Globe, app., 1846, 867. Mr Benton did not foresee the strife that 
in a few years was to grow out of the adverse claims to these islands. 
He also remarks 'neither the Spanish discoveries, nor our own discovery and 
settlement of the Columbia, would have given us those waters. Their British 
names indicate their discoverers, and the line of 49° gives them to us.' Mr 
Benton, in his desire to have the treaty confirmed, was willing to sacrifice both 
Spanish and American discoverers, when at another time he might be at great 
pains to defend their claims. 

35 This clause in the second article was overlooked by the British plenipo- 
tentiary, and even Mr Benton does not refer to it in the sense in which it after- 
wards became objectionable to the Hudson's Bay Company, when they were 


Company and all British subjects who might be in 
the occupation of land or other property lawfully ac- 
quired within the said territory Denton thought that 
the limitation of a 'lawful acquisition,' to property 
within the territory, would exclude the company alto- 
gether, as neither the United States laws nor those 
of Great Britain admitted the validity of Indian sales 
to individuals; and possessory rights under the joint 
occupation convention could only continue till the end 
of the company in 18G3. The article, he thought, was 
meant for the quiet of the company until they could 
remove. 30 

The fourth article, treating- of the Puget Sound 
Agricultural Company, was considered by Benton 
as leaving it optional with the United States to con- 
firm the lands to the company or to pay for the 
improvements upon tliem at an equitable valuation, 
there being no doubt of the action of the United 
States in this matter, the government not being likely 
to consent to the presence of a foreign company on 
the waters of Puget Sound. Hence the treaty, as a 
whole, was favorable to the United States, and he, as 
a constitutional adviser of the president, should urge 
its ratification. The country at large, and Oregon in 
particular, required that the long debated question 
should be settled. 

On the vote being taken in the senate, forty-one 
members were for and fourteen against the ratifica- 
tion of the treaty, one member being absent. 37 The 

called upon to pay duties on goods imported from England. Roberts, in hia 
Recollections, 6, Bays: 'The treaty was very lame, so far as the company was 
concerned. They never contemplated paying duties at Vancouver; this, 
coupled with the disorganization and demoralization of their men, was the 
doM 11 7 .1 11 of the company. 1 

3G 'I am willing to understand the article liberally and to exeeul. 
erouslj ; but in strictness there can be no law nil possessions in ( Oregon < i 
the defunct treaty would impart thai character), thi persons] tx ing 

in the eye of our law intruders and trespassers.' Gong. Globi . a pp., LJ 16, 868. 
i - the doctrine of the American settlers in Oregon from thi 

The treaty was signed by Messi - Packington andBuchanan on the L5th of 
June, the advice of tin- senate being given on the 1.3th, and the presidenl 
ing it on the 18th, immediately after its confirmation by thi 1; was 

signed by the queen of Great Britain on the 17th of July, L846. 


president without delay acted on the advice of the 
senate, and in a month from that time the Oregon 
Question was finally settled by the consent of the 
queen of Great Britain to the treaty as ratified by 
the president of the United States. 33 The exclusive 
claim of the United States was not altogether sound ; 
but the people had been educated into a belief that 
it was so; they were ready or nearly so, to resort 
to force in defence of their rights ; and England did 
not deem her own actual right in the matter worth 
fighting for. Therefore the country between the 
Columbia and latitude 49° was peacefully surrendered 
to the United States. 

38 Authorities consulted on the subject-matter of this chapter, not already 
quoted, are: American StatePapers, xiii. 623-4, xiv. 745-6; Cong. Globe, 1S3S-9, 
7, 15; Id., 1837-8, 10-2-2, app., 565; Id., 1839-40,6; Id., 1840-1,71, 89, 90, 100, 
app., 105; Id., 1S41-2, vi., app., 736; Id., 1JJ41, vi.; Id., 1842-3, vii., app., 
iii. 132; Id., 1842-3, vii. xiii. app., iii. iv.; Id., 1843-4, ix. xix. app., v.; Id., 
1844-5, vii. xiii. app., 419; Id., 1845-6, xii. xxix. xxx.; Id., 1845-6, 145, 153; 
Niks' Beg., xxxiii. 213; lvi. 234-9; lxx. 341; Id., lxviii. 151-2. 1S4, 205-7, 
213, 224, 236-9, 252, 364; Cushing's Kept, on Or. Tcr., 1839, 26-51; Hansard's 
Pad. Debates, Lxxxiv. 1277-9; lxxxviii. 88, 978, 989, 993; Poussin's Question 
cle VOreqon, 87-88 ; U. S. Charters and Constitution*, ii. 1482-3 ; Irving's As- 
t Ha, 497; Evans 1 Hist. Or., MS., 113, 294; Butter's Wild North Land, 350; 
Cushing's Treat// of Washin</ton, 211-14; North American Review, vi. 453; 
Id., xxvii. 490-512; Id., lvi. 453-490, xviii. 496-512, Jan. 1840, 94, 103-09, 
132-44; Id., xv. 370-94; Edinburgh Review, lxxxii. 238-265; Southern Quart. 
Review, July 1845, 217-43; Perkins' Annals of the Wed, vii. xxiii.; Robertson's 
Right and Title to Or., app., i-xxiv.; Saxton's Or. Ter., 30; Sargent's Life of 
Dr Linn, 195; Pines' Ex. to Or., 365-375; Rept. Com., No. 31, 27th Cong., 3d 
Sess.j Victor's Or., 9-34; Tribune Almanac for 1S46, 17-43; 1847, 6-7; Farn- 
ham's Hist. Or., 51: McKay's Recoil., 3; Laplace, Campagne, vi. 1-39, Zava- 
lishin, 6-7; Giddini/s' Speeches, 14S-63; Simpson's Nar., i. 262-6; Humboldt's 
New Spain, Blade, Trans., ii. 316-18; Winthrop's Speech Or. Quest., 16; Kd- 
by's Colonization of Oregon, 17, 42-51; Letter of J. II. Kelley in Thornton's 
Hist. Or., MS., 84-93; House Rept., No. 830, 27th Cong., 2d Sess.; Senate 
Repjf., No. 470, 25th Cong., 2d Sess.; Evans' Northwest Boundary, 1-S; Thorn- 
ton's Or. and Cal. , 30-1 ; Papers Relating to the Treaty of Washington, v. 39-44; 
Anderson's Northwest Coast, MS., 260; President's Mess., and Doc, 20th 
Cong., 10-14, 139-93; Hastings' Or., 23; Proceedings of the Mass. Hist. Soc, 
1863-4,457; Dix's Speeches, 17-59; Pac. R. R. Explor. and Survey, 26; Oregon 
Spectator, April 1, 1847; Messages and Documents of J. K. Polk, 1846, 1-33; 
Cong. Globr, 1845-6, 20th Cong., app.; Cong. Globe, 1846-7, app; Das Oregon 
Gi biet; or the Official Correspondence on the Oregon Question, complete, 1-114; 
S. I. Frit, id, v. 28-9; Nicolay's Or. Ter.; L.F. Grover, in Trans. Or. Pioneer 
Assoc, 1874, 33-9. 

Among contemporaneous writers on the Oregon Question, and on the 
events of Oregon history on -which that question depended, Robert Greenhow 
should deservedly be mentioned in the first place. He was a native of Vir- 
ginia, educated for the medical profession, in 1S38 established the Tricolor, a 


republican paper, in New York, and later became translator and librarian to 

tlie United States depart men t of state. While so engaged he wrote his Mi moir, 
Histori ■ ■'■ Political, of the Northwest Coast of America, and ike Adjacent 
illustrated by a Map andOeograpIacalVu w of those ( 'ountries. Wash- 
ington, 1S40, 8vb. xii.. 228 pages. This work was written by direction of the 
try of state, ami published by order of the Benate at the request of 
Linn, the great champion of Oregon settlement. U. S. (loci. Dm-., 26th < 'ong., 
IstSess., Sen. 1><»-., No. 174. I'" 1 "" years later this work, much i laborated, 
and increased in size, was published as The History of Oregon and ( >i ifornia, 
ami the other T< rrttotieson the Northwest Coast of Ann rica\ accompanit I by a 

•aphical View and Map of those Countries, and Number of Documents as 
Illustrations of the History. Boston, 1844. 8vo, xviii., 4 l \ 
It Mas also issued the same year in England with a London title-page; and a 

d, third, and fourth editions were published in 1845 and 1847. The last 
edition contains some additions. The first xviii. ll'O pages of this work were 
separately printed and issued as The Geography of Oregon and California, 
etc. Boston, L845; X. Y., 1843. The same author also published in 1845 an 
Answer to the Strictures of Mr Thomas Falconer of Lincoln's I mi, <>,, th II 
of Oregon and California. Washington, hs4.">, Svo, 7 pages, lie subsequently 
vent to California as associate law-agent of the United States before the land 
commission, and died in San Francisco iii 1S54, at the age of 54 years. 

Mr ( rieenhow was an accomplished man and a writer of ability and in- 
dustry, not without a certain brilliancy of style. Those parts of his works 
devoted to historical and descriptive matter are worthy of the highest praise ; 
indeed, in many parts they can hardly be improved at this date, occupying, 
legitimately in certain respects, the place of standard history. As an argu- 
ment on the title question, the work also deserves praise as the strongest 
possible presentment of the cause. It was to all intents and purposes a 
brief in behalf of the United States, though the author denies this in the 
preface to the last edition in reply to English criticisms in the Quarterly /.'< vit "•, 
1845 '>. 567; yet for a production of this class it was remarkably free from 
! pleading and partisan unfairness. The Quark, rly's charge that Green- 
how had displayed 'more art and diligence than candor and accuracy,' 
being an 'unsafe if not faithless guide,' was exaggerated; yet it is hardly 

ble that so intelligent a man so well acquainted with the subject should 
really have believed in all that was claimed by the United States in regard 
to the Northwest Coast. 

Trav« is Tv.iss, D. C. L., F. R. S., "professor of political economy in the 
university of Oxford, and advocate in doctors' commons," published after the 
appearance of Greenhow's work, The Oregon Question examined in retpect to 
■ml th- Law of Nations. London, 1846, 8vo, ix. 391 pages. Itwasrepub- 
lished as The Ore<jon Territory, its History and Discovery, etc. V ■■■■. York, 
1846, I2roo, 264 pages. Dr Twiss was in every respect the equal of the Amer- 
ican eham; ion, inability, knowledge, and freedom from extreme partisanship. 
In the technicalities of international law he was superior; he had also the 
benefit of all Greenhow's researches in addition to his own; and he had, 
besides, the le.-s ultra side of the argument. As a history 
Coast his work is not equal to Greenhow's; but as an argum< ni on th 


gon Question it is in all essential points fairer, in fact a good work of its class. 
It contains many mistakes in minor historical points to be corrected ; but like 
Greenkow's work it is in comparison with those of other writers more free 
from such errors. 

The subject is treated less exhaustively, and in most cases with a more 
pronounced spirit of partisanship, in the following works : The Oregon Ques- 
tion; or a Statement of the British Claims, etc., by Thomas Falconer, Esq. Lon- 
don and New York, 1845, three editions. The same author wrote On the 
Discovery of the Mississippi, and on the Southwestern, Oregon, and Northwest- 
ern Boundaries of the United States, London, 1S44; and Mr Falconer's Reply to 
Mr Greenhow's Answer, with Mr Greenhow's Rejoinder. Washington, 1845. 
We have also from the pen of the United States plenipotentiary in the nego- 
tiations of 1826-9, Letters of Albert Gallatin on the Oregon Question, Wash- 
ington, 1846, 8vo, 30 pages; and The Oregon Question, Nos. 1-5. New York, 
1846, 8vo, 78 pages. ' An ex-officer of the Hudson's Bay Company wrote The 
Oregon Territory, Claims thereto of England and America considered, by Alex- 
ander Simpson. London, 1846, Svo, 60 pages. See also Robertson's Oregon, our 
Right and Title, Washington, 1846, Svo, 203 pages; Murdoch's Our True Title to 
Oregon — that is resting on the Virginia charter; Oregon, the Cost and the Con- 
sequences, Phil. 1846; Tucker's History of Oregon, Buffalo, 1844, made up for 
the most part from Greenhow; Sturgis' Oregon Question, Boston, 1845, a lec- 
ture; Farnham's History of the Oregon Territory, 1844; Will there be War"! By 
an Adopted Citizen, 1846; also Hall J. Kelley's pamphlets. The British comic 
papers of the time also presented the great cpuestion in cartoons. 




"Is Oregon Worth Having?" — Configuration, Soil, and Climate — 
Relations with China— A Terra [ncogntta— England to India, by 
way of the Columbia River— Irreconcilable Opinions— Preparing 
to Emigrate Proposal to Make Over the Territory to the [ndians 
—The Whale-fishery— A School for Seamen— Conflicting State- 
ments—A Hesitating Government— Why the British Monopolized 
the Trade — McLoughlin Succeeds Keith at Astoria— Personal 
Appearance and Character of McLoughlix — His Administration 
of Justice— He Explores for the Site of a New Post — Fort Van- 
couver Founded — Agriculture and Commerce — Amalgamation of 
Fur Companies — Perils of the Fur-trade. 

" Is Oregon worth having ?" This was a question 
which first assumed importance in 1820, and thencefor- 
ward during ten years exercised the collective wisdom 
of congress. Many and various were the opinions of 
legislators who took part in the debates on this sub- 
ject. Many members were entirely unused t<> the 
consideration of vast national interests, while not a 
lew were profoundly ignorant of the history mid con- 
ditions of the region under consideration. This lack 
of exact information had its effect in furnishing mate- 
rial for the pleasantry of the better informed mem- 
bers, and endued with unwonted entertainment the 
usually somewhat dull pages <»i* the Annals of Con- 

The political aspect of the question has already 
been considered; it may not be withoul inter, 
however, in this place to cast a retrospective glai 
over the ideas of more than half a century ago con- 
cerning the nature of the now north-west. 

Hist. X. \V. Coast, Vol. II. 27 (117) 


Configuration, soil, climate, and other conditions 
governing population were among the most important 
points upon which both speculation and argument were 
founded. As early as 1821 it was confidently as- 
serted that " the coast of the Pacific is in its climate 
more mild than any part of the continent in the same 
parallel, and many vegetables on that shore grow in 
great abundance in the native forest which are like- 
wise natives of China." 1 

The mention of China is in this connection not 
inappropriate, for in all phases of the Oregon prob- 
lem that empire claims a large share of prominence, 
whether as a mart for the distribution of coast prod- 
ucts, or a means of peopling the coast itself. "It is 
believed that population could be easily acquired from 
China, by which the arts of peace would at once 
acquire strength and influence, and make visible to 
the aborigines the manner in which their wants could 
be supplied . . . And, though the people of that country 
evince no disposition to emigrate to the territory of 
adjoining princes, it is believed they would willingly, 
nay, gladly, embrace the opportunity of a home in 
America, where they have no prejudices, no fears, no 
restraint in opinion, labor, or religion." 2 The same 
congressional committee who enunciated the above 
sentiments supplemented them with the devout hope 
that an establishment on such conditions "would essen- 
tially benefit the natives, whilst it would give this 
country the advantage of all its own treasures, which 
otherwise must be lost forever, or rather never enjoyed ; 
and from all that can be ascertained relative to its 
present and increasing value, of more profit to this 
country than the mines of Potosi." 3 

Trade with China, which when carried on- with 

iAnnals of Cong., ICtli Cong., 2d Sess., 956. 

2 /</., 956-7. 

3 Id., 957. The vexed question of the Chinese on the Pacific coast finds a 
place in another volume, but it may be opportune to remark here that the 
example of Chinese industry has not affected the aborigines very appreciably, 
while the immigrants themselves tan no longer complain of the absence of 
prejudice and restraint. 


eastern seaports involved so long, circuitous, and 
perilous a voyage, was always confidently pointed to 
as the most valuable incentive to the development of 
the region adjacent to the Columbia River. 

In December 1822, Floyd of Virginia, one of the 
warmest advocates for the occupation of the territory, 
remarked: "The settlement on the Oregon, as con- 
templated by this bill, connecting the trade of that 
river and coast with the Missouri and Mississippi, is 
to open a mine of wealth to the shipping interests 
and the western country, surpassing the hopes even 
of avarice itself. It consists principally of things 
which will purchase the manufactures and products 
of China at a better profit than gold and silver; and 
if that attention is bestowed upon the country to 
which its value and position entitle it, it will yield a 
profit, producing more wealth to the nation than all 
the shipments which have ever in any one year been 
made to Canton from the United States." 4 

Much legislative inaction and apparent coldness to 
the new-born enthusiasm for Oregon, must be credited 
to the lack of reliable specific information. 5 Its ex- 
treme remoteness, too, appears to have had an appall- 
ing effect upon most minds, though here and there 
was found an ardent devotee whose advanced ideas 
triumphed over time and space. " It cannot be denied," 
says one of these, "that the distance between the seat 
of government and the mouth of the Columbia is 
very great. But in reference to the facility of com- 
munication between the places, the distance must not 
be estimated by miles, but should be computed by the 
time required to pass from the one place to the other. I f 
steam-boats were established in all the waters 1 »< t wee] i 
this and the mouth of the Columbia capable of steam- 
boat navigation, the journey might be made, I do not 
doubt, in less time, and with greater ease, than tin' 

i Annals of Cong., 17th Cong., 2d s, 88 ., 398. 

5 'All this space of tin- western shores of our territory is perfectly unknot :i 
to us, and is as much /< rra incognita as the wilds of A 
17th Cong., 2d Sess., oSo. 


representative from Missouri, now on this floor, could 
have come, unless by sea, from his state to this city, 
only ten years ago." 6 

The aspirations of such advocates, though neces- 
sarily limited to existing means, contemplated a brill- 
iant future for the unbuilt city of the Columbia. 

She was to be more than a mere port of entry, a 
haven for the whalers battered in an Arctic tempest, 
an emporium of furs destined for the trans-Pacific 
trade; she should be the entrepot of European trade 
with India and China. " We must tak$ into consid- 
eration a trade which, at no distant day, must grow 
out of the great improvements we have made, and are 
daily making, in the means of communication and 
transportation ... I do verily believe, that, in twenty 
years, and if not in twenty, in fifty years, a person 
setting out from London to go to India, will find New 
York, Albany, and Sandusky, post-towns on his route. 
By pursuing, continually, nearly a west course, he 
will cross the Atlantic, reach Albany, follow the New 
York canal, embark on Lake Erie, pass through the 
Ohio canal, and pursue the Ohio, Mississippi, and 
Missouri, to the foot of the Rocky Mountains, over 
which he will traverse a turnpike of only seventy-five- 
miles, which will bring him to the waters of the 
Columbia; upon these he will reach the Pacific, and 
from thence he will cross a ferry to the Asiatic con- 
tinent, a ferry of some two or three thousand miles, 
I admit, but one which, in reference to steam-boat navi- 
gation, for which those seas are particularly adapted, 
would be no more than so many hundred miles would 
have been some few } T ears since ... Is it not reasonable, 
then, to suppose that, at some period, not very remote, 
the eastern trade may be pursued in the course I have 
designated?" 7 

So rose-tinted a view could not long hold its own 
unchallenged. Whatever natural advantages the ter- 

6 Annals of Cong., 17th Cony., 2d Sess., 5S6. 
7 Id., 5S5-G. 


ritory might or might not possess, its friends were 
Dot destined to have matters all their own way. 
Meagre as were the tacts known, they appeal' to have 
been equally distributed between the pros and cons, 
and no sooner had a partisan exhausted plausibility 
in depicting the resources of the new country, than 
his opponent was ready with a new array of tacts, or 
the old ones transposed, to controvert his arguments. 
We now find this much-debated land painted in Rem- 
brandtesque colors by one who claimed to be possessed 
of some reliable information, though it was "neither 
extensive nor precise." This knowledge had been 
obtained from gentlemen who had spent some time on 
the Columbia, and was in every way trustworthy. 
" The coast in the vicinity of the mouth of the Colum- 
bia," said he, "is high, rugged, and to use the techni- 
cal phrase of sailors, iron-bound. The entrance into 
the river, or rather into the estuary into which the 
liver disembogues, is difficult and dangerous, owing 
to the bars and shoals which stretch out from capes 
Disappointment and Adams, the two points which 
form the bay. These shoals approximate so much as 
to leave the channel between them too narrow to 
allow vessels to pass through with safety. 8 

8 J. B. Prevost, United States commissioner at the surrender of Fort 
George, in his letter to John Quincy Adams, bearing date November 1 1. 1818, 
writes concerning the estuary of the Columbia: ' The bay is spacious; contains 
Beveral anchoring places in a sufficient depth of water; and is by no means 

nil of ingress as has been represented. Those enjoying the ex. :. 
commerce have probably cherished an impression unfavorable to its continu- 
ance, growing out of the incomplete survey of Lieutenant Broughtmi. ina.lo 
under the orders of Vancouver in 1792. It is true that there is a bar extend- 
ing across the mouth of the river, at either extremity of which are, at I 
appalling breakers; but it is equally true that it offers, at the low 
depth of 21 feet of water through a passage, exempt from them, of w 
league in width. The Blossom, carrying more guns than the Onto 
tend a change of wind while in the channel; was ■ o Lei go her 

anchor; and. when again weighed, to tack and beat, in order to reach the 
harbor; yet found a greater depth, and met with no difficulty either th( 

ing the bay. . ,The bearings, distances, and soundin I ■ a l>y 

Captain Sickey, who was kind enough to lend himself to the examination, 
and to furnish me with this result, ft is the more interesting, as il mows 
that, with the aid of buoys, the accest I anj tonnage may 

be rendered ecure.' /</.. 1207. Captain Hickey was in command ol 
Britannic majesty's sloop-of-war Blossom. Prevost's letter was communi- 
cated to the house of representatives, January 27, lb'23. 


" It is only, therefore, with a fair and free wind 
that a ship can enter; for, without a leading wind, the 
strong tides which set here, at the rate of five or six 
miles an hour, would strand her on one or the other 
of the capes, as the tide should happen to be either 
at flood or ebb. The anchorage within is tolerably 
good, except that the great action of the tides is 
calculated to make the anchors foul, and render much 
labor necessary to keep the vessel safe at her moorings. 

" But as the winds which prevail on the coast are 
principally from the west, the difficulty in going out 
is much greater than that of entering. Vessels in 
the harbor would often be detained for weeks before 
an opportunity would present for putting to sea. 
Upon the whole, the harbor must be considered, at 
all seasons, bad, and during the winter months almost, 
if not altogether, impracticable. The climate, instead 
of being, as I have heard it described, bland and salu- 
brious, is bleak and inhospitable. It is true that deep 
snows or severe frosts are seldom known during four 
or five months of the year, but the vapor arising from 
the ocean, which is driven by the constantly prevail- 
ing west winds on the high mountains, is condensed 
by the cold, and descends in drenching rains almost 

"A dry day at this season is a luxury rarely enjoyed, 
and the cheering ray of a sunbeam scarcely ever ex- 
perienced. As you ascend the river the period of the 
rainy season diminishes, and at the first spurs of the 
Rocky Mountains, a distance of four hundred or five 
hundred miles, it is almost unknown. But the climate, 
owing to this excess of humidity at one season, and 
the feeble influence of the sun in the other, is believed, 
from experiments which have been made, to be inca- 
pable of nourishing many of the valuable products 
which are cultivated with success in the corresponding 
latitudes of the Atlantic. The attempts which were 
made to cultivate maize wholly failed; and, although 
turnips, cabbages, and some other culinary vegetables 


have succeeded, the prospects for wheat, rye, oats, 
etc are miserable indeed. The face of the country, 
for some distance from the ocean, although presenting 
a Strom.- and deep soil, is rugged, broken, and covered 
with impenetrable forests of hemlock, spruce, and 
white-cedar, of prodigious size, and affording the 
most discouraging prospects to the settlers. 

" The country o-enerally continues of this character 
until you reach the Wallamut River, which enters the 
Columbia about one hundred miles from the sea. in 
this distance there are occasionally some small tracts 
of alluvial land, which, being level and less burdened 
with timber, might be more easily fitted for cultiva- 
tion than the broken uplands; but even these are 
often subjected to inundation in summer, when a dis- 
solution of the mountain snows swells the river. _ It 
is true, spots might be found above the reach of high 
water but they are too insignificant in extent to be 
considered in relation to this object of forming a com- 
pact and important settlement. There are places 
along the Columbia where a few famdies might sit 
down together, but they are not numerous, nor is 
there any spot sufficiently large for a considerable 
population throughout the whole timbered country, 
which extends a distance of about two hundred miles 
from the sea. Between this point and the spurs ot 
the Rocky Mountains forest-trees totally disappear, 
and nothing larger than the common willow is to be 
seen This whole intervening tract is one of gravel 
and sand, with just soil enough to sustain a scanty 
covering of grass. On the Wallamut, a tract of coun- 
try of moderate extent is found, which affords some 
advantages of soil and climate superior to those which 
have just been mentioned; and it is here, and here 
only, that the least prospects for an agricultural set- 
tlement can be found." 9 _ 

He readily disposed of the question of the Colum- 
bia becoming a link in the chain of communication 

»Id., 591-3. 


between Europe and the orient, treating it as an im- 
possible absurdity which could not happen in any 
case "until the knowledge of ship-building was lost, 
and the art of navigation forgotten." " When we re- 
flect/' continued he, " that the interposition of the 
narrow isthmus of Suez, between the Mediterranean 
and the Red Sea, although nothing but a level plain, 
has interrupted the former intercourse with India, 
and has for ages turned the whole commerce of Europe 
with that country into a circuitous voyage of many 
thousand miles, how can we fancy that we shall ever 
overcome the infinitely greater obstacles which are 
presented in this imaginary project?. . .The God of 
nature has interposed obstacles to this connection, 
which neither the enterprise nor science of this or 
any other age can overcome." 10 

As time went on and open discussion thoroughly 
ventilated the question, the public mind became inter- 
ested. Persons were found so convinced of the feasi- 
bility of a settlement that they were prepared to 
emigrate thither with their families, 11 undeterred by 
any evil report they may have heard concerning 
natives, soil, or climate. 12 

10 Id., 590. This speech was delivered in January 1823; the Pacific Pail- 
way was an accomplished fact in May 18G9; and the Suez Canal was opened 
in November of the same year. 

11 ' Eighty enterprising farmers and mechanics,' citizens of Maryland, pre- 
sented a memorial to congress through their representative, Mr Little, pray- 
ing for legislation on the matter of the Oregon settlement. Annals of Cong., 
17th Cong., 2d Sess., 1077. 

12 One pro-Oregon debater compares the winter rains favorably with the snows 
of the Atlantic coast, declares the climate one of the best on the globe, and con- 
cludes: 'The humming-bird, one of the most delicate of the feathered tribe, 
is found on this coast as high as latitude 00°.' Id., 084. Prevost writes thus in 
his communication to the secretary of state: 'It has been observed, by 
exploring this coast, that the climate, to the southward of 53 degrees, 
assumes a mildness unknown in the same latitude on the eastern side of the 
continent. Without digressing to speculate upon the cause, I will merely 
state that such is particularly the fact in 40° 10', the site of Fort George. The 
mercury, during the winter, seldom descends below the freezing-point; when it 
does so, it is rarely stationary for any number of days; and the severity of the 
season is more determined by the quantity of water than by its congelation. 
The rains usually commence with November, and continue to fall partially until 
the latter end of March or beginning of April. A benign spring succeeds; 
.and when the summer heats obtain, they are so tempered by showers as sel- 
dom to suspend vegetation. I found it luxuriant on my arrival, and, during a 


Still, despite the very evidenl wishes of the people 
at large, congress would sanction no scheme of coloni- 
zation in accord with the spirit of the many memorials 

and petit ions addressed to that body. The matter was 
doubtless more complex than the public realized. 
Though it found much earnest and zealous support, 
then' was still a preponderance of opinion adverse to 
any official action. The subject of inaccessibility was 
revived, and treated with a certain amount of sarcasm, 
notably by Senator Dickerson of Xew Jersey. 13 

It was also gravely proposed to secure the territory 
permanently to the native tribes. "If they were made 
secure in the possession of this territory, their popu- 
lation would increase. . .The British government are 
famed for their magnificent plans for ameliorating the 
condition of the human race. Would they not readily 
join the government of the United States in any 
measure that might be necessary to secure the whole 
territory claimed by both parties west of the Rocky 

fortnight's stay, experienced no change of weather to retard its course. The 
soil is good; all the cereal gramina and tuberous plants may he cultivated with 
advantage; and the waters abound in salmon, sturgeon, and other varieties 
of fish.' Id., 1208. Prevost arrived in the Columbia on October I. L818. 

13 ' The distance from the mouth of the Columbia to the mouth of the Missouri 
is 3,555 miles; from Washington to the mouth of the Missouri is 1,160 o 
making the whole distance from Washington to the mouth of the Columbia 
Paver 4,703 miles, but say 4,630 miles. The distance therefore, that a member 
of con state of Oregon would be obliged to travel in coming to 

the seat of government and returning home, would be 9,300 miles, this, at 
the rate of eight dollars for every twenty miles, would make his travelling 
expenses amount to $3,720. Every member of congress ought to see his con- 
stituents once a year. This is already v< iry difficult for those in thi 
remote parts of the union. At the rate which the members of congress travel 
law — that is, 20 miles per day — it would require, to come to the 
• government from Oregon and return, 4G."> days; and if he should lie by 
for Si 66, it would require 531 days. But if he should travel at 

miles pi r day. it would require 300 days. Allow for Sim 
44. it would amount to 350 days. This would allow the member a fortnight 
himself at Washington, before he should commence his journey home. 
This rate of travelling would be a hard duty, as a gn ay is 

ingly bad, and a portion of it over rugged mountains, w here Lew is and 
Chnke found b< veral feet of snow in the latter part of dune. Yet a young, 
able-b ■<• travel from Oregon to Washington and I 

year; but lie could do nothing else. It would lie more expeditious, however, 
to come by water round Cape Horn, or to pass through Behring's Straits round 
the north coa t of this continent to Baffin's Bay, thence through I 1 
to the Atlantic, and so on to Washington. It is true, this passage is not yet 
discovi • upon our maps; but it will be as soon as Oregon .-hall 1 a 

state.* Congressional Debates, 1824— .3, i. 692. 


Mountains to the present possessors of the soil? It is 
an object worthy of the united exertions of the two 
governments, of the united exertions of Europe and 
America. . .As to the Oregon Territory, it can never 
be of any pecuniary advantage to the United States, 
but it may be made the means of promoting, in a most 
signal manner, the cause of humanity. " H 

In 1 828, after eight years continual agitation, another 
determined effort was made to obtain government pro- 
tection for emigrants to Oregon. At that time there 
© . , ©. . . . 

were three associations, one in Louisiana, another m 
Massachusetts, and one in Ohio, each prepared to set 
out for the far west on the most meagre official assur- 
ances. That of Massachusetts comprised "three thou- 
sand individuals, respectable farmers and industrious 
artisans." Each association had friends in congress, 
straining every nerve to secure land grants, and the 
extinction of the Indian title within a certain area. 
Floyd of Virginia was, as ever, foremost in the cause 
of the intending emigrants. He was armed with a 
formidable mass of arguments, facts, and statistics; 
but the opposition was too powerful. The tide of 
emigration westward was to flow without the fostering 
of official power. The enterprise of individuals was 
to accomplish unaided that which their most ardent 
champions failed to extort from government. 

Even the enormous interests involved in the whale- 
fisheries of the Northwest Coast were powerless to 
stir the stagnation, though Floyd made a most stirring 
appeal in their behalf. " In the year 1818, there was 
exported of spermaceti oil, 208,464 gallons; of whale- 
oil, 986,252 gallons, worth $500,000; 305,162 pounds 
of spermaceti candles; 9,300 pounds of whalebone; 

11 Congressional Debates, 1824-5, i. 694-5. Senator Benton said of these 
same natives: 'These Indians are estimated at 140,000 souls, possess the finest 
horses, and are among the best horsemen in the world. The present age has 
seen the Ccssacs of the Don and Ukraine, ravaging the banks of the Seine and 
the Loire; the next may see the Cossacs of the Oregon issuing in clouds from 
the gorges of the Bocky Mountains, and sweeping with the besom of desola- 
tion the banks of the Missouri and Mississippi.' Id., 709. 


534,129 pounds of ginseng; of skins and furs, $808, 133 
worth; all succeeding years nearly the same, except 
the exportation of whale-oil, which, in L823, was 
1,453,126 gallons, and in 1824 and L825, upward of 
1,000,000. This document exhibits the articles and 
their value exported from the United States to the 
western coast in prosecution of this trade, giving a 
practical illustration of my ideas of the balance of 
trade, as exhibited in the original report from the 
committee, which I had the honor to present to the 
house many years ago. Thus it appears, we only, in 
the year 1824, exported to that coast $0,703, for 
which we got in return what I have already stated, 
the rest being labor. This may be considered a branch 
of business which rather creates a revenue than yields 
a profit, in a commercial point of view. The ship sails 
from the United States with nothing or but little to 
sell; that ship goes into the western ocean, where the 
crew after taking whale, and catching seal, and cutting 
sandal- wood, go to Canton with the result of their 
labor, where it is sold for hundreds of thousands of* 
dollars; and yet statesmen are foolish enough to talk 
about the balance of trade being against us, because 
we import more than we export. Again, we may look 
to this branch of commerce to be as well, if not bet- 
ter, calculated to bring up seamen for our navy, than 
even the cod fisheries, which have been so unwarrant- 
ably fostered at the expense of the treasury and the 
India trade. One voyage to this ocean will make a 
man a complete seaman who never before had sailed. 
The Canton and this trade gives employment fcothre< 
thousand and upwards of seamen, and brings greai 
wealth home, even though, by act of congress, it pays 
twenty per em! higher upon any goods from the ( 'ape 
of Good Hope and beyond it, than for the same arti- 
cles from Europe, or anywhere else." 16 

All these years of wrangling discussion bad qo1 been 
sufficient to place the Oregon country within the pale 

*>C<mg. Deb., v. 104. 


of explored lands. " Nineteen twentieths of the space 
between the Missouri and the Pacific Ocean, beyond 
the culturable prairies, which were not above two or 
three hundred miles, was a waste and sterile tract, no 
better than the desert of Zahara." "It is not merely 
an extensive region, but ... a fertile one. If there are 
rough and barren portions, as there naturally must 
be in so extensive a tract of countiw, bounded by 
one lofty ridge of mountains, and traversed by another 
parallel" to it; there can be no doubt, even if we had 
not, as we have, abundant testimony of the fact that 
other portions, the banks of the rivers, some of its 
numerous islands, and the valley between the two 
ranges of hills are fertile. In that part of the globe, 
and in that vicinity to the ocean, if the region be as 
sterile as it has just been described, it is without ex- 
ample in geography." "It could not be pretended . . . 
that our country is oppressed by an excessive popula- 
tion, too dense for the extent of our territory, and 
hence that it has become necessary to give an outlet 
to those restless spirits, who, as appears, are willing to 
go into that sterile, snowy, and mountainous country, 
St only for the abode of mountain-goats and wild 
beasts, the most ferocious — a country inhabited by the 
most degraded of human beings; . . . where nothing 
awaited the infatuated adventurers who visited it 
but wretchedness and ruin, and all the horrors of 
savage life." "The soil for the most part is a light 
sandy loam, in several places of very considerable 
depth, and abundantly mixed with decayed vegeta- 
bles. The vigor and' luxuriance of its productions 
prove it to be a rich, fertile mould. This country, 
regarded in an agricultural view, I should conceive, is 
capable of high improvement." "The cove is a large, 
commodious harbor for a fleet; the shores most beau- 
tiful; soil, where the bears had turned it up in search 
of roots, ready to melt in its own richness; game in 
absolute profusion." "The ocean teems with otter, the 
seal and the whale; while the mainland affords, in in- 


numerable quantites, the common otter, the bear, the 
buffalo, and the whole variety of deer." 

"Admit that you shall succeed in planting the pro- 
posed colony. After you have planted it you will be 
compelled to protect, it against war, famine, and pesti- 
lence. You must protect it against war with that 
great bod}' of armed hunters who arc there prosecut- 
ing the fur-trade, and the wretched Indian hordes. 
Will you be able to sit coolly by, and see the blood of 
your fellow-citizens streaming from every pore, and 
attempt to 1cm id them no assistance? Sir, it is impos- 
sible. The spirit of the nation forbids it; and wo 
must attempt their aid, cost what it may. I say you 
must defend them against famine. How will they be 
situated? Among mountains, covered through the 
.winter with masses of snow, which nothing could thaw- 
but the endless torrents and floods of rain which fall 
there in the spring and early part of the summer. 
Then these valleys are perfectly inundated; all the 
works of man are swept away; and when the waters 
have at length subsided, the remaining season is so 
short that there is no time to bring anything to per- 
fection. You will therefore be compelled to furnish 
these people with provisions, by vessels going around 
Cape Horn; and after such a voyage, half the pro- 
visions would be putrid when they got there. Sir, 
they will suffer by famine, and famine will quickly 
bring pestilence in its rear. A barren soil, an inclem- 
ent sky, the want of all things, will soon reduce these 
people to a situation in which pestilence will take 
what war and famine have left, and you will soon 
a destruction of human life unparalleled in the annals 
of history." 

Such were some of the conflicting opinion 
ments through whose mazes the colonists of Oregon 
threaded their way, led by the clue of shrewd common- 

Sagacity after the evenl is easy. It would be ob- 
viously unjust to expert of any statesman of the era 


under consideration an approximate conception of the 
present propinquity of the region of the Columbia to 
the east, a provision of those incomparable though yet 
imperfect triumphs of science by which the conditions 
of time and space have been dominated. As a vague 
problem, an untried experiment, this new territory 
had terrors for a government which did not exist for 
individuals, and it was individual action which event- 
ually forced the hands of congress. Within the bound 
of modern history seldom has a government shown 
hesitation to acquire territory. The deliberation of 
the republic is conspicuous. 

True descendants of the horse-leech, the kingdoms 
of the earth are but too prone to the lust of annex- 
ation. It matters little whether the coveted spot is 
a terrestrial Eden, or an arid desert, a Goshen of 
flocks and herds, or a polar waste. 

Where legislators may, perhaps, be most justly 
blamed is in underestimating the importance of the 
then existing and rapidly increasing interests on the 
Pacific, where the China trade and the fur-trade 
demanded the establishment of a naval station in the 
vicinity of their great ocean highway. 

Again, they failed to realize the energy and perse- 
verance of their own countrymen, who, without the 
allurement of the precious metals which lends a fever- 
ish lustre to subsequent emigration westward, dared 
with their wives and little ones to confront the terrors 
of the desert journey to the western shore, where 
they made good their settlement in spite of the oppo- 
sition of foreign trade monopoly and autochthonous 

All honor, then, to the hardy emigrants who won 
for their hesitating country a dominion west of the 
Rocky Mountains, imperial in its extent, and price- 
less in its intrinsic wealth and its influence upon 
oriental commerce. 

Meanwhile, the Oregon trade was entirely in 
the hands of British subjects, but simply from the 


fact that Americans had not elected to emigrate 
thither. 16 

While time was being wasted in discussion, the 
great fur monopoly was quietly gathering in its annual 
harvest in the distant north-west, reaping where it 
had not sown, and regarding with a jealous eye any 
interference with its traffic. If the country was not 
under the exclusive control of the fur gatherers, the 
trade should be so as far as they could command 
events. I will now proceed to sketch their position 
and influence subsequent to 1821, that which I have 
hitherto said being descriptive of their inner workings 
rather than a history of their external relations. And 
to this end we must return and continue that side of 
our stor}^ from the time of the union of the two great 
associations, the Northwest and the Hudson's Bay 

Among the first things to be considered subsequent 
to the harmonizing of ancient antagonisms, was a 
new organization, and a new metropolitan post. The 
former was achieved b} 7 George Simpson, and the lat- 
ter by John McLoughlin. As I have before observed, 
the most desirable elements from both companies were 
united in their common successor, and those who went 
their way disaffected and engaged in rival enterprise, 
either as free trappers or as associations like the 
Columbia Fur Company, the North American Com- 
pany, the Missouri Company, and the Kocky Moun- 
tain Company, were not strong enough ever greatly 

16 It must be borne in mind that the Hudson's Bay Company was present 
on the Pacific coast by a license to trade, and not by virtue of conquest, 
purchase, or ownership. Their charter gave them legal existence in perpetuity, 
and clothed them with corporate powers, but it was only on the east side of the 
mountains and round Hudson's Bay that any absolute grant or title to land 
was ever pretended to have been made. Under the treaty of ISIS, however, 
being incorporated, they might as British subjects enter the Oregon Territory, 
ami secure a license of trade which should exclude all other British subjects. 
Their foothold once secured, their policy thenceforth Mas first to hold in 
intellectual and moral subjection the native nations, that they might minister 
as long as possible to their cupidity; and secondly, when settlemenl became 
evident, to bring into the country as many as possible of their countrymen, 
so that the territory might eventually he .British. 


to interfere with the plans of the formidable Hudson's 
Bav Company. 

James Keith 17 was succeeded at Fort George by 
John McLoughlin, who had entered the service of 
the Northwest Company early in the century, and 
after having spent some years at various eastern posts 
was appointed in 1823 from Fort Frances at Rainy 
Lake to take charge of the Columbia District. 18 

It was not, however, until the spring of 1824 that 
McLoughlin reached his destination, having waited 
for Governor Simpson, who had determined to accom- 
pany him for the purpose of newly organizing the 
Pacific department. 19 

At an early day in McLoughlin' s career a natural apti- 
tude for business was manifest, which gradually threw 
into the shade his professional pretensions. While 
doctoring for the Northwest Company at Fort Will- 
iam he was frequently given, during winter, little com- 
missions to different trading-posts, which were so well 
executed as to gain the confidence of McGillivray and 
Kenneth, and when Mackenzie was lost in Lake Su- 
perior, McLoughlin ruled at Fort William, the duties 

17 While partner in the Northwest Company James Keith was at one time 
stationed at Athabasca, and afterward appointed to Fort George. After the 
coalition he was given the superintendence of the Montreal department with 
his head-quarters" at Lactone House. Returning to Scotland with a large for- 
tune he married, and after all his perilous wanderings by sea and land, linally 
died in his native town of Aberdeen, from so trivial an accident as slipping 
upon an orange peel thrown upon the pavement. George Keith, his brother, 
likewise partner in the Northwest Company and chief factor in the Hudson's 
Bay Company, was in 1S32 stationed at Lake Superior in charge of the dis- 
trict. Anderson's Northvest Coast, MS., 55. 

18 ' He was probably about forty- five at that time. . .He Mas to the last an 
active man.' Anderson's Northwest Coast, MS., 16. See Hist. Or., i. chap, n., 
this series. ,. , . . . . , 

19 There has been no place in this history where I have found the evidence 
so obscure as in this first journey of George Simpson and John McLoughlin 
to Astoria, and the subsequent founding of Fort Vancouver. Nothing could 
be made of it from the matter in print. A comparison of authorities tended 
only to greater confusion. They were vague, contradictory, and wholly erro- 
neous. Nor was the evi