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Edited by 

Portland, Oregon 

The Iry Press 


V' \V '. 





By Katharine B. Judson 243-260, 305-330 


By T. C Elliott 331-344 


By T. C. Elliott 35.34 


By George H. Himes 159-172 


By George H. Himes 297-300 


By Lester Burrell Shippee 35-93, 173-218, 261-295, 345-395 


By Frederick V. Holman 235-242 


By Josepli N. Teal 231-233 


By Katharine B. Judson 301-302 

By Leslie M. Scott 141-158 


By Miles Cannon 1-23 



Where Was Blue Bucket Mine? 219-220 

Pacific Railroad Dates 221 

Name of Mount Rainier 221 

Frequency of Slight Earthquakes 222 

Annual Meeting of Oregon Pioneers 222 

Encampment of Indian Fighters 223 

The Battleship Oregon , 223 

Airplane and Stage Coach 224 

Monument for Captain Hembree 224 

Mr. Teal's "The Pioneer" 224-5 

Examination of Nachess Trail 225 

Miscellany 225-228 

Death List of Oregon Pioneers 139, 229, 303-4 




CANNON, MILES, The Snake River in History 1-23 

ELLIOTT, T. C, The Northern Boundary of Oregon 25-34 

The Northwest Boundaries 331-334 

HIMES, GEORGE H., Beginnings of Christianity 159-172 

. Historical Tablet at Oregon City 297-300 

HOLMAN, FREDERICK V., Qualities of the Oregon Pioneers 235-242 

JUDSON, KATHARINE B., The British Side of the Restoration 

of Fort Astoria 243-260, 305-330 

Polk and Oregon 301-302 

SCOTT, LESLIE M., History of the Narrow-Gauge Railroad in the 

Willamette Valley 141-158 

SHIPPEE, LESTER BURRELL, The Federal Relations of Oregon 

35-93, 173-218, 261-295, 345-395 

TEAL, JOSEPH N., The Pioneer 231-233 



Oregon Pioneer Association 397-399 






of the 

Oregon Historical Society 


Copyright, 1919, by the Oregon Historical Society 
The Quarterly disavows responsibility for the positions taken by contributors to its pages. 


Commissioner of Agriculture, Boise, Idaho. 

Near the central part of Lewis county, Tennessee, in a lonely 
wooded spot which is rarely disturbed by any sound save the 
mournful dirge of the forest trees or the bark of the hunter's 
hounds, is an old and neglected grave. The place is marked by 
a marble monument, standing more than 20 feet in height, 
which was erected in 1848 by the state in which it is located. 
Centuries before the sod was turned for this grave a great 
Indian highway ran near by, and this, in time, became a mili- 
tary road known in history as the "Natchez Trace." It was 
here that Meriwether Lewis, the first white man to look upon 
the waters of the Snake river, at early dawn October llth, 
1809, at the age of 35 years, yielded up his brief but eventful 
life. Marching events have long since consigned the "Natchez 
Trace" to oblivion but human interest in that grave will con- 
tinue to increase with time, for Meriwether Lewis played a 
leading role in one of America's greatest political dramas. 

The opening scene of this drama was in what is now known 
as the Lemhi pass of the Rocky Mountains, situated between 
Armstead, Montana, and the Salmon river in Idaho. The time 
was the afternoon of Monday, August 12, 1805. Speaking of 
the source of the Missouri river the Lewis and Clark notes 
contain the following lines : 

"They had now reached the hidden sources of that river, 


which had never yet been seen by civilized man. . . . they 
sat down by the brink of that little rivulet, which yielded its 
distant and remotest tribute to the parent ocean," etc. 

They then proceed to relate that : 

"They left reluctantly this spot, and pursuing the Indian 
road through the interval of hills, arrived at the top of a ridge, 
from which they saw high mountains partially covered with 
snow still to the west of them. The ridge on which they stood 
formed the dividing line between the waters of the Atlantic 
and the Pacific oceans." 

Let us tarry at this interesting place and view well the scenes 
before us. Standing with Mr. Lewis is John Shields, a black- 
smith from Kentucky, and George Drewyer, the interpreter and 
hunter. It is recorded that they carried a United States flag 
which, at that time, consisted of fifteen stripes and a Union of 
fifteen stars in the blue field. The colors of our flag had first 
appeared in history some 3400 years before this time and, like- 
wise, under dramatic surroundings. Bible readers will recall 
that, at the base of Mount Sinai, the Lord gave to Moses the 
Ten Commandments and the book of the law, and they were 
deposited in the Ark of the Covenant within the movable Taber- 
nacle, before which four curtains were suspended, one of purple, 
one of red, one of white and one of blue. The first color, 
obtained by the ancients only with the greatest difficulty, was 
necessarily restricted in use and finally became the distinctive 
color of imperialism. 

The three remaining colors have been handed down through 
the long centuries and during the last three have quite generally 
been used in flag making, more especially by countries inclined 
toward civil freedom. These colors, 3400 years in their com- 
ing, are now on the summit of the continental divide and the 
men who bore them hither look out over one of the most beau- 
tiful panoramic scenes in all the world. Down through the 
fathomless abyss of time that landscape had received from the 
winter's storms its mantles of snow, and with the breath of 
each succeeding spring it had burst forth into life again. But 
never before had a white man beheld its transcendent beauty 
nor had his feet trod the winding stairs and stately corridors 


of this magnificent temple of God. Whether or not the sculptor 
who is to fashion the granite column marking this spot is yet 
born I know not ; but sooner or later a monument will arise in 
these rugged regions and to it will come the remotest genera- 
tions to do homage to the memory of Meriwether Lewis. 

August 20, the reunited party was encamped several miles 
below the confluence of the Lemhi and Salmon rivers, probably 
in the same cove occupied by Bonneville 27 years later, when 
Captain Clark conferred upon the stream, here 300 feet in 
width, the name Lewis's river and noted in the journal the 
information that Captain Lewis was the first white man to visit 
its waters. During the early days when the country was occu- 
pied by mountain men it seems that the principal rivers, with 
a few exceptions, were called after the tribes which inhabited 
the adjacent country. Thus the Cowlitz river derived its name, 
as did the Yakima, the Walla Walla, the Palouse, the Okanogan, 
and the Spokane. The North-West Company designated what 
is now southern Idaho as the Snake country and, in time, the 
name Lewis faded away under the poetic brilliancy of that 
charming name "Snake." When Jason Lee arrived at Fort 
Hall he wrote in his journal that he had "camped about noon 
on the bank of the Snake river as called by the mountain men 
but on the map Lewis Fork." 

The Lewis and Clark journals contain the following: 

"They (the Snakes) are the poorest and most miserable 
nation I ever beheld." 

From Alexander Ross we learn how the name originated, 
as follows: 

"It arose from the characteristics of these Indians in quickly 
concealing themselves when once discovered. They seem to 
glide away in the grass, sage brush and rocks and disappear 
with all the subtlety of a serpent." 

Father DeSmet gives this version relative to the origin of 
the name : 

"They are called Snakes because in their poverty they are 
reduced like reptiles to the condition of digging in the ground 
and seeking nourishment from roots." 

Of Mr. Lewis, President Jefferson said : 


"About three o'clock in the night he did the deed which 
plunged his friends into deep affliction, and deprived his coun- 
try of one of her most valued citizens, whose valour and intelli- 
gence would have been now employed in avenging the wrongs 
of his country, and in emulating by land the splendid deeds 
which have honoured her arms on the ocean. It lost, too, to 
the nation the benefit of receiving from his own hand the nar- 
rative now offered them of his sufferings and successes, in 
endeavoring to extend for them the boundaries of science, and 
to present to their knowledge that vast and fertile country 
which their sons are destined to fill with arts, with science, 
with freedom and happiness." 

It is perhaps no idle dream if Americans feel that the future 
holds in store a glorious destiny for our country in the affairs 
of the world, and that our flag will, throughout the unnumbered 
centuries, symbolize the highest and most generous elements 
of civilization. The Snake river basin is able to and will, in 
time, support a population of many millions of brave, pros- 
perous and happy people. Whether or not they will felicitate 
us who now occupy a position on the very threshold of an un- 
bounded future, for giving our silent consent to an historical 
perversion which will perpetuate the memory of the Snake 
Indians by attaching this name to one of the most valuable and 
powerful rivers in America, rather than the memory of the man 
who first visited its waters, is a question of some import and 
one which affords much food for reflection. 

One of the most interesting features in connection with 
early exploration, discoveries and development of the moun- 
tain regions, and one which quite generally has been over- 
looked by contemporaneous writers, are the many and important 
pre-historic roads. A definite knowledge of these winding 
trails, the parallel and deep worn furrows, many of which 
are yet to be seen, is obtained with the greatest difficulty. As 
an example the journals of Lewis and Clark contain the fol- 
lowing notation in connection with the discovery of Lemhi pass : 

"At the distance of four miles from his camp he met a large, 
plain Indian road which came into the cove from the north- 
east, and wound along the foot of the mountain to the south- 
west," etc. 

When he had arrived in the Lemhi valley, Captain Clark in- 


terrogated the Indians very minutely relative to roads and 
obtained valuable information regarding- the topography of the 
country and locations of the rivers. This interview resulted 
in Captain Clark's deciding to make his way to the road used 
by the Piercednose Indians; in crossing over the mountains to 
the Missouri, towards the north, which, latterly, became known 
as the Lolo Trail. . 

In making some enquiries as to the exact trail which Dr. 
Whitman followed south from Fort Bridger, in making his 
memorable journey in 1842 "to save Oregon," a pre-historic 
road of much importance is, to a limited extent, brought to 
our notice. It would seem that this trail extended from Vera 
Cruz, Mexico, northward to the Rio Grande near El Paso, 
thence to Santa Fe, where it probably converged with the 
old Spanish trail until it reached the western part of Mesa 
County, Colorado, near a place called Westwater Canon. From 
this point the Spanish Trail led in a more westerly direction 
crossing Green river near where the Denver and Rio Grande 
Railway now crosses that stream. The other ascended West- 
water canyon, crossed over to White river, thence to Green 
river, crossing near where Fort Thornburg was in after years 
located. From this point the trail followed practically a direct 
line over the Uintah Mountains to where Bridger wasi after- 
ward located and from thence to the Snake river near the 
Fort Hall site. From here it followed the Snake to Henry's 
Lake, where it diverged into three distinct trails, one in the 
direction of the Yellowstone, one to Three Forks and one 
toward Ross's Hole, each prong passing through a separate 
and distinct pass in the Rocky Mountains directly above Henry's 

Returning to the Westwater canyon it may be of interest 
to note that, several years ago, an inscription was found on 
the wall rock of this canyon written in French, a liberal trans- 
lation of which follows : 

"Antoine Rbbidoux passed this way the 13th of November, 
1837, for the purpose of establishing a mission for trading on 
Green River or the Uintah." 


He appears to have established his trading mission on the 
Uintah a short distance above its confluence with the Du 
Chesne. The fort is said to have been destroyed by the Utah 
Indians in 1844. The old trails which in later years became 
known as the Oregon Trail appear to have joined with the 
Southern trail in the Bridger bottoms and continued with it 
to the bend in the Snake river some five miles above where 
Fort Hall was located. Here the Columbia river trail branched 
off and followed the left bank of the Snake to Three Islands, 
near the present town of Glenn's Ferry, Idaho, where one 
prong crossed the Snake and followed the mountain slopes to 
Boise river a short distance above the city of Boise as it is 
today. The other prong continued on the south side of the 
river and again joined the northern arm, after the latter had 
re-crossed the Snake at the mouth of the Boise, at a point 
about six miles south-east of the present town of Vale, Oregon. 

It may be pertinent here to observe that early travelers, 
while they almost invariably availed themselves of these well- 
worn highways in their ubiquitous wanderings through the 
mountains, encountered trails which existed in countless num- 
bers and which were almost everywhere in evidence. For 
this reason it was found necessary, wherever possible, to employ 
Indian guides. How long these pre-historic trails had been 
in existence before the advent of the white man will be touched 
upon later. 

We learn from the pen of Mr. T. C. Elliott that David 
Thompson, in the summer of 1809, descended the Kootenay 
river as far as the present site of Bonner's Ferry where he 
transferred his goods to pack animals and transported them 
over the "Lake Indian Road" to Lake Pend d' Oreille where, 
on September the 10th of that year, he erected the first build- 
ing in what is now the state of Idaho, the site being in the 
vicinity of the present town of Hope. Events leading to a 
knowledge of the great Snake river were now in the making. 
Major Andrew Henry, a tall, slender young man, with dark 
hair and light blue eyes hadi already associated himself with 
Manuel Lisa, of St. Louis, and they were alert to avail them- 


selves of any advantages which were to be derived from the 
success of the Lewis and Clark expedition. While Thompson 
was establishing "Kullyspell House" on Lake Pend d' Oreille, 
Henry was making his way up the Missouri with all speed. 

The spring of 1810 found him establishing himself, in the 
interest of the Missouri Fur Company, at the three forks of 
the Missouri on almost the identical spot where the explorers 
had encamped five years before. The ruins of the fort which 
they established here were in evidence until 1870. Being driven 
out of this section by the Blackfoot Indians they traveled the 
middle prong of the great Southern trail, heretofore men- 
tioned, and crossed the Continental Divide near Henry's Lake 
and established themselves on the Snake river at a point, as I 
conclude after an examination of the country, two miles below 
the present town of St. Anthony and on the left bank of the 
river. The melancholy fact should be noted that George 
Drewyer, whose memory is so closely associated with that of 
Mr. Lewis, lost his life in the fall of the fort at Three Forks 
and that his ashes still repose in that vicinity. 

The establishment on Snake river, which became known as 
Fort Henry, and which consisted of some two or three huts, 
was situated in a small valley of about twenty acres. When the 
first settlers arrived in this section during the early sixties 
this valley was still covered with a growth of large cottonwood 
trees, the only timber in that section of the country. It is 
now an alfalfa field, and, doubtless the site of the first house 
in all the territory drained by the Snake river and the second 
to be erected in the state of Idaho. 

In the service of Major Henry at this time were three men 
of some importance to this narrative and whose names are 
familiar to readers of Irving's Astoria. Edward Robinson, a 
Kentucky woodsman then in his sixty-seventh year, a veteran 
Indian fighter in his native state, and who had been scalped 
in one of the many engagements in which he took part. He 
still wore a handkerchief bound round his head to protect the 
tender reminder. Associated with him were two congenial 
spirits also from Kentucky, named John Hoback and Jacob 


Rizner. They had ascended the Missouri in 1809 with Henry, 
taken part in the battle of Three Forks, crossed the Conti- 
nental Divide and, with Fort Henry as a base, had trapped on 
many of the adjacent streams. After the fort was abandoned, 
in the early spring of 1811, they re-crossed the mountains and 
descended the Missouri, but Henry, it would appear, stopped 
at a post which the Missouri Fur Company had established on 
the river near the mouth of the Cheyenne. The three hunters, 
now free from their engagements, continued on down the river 
determined to forever abandon the pursuit of fortune in the 

By the morning of May 26th, their flotilla, consisting of two 
log canoes, arrived at a point in the Missouri opposite the 
mouth of the Niobrara when their attention was attracted by 
the report of a gun which came from the right bank of the 
river. The hunters crossed over and landed at the camp of 
a powerful company of fortune seekers under the command of 
Wilson Price Hunt, who were then breakfasting around a 
blazing fire on the green bank of the river. As a result of this 
unexpected meeting we find these three men, on the evening of 
October 8, 1811, and after a long ride in the face of a westerly 
wind and flurries of snow, filing into the lonely precincts of 
Fort Henry accompanied by not less than three scores of 
traders, trappers and voyagers, mounted, armed and equipped 
for the struggle which the phantom of hidden riches too often 

Our three Kentucky hunters, together with Joseph Miller, 
a retired army man, and a man by name of Cass, were left 
at Fort Henry and were the first white men to explore the 
Snake river basin and become acquainted with the Indian 
roads of the country, which they did as far east as Bear river. 
When Robert Stuart reached the mouth of the Boise river 
the following August, enroute to New York with dispatches 
for Mr. Astor, he, by the merest chance of fortune, discovered 
Miller and the three hunters on the verge of starvation. Hav- 
ing appeased their torturing craving for food Stuart conducted 
the four unfortunates, Cass having in the meantime been un- 


accountably lost, as far as Caldron Linn, now the site of the 
great Milner dam, where the three hunters determined again to 
breast the tide of fortune. 

Milner, Idaho, probably stands on the ground where Hunt 
cached his goods after a vain attempt to negotiate the river in 
boats. The two rocks which swamped the boat and caused the 
first death of a white man on the Snake river, and upon which 
the Stuart party found the boat still clinging, now support the 
dam which diverts water sufficient to create a veritable irri- 
gated empire, covering as it does 1,300,000 acres of land re- 
claimed at a cost of nearly $50,000,000. 

Following the arrival at Astoria of the Hunt party, Donald 
McKenzie, who, with Reed and McClellan, had been detached 
from the main party at Caldron Linn, and who preceded Hunt 
to Astoria by nearly a month, set out to establish a post among 
the Nez Perces Indians. I conclude that he traveled the same 
trail from the mouth of the Walla Walla to the forks of the 
Clearwater that Lewis and Clark followed on their return trip 
six years before and that McKenzie established his post near 
the mouth of the North Fork. The movements of McKenzie 
and his party after leaving Caldron Linn is involved in much 
mystery but from the nature of the man, his subsequent acts 
and a knowledge of the country through which he passed, I 
have no hesitancy in adopting the view that he left the Snake 
river at the mouth of the Weiser and followed a well known 
Indian trail up Monroe's creek, thence over to Mann creek, 
thence over to the Weiser, which he followed to its source. 
From here he descended the Little Salmon to its junction with 
the Salmon river proper, which he followed to the mouth of 
the Whitebird. From here the trail led over the divide some- 
what west of old Mount Idaho and down to the Clearwater 
above the present town of Stites, thence down the Clearwater 
to the North Fork. 

I think, too, that his success in making his way through 
the mountains, the knowledge he acquired of the trails and of 
the country through which they passed, determined Mr. Hunt 
in designating McKenzie as the one to operate in the Nez 


Perces country, also in designating Reed, who accompanied 
McKenzie, as the one to retrace his steps to Caldron Linn for 
the goods which were cached there. The place where Mc- 
Kenzie established his post was on a line of great travel, and 
trails ran in several directions from here; it was within a 
mile or so from the works where Lewis and Clark made their 
canoes on their outward journey, near where the Lolo trail 
descended from the Weippe camas fields and a general winter 
rendezvous for the Indians. It is quite probable, too, that 
John Reed possessed a satisfactory knowledge of the trails 
when he consented to return to Caldron Linn and that he 
traveled the same route that landed them on the Clearwater 
the winter before. Another evidence which may have a bear- 
ing on the question is the fact that there was no other way 
to get through the mountains and precede the main party by 
a month. 

Returning now to the fate of our three Kentucky hunters 
whom Stuart left at Caldron Linn, Miller having made good 
his intention to quit the country, it seems that they were 
unable to escape the pursuit of an evil spirit. After being out- 
fitted by Stuart they trapped with varying success higher up 
the river awaiting the arrival of John Reed from the post at 
Nez Perces in order to complete their equipment for a two- 
years' hunt. Having thus completed their arrangements they 
set out into the wilderness in quest of the beaver, while Reed, 
at the head of his party, returned to the Clearwater. The 
following year, 1813, Reed was again detached and sent to 
the Snake country to trap beaver and search for the three 
hunters, whom he located late in September of that year. With 
his party of six voyagers and hunters, besides the squaw and 
two children of Pierre Dorion, now augmented by the discovery 
of the three Kentucky woodsmen, Reed located his headquar- 
ters at the mouth of the Boise. Having lost three of his men 
during the fall, he, early in the winter, dispatched Rizner 
at the head of a little party consisting of Leclerc, Dorion and 
family, to the South Fork of the Boise, a distance of about 
100 miles from the Reed house. Between January 1st and 


10th, Rizner and the two men were massacred while taking 
beaver on the South Fork, the squaw and two children only 
escaping. When they arrived at the mouth of the river it 
was discovered that not one of the party was left alive. 

The trials and tribulations of this poor Indian woman, from 
this moment until her arrival the following spring in the 
Walla Walla country, constitutes one of the most heart-rending 
tragedies in western history. It is a story that will be told 
as long as people read history and, when properly told, will 
touch the heart of a nation. This brings us to the first Indian 
massacre in the Snake river valley, a series of which continued, 
with varying degrees of ferocity and frequency over a period 
of 58 years. 

To Stuart is usually accorded the credit of being the first 
white man to lead a party over the Indian trial that, in time, 
became known as the Oregon Trail. Of this trail I will 
content myself by mentioning only a few of the historic points 
as they appear today, and as are directly connected with the 
Snake river in history. 

The winter camp of Bonneville, 1833-4, is about eight miles 
north-west of Bancroft, Idaho, a station on the O. S. L. Ry. 
It is now in the confines of a farm but the spring still gushes 
out of the earth in sufficient quantities "to turn a mill" pro- 
vided the mill were not too large. The trail, in most part, 
from the Bear river to the Snake, is in a fair state of preserva- 
tion to the point where it touched the latter stream. 

From this place to the site of Fort Hall it is rather uncer- 
tain. It is only proper for me to state here that there is some 
doubt in the minds of several gentlemen who have given the 
subject much thought as to the exact location of Fort Hall. I 
give it as it was given to me by an Indian scout who piloted 
me to the place, who was born in its vicinity at a time when 
the building still stood and whose father was acquainted with 
the Hudson's Bay traders who were located there. About 
four miles below the place where the trail strikes the river, 
on the left bank and within 20 feet of a slightly lower level 
covered with cottonwood timber, is, so my guide informed me, 


the identical spot. Originally the fort was constructed of cot- 
tonwood logs set in the ground but latterly, when in the pos- 
session of the Hudson's Bay Company, it was enlarged and 
enclosed with adobe brick. 

The outlines of these walls are plainly discernable, even to 
the two bastions at opposite corners, and the well inside the 
enclosure. The adjoining grove where Jason Lee preached 
the first sermon ever heard west of the Rocky Mountains, 
July 26, 1834, is still a grand cathedral for the song birds of 
the desert as the country is untouched by man, it being within 
the Fort Hall Indian reservation. Three miles below is the 
crossing of Spring Creek where the stage station was located 
in 1864, it having been constructed with adobe bricks brought 
here from the then abandoned Fort Hall. Some three miles 
farther brings us to the Portneuf crossing from which place 
the road to American Falls is very near the old trail. This 
city, now the second wheat shipping station in the United 
States, still has the marks of the trail within the city limits. 
It is safe to conclude, however, that few of its citizens have 
the slightest conception as to the historic connection of those 
old deep-worn furrows. 

I have never been able to determine just how American 
Falls received its name. What American party could have 
perished at the falls is not clear, as they seem to have acquired 
that name before the advent of the Americans, unless these 
falls have been confused with those at Caldron Linn. In that 
case it is very likely that the accident heretofore mentioned in 
connection with the Hunt party is responsible for the name. 

Some 23 miles down the river from American Falls, in the 
immediate vicinity of Rock Creek, is one of the tragical points 
of the trail. The general conditions of this particular section 
have not changed since the days when the Oregon Trail was in 
the heyday of its glory. How many pioneers sleep at the foot 
of that great perpendicular rock, so long retained in the memory 
of those who traveled the historic trail, the world will never 
know. It was here that, in 1851, the wagons of Mr. Miller, 
of Virginia, were attacked, a daughter of Mr. Miller seriously 


wounded and a Mr. Jackson killed. It was here that Mr. Hud- 
son Clark, of Scott county, Illinois, while driving his carriage 
too far in advance of his train, was attacked, his mother and 
brother murdered and his sister, a beautiful young lady of 22 
years, after being dangerously wounded, was brutally ravished 
by most of the Indians in the party. It was here, also, that the 
Harpool 1 train of 20 wagons was attacked in 1851, and after 
a fearful battle lasting two hours the Indians were repulsed. 

Standing on the summit of this old rock today, looking to the 
north and west, a great panorama greets the eye. Scenes of 
commerce and husbandry are everywhere in evidence, but the 
Snake river, as known by the pioneers, is no more. The great 
Minidoka power plant has transformed it into a most beauti- 
ful lake fully 25 miles in length. As I stood there and feasted 
my eyes upon the magnificent landscape I could not avoid the 
thought of the numerous graves below and of the intense suf- 
fering of the brave pioneers who have made these scenes 

From here to the Twin Falls district most of the old trail 
is yet to be seen but when one arrives at an irrigation canal 
it is lost, forever lost. The Salmon Falls have not changed 
since the day the Stuart party arrived there and gave them 
their present name, neither have the adjacent camping grounds 
been molested. From this place to Pilgrim Springs, where 
Mrs. Whitman, August 12th, 1836, wrote her beautiful tribute 
to the abandoned trunk, and where the doctor discarded the 
bed of his wagon, the trail in most part is still to be seen. It 
was over this section that Mrs. Sager, in 1844, suffered the 
agonies of a most pitiful death which relieved her a few hours 
after the train reached Pilgrim Springs where her dust is 
mingled with that of the desert. 

The three islands where the trail crossed the Snake river are 
twelve miles down the mountain from Pilgrim Springs and no 
change has taken place since the pioneers ceased to brave the 
rapid current here. As I sat on the bank with one of the 

i David Baxter Gray, afterwards, beginning in '78, was widely known in 
the Willamette Valley and The Dalles, crossed the plains with the Harpool train. 
George H. Himes. 


oldest settlers in this section and looked out over the waters 
of the river, while he traced the ripples which marked the line 
of travel, I could but wonder at the courage necessary to 
prompt one to make the attempt. Yet the emigrants who 
came over the trail plunged into the terrifying waters with 
impunity, though not all of them succeeded in reaching shore. 

At the Hot Springs, on the northern prong of the trail and 
within nine miles of Mountain Home, a bath house of con- 
siderable importance is in operation. The trail touched the 
Boise river where the Barber lumber mills are now situated, 
some six miles above the city of Boise. Just west of Ten Mile 
creek, some 20 miles down the Boise river, is the site of the 
Ward massacre which occurred August 20, 1854. In Decem- 
ber, 1914, I succeeded, with the help of several pioneers, in 
locating the spot and the grave which contains the ashes of 
several of the victims. 

The Canyon ford, five miles west of the Ward battle ground 
and one mile north of Caldwell, Idaho, the oldest and most 
prominent ford on the Boise river, has undergone no change 
in its surroundings save that an iron bridge now spans the 
stream directly over the historical crossing. From here the 
trail followed very nearly the present bed of the river to Old 
Fort Boise where it again crossed the Snake and joined the 
southern branch about eight miles out in the hills in the 
direction of Vale, Oregon. 

Noticing for a moment the diary of Jason Lee, who at- 
tached himself to the brigade of Thomas McKay at Fort Hall, 
it would appear that this company followed the southern route. 
While encamped at the Three Islands, near the present Glenn's 
Ferry, Mr. McKay, who had buried one native wife, felt him- 
self inclined to embark again. The nuptials were celebrated 
on Tuesday evening, August 12, 1834. The captain declined, 
however, to present to the relatives of the bride the customary 
tokens of esteem, informing them that it was the rule among the 
whites to simply gain the consent of the girl. While at break- 
fast the following morning, in open day light and in the 
presence of thirty people, an Indian not willing to accept the 


white man's peculiar ideas, appropriated one of the captain's 
horses and made way with it undiscovered. 

On the evening of the 14th, the party was encamped at 
Willow creek where the old Humboldt and Boise river trail 
crossed the Snake. They appear to have established their 
encampments on a large island in the river there which af- 
forded, as it yet does, good pasturage for stock. They were 
still here on Saturday evening when the captain visited the 
camp of the missionaries and informed them that it was his 
purpose to remain in that vicinity to trade with the Indians 
and trap beaver until the following March. 

Just what effect the operations of Mr. Wyeth back at Fort 
Hall had produced upon the sagacious captain I have no means 
of knowing. Certain it is, however, that when the Whitman 
party, which crossed the river at Three Islands and journeyed 
over the northern trail, and which was attached to the brigade 
of the same valiant captain just two years later, arrived at a 
point nine miles below the Canyon ford on the Boise river 
they were welcomed to Fort Boise by the captain who had 
gone on ahead from the Snake river encampment to arrange 
for the reception. Here it was that that historical bone of 
contention, the Whitman wagon, was left and which remained 
there in the custody of the Hudson's Bay Company, as an 
interesting -exhibit, until claimed by oblivion. When Mr. T. J. 
Farnham, of the Peoria party, arrived here three years later 
he found the company engaged in building a new fort twelve 
miles below at the mouth of the river. From the Winthrop 
diary under the date of Sunday, Sept. 11, 1853, we learn 
that the fort was washed away that spring and that the com- 
pany was then engaged in building a new one out of the old 
adobes. The site of the old post is now in the channel of 
the Snake river about 200 feet from the right bank. After 
its abandonment in 1856 there remained no sign of activity 
here by white people until the advent of the mining period when 
it became the most prominent crossing on the river. With 
the opening of other roads and construction of bridges the 
ferry business by 1909 had so dwindled that the location was 


abandoned. At the present time this particular section is 
given over to the caprices of the two rivers which are con- 
stantly seeking new channels. The last vestige of this historic 
building is said to have disappeared in 1870. The seat of 
political and commercial power has been transferred to the 
beautiful city of Boise situated 50 miles farther up the Boise 

Reverting briefly to the south bank of the Snake I would 
mention that section of the old trail lying between Succor 
creek, on the Idaho side, and the Owyhee river on the Oregon 
side of the state line. The trail crossed Succor creek about five 
miles back from the Snake and ascended to a high plain for 
a distance of several miles when it again descended into the 
Snake river bottom some miles below what is known as the 
Big Bend. It may be recalled that it was in this vicinity that 
Robert Stuart picked up our three Kentucky hunters whose 
melancholy fate on Boise river already has been mentioned. 

On the high plain referred to is the spot where, about noon 
of Sept. 13, 1860, the Vanorman train was attacked by the 
Indians, eleven of the party killed and the entire train of eight 
wagons, after thirty-six hours of continuous fighting, were 
set on fire by the victorious savages and nearly 100 head of 
stock and all the provisions of the company appropriated. 
Some thirty-four members, mostly children, escaped when the 
torch was being applied to the wagons and after untold suffer- 
ing established a camp on the Owyhee about ten rods above 
the point where the trail crossed that stream. Here they re- 
mained until October 17th when they were rescued by a com- 
pany of troopers from Walla Walla under command of Cap- 
tain Dent. So furiously did the massacre rage when the train 
was set on fire that those who escaped were unable, except 
for a part of a loaf of corn bread, to provide themselves with 
any provisions whatever, and out of the thirty making their 
escape eighteen were children, several of whom were too small 
to walk. In the annals of pioneer tragedies I know of but 
one that parallels this the Donner party of 1846. Of the 
thirty-four who went into camp at the Owyhee far less than 


half survived the awful ordeal. That we should allow the 
capacious maw of oblivion to claim the deeds of our heroic 
pioneers is a good and sufficient cause to make even the stoutest 
heart weep. 

I shall here make a few observations relative to the age of 
the Snake river trails. Peter H. Burnett, who crossed the 
plains in 1843, verifies the statement of many others that the 
Fort Hall bottoms had been a great resort for buffaloes and 
adds the statement that "We saw the skulls of these animals 
for the last time at Fort Boise, beyond which point they were 
never seen." His remark, however, applies to the immigration 
of that year, for earlier travelers had observed the skulls as 
far west as the Powder river valley, west of which place I 
have never heard of any trace of this historic animal. 

It would appear, therefore, that, when the white man in- 
vaded the Old Oregon territory, the buffalo herds were re- 
ceding toward the east. As a cause of this recession we may, 
with some degree of certainty, I think, look to the acquisi- 
tion of the horse by the Indian as a primary explanation. Fol- 
lowing the discovery of the New World in 1492, we find the 
natives, as early as 1504, struck dumb with amazement upon 
the discovery that the Spaniards were transporting their bag- 
gage upon the backs of four-legged slaves of the most strange 
and wonderful proportions. We find them in Cuba in 1511, 
in Mexico by 1521 and as far north as Santa Fe, Utah and 
even Kansas as early as 1542. It is reasonably safe to con- 
clude, therefore, that the horse was in general use among the 
Coast Indians as early as the beginning of the 17th century. 

That the recession of the vast buffalo herds began on the 
southern and western borders of their original feeding grounds, 
to be followed closely by a general retreat from the Atlantic 
slope, is equally certain. By 1832 white men had joined with 
the Indians, the use of fire arms had become general, and the 
wanton slaughter was on. In the fall of 1883, I stood on the 
bank of the Missouri river at old Fort Pierre and watched a 
steam boat from up river make its landing. Going aboard I 
observed a consignment of fifty tons of buffalo hides and, 


upon inquiry, was informed by the gray-haired captain that 
they were taken on the head waters of the Marias river and 
loaded at Fort Benton. "But, young man," he continued, "if 
it's buffalo you are looking for you are too late. The hide 
of the last wild buffalo on the plains is in that shipment." My 
conjecture is that the deep winding furrows of the old Oregon 
trail were made after the introduction of horses by the Spanish 
during a period not later than the dawn of the seventeenth 
century, and that the recession of the vast herds of buffalo from 
both the east and the west was the primary cause of its original 

I shall now hasten my long-deferred conclusion. That the 
pioneers who immortalized the Oregon trail lived not in vain 
is evidenced by some very interesting epochs in the annals of 
America. On May 2, 1843, 102 of these empire builders joined 
in a convention at Champoeg and set in motion the political 
machinery which added a star to the flag. Then a small unit 
of the emigration of the following year displeased, doubtless, 
on account of the crowded conditions of the Willamette coun- 
try, opened farms near Olympia in 1845, gave us the great 
state of Washington, and still the flag goes marching on. Janu- 
ary 24, 1848, James W. Marshall, impelled by the purpose 
of building a mill, set his pick into the golden sands of Ameri- 
can river and, lo ! the state of California was blazoned into the 
blue field of Old Glory. During the summer of 1860 a small 
party of these irrepressible pioneers, under the leadership of 
E. D. Pierce, encamped on the Weippe meadows within a 
stone's throw of the Lewis and Clark trail of 55 years before, 
and from the blaze of that camp fire we may now in fancy see 
the familiar outlines of the great state of Idaho; and still the 
flag goes marching on. Two years later John White and 
William Eads encamped on Willard's creek, and Montana in 
a short time came into the Union. 

The population of the five states mentioned is already in 
excess of 7,000,000 souls, and the assessed valuation of both 
real and personal property is perhaps more than $7,000,000,000, 
though development is hardly begun. The far-seeing eye of 


Divinity only can fathom the future. Glorious heritage ! May 
the final reunion of the pioneers in the realms of a joyous eter- 
nity be, after all the achievements, his richest reward. 

We will now take a final view of the Snake river as we of 
a later generation have placed it in history. After the camp 
fires of the emigrant had ceased to burn along the line of 
the Oregon Trail, and its unnumbered graves had been leveled 
by the winds of time, a new and a startling element entered 
into the world's industrial affairs. Though we know not 
what it is, nor from whence it comes, nor whither it goes, it 
is, nevertheless, an element destined to revolutionize the efforts 
and revise the rewards of man. We call it hydro-electric 

By the use of this mysterious gift of nature we no longer 
use the water power to turn the shaft of the mill situated on 
the bank of the stream, but to operate the generator which, 
with the use of transmission lines, conveys the power to the 
remotest fields of civilization. Its marvelous energy has, to 
a large extent, invaded the industrial world, nor is it any less 
a potent factor in the laboratories of science than in the bound- 
less fields of domestic economy. In transportation it is destined 
to supplant the steam locomotives in the near future, for already 
the monster electric locomotives, weighing two hundred and 
eighty-four tons each, speeds through the Rocky Mountains 
hauling their eight hundred ton transcontinental trains with the 
utmost ease. What a marvelous evolution; what a gift from 
the benevolent hand of God ; what a boon to the toiling masses ! 

As a power river the Snake ranks with the greatest in the 
world. Its vast volume of water has a total fall, from source 
to mouth, of more than one mile, and, in the meantime, it 
develops a minimum of 1,400,000, and a maximum of 2,900,000 
H.P. The latest information available would indicate the 
development at the present time to be about 120,000 H.P. 
I pay for power $28.00 per H. P. per season of five months, 
but putting it down to $10.00 per annum the Snake river would 
appear to possess an annual earning capacity equal to $14,000,- 
000, and a maximum of $29,000,000. Thus it seems that "the 


stone which the builders rejected has become the chief stone 
of the arch." 

The state of Idaho, with a population of 450,000, has a 
property valuation, according to a tax commission report, of 
about $500,000,000. Though as a start we are but 28 years 
old, we have an indebtedness, including state, county, municipal, 
school, highway, etc., amounting to $17,000,000, upon which 
we pay an interest charge of about $3,000 per day. This 
interest charge, added to our annual running expenses, makes 
a burden of $11,000,000 which the people, 80 per cent of whom 
live within the Snake river watershed, must pay each year 
for taxes. 

As a sequel I crave your pardon if I find it necessary to lead 
you far afield once more. At the time the Champoeg con- 
vention was being held, May 2, 1843, a little six-year-old boy in 
Hartford, Conn., was making his first attempt to master the 
alphabet. That he well succeeded is indicated by the fact that 
he finished his education at the University of Gottingen, Ger- 
many, before he reached his 20th year. During the period 
1860-5, when states were springing up in the vast territory 
embraced in Old Oregon, and when the great question of seces- 
sion was being settled by the arbitraments of war, this young 
man entered the banking business in the city of New York. 

Some light as to his success in his chosen work is furnished 
in a governmental report* published and distributed in 1912, 
and from which we learn that this man, together with his 
immediate associates, controlled at that time, $22,245,000,000 
out of a grand total of all property in the United States given 
as $187,739,000,000. In other words he then controlled about 
one-eighth of all the wealth in the country. You have already 
guessed the name of the famous American citizen referred to, 
the late J. Pierpont Morgan. 

When the Hydro-power was sufficiently developed to insure 
its continuous and permanent use, Mr. Morgan, as a minor 
achievement, organized the General Electric Company, of 
which The Idaho Power Company is said to be a subsidiary 
concern. During 1915 the latter company took over the 

The Pujo Congressional Report. 


ownership and control of practically all power plants on the 
Snake river except one, the Minidoka plant which is owned 
by the government, and is now operating them in the interest 
of the parent company. The homebuilders and taxpayers of 
Idaho as a state have received no direct benefits from the 
wealth which the waters of Snake river, until the last decade, 
has been wasting into the sea. 

From the Chicago Tribune, March 21, 1918, I note the 
following relative to the Idaho Power Company : "The Idaho 
Power Company, operating without competition, serves with 
electric light and power the Snake river plains, extending across 
southern Idaho and into eastern Oregon." I might add that 
every plant they have and every mile of transmission wire 
are, practically, within sight of the old Oregon Trail. I gain 
the further significant fact from this paper as follows: 

"This company operates under the jurisdiction of the public 
utilities commission of the state of Idaho and the public 
service commission of the state of Oregon." 

I have mentioned the fact that, at the present time, the power 
development of the Snake river is equal to about 120,000 H.P. 
Of this amount the government owns and operates at the 
Minidoka plant 10,000 H.P. This would indicate that the 
Idaho Power Company has developed about 110,000 and, ac- 
cording to the official report published in the paper mentioned, 
they have in actual use 32,000 H.P. It further shows that the 

Gross earnings are $1,137,425 

Operating expenses, including taxes 

and maintenance 579,201 

Net earnings $ 558,224 

The report shows, moreover, that this 32,000 H.P. if sold 
at an average of S T A cents per kilowatt, and they operate 24 
hours per day, would yield the company a net profit of 
$10,543,180. or a sum equal to 5 per cent interest per annum 
on $210,863,680. In a statement before the Idaho board of 
equalization the company placed a value upon their property 
of $2,651,000. 

You have observed that this company operates under the 


jurisdiction of the public utilities commission of the state of 
Idaho and the public service commission of the state of Oregon, 
and that it operates without competition. 

I should conclude, therefore, that the Snake river has passed 
into the control of a monopoly, owned by individuals and 
operated for a profit, under exclusive rights conferred by the 
state. If my conclusions are well founded we have revived the 
policy of granting monopolies which has always been opposed 
by the English common law as far back as the beginning of the 
seventeenth century, and, likewise, a policy which never has 
been in good repute in the United States. 

Unless the people of our country accept these conditions as 
permanent, on the grounds of public policy, the problem is yet 
to be solved. In its solution there are, as far as I know, but 
two theories to be considered. First a state monopoly owned 
and operated for the benefit of all the people. Second the 
abolishment of monopolies by opening the power possibilities 
to all citizens alike under the jurisdiction of the state which 
should oppose all forms of special privileges. The present 
condition represents the theory of imperialism ; the first remedy 
represents the theory of German socialism ; the second remedy 
is the usually accepted American plan, inasmuch as the govern- 
ment, according to this theory, is employed in the highest de- 
velopment of the power and efficiency of the individual. 

Socialism, under its several forms, is now a greater menace 
than it has been before in our history. The entire philosophy 
of Socialism is of German origin and is contained in a book 
known as "Das Kapital" written by Karl Marx. It is the bible 
of Socialism no matter in what country or under what name. 
It is based upon five elementary principles which are, 1 class 
hatred ; 2 abolition of national boundaries ; 3 abolition of the 
family relations; A abolition of religion; and 5 abolition of 
property rights. These are the five great rocks upon which 
our constitution was conceived, and they are the five ele- 
mentary features of government that have made us, in a short 
period of 142 years, the most powerful and progressive people 
in the world. 


The charge that capital has invaded the rights of the indi- 
vidual, together with the socialist propaganda during the past 
40 years, have not been barren of results. Class hatred is 
being advocated without restraint and the doctrine of a league 
of nations has already diverted our attention from Washing- 
ton's solemn warning. Our population statistics, when com- 
pared with the Bulletin of Church Statistics, indicate, appall- 
ing as it may appear, that the increase of church communicants 
as compared with the increase of population is falling behind 
at the rate of nearly one million per year. (Reports for 1915-16 
published in 1916-17). Open attacks upon the rights of prop- 
erty have been made with such persistency that the para- 
mount feature of the next national election will probably be 
the federal ownership and operation of all public utilities, 
including railroads, telegraph, telephone and power plants in 
the United States. 

Tliis bewhiskered quarrel between labor and capital should 
be settled before the two form a coalition and crush the great 
middle class whose rights are seldom mentioned. The signs 
of the times point to this very thing. The Snake river offers 
a favorable opportunity for the test. Capital, operating under 
the protection of the state, and without competition, doubtless, 
would seek an alliance rather than decapitation. At any rate 
the power wealth of Snake river, in my opinion, is destined to 
precipitate the final settlement. Let us indulge the hope that 
this picturesque and powerful river, with a name fraught with 
so much historic beauty, may, ultimately, occupy a high place 
in history and that its unmeasured wealth may tend to solidify 
rather than undermine, the principles of government which 
have made us great in the eyes of the world. 



During twenty-five years prior to June, 1846, the history of 
Oregon included as its principal theme the dispute between 
the governments of the United States and Great Britain as to 
where the boundary line should be located between their re- 
spective future territories. On the part of the United States 
the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude was early proposed 
and quite consistently held to although the political cry of 
"fifty-four forty or fight" was not unheard for a time. On 
the part of Great Britain the course of the Columbia river was 
considered a fair compromise line, but without entire dis- 
avowal of rights to all the country north of California or the 
forty-second parallel. In the two previous issues of this 
Quarterly attention has been directed to the first overt act 
of the United States government toward asserting sovereignty 
over the Columbia River Country or Northwest Coast of 
America, as it was then called; and the influence of that act 
in the later discussions of the boundary question. Mention 
was made in the Quarterly for December, 1918 (pp. 276-7) 
of an early request by the Secretary of the Foreign Office of 
Great Britain to the Hudson's Bay Company for the removal 
of the principal trading post of that company from the south 
to the north side of the Columbia river. It is now proposed 
to present the document which contains the authority for that 
interesting statement. 

This publication has been made possible through the courtesy 
of Dr. Otto Klotz, chief astronomer of the Dominion of 
Canada, who during years of service has accumulated in his 
office at Ottawa much valuable data relating to the scientific 
and physical location of this boundary line as established by 
treaty and the diplomatic discussions leading up to it. The 
Amer. Geographical Review for May, 1917, contains an in- 
teresting article by Dr. Klotz entitled "The History of the 
Forty-ninth Parallel Survey West of the Rocky Mountains." 


In the course of his personal research the archives of the 
Hudson's Bay Company at their head office in London were 
examined and he was permitted to make copies of certain 
letters therein. These were later printed by the Canadian 
Government in a confidential volume and the seal of confidence 
has now been removed for the use of this Quarterly, being 
of special interest to residents of Oregon and pertinent to 
the series of articles now appearing in its pages upon The 
Federal Relations of Oregon. 

Hon. George Canning, to whom this particular document 
is addressed, was from 1822 to 1827 the most influential man 
in England, if not in all Europe. He was connected with 
political life in England from 1793 on, with various vicissitudes, 
and following the suicide of Lord Castlereagh became the 
Secretary of the Foreign Office in Sept., 1822, and continued 
as such until his sudden death in August, 1827. From the 
statements in this letter it is evident that his attention was 
early directed to the relatively unimportant question of British 
interests in far-away Oregon. In the United States in 1817, 
when President Monroe contemplated sending the "Ontario" 
to the Columbia river to assert publicly our claim of national 
sovereignty he directed that John Jacob Astor of New York, 
be informed of the plan ; Mr. Astor was the leading fur trade 
merchant in America. In England in 1822, when, following 
the coalition with the "Northwesters," the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany contemplated the expansion of operations on the Pacific 
Coast the ear of the Foreign Secretary was sought to urge 
that some permanent arrangement be made as to British au- 
thority over the Northwest Coast of America. Thus we 
find that it was the prime beaver skin of the Columbia 
river basin in its abundance which attracted the attention of 
both England and America to Oregon; the symbol of the 
pound sterling and American dollar preceded both the flag 
and the cross in both discovery, and exploitation. And the 
purely commercial interests involved also undoubtedly occa- 
sioned the delay in final determination of the dispute by means 
of the treaties of joint policy. 


The exact date of this request by Sec. Canning is not stated 
in the document but under usual course of procedure it would 
have been made not later than the winter of 1823-24, when 
Gov. Simpson was (presumably) in London. We have record 
of the arrival of Gov. Simpson and Dr. McLoughlin at Fort 
George (Astoria) in November, 1824 from Norway House, 
Fort William and Montreal overland. We also know that 
Secretary Adams and U. S. Ambassador Rush were discussing 
the Oregon question with Secretary Canning during 1822- 

The statements in this document will serve to correct some 
errors of popular belief or conclusion as to the establishment 
of Fort Vancouver on the Columbia river in 1824-25; facts 
not new, however, to close readers of our history. Doctor 
John McLoughlin did not select the site or the name for that 
important trading post but was merely the efficient adminis- 
trator in its erection and the transfer of headquarters. At 
some future date the writer hopes to contribute an adequate 
account of the influence and activities of Gov. George Simp- 
son in the course of events on the Columbia river. 

Governor Felly's historical resume cannot be considered 
other than a partisan statement of the British claims to the 
Oregon Country, though some of his errors were due to lack 
of knowledge. The boundary line he suggests is essentially 
the same offered by England in 1842 but as alternative Lord 
Ashburton was then authorized to offer the line of the Koot- 
enay river from the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia and 
thence along the Columbia to the ocean. However, discussion 
of the Oregon boundary was not undertaken by Secretary 
Webster and Lord Ashburton in 1842. 


Journal 721. Hudson's Bay House, 

p. 255. London, 9th December, 1825. 


The Right Honble. 

George Canning, 

&c., &c. 
Sir, With reference to the several communications which 


I have had the honor of having with you on the subject of 
the Country situated on the North West Coast of America 
and to the West of the Rocky Mountains I have now the 
honor of requesting your attention to the following circum- 
stances, which it may be of importance to consider in any 
negotiation for settling the Boundaries with the 1 United States 
to the West of the Rocky Mountains. 

I need not remind you that Captn. Cook in 1778 explored 
the Coast from Cape Gregory in Lat. 43^ to Lat. 70 and 
that Spain by the Convention 1 28th October, 1790, abandoned 
all particular claim beyond what she at that time held in actual 
settlement and that consequently the United States cannot have 
any claim under their purchase of Lousiana from Spain. 

In 1778 2 Captains Gray and Kendrick (in command of the 
Columbia and Washington) were fitted out at Boston for a 
trading voyage on that Coast and are supposed to have been 
the first Americans who engaged in that Trade but they did 
not enter the River Columbia, 3 and it is well known that 
British Subjects 4 have been carrying on a trade on that Coast 
previous to the voyages of Captains Gray and Kendrick. The 
River Columbia was not explored until 1792 when Lt. Brough- 
ton entered it in the Chatham and anchored at Red Patch, 5 
about 12 miles inland from Cape Disappointment, he then pro- 
ceeded with the Cutter and Launch up the River as far as 
Vancouver's Point. Vancouver in Vol. 2, page 66, says "prev- 
iously to his (Mr. Broughton's) departure however he formally 

1. Article V of the Nootka Sound Convention of October 28th, 1790, reads as 
follows: "It is agreed that as well in the places which are to be restored to 
British subjects by virtue of the first article as in all other parts of the North- 
west Coast of North America or of the islands adjacent situated to the north of 
the parts of said coast already occupied by Spain, wherever the subjects to 
either of the two powers shall have made settlements since the month of April, 
1789, or shall hereafter make any, the subjects of the other shall have free 
access and shall carry on their commerce without disturbance or molestation." 

Any right, title or interest of Spain to the Northwest Coast ,'of North 
America was conveyed to the United States through the Florida Purchase of 
1818; not through the Louisiana Purchase. 

2. The Columbia and Lady Washington sailed from Boston on September 30, 
1787, and arrived at Nootka in September, 1788. 

3. Governor Pelly in this paragraph merely reiterates the argument of 
Captain George Vancouver and Lieutenant Broughton that the mouth of the 
Columbia river was thirty-five miles from the ocean (between Cathlamet Point 
and Skamokawa) and that Captain Gray entered merely the bay or estuary 
into which the river flows. 

4 Captain James Hanna in 1785 and 1786. Captains Lowrie and Guise in 
1786. Captain Barkley in 1787. Captains Portlock and Dixon, 1786-7. Captain 
Meares, 1786-7. Captains Colwitt and Duncan, 1787, and others. 

5 Red Patch is presumably the treeless knob on Scarborough Head (Fort 
Columbia of the present day) where the bushes turn brown in color in the 
autumn; plainly visible from the entrance to the river. This point is twelve 
miles from the ocean * but Lieutenant Broughton's anchorage was just below 
Frankfort, opposite Astoria, more than fifteen miles from the ocean. 


took possession of the River and the Country in its vicinity 
in His Britannic Majesty's name having every reason to be- 
lieve that the subjects of no other civilized Nation or State 
had ever entered this River before; in this opinion he was 
confirmed by Mr. Gray's sketch in which it does not appear 
that Mr. Gray either saw or was within five Leagues of its 

According to Lt. Broughton's observations, Vancouver's 
Point 6 is situated in Lat. 45 27' and Long. 237 50' computed 
to be about 100 miles from the mouth of the river. 

In 1793, Sir Alexr. McKenzie crossed the Rocky Moun- 
tains and reached the coast about Lat. 52^ and soon after 7 
that time the North West Company of Montreal established 
trading Posts in the Country West of the Rocky Mountains 
on the head waters of the North Branch of the Columbia 
among the Flathead and Coutonais Tribes, and continued grad- 
ually to explore the country and extend their Trade towards 
the Coast down the Columbia as well as to the Northward. 

Capts. Lewis and Clark in the command of an expedition 
fitted out by the American Government, ascended the Missouri, 
crossed the Rjocky Mountains, descended the South branch of 
the Columbia called in "Arrowsmiths' map" "Lewis's River" 
and which falls into the main or North Branch in Lat. 46 15' ; 
they proceeded to the mouth of the River and passed the winter 
1805-6 at Young's Bay, on the South side of the River. At 
this period, 8 the British fur traders had pushed their trading 
post nearer to the junction of the Lewis's River with the 
North Branch of the Columbia River. In 1809 an Association 9 
composed of British and American subjects was formed in 
New York for the purpose of carrying on the fur Trade on 

6 As to the true location of Point Vancouver, see Or. Hist. Quar. Vol. 18, 
page 73. 

7 The first trading post "established by the North- West Company on Colum- 
bia river waters was by David Thompson in July, 1807, near the source of the 
river and called Kootenais House. In November, 1809, another trading post 
was established by Mr. Thompson among the Saleesh or Flathead tribe in 
Montana; and Spokane House on that river in 1810. 

8 There were no trading posts at all west of the Rocky Mountains on rivers 
draining into the Pacific in 1805 but in 1806 Simon Fraser established two 
trading posts on the waters of the Fraser river at Lake Stuart and Fraser Lake. 

9 The organization of the Pacific Fur Company is narrated in Irving*s 
"Astoria" and by Mr. Astor himself in his letter dated January 4th, 1823, and 
addressed to Secretary of State John Quincy Adams; this is printed in full in 
the Appendix of Greenhow's History of Oregon. Mr. Astor states that he 
furnished ALL the capital for the enterprise and that the British subjects con- 
nected with it were partners only for a share in any profits. Those subjects 
were Alexander McKay, Duncan McDougall, Donald McKenzie, David Stuart 
and John Clarke. They reached the Columbia in March, 1811. (McKenzie in 


the North West Coast under the Firm of the Pacific Fur 
Company. They fitted out two expeditions one by land and 
the other by sea for the Columbia where they arrived in 1810 
and established themselves on the South side of the River, 
naming their Settlement "Astoria" after their principal partner 
Mr. Astor of New York. The North West Compy. of Mont- 
real however continued to extend their Trade with the Natives 
and in 1813 established themselves on the Coast within a few 
yards of the American settlement of Astoria. 10 

The Americans had remained at Astoria and from time to 
time sent parties into the Interior, but had not made much 
progress in establishing themselves in the country, when in 
1813 they sold their buildings at Astoria (which was after- 
wards named "Fort George") with the whole of their stock 
in trade in the Country to the North West Company as per 
Bill of Sale (Copy of which is annexed) and abandoned the 
Country. Since that time no American Trader has appeared 
nor has any settlement been formed by any others than the 
British Fur Traders. 

Upon reference to the above circumstances and to the dates 
of the transaction it does not appear that the Americans can 
establish any just claim to the Country on the Columbia or to 
the Northward of it, and that by actual possession Great 
Britian alone can establish a legitimate Title. In 1818, Captain 
Hickey of H. M. S. Blossom accompanied by Mr. J. B. Prevost, 
Agent for the United States Government arrived at the Co- 
lumbia and delivered to Mr. James Keith of the North West 
Company, then in charge of Fort George, a letter from Earl 
Bathurst dated 27th January, H. M. S. Andromache, and in 
consequence Mr. Prevost took formal possession of the Settle- 
ment as his acknowledgment. 11 Copies of these documents are 
annexed but I think it right to observe that the Settlement 
and whatever had been previously occupied in that Country 
by American subjects had been acquired by the North West 
Company by purchase for a valuable consideration and not by 

By the Convention 20th October, 1818, between Great 
Britain and America the Trade of the Country to the West 
of the Rocky Mountains is left open to the subjects of both 

10 We have the narrative of two eye-witnesses of how the large party of 
"Northwesters" "established (?) themselves within a few yards of the American 
settlement of Astoria' in October, 1813; Gabriel Franchere and Alexander Ross. 
See Franchere' s Narrative, pp. 190-93, and Ross' Oregon Settlers, p. 254. 

ir For Mr. Prevost's official report of this event see Or. Quar. Vol. 19, p. 277. 


Nations for ten years without prejudice to the claim of either 
Nation; but no American subjects have as yet availed them- 
selves of this privilege. The British Fur Traders however 
have never withdrawn from the Country since they first en- 
tered it; on the contrary they have gradually and at much 
risk and expense increased their Settlements which now amount 
to thirteen in number (besides temporary Stations which are 
occasionally changed) and extend over a Country exceeding 
fifteen degrees of Latitude, say from Lat. 45 to North of 
Lat. 60. 

In the year 1821 the Hudson's Bay Company made an ar- 
rangement with the North West Company of Montreal by 
which they acquired possession of all the trading Posts and 
Stock of that association, and now under their Royal Charter 
and His Majesty's License the whole Indian Trade of British 
America to the North West of Canada is carried on by the 
Hudson's Bay Company. In order to acquire more correct 
information respecting the country on the West of the Rocky 
Mountains and for the purpose of carrying into effect some 
measures connected with extending our Trade on the North 
West Coast ? Governor Simpson was directed to proceed thither 
last season, and after an arduous and fatiguing journey he 
accomplished an extensive survey of the Company's Trading 
establishments and is now in London. He will remain here 
until the beginning of February, and will attend any appoint- 
ment that you may be pleased to make should you wish to be 
possessed of any further information respecting that Country. 
Whilst at Fort George, Governor Simpson fitted out an Ex- 
pedition under the direction of an intelligent officer, Mr. Chief 
Trader McMillan, for the purpose of exploring the coast to 
the Northward. 12 

In the course of his survey he discovered the entrance of 
Fraser's River between Capes Roberts and Gray in about 
Lat. 49 15'. 13 

The mouth of this River was not discovered by Vancouver 
nor by the Subjects of any civilized Nation until Mr. McMillan 
visited it last Winter, but the upper part of the River, and 
down to within 20 miles of the sea was explored by Messrs. 

12 For day-to-day account of this expedition, see Journal of John Work, in 
Wash. Hist. Quarterly, Vol. 3, p. 198. 

13 Later research has rendered this statement erroneous. Simon Fraser is 
believed to have arrived within sight of the mouth of the river and of the gulf 
into which it flows. See page 279 of "British Columbia/' by F. W. Howay and 
E. O. S. Scholefield. 


Fraser and Stuart, partners of the North West Company in 
the year 1808. I annex extracts from Mr. McMillan's re- 
port and as this country appears to be rich in fur bearing 
animals we have it in contemplation to form permanent es- 
tablishments therein next Summer, 14 to push our discoveries 
to the Northward both inland and on the Coast, and to embark 
a considerable capital in endeavoring to secure to Great Britain 
the benefits arising from an exchange of British manufactures 
for the produce of that Country with its numerous inhabitants. 

In compliance with a wish expressed by you at our last in- 
terview Governor Simpson when at Columbia abandoned Fort 
George on the South side of the River and formed a new 
Establishment on the North side about 75 miles from the 
mouth of the River at a place called by Lt. Broughton Belle 
vue Point. 15 Governor Simpson named the new establish- 
ment "Fort Vancouver" in order to identify our claim to the 
soil and trade with Lt. Broughton' s discovery and survey. 

He considers the soil and climate of this place to be so well 
adapted for agricultural pursuits, that in the course of two 
or three years it may be made to produce sufficient grain and 
animal provisions to meet not only the demands of our own 
trade but to almost any extent that may be required for other 
purposes; and he considers the possession of this place and 
a right to the navigation of the River Columbia to be quite 
necessary to our carrying on to advantage not only the trade 
of the upper parts of the Columbia River but also that of the 
country interior from the mouth of Eraser's River and the 
Coasting Trade, all of which can be provisioned from this 
Place. Under existing circumstances I respectfully submit to 
your consideration whether it might not be advisable to en- 
deavor to arrange a boundary line between Great Britain and 
the United States in that country to the West of the Rocky 
Mountains more especially as the attention of Congress has 
been called to the subject, and in an American map lately pub- 
lished the line of Lat. 49 is continued from the Rocky Moun- 
tains to the Sea Coast, and the Country to the South of that 
line is described to be United States Territory, which at some 

14 Fort Langley on the Fraser river was established by James McMillan in 
July, 1827. 

15 This identification of Bellevue Point adds interest to the historic site 
of Fort Vancouver; from, the narrative by Mr. Broughton or Captain Vancouver 
it is difficult to locate this Point. It is hardly correct that Fort George was 
abandoned, however, for a trading post was maintained there until 1849 or 1850, 
when taken over by the U. S. army and custom officer*. 


future period might be made use of by the American Govern- 
ment. This line would deprive Great Britain of a valuable 
country now occupied and traded by the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany, and would occasion many practical inconveniences in 
carrying on the trade of the Country which would be left 
to us. 

But as I have already stated it does not appear that the 
Americans can establish a just claim to any part of the country 
either to the South or North of the Columbia River, and as 
the free navigation of that River is necessary to our carrying 
on the Trade I have endeavored to fix on a boundary which 
would answer the views of the Hudson's Bay Company, with- 
out pushing the claims of Great Britain to their full extent. 

I have therefore to suggest that starting from Lat. 49 at 
the Rocky Mountains the line ought to be continued South- 
ward along the Height of Land to the place where Lewis and 
Clark crossed the Mountains, said to be in Lat. 46 42', thence 
Westerly along the Lewis's River until it falls into the Co- 
lumbia, and thence to the Sea, leaving the navigation of both 
these rivers free to the subjects of both Nations. This line 
would leave to America the Trade and Possession of an ex- 
tensive and valuable Country and would furnish fewer op- 
portunities of collision between the Traders of the two Nations 
than any other line that could be suggested. 

I send herewith a map on which the line 16 which I have taken 
the liberty of suggesting is colored, and on which the Trading 
Posts 17 now occupied by the Hudson's Bay Company are 

I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, sir 

Your most obt. humb Servant 

J. H. P. GOVR. 

1 6 This map is not available for reference. Lat. 46 42' is very close to the 
Lolo Trail by which Lewis and Clark crossed the Bitter Root range, but that 
ridge does not form the continental divide. This boundary line as described 
would leave the Rocky Mountains at Lemhi Pass in Central Idaho and follow 
the Lemhi and Salmon rivers to the Snake, the Snake to the Columbia and the 
Columbia to the ocean. Salmon river in Idaho is the stream which was named 
Lewis river originally by Captain Clark and which should carry that name at the 
present day. 

17 These trading posts, thirteen in number, were listed in a later letter by 
Governor Simpson, dated January, 1826, as the following: Vancouver, Nez 
Perce (Walla Walla), Okanogan, Colvile, Flathead and Kootenais (in the 
basin of the Columbia; Fort George is omitted), Kilmany, Eraser's Lake, St. 
James, Chilcotin, Alexandria and Thompson's River or Kamloops (in the basin of 
the Fraser river), McLeod's, (on Peace river waters). 



1. Bill of Sale, Pacific Fur Company to North-west Com- 

2. Letter from Early Bathurst dated 27th January, 1818. 
Instructions of Captn. Sheriff of H. M. S. Andromache. Mr. 
I. P. Prevost acknowledgement of possession. 

3. Extract from Mr. McMillan's report of Voyage and 
Survey from Columbia to Fraser's River, 1826. 

4. Map of North America. 




Beginning in 1839 Congress was deep in the discussion of 
Dr. Linn's various resolutions and bills ; the Oregon issue was 
already showing a tendency to leave the realm of questions 
of fact to be settled between two governments, and was assum- 
ing that political guise which was to characterize it until the 
final decision. The British government, apparently long for- 
getful of the Northwest Coast, was stirred to inquiry if not 
to immediate action. The channel through which information 
might be derived was that which served, as almost the only 
connecting link between the disputed region and the govern- 
ment; that is, the Hudson's Bay Company. Sir John Pelly, 
head of the organization, was requested by Lord John Russell 
and Lord Palmerston to furnish the government with such 
information as might be deemed useful to it, especially in view 
of the fact that Sir George Simpson, in 1841, was 'just de- 
parting for the Columbia River. Sir George, therefore, gave 
the British government the material facts about the actual 
situation in Oregon. 

His dispatch to the officials of the Hudson's Bay Company, 
written in November, 1841, l gave an account of the settle- 
ments made by the Americans, the number of people in each, 
their condition and the influence exerted in the land. He 
noted that the missionaries, who formed almost the whole 
number of Americans, seemed to be making more rapid pro- 
gress with the extension of their settlements than in the 
ostensible objects of their residence in the country; he could 
not learn that they were successful or making much progress 
in moral and religious instruction of the natives. Inferences 

i Letter printed by Schafer, Am. Hist. Rev., XIV, 73-82, from F. O., Am. 
Domestic and Various Papers, Jan. to Mar. 1843. 


from this remark were no doubt strengthened by Sir George's 
account of finding at Vancouver in August, 1841, Wilkes at 
the head of an American government exploring expedition. 
Wilkes, he wrote, 2 was not communicative as to his surveys 
and examination of the country, but from an "intelligent and 
confidential" member of the party he learned that the Com- 
modore was intending to recommend that his government claim 
the whole region from 42 to 54 40' . 3 Simpson's informant, 
however, held more moderate views; 4 he intended to recom- 
mend a line through the Straits of Fuca to the mainland south 
of Whidby's Island, thence straight to where the Nez Perce 
(Snake River) emptied into the Columbia. This, he main- 
tained, could not be refused by the British government, for 
the justice of allowing the United States the portion of terri- 
tory with its harbors inside of Cape Flattery could easily be 
seen; if the southern line of the Columbia should be taken 
no secure harbor would fall to the United States. Sir George 
took occasion to impress the Governor of the Hudson's Bay 
Company with the significance of this statement and wrote, 
"I trust you will urge Her Majesty's Government not to con- 
sent to any boundary that would give the United States any 
portion of the Territory north of the Columbia, as it would 
deprive the Britsh of the only valuable part of the territory, 
the country north of the Straits of Fuca not being adapted to 
Agriculture, or other purposes connected with colonization." 
The report also called attention particularly to the fact 
that Wilkes had sent one division of his party overland through 
the Willamette valley and on into California to San Francisco 
Bay, near which the Russian settlement at Bodega was located. 
This post was of especial interest to the Company and to look 
into the question of its acquisition had been one of the main 
reasons for sending Simpson to the Pacific Coast. 5 A little 

2 Simpson to Pelly, dated 10 Mar., 1842, Honolulu; Ibid,, 86^93. 
3. Schafer says this was probably Captain Wm. L. Hudson, second in 

4 Wilkes did make such a recommendation in strong terms, but his report 
was not allowed to come before Congress. See Chapter V. 

5 See Adams, British interests and activities in Texas, 1838-1846, on the 
topic of Simpson's orders to look into the matter of the Russian settlement in 
California as a possible means of securing for the company and for England 
A foothold at San Francisco Bay. 


later Sir George learned, when at Sitka, that the Russian 
American Company had sold their holdings at Bodega to a 
Swiss because the post had always been unprofitable. "The 
sale," he commented, "was effected previous to my arrival or 
I would have made the purchase for the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany as a basis for a future claim by Great Britain." Evidently 
the unattainable had greater attractions than that which might 
have been secured, for Sir George had reported in November 
that the Russians were in California in defiance of the Mex- 
icans who were powerless to drive them out, even though 
the former admitted that they had no title to the soil other 
than that afforded by occupation ; he had further stated that 
the title which the Russians could give would be of no value 
unless backed by eighty or one hundred men, so he could see 
no use in purchasing on any terms. 

These reports arc interesting for the light they throw on 
the attitude of the Hudson's Bay Company which was the 
most important influence working with the British govern- 
ment to prevent a compromise at 49 or on any line which 
would not leave the whole of the Columbia River to the free 
and unhampered use of the Company. This influence was 
recognized by those American ministers in London who had 
occasion to deal with the Oregon Question and it was magnified 
into a sinister power by the Oregon men in Congress. 

Lord Ashburton, when he was in the United States to 
negotiate the question of the Northeast Boundary, had heard 
that Wilkes was going to urge the United States to claim to 
54 40'. 6 It was partly on this account, partly because he wished 
to help clear up all outstanding issues between his own and 
the government of the United States, that he left America 
regretting that he could have done nothing with the Oregon 
dispute. 7 He advised the Foreign Office to push the matter 
immediately since the great controversy, that over the Maine 
boundary, was settled and so could no longer be endangered 

6 Ashburton to Aberdeen, 29 June, 1842. F. O. Am. 379; quoted by Schafer, 
Am. Hist. Rev. 1911, 297. 

7 Everett to Webster, 19 Oct. 1842. No. West Bound. Arb., 27. 


by the introduction of Oregon issues. Lord Aberdeen was 
no less anxious to remove all menace to good understanding 
between the two nations and accordingly instructed Fox in 
Washington to propose to Webster that the American minister 
in London be furnished with instructions and full powers to 
negotiate, assuring the American Secretary of State that the 
British government was prepared to proceed in a spirit of 
fairness. 8 This suggestion met with the approval of President 
Tyler although the opening of Congress in December, 1842, 
came before anything was done to start negotiations. 

Tyler's Annual Message of this year, after stating that it 
became evident that nothing could be done with the Oregon 
Question during the negotiations conducted by Lord Ashburton 
and Secretary Webster, went on to say, 9 "Although the diffi- 
culty referred to may not for several years to come involve 
the peace of the two countries, yet I shall not delay to urge 
on Great Britain the importance of its early settlement." Both 
this and the matter of commercial adjustments he believed 
would soon be taken up since "it will comport with the policy 
of England, as it does with that of the United States, to seize 
upon this moment, when most of the causes of irritation have 
passed away, to cement the peace and amity of the two coun- 
tries by wisely removing all grounds of probable future colli- 
sion." This presentation of the matter did not agree with the 
notion the British government had of the preliminaries ; Fox 
wrote Aberdeen 10 that he would be surprised at the "inexact 
manner in which the message describes the state of negotia- 
tions." Aberdeen, too, expressed his regret at the statement, 
but felt that the affair would be seen in its true light when 
the correspondence was laid before Congress; however, in 
view of the facts it would have been more candid, he thought, 
had the President stated that he had already received from 
the British government a "pressing overture" for renewing 

8 Fox to Webster, 15 Nov., H. Ex. Doc. No. i, 29th Cong, ist Ses. Aber- 
deen read the dispatch to Everett before it was sent. 

9 Richardson, Messages, IV, 196. 

10 Fox to Aberdeen, 12 Dec. 1842, Br. & For. St. Papers, 34; 51. 


negotiations. 11 Ashburton, in a private letter to Webster, 12 
said it was well known that he would always strive to pro- 
mote peace with America, "but I cannot deny that your Presi- 
dential speech made European politicians of all parties and 
all countries stare with unusual surprise." Furthermore he 
questioned if it was indeed a good time to negotiate, although 
if undertaken in good faith he had no doubt of a successful 
outcome. "It may be doubtful whether it might be possible 
to satisfy such men as Benton and Linn on the one hand, 
or your friend Gushing on the other. It is worse than a 
waste of time to be negotiating when the spirit of the time 
is adverse, for failure necessarily leaves behind much of irrita- 
tion. . . . The best treaty could not satisfy those who are 
predetermined to find fault." 

Something beside Congressional activity, however, was caus- 
ing the American government to proceed slowly in accepting 
Lord Aberdeen's "pressing overture." The Texas affair was 
looming and with Texas there came the possibilities regard- 
ing California. To Tyler came the thought that Texas, Oregon 
and California might be brought together so that what was 
done with one region would serve to strengthen the other. 
He talked the matter over with Webster who further matured 
the project and passed it on to Everett in London. 13 The 
"political profligacy" which Adams so feared was working 
out. Webster reminded Everett of the Oregon agitation in 
Congress, telling him that the bill then under consideration 
was favored by Benton, Linn, McRoberts and other western 
gentlemen, while it was opposed by Calhoun, Berrien, Choate, 
McDuffie and others. 

"This new outbreak of interest and zeal for Oregon has its 
origin in motives and objects this side of the Rocky Moun- 
tains. The truth is there are lovers of agitation; and when 
most topics of dispute are settled, those which remain are called 
on with earnestness and avidity. We feel the importance of 

11 Aberdeen to Fox, 18 Jan., 1843, Ibid., 52. 

12 2 Jan., 1843, Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster, II, 163, 565. 

13 Webster to Everett, 29 Jan., 1843 (private) Writings and Speeches of 
Daniel Webster, XVI, 393-6. See Chapter VI above. 


settling this question if we can; but we fear embarrassments 
and difficulties, not, perhaps, so much from the object itself, 
as from the purposes of men, and of parties connected with it. 
Mr. Calhoun distinguished himself for his support of the late 
treaty. You know his position before the country in regard 
to the approaching election of President. Mr. Benton as 
leader of the Van Buren party, or at least the more violent 
part of it, is disposed to make war upon everything which 
Mr. Calhoun supports ; and seems much inclined at present to 
get up an anti-English feeling. * * * 

"You know what is said about the cession of California to 
the United States; from you we learn that England would 
favor such a transaction, if it might be the means of settling 
the Oregon question. ... It has occurred to me to con- 
sider whether it might not be possible to make a tripartite 

This arrangement, which Webster said was only a thought 
and not yet shaped into opinion, included these factors: 

1. Cession of Upper California by Mexico to the United 

2. Payment by the United States to Mexico for the cession 
of millions of dollars. 

3. Of this sum, millions to be paid to United 

States citizens having claims against Mexico. 

4. The residue to be paid to British subjects having Mex- 
ican bonds or other claims against Mexico. 

5. The line between the United States and England in 
Oregon to run "pretty much as I mentioned to you," (i. e., 
approximately the line suggested to Simpson.) 

"The truth is if we negotiate for Oregon alone, I hardly 
know what instructions to give you; because we cannot tell 
what sort of a treaty two-thirds of the Senate would agree to." 

Webster said that he had mentioned the matter to Almonte 
but the latter had no instructions on which to base a discus- 
sion. The President favored a special mission to England, 
and if there should be a strong probability that Oregon and 
California could be taken up together Webster thought he 
would be nominated and probably would not decline ; as it was, 
it was impossible to make any progress in Washington ; "Fox 
and this Department do not make much progress." Webster's 


apparent willingness to negotiate any line for Oregon which 
would receive the approval of the Senate testifies to his poor 
opinion of the value of that country, a fact which he mentioned 
to Everett. 

While the British government was inclined to listen to 
Everett's presentation of Webster's project an insuperable dif- 
ficulty presented itself; Mexico had no intention of even dis- 
cussing a cession of California. Consequently the spring wore 
on and the negotiation lagged. Unofficially Everett was in- 
formed in March that soon he might expect a formal notifica- 
tion that the President had requested the British government 
to resume negotiations at Washington both for the boundary 
and for a new commercial convention. 14 But August came 
and the instructions had not been received, so Fox was di- 
rected to proceed with the subject if the Washington govern- 
ment so desired. 15 Upshur, who had replaced Webster, took 
the hint to the President who told the Secretary to direct 
Everett to take up the matter in London. The instructions 
allowed the minister to offer 49 as the boundary with the 
added privilege of allowing the nationals of both countries 
to navigate the Columbia on equal terms, but "beyond that 
the President (was) not prepared to go." 16 

The delay had been too great, so when Everett informed 
Aberdeen that he had powers to negotiate he was told that 
such an arrangement would have been welcomed earlier, but 
it was then too late since Fox had been recalled and Richard 
Pakenham sent in his place with special instructions on the 
Oregon issue. Among other reasons for the change it was 
felt that the Oregon negotiation would benefit by being placed 
in new hands although the course had not been adopted until 
all hope that Everett mipiit receive instructions to proceed 
had been abandoned. 17 Everett still thought that he might 
accomplish something before the new minister left England. 

_______ ' I >l r- ] ] \ 

14 Webster to Everett, 20 Mar., Private Correspondence of Webster, II, 171. 

15 Everett to Upshur, 17 Aug., No. West Bound. Arb., 28; Aberdeen told 
Everett that he regretted having to transfer the question to^ Washington for he 
had hoped that Everett might bring it to a successful issue in London. 

1 6 Upshur to Everett, 9 Oct., No. West Bound Arb., 28. 

17 Blair to Van Buren, see note 14 above. 


He had a long conversation 18 with Aberdeen in which he 
pointed out the advantages of 49 as a boundary, for it had 
been only where this line had been adopted, no matter what 
the topography of the country might have been, that there 
had been no controversy. Everett thought Aberdeen was im- 
pressed with the general import of his remarks; expressing 
the hope that Congress would do nothing at its next session to 
embarrass the negotiations "he (Aberdeen) said, if this can be 
avoided, 'I do not think we shall have much difficulty.' " Such 
a remark Everett interpreted to mean that Pakenham would 
go to America instructed to offer 49 with some sort of 
modification ; recognizing the necessity of his own govern- 
ment's making some sort of a modification of its previous 
offers, he suggested that it was possible that all of Vancouver's 
Island might be yielded, although he added that he had no 
instructions on the point. 19 He felt that this had been a 
happy suggestion for at a later conference Lord Aberdeen told 
him that as 49 had long ago been offered and rejected the 
question was different than if it were coming up for the 
first time; each party must be expected to yield something 
from its original demands. "I regard this observation, now 
made to me for the first time, although the Oregon boundary 
since my residence in England has been the subject of very 
frequent conversation between Lord Aberdeen and myself, as 
very important." 20 Then Everett added to Upshur, in re- 
porting the conversation, that Aberdeen had asked if he was 
confident of his statement and also wished it to be remembered 
that Great Britain had offered to cede certain territory north 
of the Columbia. Taking this as an indication that the British 
government was preparing to abandon its stand for the Co- 
lumbia, Everett was in high hopes of an agreement; "I may 
be in error in this view of the subject; but it is the result of 
the closest consideration I have been able to give it, that the 
present government, though of course determined not to make 

18 Everett to Upshur (private and confidential) Ibid., 29-30, 14 Nov. 

19 Everett to Aberdeen, 30 Nov., Ibid., 32. 

20 Everett to Upshur, 2 Dec., Ibid., 30-2. 


any discreditable sacrifice of what they consider their rights, 
are willing to agree to reasonable terms of settlement." 

Under apparently favorable conditions, therefore, did Paken- 
ham undertake the task of settling the Oregon Question when 
he arrived in America in 1844. The surface of affairs was 
not even ruffled by the inept reference to Oregon in Tyler's 
Annual Message, where he again seemed to charge to the 
British government the delay which had occurred. The first 
interviews with Upshur, in the latter part of February, added 
to the good impressions which Pakenham had already re- 
ceived, and he could report to his government that the best 
spirit seemed to prevail. 21 Furthermore the seed which Everett 
had dropped about the ultimate concessions which might per- 
haps be expected from the American government appeared to 
be germinating as shown by some private instructions sent 
Pakenham after he left England. 22 

"Should my apprehensions be verified (i. e. that the United 
States should refuse to accept the Columbia as a boundary), 
you will endeavor, without committing yourself or your gov- 
ernment, to draw from the American negotiator a proposal 
to make the 49th degree of latitude the boundary, with the 
proviso that the ports to the south of that parallel to the 
Columbia inclusive, shall be free ports to Great Britain. The 
navigation of the Columbia should be common to both; and 
care should be taken that the 49th degree of latitude, as a 
boundary, is to extend only to the sea; and not to apply to 
Vancouver's island." 

A hint of what had been done was given Everett who, 
though he was not charged with the negotiation, continued to 
bring what pressure he could to bear upon Lord Aberdeen. 
He was told that Pakenham's instructions had been modified to 
allow a great discretion, and from this he drew the conclusion 
that the British government no longer expected to secure 
the Columbia and would in the last resort accept 49 and 
Everett's suggested modification. "They do not, therefore, 
I imagine, much regret the agitation of the subject in the 

21 Pakenham to Aberdeen, 27 Feb., 1844, Br. & F. St. Papers, 34; 57-8 

22 Aberdeen Papers, cited by Schafer, Am. Hist. Rev., 1911, 296-7. 


United States, and are willing we should advance a claim to 
54 40'; such a course on our part will make it easier for 
them to agree to stop at 49 . . ." 28 

But this smooth sailing could not continue. The particular 
form which the 54 40' agitation took did not, contrary to 
Everett's belief, urge the British government to further con- 
cessions. The congressional bills and resolutions and debates, 
the party discussions and intrigues, especially that portion 
relating to the annexation of Texas, all served to cool the con- 
ciliatory ardor of Aberdeen and the British ministry. And 
then, just four days before the Foreign Secretary sent to 
Pakenham his new instructions, came the death of Upshur, 
leaving the State Department in the hands of the Assistant 
Secretary Nelson until a successor could be chosen. 

Had Aberdeen been able to foresee the selection of John 
C. Calhoun as Secretary of State he might, in view of the 
past record of that gentleman, have felt that British interests 
were in no danger. To Calhoun the Texas and Oregon ques- 
tions were the sole reasons weighty enough to cause his 
resignation as Senator and acceptance of a Cabinet position 
under Tyler; 24 it was these reasons which Tyler used to in- 
duce Calhoun to accept, 25 for without such overwhelmingly 
important issues no one can doubt that the leading Southern 
Democrat would have immediately refused the offer of the 
recusant Whig. Texas was a powerful lever both with Calhoun 
and with his political confidants of the South. It was of such 
importance that the Oregon negotiations, so often postponed 
and hindered, once more had to wait a moment which was 
not occupied with the Texas treaty, political plans connected 
with the coming presidential election, routine official duties 
and the like. Several times Pakeham called Calhoun's atten* 
tion to the waiting question but he was put off. 26 

23 Everett to Nelson, i Apr., No. West Bound. Arb., 33,4. 

24 See, e. g., Calhoun to Mrs. T. C. Clemson, o Mar., 1844; W. Lumpkin to 
Calhoun, 23 Mar., Correspondence of Calhoun, 576, 942. For account of how 
Tyler came to nominate Calhoun see Wise, Life of Henry A. Wise, 98-101. 

25 Tyler to Calhoun, 6 Mar., Correspondence of Calhoun, 938-9. 

26 See Pakenham's dispatches in Br. & F. St Papers, 34; 59 seq. Also in 
H. Ex. Doc. No. 2, 29th Cong, ist Ses. 


Late in August, however, Calhoun could inform the British 
minister that he had the leisure to consult with him about 
Oregon and the negotiation started again. For the first time 
since the conversations of 1826-7 the matter was taken up 
with the intention on both sides to bring about a decisive 
settlement; both governments wished the question closed, the 
more so because the campaign of 1844, then in progress, held 
possibilities of increased difficulties in the future. The con- 
tinued agitation in Congress for the past years impressed the 
British government with the idea that the sooner the settlement 
came the better it would be, while the American Administra- 
tion was anxious to smooth the ways for the Texas program 
in the next session of Congress. Neither President nor Sec- 
retary of State was willing to let Oregon stand in the path 
of Texas, and both thought that an amicable settlement with 
Great Britain would serve to remove certain obstacles which 
might be placed in the way of expansion to the southwest, 
especially if it should be connected with California. 

After the customary preliminaries Pakenham presented a 
statement of the claims upon which the British title was 
based and then made the offer which had been submitted in 
1824 and modified in 1826; i. e., the Columbia with a detached 
region between the River and the Sound for the United States. 
To this old offer Pakenham added that of any port desired 
by the United States on the mainland or on Vancouver's 
Island south of 49. 21 This was declined by Calhoun who 
presented an elaborate review of the American claim. Paken- 
ham answered this with a counter-reply setting forth the 
British claim and inviting Calhoun to suggest an arrange- 
ment acceptable to the United States. In response Calhoun 
said that his government could not consent to the view that 
Great Britain possessed and exercised rights of joint occupancy 
of which she could be divested only by an equitable partition 
of the. disputed territory, a premise which Pakenham's counter- 
reply contained ; therefore he must decline to make a counter- 

27 Unless otherwise noted the correspondence is in Ho. Ex. Doc. No. 2, apth 
Cong, ist Ses. 


proposal until the question of title was settled, and as to that, 
the United States had a clear title to all the area drained by 
the Columbia and considered itself the party in possession until 
this question should be settled. Thereupon Pakenham de- 
clared he did not feel authorized to enter into a discussion 
of the territory north of 49, which was understood by his 
government to be the basis of negotiations on the American 
side as the Columbia River was for the British. Here, on 
the twentieth of September, the negotiation stood, and here 
they remained for some weeks. 

Meanwhile the election campaign was being waged and in 
the West, especially, Oregon was made the leading issue; 
consequently everything pointed to a renewal of Congressional 
agitation in December. In view of this situation Lord Aber- 
deen felt that there could be little hope that the "United 
States (would) relax their pretensions, and meet us in any 
scheme which we could safely and honorably adopt. Under 
these circumstances and taking into consideration the state 
of excitement so prevalent in the United States on this sub- 
ject, by which the free action of the government is greatly 
fettered, if not altogether paralyzed, I think it will be de- 
sirable ... to have recourse ... to arbitration." 28 
No opportunity, however, offered itself to Pakenham before 
the middle of January to carry these latest instructions into 
effect. At that time he reminded Calhoun that there were 
papers still under consideration, and in view of the impatience 
manifested in the United States, Her Majesty's Government 
had authorized him to propose arbitration as the fairest mode 
of settlement and suggested an interchange of notes on the 
subject. This suggestion was promptly rejected although 
Calhoun expressed the hope that the problem might still be 
solved by negotiation. Pakenham thought that, although the 
proposal had not been accepted, no harm had been done and 
perhaps it had even accomplished some good. 29 

Across the ocean Everett had been continuing his efforts 

a8 Aberdeen to Pakenham, i Nov., 1844, Br. & F. St. Papers, 34:86. 
29 Pakenham to Aberdeen, 29 Jan., 1845. Ibid., 88. 


to bring Lord Aberdeen to see that anything less than 49 
with the possible exception of the tip of Vancouver's Island 
would never be accepted by the United States. 30 But Aberdeen 
had not been brought to this view. The short session of 
Congress was drawing to a close and it had already become 
evident that the "notice" as passed by the House would not 
be accepted by the Senate; consequently he felt that the final 
disposition of Oregon was of no immediate or pressing in- 
terest to either party; on the other hand the "artificial ex- 
citement" in the United States and the "violent proceedings" 
in the House of Representatives tended to hinder negotiations, 
consequently arbitration was the best way out. 31 Accordingly, 
Pakenham was authorized, as soon as the House resolution 
had been rejected in the Senate, to offer arbitration again, if 
in the meantime no reasonable proposition has been brought 
forward by the United States. 

Before Pakenham could receive these instructions the old 
government was out of office and the Polk Administration was 
at the helm. The Inaugural Address had been pronounced 
and the people of the United States expected the President 
to maintain an uncompromising attitude. It is doubtful whether 
the advice Lord Ashburton transmitted through Everett would 
have produced any effect had it arrived before March 4, 
1845. Nevertheless it is interesting to read the words of a 
man who had helped to tide over one crisis and who knew 
pretty well the temper of his own people. Everett had been 
telling Ashburton his confident opinion that the United States 
would never accept any compromise which gave his country 
a less favorable boundary than 49 to the sea, for he evidently 
took every possible occasion to impress this line upon all in- 
fluential men with whom he was on terms of intimacy, and 
Ashburton said, "he did not think there would be much dif- 
ficulty of coming to an adjustment unless steps were taken 
on our (United States) side which wore the appearance of 
defiance and menace. Any such step would put it out of the 

30 Everett to Calhoun, 28 Feb., No. West Bound. Arb., 35. 

31 Aberdeen to Pakenham, St. Papers, 34:90. 


power of England, as a similar step on her part would put 
it out of the power of the United States, to compromise on 
any terms." "I attach," added Everett, "the greater im- 
portance to these remarks because Lord Ashburton had lately 
conferred with Lord Aberdeen on the subject." 32 

To Aberdeen the Inaugural did present the appearance 
of "defiance and menace," for immediately upon receipt of 
a copy of it he prepared new instructions for Pakenham, and 
detained the American mail a day in order that they might 
be received at the earliest possible moment. 33 Said he, the 
speech "has impressed a very serious character on our actual 
relations with the United States; and the manner in which 
(the President) has referred to the Oregon question, so dif- 
ferent from the language of his predecessor, leaves little rea- 
son to hope for any favorable result of the existing negotia- 
tion." If the renewed offer of arbitration should be rejected 
on the grounds taken by President Tyler, i. e., that further 
discussion was desired, then the negotiation was to be con- 
sidered as continuing; if, however, the offer was rejected and 
not accompanied by any specific proposition, the negotiation 
must be considered ended. In that case Pakenham was to 
offer to renew for ten years the terms of the convention of 
1818, a poor solution, but perhaps better than none. The 
language of the President led Aberdeen to conclude that the 
American government would renounce the treaty without de- 
lay, in which case local collisions would be likely to occur 
leading not improbably to war. "At all events, whatever may 
be the course of the United States Government, the time is 
come when we must be prepared for every contingency." 
The naval force in the Pacific had been ordered to go to 
Oregon. Pakenham was told to "hold a temperate, but firm, 
language to the members of the Government and all others, 
and let it be known that the British Government was still 
ready to adhere 'to the principle of an equitable compromise; 
but we are perfectly determined to concede nothing to force 

32 Everett to Calhoun, (received by Buchanan) 7 Mar., No. West Bound Arb. 

33 Btrlin Arb., 426. Cong. 3d Ses. Ex. Doc. I, pt. 6, 223. 


or menace." The conciliatory instructions of a year before 
were withdrawn. The delay of the mail had the additional 
result of allowing the proceedings in Parliament to be known 
in America at an early date. 34 

Aberdeen's gloomiest expectations were not met. When 
Pakenham, late in March, proposed arbitration to Buchanan, 35 
the new Secreary of State told him that he would take an 
early opportunity to discuss the matter with the President. 
"He did not seem taken with the notion of arbitration," re- 
ported Pakenham, but he said the matter ought to be settled 
by negotiation on the principle of give and take. In May, 
Pakenham was informed that arbitration did not meet the 
approval of the President and his Cabinet; they all objected 
to it and preferred negotiation. When Buchanan gave this 
information he took occasion to say that the British minister 
might assure Lord Aberdeen of the friendly disposition of the 
American government. 36 

The negotiation was resumed in July by Buchanan who took 
it up at the point where it had been dropped by Calhoun, i. e., 
by making a counter-proposal prefaced by another discussion 
of American claims which went over the same ground so 
often traversed by former negotiators. 37 The offer was 49 
as the boundary together with ?ny port or ports on Vancou- 
ver's Island south of 49 which might be desired by the British. 
The proposition was accompanied by the statement that the 
President, in view of the strength of the American title, 
would never have made the offer but for the fact that it had 
been made by his predecessors and that negotiations were on 
foot when he entered office. To McLane, in London, Buchanan 
explained in more detail : the president doubted if the civilized 
world would judge in favor of the United States if a war 
should be waged for a "comparatively worthless territory north 
of 49 ;" arbitration was out of the question ; but if this offer 
should be made and be rejected he would feel himself free to 

34 See Chapter XI, below. 

35 Pakenham to Aberdeen, 29 Mar., St. Papers, 34:91,2. 

36 Same to same, 13 May, Ibid., 92. 

37 Buchanan to Pakenham, la July, Sen. Doc. No. 489, 29th Cong. ist. Sea. 


insist on the full right to the Russian line. To McLane, how- 
ever, Buchanan added that while the President was silent 
on the right of navigation of the Columbia in his offer, since 
it would cause endless trouble, he had offered, the free ports as 
a counterpoise, and he, McLane, might intimate to the British 
ministers that the United States would not accept anything 
south of 49, the only possible concession being the exchange 
of the small cape of Vancouver south of the line for an 
equivalent. 38 

Two weeks after the American offer was made Pakenham 
replied, controverting the assertions of Buchanan as to title, 
and then rejecting the proposal as one, in fact, less in value 
than the earlier offer since the free port on Vancouver could 
not counterbalance the free navigation of the Columbia. Con- 
sequently, acting in accordance with Aberdeen's instructions 
as he understood them, he closed his communication with 
these words: 39 

"The undersigned, therefore, trusts that the American pleni- 
potentiary will be prepared to offer some further proposal for 
the settlement of the Oregon question more consistent with 
fairness and equity, and with the reasonable expectations of 
the British Government." 

This response opened for the American government an 
opportunity to halt the negotiations and at the same time 
throw upon the British minister the apparent burden of prov- 
ing himself in the right. Technically Pakenham might claim, 
as he did, that the offer, being less than had previously been 
presented to his government, amounted to no real counter- 
proposal ; hence the game remained as it had been left by Cal- 
houn with the next move for the United States. The rather 
peremptory tone of the rejection, on the other hand, could be 
taken as "scarcely courteous or respectful" as the President 
chose to regard it, and the flat rejection of the offer without a 
reference to the British government was for Polk a sufficient 
reason to let the negotiation rest until the other party desired 

38 Buchanan to McLane, July 12, Ibid., 27-32. 

39 Polk, Diary, I, 355, 360. Nil** Register, 12 Scut, 1846. 


to resume and make some move. Accordingly, in spite of the 
eager desire of Buchanan to insert some clause to the effect 
that the Administration would listen to a further proposition, 
the President's will prevailed and the offer was withdrawn 
with no qualifications. In the notification, which he tried in 
vain to have postponed for further consideration, Buchanan 
asserted that the title of the United States to 54 40' was the 
"best title in existence to this entire region ; and that the claim 
of Great Britain to any portion of it has no sufficient founda- 
tion." 40 The note was approved by Walker and Bancroft, 
Secretaries of War and Navy, and by Postmaster General 
Johnson. None of the Cabinet disapproved the stand except 
Buchanan, who said, when the note had been delivered at the 
British legation, "Well, the .deed is done." But he did not 
think it was wise statesmanship to deliver such a note with 
relations between the United States and Mexico as they were. 41 

Pakenham's rejection of the American offer did not meet 
with the approval of his government. 42 Aberdeen told McLane 
that he regretted and disapproved the action of the minister to 
the United States; if the offer had been referred to London, 
as it should have been, it would have been taken as a basis for 
further negotiation. Aberdeen felt sure that he would have 
been able to propose modifications leading to mutually satis- 
factory arrangements. McLane reported that he had not 
failed to impress upon Lord Aberdeen the difficulties in the 
President's situation in conceding what he had by the propo- 
sition, and he added that he was sure the British minister was 
convinced that ultimately he, Aberdeen, would propose terms 
which would be accepted by Polk. 

Pakenham was uneasy even before he learned his govern- 
ment's opinion of his act. He had several interviews with 
Buchanan, friendly in tone, in which he attempted to ascertain 
whether the President could not be persuaded to renew the 

40 See Polk, Diary, I, 1-5. Buchanan to Pakenham, 30, Aug., H Ex. Doc. 
No. 2, 177-92. Polk had recalled Buchanan to Washington from his vacation 
early in August in order that the answer to Pakenham's note might not be de- 
layed. Polk to Buchanan, 7 Aug., Works of James Buchanan, VI, 223-4. 

41 Polk, Diary, I, 5, 6-8, n. 

43 McLane to Buchanan, 3 Oct., No. West Bound Arb., 41. 


offer as a basis for compromise, or, if that could not be done, 
how a new proposition from the British side would be re- 
ceived. 43 Finally he submitted to Buchanan a note to be con- 
sidered offijcial or not according to the answer it would re- 
ceive. 44 Polk insisted that Pakenham must name the char- 
acter of his note and then an answer would be made; he 
repeated a statement which he had already made to his official 
family, that if a British proposition should be made he would, 
according to its nature, submit it to the Senate for previous 
advice or reject it at once, but he was convinced that no sat- 
isfactory proposal could be made. With great reluctance 
Buchanan left the President's office, found Pakenham and 
asked him to state whether the note was official or not, adding 
that it could hardly be expected that the United States would 
abandon the position already taken. Then Pakenham with- 
drew his note. "I think it unfortunate," Polk wrote in his 
Diary, "that he (Buchanan) made any remark to Mr. Paken- 
ham that indicated to him what my settled decision was, as I 
think that Mr. Pakenham's note & answer should have been 

The relation between the Oregon and California situations 
was already beginning to show itself during this time when 
Pakenham was finding it difficult to struggle out of the dead- 
locked position. Information that the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany was at work in the south began to reach Washington. 
The United States Consul at Monterey reported that it ap- 
peared that arms and money had been furnished by an agent 
of the Company to the Californians to aid them in driving out 
the Mexicans, although later it was the same Company which 
financially backed an expedition of Mexican troops to be sent 
north to quell the disturbances. It looked threatening, and the 

43 When Me Lane's letter was received the Cabinet discussed it at length, 
and Buchanan again urged Polk to allow some intimation that the United States 
was willing to negotiate further; Polk stuck to his position and said that Great 
Britain must take the next step, although he was sure no acceptable offer would 
be made. Polk, Diary, I, 62-4. Buchanan to McLane, 13 Sept., Sen. Doc. No. 

44 Buchanan to McLane. 28 Oct., Works of Buchanan, VI, 285-6. The 
Cabinet discussioni is given at length by Polk, Diary, I, 62-82, passim. Buchanan 
to McLane, 5 Nov., Sen. Doc. No. 489. 


President, wrote Buchanan, 45 "could not view with indiffer- 
ence the transfer of California to Great Britain or any other 
European power. The system of colonization by foreign 
monarchies on the North American continent must and will 
be resisted by the United States." In the same strain Polk 
talked over the situation with Senator Benton when that gen- 
tleman arrived in Washington prior to the opening of the 
session of Congress. From this time forth, although California 
did not often appear upon the surface in the negotiations 
with Great Britain, it must be regarded as a factor in them 
so far as Polk was concerned with them. 

How to start the ball rolling again and at the same time 
not appear too anxious to resume the discussions was the 
problem which presented itself to Lord Aberdeen. He 
showed McLane some of the dispatches which he had received 
from Washington where Pakenham explained why he had 
rejected Folk's offer and also why he believed it well to 
attempt to reopen the negotiation. Pointing out the insuffi- 
ciency of Pakenham's grounds for the rejection of the Ameri- 
can offer McLane explained at length the reasons for the 
withdrawal of it as he understood them. 46 Aberdeen, how- 
ever, could view the matter in no other light than a closing of 
the discussions by Polk and no alternative remained but for 
him, Aberdeen, to propose arbitration; if this should be de- 
clined for the same reasons Calhoun had declined them there 
would be an opportunity to renew negotiations; if, however, 
the President declined in such a way as to warrant the British 
ministry in assuming that he meant to insist upon the full 
claim, then it could be regarded in no other way than an ulti- 
matum and they must abide by the result. 

When McLane outlined to Buchanan the very palpable 
advice as to how they could get upon the track again, with no 
loss of dignity to either side, he wrote, "Although I am quite 
sure that the Earl of Aberdeen has no idea at present of 

45 Buchanan to Thomas O. Larkin, Consul at Monterey, 17 Oct., Works of 
Buchanan, VI, 275-6. 

46 McLane to Buchanan, i Dec., Sen. Doc. No. 489- 


accepting the compromise contained in the President's propo- 
sition, it would not surprise me if an arrangement upon that 
basis should prove acceptable to large and important classes 
in this country; indeed it is complained of principally by the 
Hudson's Bay Company and those in its interest. That the 
Ministry would find it difficult and hazardous to prefer war 
to such a settlement may well be imagined; although you may 
assume it to be certain that when war becomes inevitable, it 
will receive the undivided support of the British people." He 
added further that it was the current belief in England that 
the Annual Message would present again the opinion the 
President had expressed in his Inaugural, with, perhaps a 
recommendation that the joint occupancy be terminated. This, 
he thought would not necessarily embarrass the relations be- 
tween the countries. Aberdeen's instructions to Pakenham 
contained the course outlined to McLane; arbitration, he be- 
lieved, would be the most prudent step and best calculated to 
allay the "effervescence of popular feeling," therefore Paken- 
ham should propose it at the first opportunity. 47 

Such was the situation when Congress convened in Decem- 
ber, from which time the diplomatic and legislative currents 
meet and run along together, sometimes intermingling, some- 
times clearly differentiated, and it is to the legislative side to 
which attention must now be turned. 

47 Aberdeen to Pakenham, 28 Nov., Br. & F. St. Papers, 34:130-1. 


Folk's Annual Message of 1845 with its accompanying 
carefully edited excerpts from the diplomatic correspondence 
of Buchanan and Calhoun was the spark which set off the 
powder-magazine in Congress. Although there were some 
genuine munitions of war there a great deal of the noise 
resulted from the detonation of political fireworks, both spec- 
tacular and deafening but not intended to be harmful. If 
Oregon had hitherto been overshadowed by other issues that 
neglect was now fully atoned for by the attention it received 
from the Twenty-ninth Congress, where, until the resurgence 
of the Texas-Mexico question and the opening of hostilities on 
the southern border, it succeeding in ousting from serious 
consideration all other matters. 

The political alignment on the topic cannot be separated 
from the question itself: although there was much talk about 
taking up the issue on its merits few members of Congress 
framed their speeches or laid their plans without an eye to 
their political prospects in the coming elections, congres- 
sional and presidential. The Whig party had been bitterly 
disappointed by the results of the election of 1844; its high 
expectations, held in check by the recalcitrant Tyler, were 
again put to one side, for there was to be no protective tariff, 
no revision of the government's fiscal methods, despite Folk's 
ambiguous stand after his nomination. Hence it was the pur- 
pose of this party to discredit the Administration and its course 
on Oregon seemed to offer a point of attack. 

The Democrats were seriously split. For the most part 
the southern wing followed Calhoun and were for a course 
of moderation; there was fear of the consequences of a rup- 
ture with Great Britain and its possible effect upon the Texas 
situation. It was well known that Mexico had not acquiesced 
willingly in the loss of that province, and should hostilities 


with England occur it was not improbable that Mexico would 
seize the opportunity to regain what she had lost; this would 
also put a stop on hopes of securing other northern Mexican 
possessions. The western Democrats, and Whigs too for the 
most part, supported the extreme attitude of the Message, 
with the exception of a small number of whom the most 
notable was Senator Benton. He, according to Folk's idea, 
had fallen into disfavor on account of his attitude on Texas 
and was endeavoring to regain his standing in the party by 
pursuing a course of moderation on the Oregon Question 
with the southern wing rather than by joining the ultras of the 
Northwest. In the North the Democrats for the most part 
supported their western brethren ; in addition to whatever real 
interest they had in the matter itself they were actuated by 
opposition to Calhoun dominance as against Van Buren lead- 
ership, besides being more or less impelled by an avowed deter- 
mination to allow Great Britain to secure no more territory 
from the United States. 

Personal aggrandizement had, in the opinion of some con- 
temporary observers, a large place among the motives of 
some who took a leading part in the discussions and schemes. 
While the new Administration was less than a year old it was 
not too soon to begin planning for the election of 1848. Cal- 
houn, long aspiring to the presidency, still had hopes; Cass 
and Allen vied for the western vote; and Buchanan and 
Walker, although members of Folk's Cabinet, felt that they 
should be considered among the possibilities and used their in- 
fluence accordingly. 

"The truth is," Polk believed, "that in all this Oregon dis- 
cussion in the Senate, too many Democratic Senators have 
been more concerned about the Presidential election of '48, 
than they have been about settling Oregon whether at 49 or 
54* 40'. 'Forty-eight' has been with them the Great Question, 
and hence the divisions in the Democratic party. I cannot but 
observe the fact, and for the sake of the country I deeply 
deplore it." 1 

i Diary, I. 345- 


Another contemporary observer, William Grason, summed 
up the situation in this way, after Congress had been in ses- 
sion about a month : 2 

"... As far as I can learn, from conversation with 
different classes, there appears to be no definite opinion 
formed, among the people who control the elections, respect- 
ing the extent of our claim to the Oregon territory. There 
is a general feeling of excitement, because they think the 
question is approaching a crisis, and is likely to be attended 
with serious consequences. I have seen but two men who are 
in favor of a war for any part beyond 49. I have seen 
others, however, who think we can recover more by claiming 
all and making speeches to that effect. My opinion is, that, 
if we bring on a war, by contending for more than we have 
offered to take, the party that brings it about will have very 
little to do in making peace. Unless we were victorious in 
every quarter, and we could not expect to be so at first, Mr. 
Polk would be succeeded by Mr. Clay or some other Whig, the 
majorities in the two houses would be reversed; and after 
establishing a national bank and extending the privileges of 
all kinds (of) corporations, our Whig rulers would take the 
Columbia as the dividing line, and justify themselves to the 
people on the ground that we had been precipitated into the 
war without necessity or preparation. John Q. Adams, who 
is now for all of Oregon, and, in the event of war, is for 
driving the British to the North Pole, would insist that he 
had warned the nation of the consequences ; and other Whigs, 
who assert our extreme rights, would say that they were never 
opposed to a war for the maintenance of these rights, but 
that they never could approve of the measures of men who 
were incompetent to their stations. The Democrats them- 
selves, who are generally engaged in agricultural pursuits, or 
who live by their labor, would find double taxes and no mar- 
kets, and at the same time, witness volunteers marching to 
Canada, and war steamers entering our harbours. If, in the 
mean time they saw we had lost Texas without taking posses- 
sion of Oregon, they would not become much attached to 
the theoretical doctrine of not suffering any European power 
to interfere in the affairs of the American continent." 

Briefly then the party alignment may be summed up in this 

2 Grason to Van Buren, 10 Jan., 1846, Van Bur en Papers, Vol. 53. 


way : on general grounds the southern Democrats and Whigs, 
especially in the Senate, were opposed to anything which was 
likely to precipitate a crisis, specifically they wished no notice 
or, if it had to be given, one in such terms as create the least 
friction ; they were opposed to demanding 54 40' and felt that 
the United States was bound to compromise on not more 
than suggested in previous offers. The western Democrats 
and Whigs were for the whole claim, come what may, while 
the bulk of the northern Whigs urged a moderate course and 
compromise in opposition to their Democratic colleagues who 
backed the extreme demands of the Administration. The 
North and South wished to avoid war, but the West pro- 
fessed to believe that Great Britain would recede from her 
position ; if this should not be the case, then, they preferred 
war to the surrender of any portion of Oregon. 

The Message was accompanied by those documents which 
had passed between the two governments and which in bare 
outline afforded a view of what had taken place ; that is, the 
reopening of negotiations, the British offer and Calhoun's 
reception of it, the American offer and its rejection, together 
with the statement of claims on both sides. 8 Nothing of the 
correspondence with McLane or anything which tended to 
show that there was any hope of getting a better offer from 
Great Britain accompanied the Message. The challenge was 
accepted by both branches of Congress forthwith and dis- 
cussion started early in January. 

In the lower House the campaign was opened by a seven- 
barrel resolution by Bowlin, a Missouri Democrat, by which the 
respective committees on Naval Affairs, Military Affairs, In- 
dian Affairs, Public Lands, Militia, and Post Offices and 
Post Roads were directed to take into consideration the parts 
of the Message dealing with Oregon, while the Committee on 
Foreign Affairs was given charge of the specific portion relat- 
ing to the giving notice to Great Britain. It was the report 
of the Committee on Foreign Affairs which gave vent to 
the pent-up feelings of the House. 

3 Given in Sen. Ex. Doc. No. i; H. Ex. Doc. No. 2, agth Cong. ist. Scs. 


Ingersoll of Pennsylvania presented the majority report and 
Garett Davis of Mississippi the minority report on January 
fifth. The majority report was a simple resolution directing 
the President forthwith to cause notice to be given to Great 
Britain that at the expiration of twelve months the joint occu- 
pation should cease. The report which Davis presented was 
signed by him and Truman Smith of Connecticut, both Whigs, 
and Caleb Smith of Indiana, a Democrat. It raised the con- 
stitutional question of whether the House could act in the 
matter; the treaty had been made by the President by and 
with the advice and consent of the Senate without any action 
on the part of the House, hence, while the House might 
express an opinion by means of a resolution, it could not share 
in directing the President to act. "And why should the House, 
by a violation of all propriety of form, and without any effec- 
tive authority over the subject, make itself a party to this 
proceeding ?" 

The majority had recommended the first Monday in Feb- 
ruary as a time to take up its report, but the House would 
have no such delay ; a motion was made to refer both reports 
to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the 
Union to be made the special order of the next day. Giddings, 
a Whig of Ohio, wished to know if this did not open the 
whole subject matter to discussion, and when the Speaker 
ruled that it did launched out into the only speech of the 
whole debate wherein the slavery issue was made prominent. 
He said he had previously voted against giving notice but 
now that Texas had been "reannexed" the South was willing 
to compromise on Oregon ; Texas had given the slave party 
the balance of power and now the North was bound hand 
and foot. The South feared a war with Great Britain for 
Oregon for it would mean the end of slavery when the blacks 
of the West Indies came and started a servile insurrection, 
and then the slave-holders would call upon the North to de- 
fend them. Gidding's violent speech and his speeches usu- 
ally were violent when slavery was the subject provoked a 
response from his Democratic colleague McDowell, who de- 


plored Gidding's sectional attitude, extolled the "Texas Invin- 
cibles" who, at the last session, had brought in that republic. 
Then he went on to sound the note uttered by all westerners : 
all Oregon; no more negotiations if that meant loss of any 
part ; no war, he hoped, but if war did come, there was Canada 
to be thought of. Rhett, of South Carolina, a Democrat, 
opened for the opposition with the arguments which were used, 
in one form or other, by all those who were against the Ad- 
ministration : giving notice would be to oust Great Britain 
and that meant inevitable war resulting probably not in all 
of Oregon, but none of Oregon. Both North and West wished 
for war, said Rhett; it was a part of the political game in 
which the northern Democrats, disappointed at the defeat of 
their favorite Van Buren, were determined to play a double 
part, get control of the government and punish the South. 

The debate continued on into the next day ostensibly on the 
question of reference to the Committee of the Whole but 
actually on the issue itself. In order to allow other business 
of a routine nature to go on, reference was made and the 
debate proceeded. 4 From the sixth of January to the sixteenth 
of February, this topic occupied the attention of the House. 
Extended as it was the debate was participated in by more 
than half the Representatives ; it grew in intensity all the time 
even though it was impossible for either side to bring up new 
arguments on the merits of the question. The discussion on 
one side consisted largely in assertion of the title of the United 
States to all of Oregon, give notice and let war come if it 
must ; the opposition asserted a colorable title by Great Britain, 
the necessity of negotiation, the unpreparedness of the United 
States for war, and the disaster which would follow hostili- 
ties. Jefferson Davis added a variation when he asked what 
would be gained if, on account of the excitement aroused by 
the debate, Mexico should make unreasonable demands, de- 
feat the acquisition of California and so cause the United 

4 Globe, XV, 150. Many of the speeches, which were in most cases "ex- 

4 Globe, XV, 150. Many of the speeches, 
tended," appear in the Appendix to Vol. XV. 


States to lose the key to Asiatic commerce. 5 Isaac Parrish 
of Ohio contended that there was no good reason for stopping 
at 54 40'; there was an area of 500,000 square miles north 
of that line, exclusive of the islands to which Russia had good 
title, to which the United States had as good a claim as 
Great Britain. If Great Britain wanted war she would 
find a pretext in any case, and if her desire for peace was 
sincere she would, if met with firmness, yield all the territory 
west of the Rocky Mountains. John Quincy Adams main- 
tained that the title of the United States was founded on 
Genesis 1 :26-28 and made a 54 40' speech in which he asserted 
that Great Britain wanted the land for hunters while the 
United States would fill it with settlers. 

When the eloquence, as well as the patience, of the House 
was well nigh exhausted the Committee of the Whole came 
to the point of voting on the various propositions before it. 
In addition to the two reports of the Committee on Foreign 
Affairs some twenty other sets of resolutions and amend- 
ments had been offered, varying in vehemence from Parrish's 
demand for the whole northwestern portion of the continent 
to Winthrop's where he asserted that the matter was still a 
subject for negotiation, that it would be a "dishonor to the 
age in which we live" if war resulted. If direct negotiation 
failed Winthrop was in favor of arbitration, for the news that 
Polk had rejected such a proposal had been brought before 
the House by a resolution calling for late correspondence. 6 
One after another the substitutions and amendments were 
voted down after the word "forthwith," at Ingersoll's own 
suggestion, had been removed from the original resolution. 
An attempt to insert the words "that the question is no longer 
a question for negotiation or compromise" was defeated ; like- 
wise every amendment that would seem to direct the President 
how the settlement must be made was rejected. The form 

5 Appendix to XV, 212-7. 

6 Immediately after Winthrop introduced his resolutions Douglas sought to 
counteract their influence by some of his own in which he stated that the title 
to any part between 42 and 54 40' was not open to compromise, and the 
question of territory should not be left to arbitration. 


adopted by the committee and reported to the House contained 
two parts; the first part directed the President to cause the 
notice to be given, and the second added, 

"Resolved, That nothing herein contained is intended to 
interfere with the right and discretion of the proper authorities 
of the two contracting powers to renew or pursue negotiations 
for an amicable settlement of the controversy respecting the 
Oregon territory." 

The House by a vote of 172 to 46 concurred with the report 
of the Committee of the Whole, and the resolutions were 
ordered engrossed for the third reading by 163 to 54. The 
real test of strength came when the resolutions were reported 
to the House by a vote of 109 to 94, but as there was no call 
of the roll, no party, sectional or other alignment can be deter- 
mined from it. The vote on the third reading, however, gives 
the following results : 

For resolutions Against resolutions 
Whigs 42 34 

Democrats 117 18 

Native Americans 4 2 

North 68 23 

South 36 24 

West 59 7 

Slave States 55 29 

Free States 108 25 

Of the Democratic votes against the resolution seventeen 
were from Virginia, South Carolina and Alabama. Of these 
Polk wrote a little later: 7 "By his (Calhoun's) influence he 
induced 16 Democrats in Virginia and South Carolina in the 
House to vote against the notice, and now that he is probably 
convinced of his mistake, and finds that he will not be sus- 
tained by either party in the country, he feels bound not to 
desert the friends in the House whom he has caused . . . 
to commit the same mistake." One western Democrat, Caleb 
B. Smith, of Indiana, completed the total of eighteen. Of 

7 Diary, I, afig. 


the Whigs in opposition twenty-one were from the North and 
the rest from Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia, with one 
each from Ohio, Maryland and South Carolina. Whether 
Kentucky and Tennessee are called southern or western (they 
are ranked as western in the table above) the opposing pull of 
the South and West is revealed. Little light is shed by the 
classification in free and slave States, and it would appear 
that this issue did not figure mere largely in the vote than it 
had in the debate. 

While the proceedings in the House of Representatives 
aroused more or less comment there had been little doubt of 
the result, hence people looked to the Senate's action with 
much keener interest, for the decisive action would be there. 
The Senate, however, had not pushed the matter while the 
House debate was carried on; the more cautious Senators 
wished to await both the action of the House and possible 
results of the negotiation. Webster, one of the moderate 
Whigs, wrote a propos the situation : 8 "As to Oregon, the bill 
will pass the House. It will pass ? however, in a very diluted 
state, with sundry objectionable provisions struck out. . . . 
This whole proceeding is in opposition to the known wishes 
of the President and Mr. Calhoun. The fact is, a majority of 
the House of Representatives appear to be rash, headstrong, 
and uninformed men, and men who cannot comprehend the 
delicacy and importance of the subject, with which they 

Senator Allen of Ohio, one of the staunchest of Oregon 
men, had seen the President's Message before it had been sent 
to Congress, 9 and had "heartily approved" its tone on the 
Oregon Question. He opened the campaign in the Senate in 
the middle of December by introducing a resolution advising 
the President to give notice "forthwith." 10 Resolutions for 
the same end were introduced by Hannegan of Indiana, who 

8 Webster to Haven, 2 Feb., 1846; Private Correspondence of Webster, II, 
216. See also Webster to N. Appleton, 20 Jan., and to F. Webster, 27 Jan., Van 
Tyne, Letters of Daniel Webster, 306-7. 

9 Pblk, Diary, I, 108. 

10 Globe, XV, 76, 182-3. 


was not hampered as Allen was by being chairman of the 
Committee on Foreign Relations; he could, therefore, express 
more of the true western spirit than his colleague from Ohio. 
His resolutions declared that the country from 42 to 54 50' 
was the property and part and parcel of the United States; 
that no power existed in "this Government to transfer its soil, 
and the allegiance of its citizens, to the dominion, authority, 
control, and subjection of any foreign prince or sovereignty"; 
that an abandonment or surrender of any portion would be 
an "abandonment of the honor, the character, and the best 
interests of the American people." This challenge of the West 
was answered by Calhoun in resolutions which stated that the 
President, by renewing the offer of 49, did not abandon the 
honor of the country nor exceed his constitutional powers. 11 
Thus, at the end of December, the division in the Senate and 
in the Democratic party on the question of Oregon was clearly 
stated. Polk, who desired that each house should pass an 
unqualified resolution at the earliest possible moment, had 
foreseen that Calhoun would not support the Message. 12 His 
conviction on this point was strengthened when he was in- 
formed by Congressman Turney of Tennessee that Calhoun 
and Benton were acting together "whenever they thought it 
safe to break ground against the Administration." 13 While 
Benton's position, Turner thought, would mean only one vote, 
many southern members were opposed to war and would fol- 
low Calhoun, while at the sarnie time some of the members 
from the West were almost mad on the subject of Oregon. 
He felt that the President would find himself between two 
fires and whatever he did would not satisfy one wing of the 
party. The two opposing resolutions, Calhoun's and Hanne- 
gan's, were the war cries of the opposing factions, and the 
question of their consideration provoked a preliminary skir- 
mish. Hannegan's demand for immediate discussion brought 
a protest from Haywood of North Carolina that the resolutions 

11 Ibid., i ox. 

12 Polk, Diary, I, iji. 

13 Ibid., 140. 


were practically a threat aimed at the President, to the effect, 
"You made this offer once ; take care how you do it again." 

"That is it," responded Hannegan, "take care how you do 
it again." The President's Message had clearly stated that 
the negotiations were at an end ; besides, continued Hannegan, 
there was a disputed boundary between the Nueces and the 
Rio Grande, yet there was no talk of negotiations with Mexico 
the disputed area was just taken. 

Negotiations, however, as Calhoun and Hay wood contended, 
were pending, and this fact caused the Senate to agree to put 
the resolutions over until February tenth. Those presented 
by Allen, by Hannegan and by Calhoun were not the only 
ones on the subject. Crittenden, in January, offered a con- 
ciliatory form, which stated, in the preamble, that it was desir- 
able to settle the dispute by negotiation, and then proceeded 
in the form of a bill to authorize the President to give notice 
after Congress had adjourned, "in order to afford ample time 
and opportunity for the amicable settlement and adjustment" 
of all differences. "Crittenden told my wife/' said F. P. Blair, 
writing to Van Buren, "that he brought in his resolutions 
in relation to Oregon in homage to young Hickory, who 
coveted the responsibility of making the issue with England 
'all Oregon or none' on his own hook." 14 Young Hickory, 
however, if we are to take his own word for it, desired above 
all things at that moment the passage of resolutions for notice 
without any string of any sort. 

Postponing all action and most of the discussion until Febru- 
ary was a momentary gain for the forces of conciliation; 
Senator Allen and his 54 40' friends feared the results of 
delay as tending to weaken the chances of ultimate success, 
and sought comfort from the President in repeated interviews. 
The Forty-nine men, also, tried to secure some hint from Polk 
assuring them that he would accept a compromise or at least 
agree to arbitrate, for they feared that an unyielding attitude 
would cause war, just as Cass, Allen, Hannegan and other 

14 18 Jan., 1846; Van Buren Papers, Vol. 53. 


westerners feared the extreme demands might be dropped. 
The Calhoun wing thought of Mexico ; it would never do to 
have hostilities break out with the southern neighbor while 
the Oregon affair was pending, for they felt that war with 
Great Britain would surely follow. 15 

All efforts, then, to take steps which were in the direction 
of violence were opposed, usually with success, by the moder- 
ates. For example, Calhoun prevented the reading of Allen's 
resolutions which reiterated Folk's statement of the applicabil- 
ity of the Monroe doctrine. Benton in a vigorous speech op- 
posed Fair field's navy bill, denouncing it as a war weapon 
when all indications were pointing to peace. Webster thought 
this speech might have some good effect and give trouble to 
the war party. 16 Benton's efforts throughout all this period are 
summed up in his words at an evening reception when he was 
asked his attitude on Crittenden's resolutions, 17 

"Sir, conciliation, conciliation it is necessary in a national 

Through it all the President was not to be drawn out. He 
listened to all, whether it was a suggestion from Calhoun or 
Benton on the necessity of compromise, or Allen with a new 
argument against compromise. To leaders on both sides he 
dropped the hint that, if a reasonable proposition were made 
by Great Britain, he would probably submit it to the Senate for 
advice before he acted, and in this both sides thought they saw 
a gleam of hope for their contentions. He always informed 
his callers that he believed there would be no war, and yet, 
when Cass talked with him about the probable results of the 
fall of the Peel ministry and was strongly in favor of vigorous 
preparations for defence, Polk appeared to concur in the view. 
When he received from both houses of Congress requests for 
copies of correspondence which had taken place after that sent 
them with the Annual Message he agreed with Buchanan that 
Congress and the American people should know of the military 

15 Calhoun to T. W. Clemson; 29 Jan., Corresp. of Calhoun, 679-80. 

1 6 Webster to F. Webster, 27 Jan., Van Tyne, Letters, 307. 

17 Blair to Van Buren, see note 17 above. 


and naval preparations in England as reported by McLane. 18 
To all Senators with whom he talked he gave his opinion that 
the best way to settle the whole matter was first to give the 
notice, and he wished his authority in this to be unhampered 
in any manner. 

On the tenth of February, the day set for taking up the 
Oregon resolutions, the joint resolutions on this subject were 
received from the House and referred to the Committee on 
Foreign Relations. Those who were for immediate action 
succeeded by a vote of 23 to 22, in having all previous orders 
postponed and the resolutions taken up. 19 From this day until 
the resolution for notice was adopted on April sixteenth there 
was no topic other than Oregon seriously considered in the 
Senate. At the outset the main issue was whether notice 
should be given at all; later it changed to the question of 
what form the resolution should take. War possibilities occu- 
pied the attention of the earlier speakers ; Allen's speech, open- 
ing the debate, took the stand that there was no longer a 
question of title to discuss, it was merely a question whether 
or not the United States would act or be deterred by a war 
scare such as Great Britain had manufactured in 1842 to secure 
a portion of Maine. This theme, with variations, was running 
through most of the speeches. 

There were few Senators who did not share in the debate, 
and fewer still of the features of the situation which were 
not touched upon. The dry straw of the title was threshed 
over again by many. One of the interesting speeches of the 
earlier debate was that delivered by Benton on February nine- 
teenth. While Benton had not ceased to urge conciliation he 
now took the stand that arbitration was inadmissible, and 
argued for all the Oregon recommendations of the Message. 
He denounced the system of joint occupation as "always un- 
just, unequal, and injurious to us"; he believed that the time 
was ripe for negotiation, and that the United States should 
take advantage of it. It was a speech of such a nature that 

18 Polk, Diary, I, 257. 

19 The Senate debate is found in the Cong. Globe, XV, 350 seq. 


both the Oregon men and moderates could draw soothing con- 
clusions from it. 

On the night of February twenty- fourth, after a day largely 
taken up by the Oregon discussion, Haywood of North Caro- 
lina called upon the President and informed him that there was 
a plan on foot, devised by Calhoun and McDuffie and perhaps 
others, to bring forward in Executive Session a resolution 
advising the President to reopen negotiations with a view of 
settling the issue by compromise. Benton had told Haywood 
that he would oppose this as it would virtually take the whole 
question out of the President's hands; Calhoun, he thought, 
would be willing to agree to any terms in order to get the 
credit of settling the controversy. Haywood himself, while 
against the proposed action, was in favor of settling with 
Great Britain approximately at 49. Later on in the same 
evening Allen called, for he too had heard of the scheme, 
and warned the President that there were "certain men" in 
the Senate who wished to induce him to compromise; if they 
succeeded, Allen said, it would break him down and destroy 
his popularity ; nine or ten States of the West and Southwest 
would oppose .any compromise. Polk assured the Senator 
that he had no political aspirations and would not be a candi- 
date for re-election so that whatever he did would not be with 
that possibility in view. 20 

The next day Haywood's story was confirmed by the ap- 
pearance at the President's office of Calhoun and Colquitt, of 
Georgia, armed with a letter from McDuffie. They said that 
they thought the time had come for some action looking 
toward a peaceful settlement so that news might go to Eng- 
land by the next steamer. When Calhoun mentioned the plan 
proposed for Executive Session Polk said he could not advise 
such a step at that time, although confidentially he would 
state that if a proposition came from Great Britain he would 
feel it his duty to submit it to the Senate for advice. He re- 
jected Calhoun's suggestion that a compromise at 49 would 

20 Polk, Diary, I, 246-8. 


not be dishonorable to the United States and that it might be 
proposed by Polk, for he insisted that the next proposition must 
come from England. As to the free navigation of the Colum- 
bia, when the point was brought up by Calhoun, the President 
stood by the Message. 

Recognizing that this course would probably fail, for it 
would require a two-thirds vote to carry the resolutions in 
Executive Session, the conciliation faction attempted the next 
day to attain the same end by changing the form of the resolu- 
tion for notice. Colquitt introduced an amendment to Critten- 
den's resolutions containing this sentence : 

"That it is earnestly desired that the long standing contro- 
versy ... be speedily settled, by negotiation and com- 
promise, in order to tranquilize the public mind, and to pre- 
serve the friendly relations of the two countries." 

This modification received the support of many Whigs and 
to Haywood it appeared possible that a combination of Whigs 
and Calhoun Democrats might succeed in taking the whole 
issue into their own hands. When giving an account of the 
proceeding to the President, with whom he was in such fre- 
quent communication as to cause people to think he was in 
some manner the spokesman of the Executive in the Senate, 
"he was excited and spoke in strong terms of disapprobation of 
the course of Calhoun" and his followers. 21 Even Colquitt, 
when the President spoke to him about the delay in the Senate, 
said he was willing to withdraw his amendment and vote for 
the naked resolution or any other form that was reasonable; 
he agreed with Polk that the split in the party was unfortu- 
nate, both as affecting the Oregon Question and other Demo- 
cratic measures. 

Whigs as well as Democrats went to the President to use 
their influence for a conciliatory course. Senator Archer of 
Virginia requested an appointment and took the occasion to 
say that he and his colleagues were most anxious to settle the 
question and avoid war. While Polk maintained that he stood 
by his word in the Message he gratified Archer very much by 

21 Ibid., 260. 


telling him what he had already told so many Democrats, that 
if a proposition came from Great Britain he would submit it 
to the Senate. Archer told of a conversation which he had had 
with the British minister in which he had urged Pakenham 
to use his influence with his government not to insist upon 
free navigation of the Columbia. This conversation with the 
Virginia Senator made Polk doubt the accuracy of Buchanan's 
information, which was imparted with some excitement to 
the President, about a Whig plot to throw the whole responsi- 
bility upon the President if the advice of the Senate should be 

On the fourth and fifth of March a new interest was roused 
in the Senate debate by a speech of Haywood, who explained 
that while the President was constitutionally authorized to 
make treaties he could not unmake them; conventions could 
be annulled only by mutual consent or by law and the Presi- 
dent had chosen to follow the latter method. 22 The President, 
continued Haywood, had receded to 49 on a compromise and 
still stood on it as such, he would never enter a long war in 
order to determine the meaning of the Nootka Convention. 
While partisans had raised the cry of "All Oregon or none," 
or "54 40' fight or no fight" this was not the attitude of the 
President; if it had been, he, Haywood, would have been forced 
to turn his back upon the Administration He would vote for 
the President to give notice and if Great Britain would not 
yield her demands south of 49 then the United States must 

Both Hannegan and Allen attempted to obtain from Hay- 
wood a statement as to whether he had authority, directly or 
indirectly, to speak for the President, and, when he answered 
ambiguously, pressed the point, whereupon Haywood said, "I 
have not assumed to speak by authority of the President." 

"Then the Senator takes back his speech?" asked Allen. 

"Not at all," replied Haywood, "but I am glad to see it 

22 Globe, XV, Appen. 370-6. Haywood told 'the reporter that he wished to 
report his own speech and it appears much edited in the Appendix, bristling 
with capitals and italics. 


Apparently it had taken for it provoked applause both from 
the Senate and from the galleries. The 54 40' men feared 
that the President had deserted them and Hannegan, greatly 
excited, asked him the same day whether Haywood had been 
speaking for him, but Polk replied that no one spoke ex 
cathedra for him. The conciliation forces were delighted with 
Haywood's speech and many went to the President to tell him 
so. Yulee of Florida and Lewis of Alabama told him that 
people took the speech to be an answer to the warlike utter- 
ances of Allen, whom before this they had supposed to speak 
for the Administration on 'account of the warlike tone of the 
Message. Polk mildly remarked that he did not consider the 
Message warlike and if the notice were to be passed by a de- 
cided majority, as had been the case in the House, he was 
sure peace would continue. 

"I venture the remark in reference to the feverish excite- 
ment of members of the Senate/' wrote Polk in his Diary, 
"on the question of Notice on the Oregon question, that it all 
proceeds from the ambitious aspirations of certain leading 
members of that body. For example, Mr. Calhoun probably 
thought by opposing the Notice at the early part of the session, 
he would best advance his views upon the Presidency, by plac- 
ing himself at the head of the peace party in the country. He 
now finds his mistake and is struggling to extricate himself 
from his embarrassment . . . Mr. Allen, on the other 
hand, will bear no compromise under any circumstances, and 
would probably prefer war to peace, because it might sub- 
serve his ambitious views. Mr. Cass takes the same view that 
Mr. Allen does, as probably his best chance of reaching the 
Presidency, and therefore he acts with Mr. Allen, but is not 
so ultra or ardent. Col. Benton feels that he has lost 
cast(e) with Democracy on the Texas question, and feels sore 
and dissatisfied with his position. In the midst of these fac- 
tions of the Democratic party I am left without any certain 
and reliable support in Congress, especially in the Senate. 
Each leader looks to his own advancement more than he does 
to the success of my measures." 23 

23. Polk, Diary, I, 264-5. General Cass had a reputation as a fire-eater. At 
one time in the debate he arose and announced that he would speak to one 
topic only. "Inevitable war?" asked Haywood. No, he was not going to make 
a war speech, but before he ended he had advocated an increase of the army 
and navy and had invoked, in respect to Oregon, the "inevitable destiny." "Yes," 
said Webster, "war is inevitable." 


Cass, McDuffie, Turney, Atchison and Allen all took occa- 
sion to speak to Polk about the altercation of Hannegan and 
Haywood. While the peace people were pleased with the 
general tone of their champion, both parties were a little in- 
clined to apologize for the ardor of their representatives, and 
some viewed it all as an apparent attack upon the integrity of 
the President's course. Hannegan himself told Polk that he 
was his friend, seeming to desire to remove the impression 
that he had attacked and denounced the President in advance 
of action ; but he evidently wanted to be sure of his ground 
in the future for he asked the President point blank what he 
intended to do, go for 54 40' or compromise at 49. Polk 
replied that he would tell no man on earth what he would do 
in the future, and Atkinson, who was present at the interview, 
said the President was right. 

Allen was also desirous of finding where things stood. He 
told the President that Haywood spoke the sentiments of four 
Senators who were friends of Silas Wright, Governor of New 
York, (Governor Wright was also presidential timber) and 
the speech was a deliberate attack upon himself as chairman 
of the Committee on Foreign Relations. The President then 
reminded Allen that he, too, a few days before, had been asked 
about the authority with which he spoke and he had replied 
that he had spoken from the documents submitted by the 
President; Haywood could have spoken from no other auth- 
ority for none had been given him. Allen still was not satis- 
fied and obtained another interview for the next night, Sunday. 
At that time he went over the whole matter again and then 
produced from his hat a paper containing what he proposed 
to say in the Senate. As nearly as Polk understood it the 
"substance was that he was authorized to say that I had 
asserted the United States title to Oregon up to 54 40'. and 
that I had not changed my opinion." The desired authority, 
however, was not given. 

Colonel Benton also went over the ground with the Presi- 
dent. He said that the debate had taken a curious turn; in- 


stead of discussing the President's views as shown in the docu- 
ments, Senators were "guessing- or conjecturing" what he 
would do next. He urged Polk to examine Colquitt's amend- 
ment and speak to his friends about it if he approved it. But 
Benton could obtain no further satisfaction than the oft-re- 
peated statement about asking the advice of the Senate. 

While Polk continued to receive visits from Senators who 
were anxious to find out more about the Haywood matter 
another turn of affairs afforded an outlet for excitement. On 
March ninth Colquitt read and denounced an article in the 
Washington Times wherein it was stated that there was a con- 
spiracy between the British minister on one side and the Whig 
Senators and the "anti-Oregon" Democrats, "with some West- 
ern members for an exception," on the other. They were 
plotting to defeat the House notice and substitute a conditional 
one leaving the time of giving it to the discretion of the 
President and binding him to further negotiation which would 
result in compromise. The writer of the article was denounced 
by Colquitt as a liar, and the article was framed to drive back 
into the ranks all recreant Senators by coupling their names 
with that of the British minister. Three days later Jarnagin, 
a Whig from Tennessee, brought the matter up again and in- 
troduced a resolution for a committee of inquiry to report such 
measures as should be "necessary to vindicate the character 
and honor of the Senate against the charges of corruption." 

On the sixteenth of March the committee, of which Benton 
was chairman, reported that they had found no truth in the 
charges that at a dinner at the British minister's some Whig 
Senators had discussed the Oregon Question ; that there had 
been held in the Capitol a meeting of Whig Senators the day 
before the Cambria sailed, with Pakenham present, and a vote 
had been taken to be sent to Great Britain ; that Senator J. M. 
Clayton had admitted that he had been at a dinner where 
"noses" had been counted. The two persons named by the 
editors of the Times as having knowledge of the affair ad- 
mitted that they had none, and no one could be found who 


would sustain the charges of the editors and owner of the 
Times. More than all this the committee had sworn state- 
ments from all the Senators alleged to have been mixed up in 
the plot denying the charges. The committee recommended 
that the reporters of the Times be excluded from the reporters' 
gallery in the Senate, and the whole report was unanimously 
concurred in. 

This whole "plot" was in essence just what rumor had been 
reporting about the capital for some time. And, indeed, 
although no voting or anything of the sort had taken place, 
pretty nearly what was charged had happened; the British 
minister had, in accordance with his instrutcions, talked freely 
with influential men, and Whigs and peace Democrats were 
working harmoniously to prevent a rupture of the relations 
with Great Britain. 

In the meantime the debate went on with no particular fea- 
tures until March sixteenth. On that day Calhoun for the 
first time took a prominent part by pronouncing an able speech 
in which he analyzed the situation to date. He concluded his 
observations by stating that he was inclined to think that 
notice should be given for two reasons; it would prevent 
carrying the matter into the next presidential campaign, and 
it would serve to hasten a solution of the issue, because until 
it was given Great Britain would make no move. He was 
for the notice, but not in its naked form, or not in the equivo- 
cal form in which it came from the House, but in a form that 
would plainly state what was meant. The situation was dif- 
ferent from what it had been in 1843 for the Oregon country 
was filling up and it would be necessary to end the old ar- 
rangement which had worked well enough when there were 
few people there. Giving notice, however, meant compromise 
or fight ; war was inconceivable in view of the disastrous effect 
it would have on the fortunes of the United States, and so 
nothing was left but an honorable compromise. 24 

When Edward Everett read this speech he wrote Calhoun 25 

24 Globe, XV, 502-6; Appen. 471-6. 

25 6 April, Correspondence of Calhoun, 1080-1. 


that it alone was nearly decisive of the question of peace or 
war, and in delivering it Calhoun had rendered the country an 
inestimable service. Calhoun himself said 26 that his friends 
considered it the best he had ever delivered, although he soon 
saw that he had aroused the jealousy of the leaders of his 
party for both the Intelligencer and the Union (the Adminis- 
tration paper) disregarded his request to suspend its publica- 
tion until he should have seen it in print and had revised it. 
He thought that he had opened the door for Polk to compro- 
mise, and, in confidence, he stated that he feared the Presi- 
dent's Message had been diplomatic, that the notice had been 
recommended only to play a game of intimidation with the 
British government. Now the Administration could leave its 
"timid, vacillating course" and take some decisive step. 27 Mc- 
Lane in London did not feel this way about Calhoun's effort ; 
he thought this speech, along with those of Webster and 
others, advocating peace and urging the British title to a large 
portion of Oregon had made the tone of the British more arro- 
gant and their demands greater. 28 

Calhoun's assault upon the stronghold of the war party was 
followed by similar attacks by others of his way of thinking : 
Berrien and Archer, both Whigs, and Niles, a Connecticut 
Democrat, added their voices for compromise and for checking 
an Executive policy which single-handed would settle the 
question of war or peace for the country. The Fifty-four 
Forties, however, were encouraged on March twenty-fourth 
by the President's answer to a Senate resolution of the seven- 
teenth inquiring whether in his judgment "any circumstances 
connected with or growing out of any foreign relations of 
this country require at this time an increase of our naval or 
military forces." 29 

Such a request fell in with previous suggestions from Polk: 
in February certain portions of McLane's communications, 

26 Letter to Mrs. T. W. Clemson, 23 March, Ibid., 684-5. 

27 Calhoun to T. W. Clemson, 23 March, Ibid., 686. 

28 Polk, Diary, I, 344-5- 

29 So Webster wrote his son, 26 Mar., Writings and Speeches of Daniel 
Webster. XVI, 447-8. 


with information about British military and naval activity, had 
been forwarded to Congress ; later in the month Buchanan and 
Polk discussed the advisability of recommending to Congress 
a consideration of further military preparation, and, while no 
message was framed at the time, Buchanan talked freely with 
Democratic Senators and Representatives about the alarming 
activity of England while he urged the President to consider 
the danger and take the necessary steps to guard against it. 30 
This change of tone on the part of his Secretary of State Polk 
attributed to presidential aspirations; Buchanan believed that 
war sentiment was uppermost and it was policy to put himself 
at the head of the procession. Buchanan's suggestion was 
discussed in the Cabinet but no action resulted. When the 
Senate resolution was received, however, Buchanan was for a 
strong message; he found Folk's draft altogether too mild 
and penned one with a much more warlike spirit. "His ob- 
ject, I think, "wrote Polk, "is to supersede Gen'l Cass before 
the country, and to this motive I attribute his change of tone 
and the warlike character of his draft of my proposed message. 
I think he is governed by his own views of his chances for 
the Presidency. It is a great misfortune that a member of 
the Cabinet should be an aspirant for the Presidency, because 
I cannot rely upon his honest and disinterested advice, and 
the instance before me is clear evidence of this." 31 

While the Message was not strong enough for Buchanan 
who would have included an implied censure of the Senate 
for the delay about the notice, it was forceful enough to com- 
mand attention and stimulate action. The President recurred 
to his recommendation of the Annual Message advising a force 
to protect Oregon emigrants ; he saw no reason to modify this 
advice but believed additional provision should be made for 
public defence. He referred to the reports, prepared by the 
Secretaries of War and Navy, which had been communicated 
to the appropriate committees in January, and added that 
"subsequent events have confirmed me in the opinion that 

30 Diary, I, 208 seq; 241-3; 257-8. 

31 Ibid., 297-8. 


these recommendations were proper as precautionary meas- 
ures ... A controversy . . . now exists between the 
United States and Great Britain, and while, so far as we know, 
the relations of the latter with all European nations are of 
the most pacific character, she is making unusual and extra- 
ordinary armaments and warlike preparations, naval and mili- 
tary, both at home and in her North American possessions." 
"It cannot be disguised that however sincere may be the desire 
for peace, in the event of a rupture these armaments and 
preparations would be used against our country/' After com- 
menting further on English activities Polk again recommended 
the passage of the notice. Toward the end of the Message 
he referred to the fact that the relations with Mexico were still 
in an unsettled condition ; a new revolution in that country 
might possibly defeat, as it had delayed, the settlement of 
differences with the United States. His concluson was this : 

"In view of the 'circumstances' it is my 'judgment' that 'an 
increase of our naval and military force is at this time re- 
quired' to place the country in a suitable state of defense. At 
the same time it is my settled purpose to pursue such a course 
of policy as may best be calculated to preserve both with 
Great Britain and Mexico an honorable peace, which nothing 
will so effectually promote as unanimity in our councils and a 
firm maintenance of our just rights." 

The reference to communications to committees of the Sen- 
ate caused Webster to inquire what they were, observing that 
this practice, a new one, ought not to be encouraged. Fair- 
child, for the Committee on Naval Affairs, replied that it 
was in accordance with this report that his committee had 
brought in the bill for ten steamers. Benton, for the Com- 
mittee on Military Affairs, after stating that the reports had 
been the result of inquiries from the Senate at the beginning 
of the session, said that some of the information was of such 
a character that it ought not yet to be made public. Where- 
upon Webster requested the Chairman of the Committee on 
Military Affairs, when in his opinion it was discreet and not 
inimical to the public service, to communicate to the Senate 
that part of the information which might be made public. 


On the same day the "war" Message was received Allen 
began his efforts to have a day fixed for voting on the resolu- 
tions for giving notice. The day before, in an interview with 
Polk, he had mentioned Folk's statement about submitting a 
British offer to the senate, and had urged the President to 
send with a decided declaration of his own ; he believed, never- 
theless, that if two-thirds of the Senate advised the President 
to accept the offer he ought to do so. Polk would give no 
inkling of what sort of a message he would send. He did, 
however, again urge Allen strongly to get the resolutions 
voted on. 

But the Senate was not yet willing to go on record in a vote, 
and the debate dragged on. While both factions were agreed 
that it was necessary to pass some sort of a resolution, the 
peace party were unwilling to vote until they were sure it 
would be in such a form as to preclude the possibility of war, 
and they were as yet not quite sure of their strength. On the 
first of April Senator Benton came out flatly for a compromise 
at 49 to the sea. In spite of the fact that he had taken a 
prominent part in Oregon discussions for twenty-five years 
this was the first time he had clearly stated his position 32 His 
speech provoked a bitter reply from Hannegan, who, as he 
said, had learned the lesson of 55 from Benton, his political 
teacher in many ways. He congratulated the Senator from 
South Carolina on the convert he had made ; the antipodes had 
met. Replying to a jocular remark Benton had made about 
Cass as Agamemnon and Hannegan as Ajax he said: 

"I would rather be the private soldier, than with my haughty 
foot press the lowly earth as though it were too mean for my 
tread ; rather be the private soldier than in every look, and 
attitude, and act, and expression, proclaim 'I am the ruler! 
I will rule or I will ruin ; and it is indifferent to me whether 
the consequence be rule or ruin !' Sir, be he who he may, 
there is no man in this land so high as to have it in his power 
to elevate or depress public sentiment in America at his will. 
Be he who he may who makes such an attempt, he will speedily 

32 Globe, XV, 581 seq. 


find his level. 'Little Ajax' let it be; but let me remind the 
Senator from Missouri that Agamemnon and the A j axes were 
not the only actors at the siege of Troy. There was an 
Achilles there ; and we may have an Achilles here. Let the 
Senator from Missouri beware, lest he be the Hector who will 
grace the triumph of this Achilles." 

It may be questioned whether the burst of applause from 
the galleries which followed this speech was all due to the 
warlike temper^ of the auditors or in part to the too-true pic- 
ture of the venerable Senator from Missouri, whom Calhoun 
once called the "Great I AM THOMAS H. BENTON." 

Benton's speech, and especially the argument based on Jef- 
ferson as the "discoverer of Oregon/' started again the subject 
of title which was debated for some three weeks more. In 
the course of it Mangum, a Whig from North Carolina, 
charged the President with "botching" the whole business ; 33 
the firebrand of the Oregon question (it had formerly been the 
"firebrand of the Texas question") had been thrown among a 
people prone to be warlike, and yet there was obvious contra- 
diction between the Message and the lack of warlike prepara- 
tions. The Administration was remarkable for its secretive- 
ness ; the President had so placed himself on the question that 
he could move in either direction without dislocating his 
political opinions any more than he would his physical struc- 
ture; he could agree to a compromise on 49 without being 
absolutely denounced by the mass of Americans. After this, 
Mangum thought, the Chief Executive should be chosen from 
among the able men of the land. 

Had the Senator from North Carolina been present that 
same, evening at an interview between Colonel Benton and 
the President he would have been doubly convinced of his 
own acumen. Benton told Polk that it would be better to settle 
on the compromise line and asked the President whether it 
might not be well to ask the Senate whether the offer should be 
renewed. Benton thought this a good plan and believed he 
would make a speech on the subject. Polk told him it would 

33 Ibid., 635-6. 


be well to wait until an Executive Session otherwise the British 
government would know the whole situation as well as the 
Americans did, and the United States would have exposed its 
hand while the adversary kept hers concealed. This point ap- 
pealed to Benton and he agreed to wait before he spoke on the 
subject. 34 

A request of the eleventh of April for copies of late corre- 
spondence produced the reply that there was nothing new to 
submit. Literally this was true but the Senate might have 
received a great deal of information had the President chose 
to transmit copies of some of the letters received from Mc- 
Lane. With or without new letters, however, the Senate was 
at last wearying of its protracted debate and fixed a day upon 
which it should end, but not so early that Sam Houston, the 
new Senator from Texas, could not add his voice for a naked 
notice, 54 40', and war if necessary. 

On April sixteenth, the day for the vote, Allen moved that 
the House resolution be taken first, but Reverdy Johnson's 
motion that resolutions, which were essentially Crittenden's 
preamble and bill, be adopted as amendments to the House 
resolutions showed the Senate alignment on the whole topic. 
The amendment was adopted by a vote of 30 to 24. The 
minority was all Democratic, with twelve western Senators in 
the number. The majority rallied the Whig vote from all 
sections together with six Democratic votes Calhoun and 
McDuffie of South Carolina, Haywood of North Carolina, 
Lewis of Alabama, Speight of Mississippi, and Westcott of 

The result of the vote provoked Allen to lecture the Senate 
on its stand; he said the preamble was inconsistent with the 
resolutions for the President had called upon Congress to 
advise him, and now the Senate referred the matter back to 
him after having accused him of want of discretion in the past. 
Now Great Britain would drag out the negotiations until after 
the adjournment of Congress, make further military prepara- 

34 Polk, Diary, I, 324-5. 


tions, scare the Administration and get all of Oregon. The 
result was not to be changed, however, and the conciliatory 
resolutions were passed by a vote of 40 to 14. The fourteen 
Invincibles included Evans and Fair field of Maine (the former 
a Whig), Clayton of Delaware, Dickinson of New York, 
Jeness of New Hampshire, Sturgeon of Pennslyvania and 
Westcott of Florida. 

The House was not satisfied with the resolutions as they 
came back from the Senate, and struck out the words "at his 
discretion" in the part authorizing the President to give notice. 
This move was viewed with apprehension by the President 
and his Cabinet who feared that the non-concurrence of the 
House meant that the Senate would indefinitely postpone ac- 
tion. 35 This fear was increased when the Senate refused to 
accept the House amendment by a vote of 29 to 21. In its 
turn the House refused to recede from its amendment, and the 
Senate, when informed of the vote, was equally stubborn. A 
committee of conference was appointed, composed in majority 
of peace men, and after two nights' discussion brought in a 
report which, as Allen pointed out to the Senate, was identical 
with Crittenden's original measure. Nevertheless the report 
was adopted in both houses (42 to 10 in the Senate and 142 to 
46 in the House) and the President was authorized, "at his 
discretion" to give the notice, while "the attention of both 
Governments" was "the more earnestly directed to the adop- 
tion of all proper measures for a speedy and amicable adjust- 
ment of the differences and disputes in regard to the (Oregon) 
territory." 36 

"Our triumph is complete," wrote Calhoun to his son-in- 
law, "in both houses and in the country; of which the ma- 
jority in the two houses on the resolution for giving notice af- 
fords an indication. With little exception the vote separates 
the war and peace parties." 37 Calhoun still feared that the 
notice would be given to extort an offer from Great Britain 

35 Polk, Diary, I, 335-6. 

36 Globe, XV, 720; the resolutions were passed 23 April. 

37 To T. C. Clemson, 25 April, Correspondence of Calhoun, 688-9. 


rather than to serve as a means for reopening negotiations and 
thus further complicate the situation which had been "wretch- 
edly managed, and ought to have been settled long ago." 38 

The President lost no time in acting on the authority con- 
ferred by the resolutions; the notice was given in the simplest 
form directed not to Aberdeen as Secretary of State for For- 
eign Affairs, but to the Queen herself, a peculiarity which was 
satirically commented on by the British press. 39 

Among the motives which made the conciliatory attitude 
prevail in Congress was concern about the Mexican situation. 
In January, when it was definitely known that the Mexican 
government would not renew diplomatic relations by receiv- 
ing Slidell, General Taylor had been ordered to the Rio 
Grande. On the twelfth of April General Ampudia ordered 
the American commander to withdraw his forces beyond the 
Nueces. This challenge was not known officially in Washing- 
ton until the ninth of May but earlier rumors of the general 
situation had come, causing Cabinet discussions of the Mexican 
affair. Polk had spoken to some congressmen of his thought 
of outlining the whole situation in a message to Congress, but 
the peace men, Calhoun especially, urged him to wait until 
the Oregon matter should have been settled. On May 
eleventh, however, when General Taylor's communication had 
been received, Polk sent to Congress a message announcing 
that hostilities had begun, and the Oregon Question retired 
from the center of the stage. 

38 Calhoun to J. E. Calhoun, i April, Ibid., 688. 

39 Polk, Diary, I, 355, 360. Niks' Register, 12 Sept, 1846. 


While the attitude of Congress toward Oregon has been 
brought out in the discussion of the "notice" resolutions, it 
would be leaving the matter inadequately treated if reference 
were not made to other lines on which the whole question was 
attacked during the session. The Message recommended other 
action than that alone: the protection of emigrants, by mili- 
tary posts and forces; extension of the laws of the United 
States over its citizens in Oregon, in default of which they had 
been obliged to organize themselves provisionally; establish- 
ment of an overland mail route; provision for an Indian 
agency and laws regulating intercourse with the Indians. 

Protection of American citizens both in the territory and 
on the Oregon Trail necessitated, the President thought, an 
adequate force of mounted riflemen. This recommendation, 
together with the Message's information on the negotiation, 
caused Senator Cass to introduce resolutions directing the 
respective committees on Military Affairs, Militia and Naval 
Affairs to inquire into the condition of the defensive forces of 
the United States and to recommend such changes as seemed 
necessary. Cass definitely stated that there was little doubt 
of the United States being in danger of war over Oregon; 
the notice would be given, the United States would have to 
recede from the position taken by the President or war would 
follow at the expiration of the year. Thus the war party first 
sounded its trumpet, and drew from the peace party a counter- 
blast, for the whole Oregon Question was invoked. Rather 
than precipitate a debate over a subsidiary point the Senate 
passed Cass' resolutions unanimously and then took up the 
question of notice. 1 

Just after this discussion the Administration learned of the 
warlike preparations in England and the question of defence 

I debt, XV, 45-60. 


was seriously considered; the Secretaries of War and Navy, 
it was decided in Cabinet, should consult with appropriate 
committees of each house and assist in the preparation of 
proper bills. The result of this decision and of the receptive 
mood of the committees was the introduction of measures in 
both branches of Congress for an increase in the armed forces 
of the country. Haralson, for the House Committee on Mili- 
tary Affairs, brought in a bill for two regiments of mounted 
riflemen and moved its reference to the Committee of the 
Whole House as a special order of the day. Objection to this 
produced a result similar to that coming from Cass' resolutions 
in the Senate, and discussion immediately switched from the 
subject in hand to Oregon, joint occupancy and all the other 
aspects of the question. 

Haralson, who desired the bill to be considered on its own 
merits, stated that the committee had not framed it with an 
idea that it would be looked upon as a measure of preparation 
arising from the international situation. He withdrew his 
motion for a special order and called for the previous question 
on reference to the Committee of the Whole. The House, 
however, was not going to be cheated out of discussion in 
this fashion, just because the Committee on Foreign Affairs 
had been slow in reporting, and refused to desist, continuing 
its debate on the President and his policy with Oregon into the 
next day. Then came Sunday, and on Monday the Committee 
on Foreign Affairs, having been spurred into activity, reported 
and Oregon could be discussed under the resolutions for 
notice. Until that topic had been exhausted and the resolu- 
tions passed no other matters dealing with Oregon could get 
a continued hearing before the House. 

On the twenty-third of March the bill for mounted rifle- 
men was taken up again. On the tenth of the previous month 
occurred one of the events which gave point to the proposed 
measure. The House, in response to a resolution, had received 
from the President information calculated to show that there 
was a possibility of hostilities with Great Britain. McLane's 


letter 2 of January third, which had told that Aberdeen, while 
denying the preparations were pointed at America, said Her 
Majesty's government had to consider the possibility of diffi- 
culties over Oregon, accompanied the correspondence with 
Pakenham over arbitration. Another incentive, in spite of the 
pacific turn in the debate on the notice, had been furnished by 
the Senate resolution of March seventeenth calling on the 
President to state whether there was anything in the relations 
of the United States which called for an increase in the naval 
and military establishments. All these occurrences, together 
with the disquieting rumors from the Mexican border and 
newspaper accounts of British sentiment, made some Congress- 
men feel that some preparation was wise. On the other hand, 
many of the Oregon men were discouraged at what had hap- 
pened in the Senate and openly stated their belief that the 
House, too, had lost its zeal for the Northwest Coast. Then, 
on March twenty-fourth, came the President's Message in 
answer to the Senate resolution. The next day the House, 
without debate, passed the bill for the mounted riflemen 
by a vote of 165 to 15. 8 

In the Senate Benton had also introduced a bill for riflemen 
and for posts along the road to Oregon. He described it as a 
peace measure calculated merely for the defence of the 
frontier, and as such it was passed without discussion early in 

Further results of the conferences between the heads of 
the War and Navy Departments and the Congressional Com- 
mittees were also in evidence. Fairfield, chairman of the Sen- 
ate Committee on Naval Affairs, by reporting a measure foi 
ten additional steam warships broueht about a discussion of 
the possibility of war with Great Britain, but no action was 
taken. Haralson, toward the end of January, brought before 
the House a sweeping measure by which the President would 
be authorized "to resist any attempt ... on the part of 
any foreign nation to exercise exclusive jurisdiction over any 

2 Polk, Diary, I, 133-4; Globe, XV, 332. 

3 Ibid., XV. 553 eq. 


part of the territory of the United States, or any territory in 
dispute between the United States and any foreign govern- 
ment, as well as to sustain the rights of the United States to, 
and to repel invasion from, the said territory." Six- or twelve- 
month volunteers might be called upon and a sum of money 
was to be appropriated. This measure, like the naval bill in 
the Senate, did not advance, nor, indeed, was there any debate 
upon it. 

In April when it was seen clearly enough that the resolu- 
tions for notice, probably with some qualifying restrictions, 
would pass, the House took up the riflemen bill in order that 
it might be passed in time to provide troops which could be of 
some service in the spring migration to Oregon. With amend- 
ments, which increased the discretion of the President in the 
matter of organization of the force, and provided for grants 
of land in Oregon, the bill passed on April eleventh. 

Immediately after passing this bill the House took up an- 
other measure on Oregon which had been reported from the 
Committee on Territories in December but which had been 
shoved aside for other topics. This bill would extend the juris- 
diction of the Supreme Court of Iowa over American citizens 
in the territory west of the Rockies and in that west of the 
Missouri River between 40 and 43. It further provided a 
grant of 320 acres of land for every white person, male or 
female, over the age of eighteen, who should have resided in 
Oregon for five years, although this provision would not be- 
come active for five years. Its object as an inducement to 
Oregon emigration was rather obvious. The bill further pro- 
vided for placing the Indian trade under a Superintendent of 
Indian Affairs. As originally introduced it had made pro- 
vision for blockhouses along the Oregon route, for two regi- 
ments of mounted men "to guard and protect emigrants, set- 
tlers, and traders against the Indians," and for carriage of 
mail at least once a month from Fort Leavenworth to Coast 
points via South Pass. 

The Oregon title was debated anew as the result of an 


attempt to limit the operation of the measure to points south 
of 49. The Oregon men would specifically rather than by 
implication extend jurisdiction over all the disputed region, 
although J. Q. Adams, in defending the title clear to the 
Russian line thought that no action on this bill should take 
place until the Senate had passed the notice. The House, 
however, was apparently in no mood to maintain a protracted 
debate on the title, so after two days' discussion the bill, with 
the mounted riflemen clauses dropped, was reported by the 
Committee of the Whole in essentially the same form it had 
come from the Committee on Territories. In the final steps 
in the House Garett Davis' amendment for a fully organized 
territory and two amendments bearing on the slavery question 
were rejected, and the bill was passed, two days after the 
Senate resolutions on the notice were passed. 

The measure was received in the Senate and referred to 
the Committee on Territories where it rested although the 
President urged Benton to take charge of it and press it for 
he feared the Whigs, with a few Democrats, would be in- 
clined to suppress it. Haywood also was consulted, but he 
was disinclined to act, whereupon Polk told him that the 
action of the House had shown the attitude of the country, 
and if the Senate should block the matter he, as President, 
would make it an issue before the nation. But Haywood could 
promise no more than look into the question. 4 The Senate's 
dilatoriness delayed House action on another bill which had 
been introduced to provide regulation of Indian affairs west 
of the Rockies. An ordinary measure of its kind it had passed 
to the third reading on April twentieth and then further action 
was postponed until the first of June when it should be seen 
what the upper house did with the jurisdiction bill. 

It is to be noticed that all these measures dealing with Ore- 
gon, except the resolutions for notice, came to a standstill in 
the latter part of April. There was a disposition to wait and 
see what would be the result in England of the passage of 
the notice before further action was taken. 

4 Polk, Diary, I, 376-8 passim. 


Before news from England could be received, however, the 
Mexican situation came to the crisis and swept everything 
else aside. Two of the measures for defence, which had 
proceeded through the first stages, fitted in most opportunely 
with the new conditions. The House bill authorizing the use 
of the military and naval forces of the United States and such 
portion of the militia as should be necessary was taken up 
the day the President's Mexican Message was received (11 
May) and passed by an overwhelming majority. The blanks 
were filled to allow a call for 50,000 volunteers and the use 
of $10,000,000. while the preamble was amended to state that 
a condition of war existed between Mexico and the United 
States. 5 It was passed by the Senate the next day with but 
two dissenting votes. 

Two days later the bill for mounted riflemen with the House 
amendments, which had been reposing in committee, was 
hastilv brought to light, the House amendments rejected and 
passed. The House receded from its amendments and the 
President signed the bill. 8 

Men began to wonder and to relate various apparently dis- 
connected circumstances ; thev found themselves wholly at a 
loss to explain the course of the Administration. Witness 
C. C. Cambreling. writing from Washington just after the 
Mexican Message reached Congress: 7 

. "I am utterly astonished at the little judgment and 
less integrity which has distinguished the course of this ad- 
ministration. First as it regards England when some three 
or four months ago she was making war-like preparations 
McLane was instructed to inouire of Aberdeen whether those 
oreparations were intended for us and now it appears that 
before the enquiry was made, Bancroft was 'confidentially' 
recommending ten war steamers the Bureaus fortv war 
steamers and March fiftv thousand volunteers with the knowl- 
edge and approbation of the President! What explanation 
could McLane make to Aberdeen of these secret preparations 

5 Globe, XV, 791. 795, 804. 

6 Polk records (Diary, al, 407-24 passim") that he was besieged by hundreds 
of applicants for the thirty-odd commissions which the act created. 

7 To Van Buren, 16 May, Van Buren Papers, Vol. 53. 


for war in the face of our demand of the British government ? 
How uncandid and dishonorable must the conduct of the 
President and his Prime Minister appear in the eyes of all 
honest men." 

The feeling that the Administration had blundered was ex- 
pressed on every side. 

"The administration, as such, has no cordial support 
in either house of Congress, and in the three important branches 
at the present time, considering the state of our foreign rela- 
tions, of State, war and navy, the general and prevailing senti- 
ment certainly is that they are wanting in nearly every quali- 
fication that the emergency requires. I do not think it is well 
possible to have mismanaged more completely the negotiations 
either about Oregon or with Mexico; for certainly all the 
international occurrences both in England and Mexico have 
been such as to have aided our views had they been judiciously 
taken advantage of . . ." 8 

The mounted riflemen, intended originally for Oregon, were 
used in the conflict with Mexico, and this is a good illustration 
of the fate of the measures dealing with the Northwest Coast. 
The House bill for extending jurisdiction of American laws 
over Oregon was thought by the Senate Committee on Terri- 
tories inexpedient at the time, although Westcott, for the com- 
mittee, reported that it was believed Congress should provide a 
territorial organization and gave notice that he would move a 
postponement of consideration until the following December. 
Benton took occasion (it was the twenty- first of May, while 
all were awaiting news of the British reception of the notice) 
to prepare the Senate for an offer of 49 from Great Britain. 

In a speech which occupied several hours on each of three 
days 9 he proceeded to demolish, to his own satisfaction at least, 
the fiction that 54 40' was a line for the northern boundary 
of the United States' claim. It was, he said, the intention in 
1824 to divide the Pacific Coast between Russia, Great Britain 
and the United States, Great Britain taking the middle por- 
tion from 49 to 54 40'. The plan did not work out, owing 

8 H. D. Gilpin to Van Buren, 24 May, Ibid. 

g Globe, XV, 847, 850-62, 913-20. This speech was in line with Benton's 
proposition when he consulted the President on April ninth. Polk, Diary, I, 325. 


to the attitude of Russia, so the other nations each negotiated 
directly with the Czar and then arranged between themselves 
the non-colonization agreement; each confined Russia to the 
coasts and islands north of 54 40'. But 54 40' had been taken 
up as a line to which the United States had always laid claim, 
the more so because of a map made by Mr. Greenhow, a clerk 
in the Department of State, who so long as he confined him- 
self to the business of copying maps and voyages did very 
well, but when he went to issuing opinions upon national sub- 
jects and setting the world right about the execution or non- 
execution of a great treaty, such as that of Utrecht "when 
he goes at this work, the Lord deliver us from the humbug!" 
The map on which Mr. Greenhow and those who had been 
so eager for war and 54 40' did not show that line as a limit 
for the claim of the United States but merely a line which 
separated Russian from British claims. This was known to 
American negotiators when they had offered to settle at 49. 

"This is the end of that great line! All gone vanished 
evaporated into thin air and the place where it was not to be 
found. Oh ! mountain that was delivered of a mouse, thy name 
shall henceforth be fifty-four forty! 

"All Oregon or none!" 

The whole theme of Benton's speech was that the treaty 
of Utrecht had settled the whole question ; 49 had been forced 
upon the United States in 1803 and 1819 as the northern 
boundary of Louisiana and as such had been submitted to by 
Great Britain. Jefferson's attitude in dealing with the Louisi- 
ana Territory after its purchase demonstrated that he thought 
so. Finally turning to the bill before the Senate Benton main- 
tained that it was not in accordance with the recommendations 
of the President who wished Congress merely to go as far as 
Great Britain in the matter of jurisdiction and no farther. 
All the Oregon measures would have passed long ago, just 
like the blockhouse bill, if they had not been brought in as 
war measures. He moved a recommitment with instructions to 
the committee to prepare an amendment extending the laws 
of the United States over Oregon to the same degree that the 


British Act of Parliament had extended British laws, and to 
bring in a bill for a full and perfect territorial organization 
to go into effect as soon as the convention for joint occupa- 
tion should have been annulled, and to apply to such a portion 
as should be agreed upon with Great Britain. Until an agree- 
ment should have been reached let the northern limit be 49*. 

Cass took up the issue and contended that Americans would 
never be satisfied with this explanation until evidence had been 
brought from Paris to substantiate it. He accused Benton of 
reversing the stand he had taken in 1842 and 1843. Neither 
Benton nor Cass, however, could obtain action for the majority 
agreed with Webster when he said that he would never think 
of creating a territorial establishment before the boundary had 
been settled. 

Even after the ratification of the treaty which did settle 
the boundary there were further obstacles to be overcome. 
When, on the twenty-fifth of June, the question of a date for 
final adjournment came, several Senators agreed that some- 
thing should be done before the session closed, but as a steamer 
was due on the third of August and the British ratification 
would probably arrive then, they thought it would be well to 
take up other matters until that time. The ratification arrived 
according to schedule, and the treaty was laid before Congress, 
but still the organization was delayed. Senator Hannegan, 
still resentful over the defeat of his plans, said that it was 
inconceivable that a bill for territorial government should be 
passed before the treaty had been debated. The treaty was 
nothing more or less than another agreement for joint occupa- 
tion south of 49* while Great Britain had a clear title north 
of that line ; the grant in perpetuity to the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany of free navigation was evidence of his contention. 10 

It was not the fault of the House that Congress adjourned 
with no definite Oregon action. On the same day the treaty 
was received from the President (6 August) the Committee 
on Territories brought in a bill. With almost no discussion 

10 Globe, XV, 1023-4, 1179, 1198-0. Cass (Ibid., 1204) agreed with Hanne- 
gan about the navigation of the Columbia. 


the Committee of the Whole House reported it to the House 
with the amendment that "neither slavery nor involuntary 
servitude (should) ever exist in said Territory, except in the 
punishment of crimes." By a vote of 108 to 43 the House 
accepted the amendment and passed the bill. 11 But the Senate 
would not act. 

While the measures just described were the chief of those 
before Congress, they were by no means all. Among the Ore- 
gon activities two committee reports, one in each house, on 
the question of a railroad to Oregon deserve a few words. 
In the House a memorial from George Wilkes and others pray- 
ing Congress to appropriate the means of constructing a rail- 
road from some point on Lake Michigan or from Fort Inde- 
pendence was referred to the Committee on Roads and Canals. 
The committee reported 12 that while it found no constitutional 
obstacle the whole scheme was too gigantic and impracticable 
at the time. In the Senate where Eli Whitney again attempted 
to get a hearing for his Northern Pacific Railroad, Senator 
Breese appeared as a supporter of the proposition. He intro- 
duced the memorial, spoke in its favor, and, for the Committee 
on Public Lands, reported a bill. When the bill had been read 
in part Senator Benton interrupted to say that it was entirely 
improper then to take the time of the Senate for such an absurd 
matter; here was a person who applied to Congress for 90,- 
000,000 acres of public land and agreed to build 3,000 miles 
of railroad, in the face of that he would not be surprised if 
some one came along and offered to take over the whole gov- 
ernment. The bill was not only the most ridiculous and absurd 
ever presented to Congress but it was impudent as well. The 
Senate, however, was less outspoken in its scorn, and allowed 
the committee to have its report printed. 

Oregon came up in resolutions from State legislatures, in 
petitions touching upon all sides of the controversy, as well as 
in requests for grants of land ; among the latter was one from 
the widow of Captain Gray, the discoverer of the Columbia 

ii Ibid., 1200-3. 

i a Ho. Rep. No. 779, agth Cong. ist. Ses. 


River. Oregon appeared in the debates on the Rivers and 
Harbors Bill in an amendment "for the improvement of the 
Columbia river in Oregon, $100,000," whereat one Congress- 
man said he had no objection to a little sport but he thought 
it was going too far to propose an appropriation for the Co- 
lumbia until it was known "whether we owned it or not." 
"But the title is 'clear and unquestionable' you know," came 
the response from various parts of the House. 




(Continued from Page 372 in Quarterly for December, 1918) 

Oregon City, Oct. 8th, 1854. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bapt. Home Mission Soc. 
Dear Brother: 

Yours of Sept. 18th containing your account with me, also 
a bill of goods sent me by the Am. Bapt. Home Mission 
Society Sept. 6th, amounting to $466.66, with a bill of lading 
for six boxes and two barrels of merchandise, were received 
by the last mail. Was very glad to learn that they are on 
the way. Since I last wrote I have visited West Tualatin 
Church and spent nearly a week with the Shilo Church on 
a council called on account of difficulties existing between 

Elder and the majority of the church on one hand and 

the minority of the church on the other. Br. had been 

quite imprudent and serious charges were preferred against 
him, but with not sufficient proof to induce the council to 
recommend his being deposed from the ministry. 352 After 
three days' and two nights' hard labor, the council gave 
their advice to the church and all the parties concerned, 
which resulted in an amicable adjustment of all difficulties. 
We have felt the necessity of our church members under- 
standing and practicing gospel discipline in case of difficul- 
ties before they come before the church. Our Divine Master 
has condescended to give us the most simple and yet the 
most perfect rules for discipline either in private trespasses 
or public immorality. 

Yours with sentiments of Christian affection. 

Received Dec. 26. 

352 This was Rev. William M. Davis. Shortly after th firrt council here 
mentioned, a second council was called, which urged drastic action, and the church 
entirely repudiated him. Mattoon, Bap. An. of Or*., I:io. 


Oregon City. O. Ter., Oct. 17th, 1854. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. A. Bap. Home Mission Society. 
Dear Brother: 

I have just returned from the yearly meeting of the 
Pleasant Butte Church, seventy-five miles up the valley 
from this place and thirty-five south of Salem. This church, 
like all our churches, is located in the heart of a flourishing 
country admirably adapted to grazing and the growing of 
wheat, corn, oats and all kinds of vegetables and fruits 
adapted to this climate. I spent ten days with the church, 
preaching Saturdays and Sabbaths and one sermon each 
night. The meetings were interesting, but not attended with 
the same results as last year. During the meeting six were 
added by letter, one was received for baptism, there were 
two hopeful cases of conversion and four or five others were 
manifestly interested in their souls' welfare. Br. Wm. 
Sperry is the pastor with whom I have labored. This church 
has a flourishing Sabbath school and meets every Sabbath 
for preaching or prayer. The converts of last year appear 
very well. The church will probably hire a man and put 
him on Br. Sperry's farm the coming year and by this means 
mostly liberate him to the work of the ministry in that 
church and vicinity. This is much better than the entire 
neglect of the ministry. This closes up our yearly meetings 
till the opening of the spring. I had hoped that I should 
have been able to give particular attention to Washington 
Ter. at the close of this meeting, but there are two pressing 
calls, one in Washington County and the other in Marion, 
twelves miles south of Salem, which are obviously more 
immediately important than the exploration of Washington 
Ter. at this season of the year. Our brethren here urge a 
delay of the exploration of that territory till another season. 
So also the Methodist minister 353 who has charge of that 
district advises. I am collecting facts relative to the region 
of Pugets Sound and shall be able to give you a pretty 

353 This was Rev. John F. De Vore. George H. Himes. 


general view of the relative importance of that country in 
three or four weeks. My present impressions are that the 
Baptist cause in that region is not suffering so much for 
the want of immediate attention as the more populous parts 
of Oregon and California are. Here we have numbers of 
organized church, which must be visited occasionally, and 
of settlements where churches might be constituted if they 
could have the encouragement of preaching four Sabbaths 
in a year, and for want of which labors our members are 
either lying still or joining Methodist and Cumberland 
Presbyterian churches. I visited Salem on my return from 
Pleasant Butte Church last week. Find Salem, the capital 
of the Ter., with a population of about 1200 souls, with a 
Methodist Episcopal church and a good house of worship, 
a Protestant Methodist church and house nearly finished, an 
Episcopal house completed and a Congregational church and 
house completed. Found but five Baptist members in the 
place and but one of them who can be considered permanent. 
There are two members probably permanently located two 
miles from the town who wish to promote the cause in 
town. The whole surrounding country is settled mostly on 
section claims one mile square. The place must have a 
rapid growth. There is no doubt but a man if sent there 
and supported would call a small congregation around him, 
if his talent were popular and piety undoubted, with good, 
sound common sense, and he might hope to see his congre- 
gation increase with the growth . of the place. Besides, a 
good substantial, efficient minister located there would do 
good service through the whole surrounding country with 
its four Baptist churches. Salem certainly should not be 
long neglected by your Society. Some aid no doubt could 
be obtained from the surrounding churches towards sustain- 
ing an effective minister in that place. Yet most of a 
minister's salary would have to come from home, and it 
would require from $600 to $800 to give a family of ordinary 
size an annual support. I have no doubt but the expenditure 
for such an appointment would be judicious, if your Board 


can sustain such a man there after supporting the suffering 
cause at Portland and Oregon City, both of which places 
are probably in greater need of a minister than Salem. Port- 
land has some permanent and able supporters. At Oregon 
City is our school for the Territory. All our towns are 
subject to frequent changes, yet they are towns, and will 
continue to be places of trade from which an influence will 
be continually going out into the surrounding country and into 
the whole world. A minister's Sabbaths should mostly be 
spent in town unless he can have his place filled occasionally 
by proxy, or little can be effected by the side of other organized 
churches with a stated Sabbath ministry. 

As ever yours, 

* * * * 

Received Nov. 25. 

Oregon City, Ore. Ter., Nov. 8th, 1854. 
To Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bapt. Home Mission Soc., New York. 
Dear Br. Hill: 

This is to inform you that Rev. William F. Boyakin, 354 
formerly from Carrolton, Illinois, and late of St. Joseph, 
Missouri, arrived in Portland about the tenth of October 
with his family. Since that time he has been preaching to 
the scattered Baptist brethren in that place. I visited Port- 
land three weeks since on a tour west and south. Found he 
was making a favorable impression on the minds of the Bap- 
tist members and the public; gave them some advice. Since 
my return Br. Boyakin has preached in this place. He informs 
me that the Baptist members have invited him to labor with 
them in Portland for one year and that they have agreed to 
ask the Home Mission Society to appoint him as their mis- 
sionary to Portland for one year with a salary of $800, $200 

354 Rev. W. F. Boyakin helped to organize the Portland Church in May, 1855. 
In 1856 he moved to Corvallis at the invitation of the church there. Mattoon, Bap. 
An. of Ore., I:n, 14. Mattoon says he was from Mississippi. 


of which the people pledge themselves they will pay. They 
therefore ask your Board to pay him $600 of the $800. I 
have the impression that your acquaintance with Br. Boyakin's 
reputation as a preacher is better than mine. I think he has 
been favorably known ,both in Illinois and Missouri, as an 
effective Baptist preacher. I think from the short acquaintance 
I have with him that he is well adapted to get up an interest 
in Portland. He commends himself at once to the people as 
an eloquent man well acquainted with that form of human 
nature which develops itself in our rising towns in the West. 
He seems to have the true missionary spirit. Should he con- 
tinue to wear as he now promises, we have no man in Oregon 
so well adapted to that field as he is. I think he will need 
$800 salary to support his family (of 7 persons I believe) in 
Portland. I think the people will supply $200 of the salary, 
probably not more the first year. Br. Boyakin is poor, having 
expended almost all his means in reaching the field, seems 
desirous of trying what he can do in Portland and I am 
now impressed favorably with the thought that the Lord has 
directed him in a very favorable time to his appropriate field 
of labor. He is calling a good congregation to a school-house 
which the brethren have fitted up temporarily as a place of 
worship. As it relates to the importance of the place, you 
hardly need any further information. Portland is the principal 
port for Oregon at present, numbering probably about 2000 
souls, with from 30 to 50 trading houses, wholesale and 
retail, and must, for years at least, be the most commercial 
town in the Territory. When the resources of the country 
are developed, I think the great commercial city of the 
Columbia River will be somewhere below the mouth of the 
Willamette River, yet Portland will even then be an important 
point. By a reference to the map of the surveyed parts of 
Oregon, you will see that it is 14 miles above the mouth of 
the Willamette in the heart, or rather at the foot, of one of the 
most fertile portions of country in North America. Our 
country is fast filling up and, although at present the influence 
of the Nebraska and Kansas movements may for two or three 


years somewhat retard our onward progress, 355 yet I think 
the immigration will be checked only to flow in more abun- 
dantly when the Nebraskan excitement shall have worked its 
discontent among the early settlers to that territory. I trust 
your Board will be prompt in making the appointment and may 
God in His infinite mercy bless to the building up of a strong 
interest in Portland and the surrounding country. 
With much esteem, your unworthy brother, 


N. B. Br. Boyakin, in behalf of the brethren in Portland, 
will make the application stating the time they will wish the 
appointment to take effect. 
Received Dec. 26. 

Oregon City, O. Ten, Jan. 1st, 1855. 
To Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. of Am. Bap. Home Mission Society : 
Herein I send you my report of labor under the appoint- 
ment of the Home Mission Society as Exploring Agent for 
the third quarter ending the thirty-first day of Dec., 1854. 
During the quarter I have visited Portland twice, the Cas- 
cades in Washington Ten, The Dalles, east of the Cascade 
Mountains, West Union Church, West Tualatin Church 
twice, Shilo Church and a settlement of unorganized Baptists 
near the junction of the Columbia and Sandy rivers in 
Clackamas County; labored 13 weeks; traveled to and from 
my appointments 617 miles ; paid nine dollars eighty-two cents 
($9.82) for traveling expenses and eighteen cents ($0.18) for 
postage; preached 20 sermons. I attended a council in case 
of difficulty of a serious kind in which I labored three days 
and almost two nights, with but six hours' intermission. The 
result of our labors seemed blessed under God in restoring 
union to the distracted church, 

Respectfully submitted, 

Exploring Agent. 

355 The Kansas-Nebraska Act of May, 1854, organized these territories and 
left the question of slavery to the vote of the settlers. This led to a large immi- 
gration to these regions from both North and South. 


Oregon City, O. Ten, Jan. 1st, 1855. 
To Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. of Am. Bapt. Home Mission Soc. : 
Herein I send you my report of labor under the appoint- 
ment of the Home Mission Society as General Itinerant for 
the 3rd quarter ending the 31st day of Dec., 1854. I have 
labored thirteen weeks in the quarter; preached 20 sermons; 
attended six prayer meetings, two church covenant meetings 
and one council of three days ; visited religiously fifty- four 
families and other persons, one common school ; traveled to 
and from my appointments six hundred and seventeen miles. 
Connected with the churches I have visited are three Sabbath 
schools, one in Pleasant Butte Church on Calapooia River, 
Lynn Co., one in West Union Church, Washington County, 
and one in Oregon City, numbering each about twenty-five 
scholars and four teachers. 

Respectfully submitted, 


General Itinerant. 
Received Feb. 9. 

Oregon City, O. Ter., Jan. 15th, 1855. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bap. Home Mission Society. 
Dear Br. : 

I take my pen to give you a brief account of my late tour 
from this place to The Dalles, a rising town and a military 
post on the Columbia near the east base of the Cascade 

I left home on the 17th of Nov. and traveled twenty-two 
miles north to the mouth of the Sandy, a stream nearly as 
large as the Mohawk, which rises in the eternal snows of 
Mount Hood and flows into the Columbia at the west base 
of the Cascade Range, twenty-five miles west from the 
celebrated Cascade Falls. Having failed of reaching the 
Columbia in time to take the regular steamer, I was detained 


several days till the next trip of the boat. Here I found 
between fifteen and twenty Baptist members, including- an 
aged minister (Br. Bond), with an enfeebled wife for many 
years mostly confined to her bed. They are scattered 
through a fertile, timbered, undulating country eight or ten 
miles from north to south and perhaps half that distance 
from east to west. Br. Bond is preaching- what he can while 
laboring with all his powers to obtain a comfortable support 
for himself and helpless family. These brethren occupy 
prospectively one of the most important country positions in 
all Oregon, but at present they have to contend with all the 
inconveniences of removing 1 forests of enormous growth before 
they can reap a harvest from their generous soil. However, 
they will soon be placed above want and probably abound in 
the farmer's wealth. A church will be constituted here in 
the coming- spring, if not before. This point is more promis- 
ing than many fields in the Mississippi Valley where labor and 
money are expended by missionary societies. 

The following week I took the steamer and visited The 
Cascades, a town site, with eight or ten families scattered on 
the north bank of the Columbia for a distance of three miles 
from the head to the foot of the Cascade Falls, about midway 
of the Cascade Mountains, from east to west. These families 
have resorted here for matters of speculation and, with few 
exceptions, manifest less desire for the bread of eternal life 
than for the mammon of unrighteousness. This is the great 
natural gateway through the Cascade Mountains and must at 
no distant day become a place of great commercial and manu- 
facturing importance, it being the head of ship navigation to 
the Columbia and there being a vast region of the best grazing 
country in North America on the Columbia and its hundred 
tributaries, which must soon be put in requisition to graze the 
cattle and horses of Oregon and Washington territories. 
Occasionally through the summer a Methodist circuit preacher 
has visited and preached in this place. Here I found one 
pious Methodist sister and one or two Campbellite members. 
The country on the north bank of the Columbia is now settled 


with families and bachelors most of the way from this place to 
Vancouver, a distance of forty-five miles. 

The next week I took the steamer 356 for The Dalles; 
ascended the broad, deep Columbia twenty-five miles to the 
mouth of Dog- River, 357 a considerable stream tumbling down 
with great rapidity from the snowy sides of Mt. Hood. 
Here I found Br. Coe, late postal agent for Oregon, and 
wife. This settlement consists of three white families, but 
will soon be swollen to fifty or 100. The steamer having left 
me, on the 29th of November, to save a weeks delay and an 
exorbitant price for an Indian and horses, I took my post- 
bags and traveling apparel on my back at ten A. M. and took 
the emigrant trail, which lay over high mountains and 
through deep defiles, and, although the thawing of the frozen 
ground coming in constant contact with my India rubber boots 
rendered the traveling exceedingly slippery, I reached the 
first settlement, three miles from The Dalles, a distance of 
eighteen miles, at four P. M., unusually fatigued, yet grateful 
to the gracious Giver for strength to perform even the 
physical labors of a pioneer missionary. I found twenty-four 
families, including three or four of the officers and soldiers, in 
this place and vicinity, beside a number of white men who had 
married Indian women and some thirty or forty single men 
in trade and farming, and gambling, as I had good reason to 
suppose. 358 Here are stationed two or three companies of 
government troops to defend our frontiers from Indian 
invasion. Here also are constantly a considerable number of 
Indians, amounting to forty or fifty families, who dwell here 
and cultivate small fields of potatoes, corn and melons. Here 
too the Roman Catholic Church have a mission established 
with the Indians and have set up their claim to 640 acres of 
land for the mission, immediately below the town and extending 
almost to the river bank. 859 

356 This steamboat was probably the "Mary," the first steamer to run between 
the Cascades and The Dalles. Bancroft, His. of Wash., Idaho and Mont., p. 145- 

357 This is the present Hood River. It was called Dog Creek, because in the 
early forties some immigrants camping there were reduced to dog meat for food. 
George H. Himes. 

358 See note 309. 

359 This claim of the Roman Catholics was later set aside. They were, how- 
ever, allowed to retain about half an acre of ground for a building site. Bancroft, 
Hist, of Ore., 11:292. 


The soil in the vicinity of The Dalles is generally a loamy 
sand, mixed with vegetable mould and decomposed rocks of 
various kinds, some of which appear to contain considerable 
quantities of alkalies, in some places so much so as to prevent 
the growth of vegetation, except a kind of wild rye which 
grows with great luxuriance where the alkalies destroy all the 
ordinary grass. This soil must hereafter become very rich 
manures for lands requiring alkalies. Potatoes, onions, beets, 
cabbage, squashes, melons, wheat, oats, peas, etc., have all 
been successfully raised here. 

The river from the head of The Cascades to this place is 
broad and sufficiently deep for the largest class of steamers 
and the current very gentle. This must be the great place 
of trade for all the upper Columbia country in all future time, 
unless a railroad should be constructed through this great 
valley to Pugets Sound, and in that event a branch will come 
down the Columbia to this place. 

At this place I find two persons who have been Baptists 
. . . The same Methodist missionary circuit preacher who 
has visited The Cascades has visited this place a few times 
the past summer. The people here desire the labors of a good 
Protestant preacher, but as yet they are entirely uncommitted. 
An efficient, common-sense minister should be placed here to 
labor at this place and The Cascades. He would occupy 
emphatically a missionary post which will be a post of observa- 
tion. It will prove to the sreat Columbia Valley what St. 
Louis or Chicago is to the Mississippi Valley. True it is small 
now, but it will soon be the kev to hundreds ot millions of 
wealth and millions of souls. I spent two Sabbaths at this 
place, preached to attentive congregations and received the 
most cordial hospitality of the citizens. Will your Board send 
a man to The Dalles and for once occupy an important post 
first amonsr Protestants one who may be able to work by 
the side of Romans, who are doing what they can? 

T shall soon attempt to give you what information I have 
collected from Washington Ter. : also make one more earnest 


appeal for Oregon City and other parts of the Willamette 

Yours as ever with high esteem, 


Exploring Agent. 
Received Feb. 26. 

Oregon City, O. Ten, Jan. 18th, 1855. 
To the Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bap. Home Mission Society, New York. 
Dear Brother Hill : 

I shall be obliged to draw an order on you for $200 or 
$300 in favor of Abernathy, Clarke and Co., or josiah Failing 
& Co. at Portland, in three or four weeks, as I am now 
straitened for funds to keep up my ordinary family and trav- 
eling expenses. I am also expecting to hear from the goods, 
which you shipped on the Wild Ranger for San Francisco, 
by every mail and I have not the means to pay the freight 
from San Francisco to this place. I send this that you may 
have at least two weeks notice before the order is presented. 
I gave Br. J. D. Post an order of $150 on you sometime last 
summer or autumn, but have never heard from it since ; but 
presume it is paid. If that is paid, I suppose there will be 
due me, after you receive my last report, which was made out 
and forwarded the first day of this month, about $420. I 
have received $13 from the Baptist Church in this place 
( Oregon City), and wish you to send twenty (20) copies of 
the Home Mission Record, twenty (20) copies of the American 
Messenger, twenty (20) copies of the Macedonian and one 
(1) copy of the Missionary Magazine, all postpaid, to William 
C. Johnson, Oregon City, if that amount will meet all the 
expenses: if not, send equal numbers of the Record and 
Macedonian, fewer of the American Messenger and one copy 
of the Missionary Magazine and prepay the postage, applying 
$13 on these, no more and no less. Charge the same to my 
account. Also pay B. R. Soxley. Philadelphia, one dollar ($1) 


for Mrs. Mary Winston, Oregon City; also one dollar for 
Mrs. Rebecca Fanno, Portland, for the Mothers' Journal and 
Family Visitant and charge the same to my account. Will you 
see that this is promptly paid, as they wish to have their 
Mothers' Journal continued. 
Received Feb. 26. 

Oregon City, O. Ten, Feb. 8th, 1855. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bap. Home Mission Society, Nassau St., 

New York. 
Dear Brother: 

I take this opportunity to write you a few lines on 
matters in general. And first, our good people in Portland 
are about making an effort to build a house for public 
worship, 360 and today the ladies of that place make a dinner 
as the first effort in furtherance of that important work. As 
they commence the work in feasting, I hope they will complete 
it in praying. The church in Oregon City have been employ- 
ing a temporary supply, or rather reciving it, since I left 
their service last June, but are making an effort to secure 
the labors of a man in Oregon, if they can, and ask the Home 
Missionary Society to aid them in his support, as they feel 
that there is great uncertainty in obtaining a man soon from 
the States. Oh, that the Lord would raise up faithful laborers 
and send a few to our Pacific borders ! We are in perishing 
need of faithful pastoral labors throughout our churches. We 
must pray and try to raise up ministers in Oregon. I wish 
we had a well endowed school manned with two or three 
good pious professors, to which we could direct our young 
men who desire to serve God with singleness of heart. But 
money is now scarce, though this is not half so alarming as 
the fact that so few of our brethren take a comprehensive 
view of our wants and the true remedy. We must educate 
, j - nrnHEn 

360 The building was not actually begun until 1861. Mattoon, Bap. An. of 
Ore., 1: 140. 


our ministry on the Pacific slope, and I am beginning to think 
that we are more able than willing. But this business must 
be accomplished by "line upon line." We cannot do this work 
at once, but we must not cease doing till this is done; then 
we shall support a pious, intelligent, efficient ministry. Our 
seat of government is removed from Salem to Corvallis, about 
thirty miles farther up the Willamette River. 361 Corvallis was 
formerly called Marysville, the county seat for Benton county. 
The Territorial University is removed from Corvallis to Jack- 
sonville, county seat of Jackson County. Now we have an 
able church at Corvallis and I think we should make immedi- 
ate effort to put in operation a high school at that place. I 
shall leave tomorrow with a view of visiting two or three 
churches in that vicinity. I shall feel of the public pulse, as 
it beats through some of our leading men, on the subject of 
bringing up an educational interest at the seat of government. 
We all think an enterprise of this kind will in no way operate 
prejudicially to our school at Oregon City, but rather favor- 
ably. As to the question of your removal from the Bible 
house, I hope the Society will let the good brethren in New 
York build you a good mission house, if that will end the 
unhappy strife. 362 What is $40,000 or $100,000 as an offset 
to an unhappy division? 


Received March 24. 

Oregon City, O. Ter., March 5th, 1855. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bap. Home Mission Society. 
Dear Brother: 

About three weeks since I drew an order on you in favor 

361 The legislature of the winter of 1854-5 changed the capital from Salem to 
Corvallis. and the university from Corvallis to Jacksonville. The capital was re- 
located at Salem! Dec. 12, 1855. Bancroft, His. of Ore., II:3$i, .152. The legis- 
lature of 1855-6 repealed all acts locating the university. F. G. Young, Financial 
Hist, of Ore. in Ore. Hist. Soc. Quar., VIII: 162. 

362 In 1853 a serious discussion arose in the Baptist Home Mission Society 
over the acceptance from the American and Foreign Bible Society of rooms in its 
new building on Nassau Street. Friends of the "Bible Union" opposed the ac- 
ceptance and the trouble threatened to split the Home Mission Society. The 
rooms in the A. & F. B. S. building were occupied until 1862. Bap. Home Mis. 
in N. Am., 1832-1882, p. 543. 


of George Abernathy & Co. to the amount of $300. This I 
did, as I have done a few instances before, on account of 
our great distance. The long delays, after making our quar- 
terly reports, if we must first wait till we can get drafts 
from New York before we can draw on your treasury, some- 
times subject us to great inconvenience. As in the present 
case, I had ordered a year's supply of clothing for my family 
a year ago last October (I think). The bill was lost in 
the ocean ; a second order was made in about four months. 
The filling of the bill was no doubt necessarily delayed by 
the sickness of yourself and family. The goods were shipped 
almost a full year after the first bill was mailed at Oregon 
City, and last week I received three boxes and two barrels, a 
part only of the goods. I hope to hear from the balance in 
two or three weeks. But in this case my available means were 
used up, the money has been earned and the labor reported. 
I consequently made a draft on you, although it is out of 
your ordinary way of doing business. I trust your Board 
will pay the order and indulge me again under similar cir- 
cumstances. I have received for religious periodicals the fol- 
lowing sums which I wish you to pay to the respective agents 
and charge the same to my account : For the Mothers' Journal, 
from Hector Campbell, one dollar; Mr. Campbell wishes his 
Journal discontinued. From Mrs. Olive F. D. Ogle, one 
dollar; Mrs. Ogle is a new subscriber; her post-office is Fair- 
field, Marion Co., O. Ter. For the Christian Chronicle, Phil- 
adelphia, from Thomas M. Read of Marysville (now Cor- 
vallis), two dollars; he wishes his paper stopped. For the 
New York Recorder, from John Robinson, Marysville (now 
Corvallis), two dollars and fifty cents. 

Respectfully yours, 


March 6th. I have just returned from a tour to the cen- 
tral part of the valley. Visited Santiam church, Corvallis 
(Marysville) church, Albany and French Prairie churches. 
Our churches seem too well contented with monthly Sab- 


baths and rest apparently satisfied with few pastoral labors 
performed among them. The result is a want of spirituality, 
too great a conformity to the world and a reliance almost 
exclusively upon special meetings for seasons of refreshings 
from the Most High. I spent some time in endeavoring to 
ascertain the state of public sentiment relative to the expedi- 
ency of establishing a school in the central part of the valley. 
All seemed desirous of seeing such a work put in successful 
operation, but as yet they have had no conference on the 
subject and want some effective man to take the responsibility 
upon himself of planning and executing. While this is being 
done, the Methodists, who have already three high schools in 
the valley and one in Umpqua, will step into Corvallis, the 
only important point now to be occupied and raise up an im- 
portant school and leave us with the alternative of building 
up a high school at some unimportant post some six or eight 
years hence, or of raising a rival school at their door. Now 
the influence and wealth in the vicinity is Baptist more than 
any other denomination. The Baptists have the only house 
of worship in the place. The Methodists are making an effort 
to build a house of worship. 363 Lest they should not be able 
to drive all others out, they obtained a charter for a high 
school in the place as early as '51. The Presbyterians are 
looking to the place for the location of a college. Their 
principal proprietor assured me he would give a block of lots 
worth about $1000 for the site, if the Baptists would build a 
good high school. Although the people in Oregon are almost 
destitute of money and are much alarmed at the hard times, 
I think a building worth from $2000 to $3000 could be built 
by the Baptists the coming year, if the brethren in the upper 
country would see their interests in their true light, without 
materially affecting the Oregon City College otherwise than 
favorably. You may reasonably ask, Why trouble ourselves 
about another school while the one at Oregon City can hardly 
live? In the absence of a good common school system, evan- 

363 The Methodists dedicated their church building in Corvallis in December, 
1856. Bancroft. Hist, of Ore., 11:352. 


gelical Christians have opened schools adapted to the wants 
of the people, employed good, pious teachers, and by these 
schools they wield a strong influence. If we remain inactive, 
we must lose our hold on the confidence of the people and be 
set down as inefficient; besides, the sooner we can commit 
the denomination to some benevolent enterprise the better for 
them and the rising generation. They will do the more for 
other work strictly of an evangelical character. Again, I 
strongly think we must look to our churches for our rising 
ministry on the Pacific borders before twenty years roll 
around. The great question with me is, Ought the ministers 
now in the field and almost worn out to give any considerable 
portion of their time to the cause of education, while so much 
of our field lies waste for the want of faithful, Godly ministers 
given wholly to preaching the Word? 

Br. Chandler baptized two converts into the French Prairie 
church Sabbath before last. 

Affectionately yours, 

Received April 9. 

Oregon City, O. Ten, April 1st, 1855. 
To Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bap. Home Mission Soc. 
Dear Brother: 

Herein I send you my report of labor under the appoint- 
ment of the Home Mission Society as General Itinerant for 
the 4th quartet ending March 31st, 1855. I have labored 13 
weeks in this quarter; preached 15 sermons; attended 10 
prayer meetings and four church meetings ; visited religiously 
45 families and other persons ; visited one common school : 
traveled to and from my appointments 307 miles. Two were 
received into the French Prairie church by baptism under 
the labors of Rev. George C. Chandler. Sabbath schools in 
the territory are the same as last quarter. During the quar- 
ter I have distributed about 2500 pages of tracts. Several 


of our churches and congregations are beginning to study the 
Bible by subjects and meet monthly to give their views of 
the duties enjoined, such as the obligations of the Sabbath, 
the duties of religious parents, etc. The churches generally 
are training their young members as well as could be expected 
where but monthly Sabbaths are enjoyed. However, many of 
the members visit from church to church, so that perhaps 
they attend the Baptist meetings two Sabbaths in a month. 
The remaining time they either attend other meetings or stay 
at home. 

Respectfully submitted, 


Oregon City, O. Ter., April 1, 1855. 
To Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bap. Home Mission Soc. 

Herein I send you my report of labor under the appoint- 
ment of the Home Mission Society as Exploring Agent for 
the 4th quarter ending March 31st, 1855. I have visited 
during the quarter Corvallis, Albany, Oregon City, Corvallis 
church, French Prairie church, a settlement of Baptist breth- 
ren five miles east of Albany, Lynn Co., who will soon be 
constituted into a church; a settlement of Baptists on the 
Molalla prairie, where are encouraging prospects; Clackamas 
church and Pleasant Butte church; traveled 307 miles to and 
from my appointments. I have labored 13 weeks during the 
quarter; preached 15 sermons; paid for traveling expenses $2, 
for postage 37>4 cents. 

N. B. The traveling has been unusually bad this winter 
and my health, for three or four weeks of the first part of 
the quarter, was not so good as usual in the winter. This 
may account for the unusually small amount of labor I have 
performed. I have labored under the influence of bronchitis 
and dyspepsia. I have adopted a rigid system of diet and 
hope to be able to perform my wonted labors the coming 

Respectfully submitted, 

Exploring Agent. 


Oregon City, Mar. 10th, 1855. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill. 
Dear Brother: 

The church in Oregon City have invited Br. Johnson and 
Br. J. D. Post to supply them the coming year and agreed 
to give Br. Johnson $50 and Br. Post $75. Perhaps this 
is the best they could do on the whole. But it falls far short 
of meeting our wants. Br. Post's time is engrossed in his 
school and the most he can do is to preach half the Sabbaths, 
attend the weekly prayer meetings and perhaps visit a little 
Saturdays in the afternoons. Br. Johnson will preach half 
the Sabbaths, but does not contemplate visiting at all. You 
will see by this that the church must be greatly neglected 
in the pastoral relations. I hoped the church would have 
chosen some man as their pastor and asked the Home Mis- 
sionary Society to help in his support, so that he could give 
himself to the ministry, or have asked your Board to send 
them a minister and let him enter upon the work as a man 
of God. Perhaps all is for the best. I do not yet see it so. 

I noticed in the January number of the Home Mission 
Record a notice of my reappointment. I shall endeavor to 
serve the Board to my best ability through the summer and 
fall at least, if my health will permit and God blesses. I 
have received no letter from you for near three months. 
Suppose one was lost on the Southerner 364 when wrecked. I 
expect to spend most of the coming season with the churches 
in the upper part of the valley and in Umpqua and Rogue 
River valleys and, when in Rogue River Valley, I may cross 
the Ciscue [Siskiyou] Mountains into Chasty [Shasta] Val- 
ley, as it will be but about 25 miles from Rogue River Valley 
and 125 from the settlement in the Sacramento Valley. A 
large town called Yreka has sprung up in that valley, in which 
it is said there are numbers of Baptist members who have 
had but few Baptist sermons preached to them. Yreka 365 is 

364 The steamship "Southerner," Capt. F. A. Sampson, was wrecked on the 

began in 1850."" Important diggii _ 

town, which was incorporated in 1854. It declined with the mines after 1857. 
Bancroft, Hist, of Calif., VI: 4 P4. 

Washington coast at Cape Flattery, Dec. 26, 1854. Oregpnian, Jan. 27, 1855. 

365 Yreka sprang up as a result of the mining in Shasta County, California, 
which began in 1850. Important diggings opened in March, 1851, gave rise to the 


said to be as large as Portland. Should I visit Chasty Valley, 
or will our California brother penetrate the mountains from 
the south and explore this mining district? 

With sentiments of Christian esteem, 

Received April 24. 

Oregon City, O. Territory, May 3d, 1855. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bapt. Home Mission Soc. 
Dear Brother: 

Yours of March 3d has just come to hand and I now sit 
down to answer it. It is with mingled emotions that I learn 
that your Board have reappointed me to the work of ex- 
ploring agent and general itinerant. I shall endeavor in the 
fear of God to enter upon those duties to the best of my 
abilities, but in view of the gradual decline of my physical, not 
to say mental powers, I am led to hope that your Board will 
be looking out for a man of ripe Christian experience and 
strong physical constitution to enter upon the responsibilities 
of this work after the present year. I feel that I have a right 
to ask for a more limited field which will call for less exposure 
in winter rains and the inconveniences of a frontier life. Yet 
I often feel that I would prefer the ways of Providence to 
those of my own choosings. I wish it to be distinctly under- 
stood by the Board that my personal inclinations have for a 
long time been to locate so that I could reach the extent of 
my field of labor by a day's ride. Should you find a suit- 
able man to enter upon this work at an earlier period than 
the expiration of the present year, I will rejoice to facilitate 
his introduction. It seems to me that the labor of such a 
man in Oregon should not be dispensed with. As it relates 
to the work of collecting for the Home Mission Society, you 
know that I am willing to do all that I can in the further- 
ance of that object. It is likewise true that your Society 
ought to have found more pecuniary aid flowing into your 


treasury from Oregon. Yet our servants and their fellow 
laborers have been laboring as fast as they thought the 
churches would bear to bring about this object in as healthy 
and as permanent a manner as possible. We have to meet 
all the influence of monthly Sabbaths and Missouri opinions, 
and an educated anti-mission influence in our missionary 
churches. These prejudices are so far worn away I believe 
in all our churches that they, as churches, recognize the 
principle that our ministry should be given to the work and 
that they should be sustained somehow or other in that work. 
At our last association we made a direct effort to sustain 
one man in Lane County, which was an important missionary 
field. I should at that time have pleaded the cause of the 
Home Mission Society and asked that these efforts might 
in some way or other have gone through that channel, but 
for the fact that your Board was at the time sustaining no 
man but myself in Oregon. The right kind of work was 
doing to accomplish the work and open the sympathies of 
our brethren. The churches as a whole are coming up to 
the work, although much slower than is desired by every 
liberal-souled disciple of Christ. It is hard teaching our 
brethren the lesson of being dead to the world and alive to 
God. Yet four churches, two of which were as little hopeful 
as any in the Association, have absolutely paid their minister 
(Br. Riley) not less than $1000 the last year by buying him a 
claim and providing him with clothing and food for his 
family. Four more are paying Br. Chandler the present year 
nearly $600. And I do not know of a church, small as our 
churches are, which pays their minister less than $100 for one- 
fourth of the time, while they scarcely get the labors of the 
minister more than two days in a month, except in the riding 
to and from the appointments, which may take two days more. 
Thus you will perceive that your missionaries have not been 
indifferent to the true interests of Christ's church, although 
we have not been able to do so much as we would, nor to 
direct what is done through the channel which might be 


desired. I rejoice in the love of our divine Master that you 
have appointed two more missionaries for Oregon and that 
they are in their field of labor. The way is now open for me 
to work directly for you without putting on the air of supreme 
selfishness and, although we are feeling the effects of what 
the world calls hard times, I intend to try and do what I can 
for Br. Boyakin at Portland and Br. Stearns 366 at Jacksonville 
by personal appeals to private brethren, as well as by collec- 
tion in the churches, if I can get the subject before the 
churches, and I doubt not I can. But the amount that can 
be done this year cannot be expected to be large. I have no 
fears of injuring my ministerial character in this work if God 
goes with me. My greatest fear is that I may not do the work 
as well as some other man might. We feel that we must 
make an effort to sustain two ministers by the Association 
strictly as missionaries in destitute fields; in this all our 
brethren will probably unite. We have the men on the ground 
whom we may probably employ, our brethren see them and 
know them, and have an assurance that something will be 
done for them in Oregon when they pay their money. I have 
felt, in view of all the circumstances, that we should aid in 
this kind of work, and, although we cannot do the work in 
the way we would desire, we shall do much of the work which 
we should do if all prejudices were removed and we were 
doing the work precisely as you would have us do it. We 
have with us an old brother, Thomas Taylor, formerly from 
Illinois (I think he formerly was in the service of the Home 
Mission Society in 111.), who has a destitute field, embracing 
a part of Clackamas County and a part of Yam Hill County, 
in which there are a number of Baptist members scattered. 
The field locally is important, but the country is mostly tim- 
bered, consequently slow of improvement comparatively. One 
of the points I reported last winter, near the mouth of the 
Sandy on the Columbia River. A year's labor would probably 

366 This was probably Rev. M. N. Stearns, who had arrived that year from 
the East with his father, Rev. John Stearns, and was chosen pastor of the Table 
Rock (Jacksonville) Baptist Church. Mattoon, Bap. An. of Ore., 1:13. 


result in the formation of from one to four churches. Br. 
Taylor's family consists of himself and wife. He says he can 
labor a year for $300 and will run the risk of raising half that 
sum on the field. Br. Chandler proposes to pay $25 of the bal- 
ance. Br. Chandler is very desirous that he should be put into 
that field. Now will your Board make him the appointment 
under such conditions as you may think proper and require 
him to report to you and allow me to see what I can raise on 
the field for him, yet so as not to interfere with any efforts I 
may make for Br. Boyakin and Br. Stearns? Will you leave 
Br. Taylor to consult with Br. Chandler and myself respecting 
the field? The country we propose is as densely peopled and 
as destitute as any part of Oregon and the most remote point 
not more than 24 miles from Oregon City. 

As ever your fellow-laborer in the vineyard of our common 

Exploring Agent. 

Oregon City, O. Ter., May 4th, 1855. 
Rev. B. M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. A. B. M. Soc. 
Dear Brother: 

I some weeks since wrote you an explanation of the reason 
why I drew on you an order payable to George Abernathy 
& Co. to the amount of $300. I have all the while supposed 
from the course that you had allowed me to pursue that you 
would grant me some privileges, on account of my distance 
and the length of time it took for me to get your drafts after 
requesting you to forward them. My pay has mostly come 
in goods and exchange of money collected here. You know 
I have always waited as much as I could to suit the con- 
venience of the Society, and I trust I have not show an un- 
usual spirit of avarice in this matter. But it would be ex- 
ceedingly mortifying to me as a prompt Christian minister in 
all my business relations to have my order protested and 


come back to Oregon so. I have never in my public life 
owed a man over $200 at any given time, and never but once 
failed of meeting my pecuniary liabilities punctually at the 
time. Now if I have sinned in drawing this draft, I have 
sinned as I have done before, unadmonished. I sincerely re- 
gret to occasion you or the Board any trouble on that account 
or in any measure to occasion Abernathy to doubt my integ- 
rity. If your Board should protest the order, will they do 
me the favor to issue a draft in favor of me to that amount 
and pass it over to Abernathy & Co. and pay it immediately, 
as I have received the money and been obliged to pay out a 
part of it already to keep up my family. The remaining part 
is passing away in the same way. Will you do me the favor 
hereafter to settle my accounts at the end of each quarter, on 
the receipt of my quarterly report, and within three weeks 
from that time forward me a draft covering the amount due 
me at the time and let this be a standing order except when 
otherwise directed. 

Rest assured, dear brother, that I do not make this request 
through any unkind feelings. . . 

As ever yours, 

Exploring Agent. 

Received June 8. 

Oregon City, O. Ter., July 1st, 1855. 
To Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. of Am. Bap. Home Mission Soc. : 

Herein I send you my report of labor under the appoint- 
ment of the Home Mission Society for the first quarter of 
the year, ending June 30th ? as General Itinerant. 

I have labored 13 weeks in the quarter; preached 23 ser- 
mons ; attended 12 prayer meetings, nine church covenant 
meeting's; have assisted at the organization of the church in 
the city of Portland : 367 have traveled to and from my appoint- 

- , q ; ' r! \ 

367 This was organized by Revs. W. F. Boyakin, H. Johnson, and the author, 
May 6, 1855. Mattoon, Bap. An. of Ore., 1: 14. The author says there were eleven 
constituent members; Mattoon> ten. 


ments 494 miles; have visited religiously 30 families and 22 
individuals. The church at Portland takes her place beside 
older ones of other denominations under favorable prospects, 
as you will learn from the reports of Br. Boyakin. 

Respectfully submitted, 

General Itinerant. 

Oregon City, O. Ter., July 1st, 1855. 
To Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. of Am. Bap. Home Mission Soc. : 

Herein I send you my report of labor under the appoint- 
ment of the Home Mission Society as Exploring Agent for 
the first quarter ending June 30th, 1855. I have visited Port- 
land, Santiam, Providence, 868 Pleasant Butte, Lebanon, West 
Tualatin, West Union and Yam Hill churches, the Willam- 
ette Baptist Association and Ministers* meeting. 

Have collected $24.48 by collection taken on Sabbath at 
the Association. Have obtained a subscription in Tualatin 
Plains of forty bushels of wheat to be paid to Br. Boyakin 
in Portland on or before the first day in Oct., to apply on 
his salary. Br. Boyakin will report the value to you as 
soon as received. It will probably be worth from $0.75 to 
$1.00 per bushel. Paid $3.92 for traveling expenses and 
$0.25 for postage $4.17. Have aided in the constitution of 
the first Baptish church in Portland with eleven members. 
Have preached 23 sermons and traveled to and from my 
appointments 494 miles. 

All which is respectfully submitted, 


Exploring Agent. 
Received Aug. 11. 

368 The Providence Baptist Church in Linn County, at the forks of the San- 
tiam River, was organized April 9, 1853. Mattoon, Bap. An. of Ore., I:ia. The 
other churches mentioned have previously been commented upon. 


Oregon City, O. Ten, July 2, 1855. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. A. B. H. M. Soc. 
Dear Brother : 

I have just returned from the annual meeting of the 
Willamette Baptist Association, which was held with the Yam 
Hill church, ten miles west of Lafayette, the seat of justice 
for Yam Hill County. As a business meeting, it exceeded 
in interest and harmony all preceding meetings. The churches 
appear to be gradually arousing to the importance of the 
ministry becoming devoted to the one great calling, the ministry 
of reconciliation, and that they should be sustained in that 
work by the churches. Three brethren now in the field have 
the assurance that their salary from the churches the present 
year will exceed $600 each, and other churches are expressing 
a willingness to contribute according to their ability. The 
Association resolved that they would make an effort to sus- 
tain two missionaries the coming year, one in Lane County and 
vicinity and the other in Clackamas County and vicinity, and 
something over $200 was subscribed on the spot. Resolutions 
were passed in favor of the great Christian enterprises, such 
as the Baptist Home Mission Society, Publication Society, etc. 
The changes in the Association were as follows: Six new 
churches received into the body. 869 One hundred and twenty- 
three baptized; net gain, 232. Some efforts were made to 
remove the school from Oregon City, which resulted in a 
resolution to open subscriptions for a college in favor of five 
places, towit: Oregon City, Corvallis, Santiam, Cincinnati 370 
and Lafayette, and report next year. The Home Missionary 
Society is gradually securing the confidence of the denomi- 
nation, but while this is said, other home mission societies 
are represented in Oregon, and we cannot predict the results. 
Elder Johnson is acting as a missionary of the Free Mission 

369 These six were the Union (Polk County), Good Hope (Linn County), 
Mount Zion (Lane County), Willamette Forks (Lane County), Palestine (Lane 
County), and First Portland Churches. Minutes of Willamette Baptist Association 
and Mattoon, Bap. An. of Ore., I:i6, 17. 

370 Cincinnati is the present Eola in Polk County. 


Society, but prudently, and at this session of our Association 
we met an agent for the Bible Union soliciting life member- 
ships and offering for sale a portion of the Scriptures as 
translated by the Union, also introducing their periodicals. 
I have no objection to the Union's translating the Scriptures 
and selling them to whoever may wish to purchase. But 
we in Oregon must be wiser than our brethren at home, if 
the introduction of an agent to our little Baptist community, 
gathered from the ends of the earth, does not strike some 
discordant notes in our infant land. The Lord give us wis- 
dom and prudence equal to our day, and save us from sin- 
ning in this matter. 

As ever yours, 
Received Aug. 11. EZRA FISHER. 

Oregon City, O. Ter., July 3, 1855. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. of Am. Bap. M. M. Soc. 
Dear Brother: 

I made my last quarters report on the first instant. In 
this letter I wish to order you to attend to several branches 
of business for me. By this mail I shall order the discon- 
tinuance of the Christian Chronicle and substitute the New 
York Recorder and Baptist Register in its place. I shall 
also order the weekly Tribune, if it is furnished to ministers 
at $1 per year. You will therefore meet the orders which I 
send you for the payment on the above-named papers. You 
will also pay an order which I shall send you for the Baptist 
Missionary Magazine. I shall also order you to pay three 
dollars to the agent for the Mothers' Journal. 

You will, therefore, please send me a draft for the sum 
due me, after deducting twenty-four dollars and forty-eight 
cents ($24.48), the amount of the collection taken up at the 
Willamette Association, and ten dollars ($10) to meet the 
periodical demands against me, at your earliest convenience. 
Should the periodical bills exceed ten dollars, the publishers 


must wait till after I make my next quarter's report, as I 
am much in want of funds to meet my forthcoming expenses. 
Let the draft be drawn to me or order. 

Respectfully yours, 


Oregon City, July 3d, 1855. 
Rev. B. M. Hill, Cor. Sec. Soc. 
Dear Brother: 

Our school affairs are moving along but slowly. Our com- 
munity is so fluctuating, being subject to so many excite- 
ments and so many fluctuations, and so extreme, that it is 
next to impossible to keep any class of scholars above a few 
months, except a few from the more able permanent citizens. 
We have been suffering the last twelve months all the in- 
conveniences of stagnation in business. 371 Farmers have wheat 
and beef and pork and butter in profusion, but it is hard to 
convert their produce into cash or family supplies. Now 
another panic has struck the farmers. New and rich gold 
diggings are beginning to be worked high up the Columbia 
near Fort Colville. 372 This is drawing away the floating 
laborers, and some of the farmers are leaving their standing 
wheat for the mines. It has not yet been ascertained how 
extensive the gold field is on the Columbia, or how product- 
ive it will prove, yet notwithstanding the high waters, in- 
experienced miners, Frenchmen and half-breeds are said to 
wash from fifteen to twenty dollars per day with nothing but 
pans. About $5000 worth of the gold has already reached 
this place and is pronounced to be gold of the finest quality. 
With these and other and varied exciting causes moving upon 
the minds of a heterogenious community thrown together from 
every part of the globe, it is no strange thing that teachers 

371 These hard times are assigned by Bancroft to Indian disturbances, and to 
the falling off in the yield of the California mines. Business was prostrated in 
California. Hist, of Ore., 11:337- 

372 This gold discovery was in the spring of 1855 and caused, as the author 
indicates, the usual stampede to the diggings. Bancroft, Hist, of Wash., Idaho and 
Mont., p. 1 08. 


become discouraged and efforts to cultivate the minds and 
morals of the rising- generation should prove less successful 
than in older and better graduated communities. Although 
our school has failed of exerting that direct and salutary in- 
fluence on the denomination which was anticipated, yet it has 
done much to elevate the views of the Baptists in Oregon 
and has shed its blessings, both direct and indirect, upon 
hundreds of our fellow citizens. I fear, however, that we 
shall be compelled to make another change of teachers, how- 
ever much such a change is to be dreaded. Br. Post has 
already manifested discontent and I fear that it may before 
long ripen into a removal. I do not know that it is possible 
to find a thorough, self-sacrificing teacher who will merge all 
the interests of the school into the interest of the denomination 
so as to worthily claim the name of a missionary school teacher. 
Yet that should be the case with our teachers as well as with 
our home missionaries. 

Br. Boyakin is doing well at Portland, is popular with his 
church and the world. I have but little doubt that the 
Masonic fraternity 373 sympathize with him and lend him their 
aid as a brother of the same order. I hope he will not over- 
rate the privileges of that order. He is energetic and elo- 
quent and abounds in figures and epithets. May God bless 
him abundantly. I expect to go south in three or four weeks. 
Shall be able to take up some collections for the Home Mis- 
sion Society. Deacon Failing has engaged to take up a col- 
lection monthly in the Portland church for the Home Mis- 
sion cause. Br. Boyakin will probably report the amount 

Yours with Christian esteem, 

Received Aug. 11. 

373 The first Masonic lodge in Oregon was organized at Oregon City in 1848 
under a charter granted by Missouri, Oct. 19, 1846. By 1855 and 1856 lodges had 
become quite numerous. George H. Himes. 


Oregon City, Aug. 2d, 1855. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bap. Home Mission Society. 
Dear Brother: 

Yours of May 25th was duly received. With this I shall 
send you the minutes of our Association. The new gold ex- 
citement in our territory at the present time calls for a com- 
munication from me. The gold region is on the large north 
fork of the Columbia River, about thirty miles above Fort 
Colville. It has now become quite certain that the mines are 
rich and they are supposed to be extensive. But nothing 
definite can be relied upon except that most of the French 
in the Willamette Valley have either been and returned and 
gone the second time or are preparing to go. Already about 
1000 of the American population of the Willamette Valley 
are on their way to these new mines. Many more are pre- 
paring to go; others are anxiously awaiting the first reliable 
information. The most extravagant rumors are in circulation 
respecting the richness of the mines and the facilities of ac- 
quiring the golden treasures. It is pretty satisfactorily as- 
certained that the Roman priest at Colville has known of these 
mines for years and has enjoined secrecy upon the Indians. 
Rumors reliable say the chiefs forbid the Oregonians, except 
French and half-breeds, to dig till they have treated with the 
Indian agent for their lands. Money is extremely scarce in 
this valley and, if there is much gold to be had, our citizens 
will have their proportion of it, even at the price of blood. 
They will not stand by, by the thousands, and see French 
Catholics, half-breeds and Indians monopolize the best of 
the diggings. Some reports say that the gold has been found 
on only two small bars of the river ; others say that the region 
of gold is 300 miles in extent. I have been waiting for the 
last two weeks to get at facts before writing you, but this is 
safe at the present. Nearly all the lands between the Cascade 
Mountains and these mines, on both sides of the Columbia 


River, 374 have been purchased of the Indians and now open 
one of the most inviting regions to the emigrant for settlement 
in North America. The Dalles must immediately become a 
point of importance and, should the mines prove rich and 
extensive, a point at The Dalles will become a second Sacra- 
mento and another at the Cascades, 45 miles below, will scarcely 
be less in importance. We should have a man at The Dalles at 
this moment, awake to all the interests of religion and hu- 
manity in that region. Trade is springing up at that point 
with great rapidity. The Methodist Church will undoubtedly 
have a man there in a few months. The Congregationalists 
are looking on with interest and have sent their man to sur- 
vey that field. I shall visit that place as soon as I learn 
more definitely the state of things in relation to the mines. 
Will you have a man for The Dalles and Cascades as soon 
as possible? It will cost as much to sustain a man in that 
field as it does at Portland. 

I am strongly inclined to the opinion that I shall settle as 
near the centre of middle Oregon as circumstances will justify, 
perhaps on the waters of the Walla Walla, at the close of 
this year, as a self-supporting missionary, to finish my days 
where I can be with my family and a little more exempt 
from responsibilities than in my present agency. But I leave 
that in the hands of the All Wise Being to direct. My friends 
here decidedly approve of my plans. Very little can be done 
in the agency by way of collecting funds this summer or next, 
should the gold excitement prevail. Most of our men will 
go to the mines and we must preach to women and children 
and runners to and fro. If ever missionaries needed an 
unction from on high, ministers and churches in Oregon at 
this time are that people. O Lord, give grace to thy servants 
to make an entire consecration to Thee! 

Last Sabbath I assisted in organizing a church of eleven 
members, fifteen miles northeast from this place, between 

374 This purchase was by the 'treaties with the Nez Perces, Cayuses, Walla 
Wallas, Umatillas, and Yakimas, in June. 1855, and with the John Day, Des Chutes 
and Wascopans, about the same time. Bancroft, Hist, of Ore., II:36o-8. 


Clackamas and Sandy Rivers. Next week I leave for the 
upper part of this valley. Our churches generally are pass- 
ing through trials and declensions, such as are too common 
after revivals, where monthly preaching and monthly meet- 
ings take the place of weekly Sabbaths and faithful pastoral 
labors through the week. We are everywhere attempting 
to impress the churches with a sense of the importance of 
regular Sabbath preaching and constant pastoral labors, and 
not without success. Yet changes in this respect are slow, 
but will come in a few more years. I made my last quarterly 
report on the first of July and ordered you to pay for me ten 
dollars on periodicals. Also ordered you to forward me a 
draft for what will be my due, after paying those little period- 
ical accounts. I rejoice at the prospect of harmony being 
restored to the churches on the Home Mission question. God 
grant that the Bible question may soon be put to rest. Our 
Bible Union brethren will have the Bible translated into the 
English language. I hope they will do the work faithfully 
and leave the American and Foreign Bible Society to prosecute 
her appropriate work unmolested and that the Peace which 
Christ left with the disciples may find a home in every church 
and every heart. 

Respectfully yours, 

Received Sept. 11. 

Oregon City, O. Ter., Sept. 1st, 1855. 
To Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. of Am. Bap. Home Mission Soc. : 
Herein I send you my report of labor under the appoint- 
ment of the Home Mission Society as General Itinerant for 
the second quarter ending Sept. 30th, 1855. 

I have labored 13 weeks; preached 21 sermons; attended 
five prayer meetings and six church covenant meetings; two 
yearly meetings of the churches; visited religiously 34 fami- 
lies and 26 individuals; have assisted in the organization of 


the Cedar Creek church, Clackamas County; have traveled to 
and from my appointments 818 miles. Four persons have 
been received into the La Creole church by baptism after a 
sermon I preached on the subject of communion at the re- 
quest of the pastor, Br. Riley. Monthly concert and weekly 
prayer meeting are observed in the Oregon City church. 
Connected with the churches which I have visited are small 
Sabbath schools in the Oregon City, Pleasant Butte and 
Santiam churches. 

Respectfully submitted, 


Oregon City, O. Ter., Sept. 1st, 1855. 
To Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bap. Home Mission Soc. : 

Herein I send my report of labor under the appointment 
of the Home Mission Society as Exploring Agent for the 
second quarter ending Sept. 30th, 1855. 

I have visited Oregon City, Corvallis, Cascades and The 
Dalles, Oregon City, Cedar Creek, Luckiamute, 375 Lebanon, 
Pleasant Butte, Santiam and Providence churches; traveled 
to and from my appointments 818 miles; labored 13 weeks. 
Have taken up the following collection: 

In the Luckiamute church, $2.00 $ 2.00 

In the Pleasant Butte church, $6.58 6.58 

In the Santiam church, $5.80 5.80 

In Oregon City church, $6.12 6.12 

Total $20.50 

Paid for traveling expenses $16.45 

For postage 20 

Total $16.65 

which you will charge to my account. 

375 The Luckiamute Church was organized April i, 1854. Mattoon, Bap. An. 
of Or*., 1: 1 6. Luckiamute is about four miles south of Monmouth, in Polk 


Preached 21 sermons ; have attended the constitution of the 
church on Cedar Creek. . . . 

Respectfully submitted, 


N. B. The extra traveling expenses are for a tour to The 
Dalles, which I shall make as soon as the yearly meetings 
are over this month. If I fail to go I shall deduct the amount 
in my next report. 
Received Oct. 17. 

Oregon City, O. Ter., Oct. 3d, 1855. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor Sec. Am. Bap. Home Mission Soc. 
Dear Brother: 

Last Thursday I took the steamer for The Dalles and arrived 
at The Cascades about eight in the evening. Found The 
Cascades in a high state of excitement through fear of a 
nightly attack of the Yaccima [Yakima] and Clickitat 
[Klickitat] Indians, which was daily expected. 376 About 500 
of their warriors were reported to be encamped in a plain 
about 35 or 40 miles northeast of The Cascades, who are 
said to aim at the destruction of the whites at The Cascades 
and thus cut off communication between the Willamette Valley 
and the upper country (or middle Oregon). Some 15 whites 
are reported as already murdered by these tribes, chiefly 
miners; one Indian agent is included in the number. Yet 
Indian rumors are uncertain. Suffice it to say that I found 
The Cascades mostly deserted by the women and children. 
The men had organized themselves into a military company 
for self defense. The family residing on the north side of 
the river midway between The Cascades and The Dalles had 
moved to The Dalles for safety. Thirty soldiers had been 
sent down from The Dalles to guard the house and out- 

376 This was the beginning of the Indian War of 1855-6, which arose partly 
over dissatisfaction with the treaties of 1855, and partly over the large influx of 
whites, and which involved Eastern Oregon and nearly all of the present Wash- 
ington. Bancroft, Hist, of Wash., Ida. and Mont., pp. 108-170. 


buildings. While I lay at The Cascades an express came down 
from The Dalles making a requisition for all the soldiers that 
could be spared at Vancouver to be sent immediately to The 
Cascades. With this state of excitement, I thought little could 
be expected from a visit to The Dalles, as this warlike ap- 
pearance from the Indians will seriously retard the settlement 
of the whole upper country for a year or two at the least. 
Consequently I return without even spending a night on the 

All the Pend d' Oreille miners have returned, except a few 
French and perhaps a very few whites. About 25 or 30 
white families are settled in the vicinity of The Dalles, and 
ten or twelve more, besides some fifty or sixty French whites 
and half-breeds, are in the Walla Walla Valley in the vicinity 
of the Whitman Mission Station. Although we have some 80 
or 100 regular troops at The Dalles, these scattered families 
will be in great danger, should the Indian war become gen- 
eral with the tribes above the Cascade Mountains. O, when 
will wars cease, and men everywhere submit to the glorious 
Prince of Peace ! If I were a young man, I sometimes think 
I should delight to propagate the blessed gospel among these 
tribes and see if they could not be saved from the brutal lusts 
of outlawed whites and the Jesuital intrigues and supersti- 
tion of the Roman priests. I have but little doubt that the 
same artful teachers are at work with those Indians that were 
accessory to the Whitman massacre. O, when shall that 
great City Babylon, in whom was found the blood of the 
prophets and of saints and of all that were slain upon the 
earth, be thrown down and found no more ! Oh Lord, hasten 
it in Thy time. 

I shall start tomorrow for a tour in the upper part of the 
valley and propose visiting some of the feeble churches in 
Lane County, if God permits. I have nothing more that is 
new to communicate at this time, but shall communicate on 
the subject of the school in this place in a few weeks. I fear 
Br. Post will set up an independent school about two miles 


from this place in the opening- of the spring. 377 But I cannot 
communicate with you officially on that subject till the com- 
mittee visit him and report to the trustees. 

Yours very affectionately, 


N. B. The school is now full. May God pour out His 
Holy Spirit upon it. 

Received Nov. 14. 

Oregon City, O. Ter., Nov. 27th, 1855. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, D. D., 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bapt. Home Mission Society, New York. 
Dear Brother: 

Yours of Sept. 1st, containing draft No. 8650, $376.24, was 
duly received. We here think that Br. Post has very little 
reason to complain respecting support. The school, accord- 
ing to his statement last spring, has been a paying concern 
ever since the first three weeks after he commenced teaching, 
and I am quite sure it has paid better since that time than 
it did before, if he succeeds as well in collecting as he did 

Private. His course with us as a board has been rather 
singular. He has from time to time avowed his intention to 
open an independent school about two miles from town. Last 
May the Board of Trustees met to take into consideration 
the state of the school and invited him to meet with us. The 
first meeting he did not attend. A committee was appointed 
to wait on him and inquire into sundry reports which we 
thought unfavorable to the prosperity of the Oregon City 
College, such as the following: That he had changed the 
name of the school in his advertisements; had proposed to 
take females as scholars, which he has since done; had pri- 
vately expressed his determination to open an independent 

377 This school was opened and ran for a time just outside the present south- 
ern limits of Oregon City. 


school, as stated above, without consulting with any of the 
Trustees on the subject, and that he had announced in a 
church meeting that he did not know who the Trustees were, 
except two or three, and he did not care. The committee 
waited on him and inquired after most of these reports. He 
made some apologies and explanations. He was told that an 
attempt to set up an independent school would be injurious to 
all parties and especially to himself; that the Board of Trus 
tees could not cherish the scheme for a moment. He agreed to 
desist from that enterprise, if the Trustees would allow him to 
reside on his land and teach in our school building. He was 
told that we did not care particularly where he resided, pro- 
vided he discharged the duties of a teacher faithfully. At 
that time he probably would have been dismissed but for Br. 
Chandler and myself. We felt that it was difficult to secure 
the labors of a competent teacher and that the Home Mis- 
sionary Society had already sent us three teachers and we 
had little hope they would send us the fourth. We, therefore, 
smothered the bursting flame and hoped he would be more 
prudent in the future. But it is probable he will open an in- 
dependent school as soon as next summer, unless he can again 
be persuaded to desist. As a teacher, with few exceptions, we 
have little occasion to find fault. Yet we have always felt 
that it would have been desirable that the school should have 
made a more decidedly religious impression on the public 
mind. In view of all the circumstances, we feel that it is 
safe to treat this matter kindly till we see some opening in 
providence for action. 

As ever yours, 


Oregon City, Nov. 27th, 1855. 
Rev. B. M. Hill, D. D. 
Dear Brother: 

Br. Boyakin will probably leave Portland at the close of 
the year. He has so signified in a communication to the 


church in that place. I regret much that his stay must be so 
short. I believe his plea principally is the sickness of his 
family. No doubt the town is subject to intermittent and re- 
mittent fevers during the summer and autumn, but much less 
severe than in many of the towns on the Mississippi River. 
Should he not settle at Corvallis, he will probably leave Ore- 
gon. The brethren and citizens at Corvallis appear quite 
solicitous that he should settle with them and they think they 
can raise $500 towards his salary for the first year. They 
have invited him and requested me to exert my influence 
to induce him to go to that place. I shall not encourage a 
separation at Portland, but, should he conclude to go to Cor- 
vallis, he will need about $300, above the $500 the citizens 
propose raising him, to sustain his family. It is to be regretted 
that the ministers should return to the States after they have 
incurred all the expense and privations of removing overland 
to Oregon. May the Good Lord direct him and the little 
feeble band at Portland to His name's praise! Portland must 
have a minister if practicable. 

Yours affectionately, 


N. B. At the strong solicitude of the Santiam church, I 
have consented to take the pastoral charge of that feeble, 
afflicted band at the expiration of the current year. Elder 
Richmond Cheadle, an influential member of the church, has 
avowed his disfellowship with that church. He will probably 
join the Presbyterian Church, and with him several more may 
go. It is thought advisable by all with whom I have con- 
sulted that I should accept their invitation and, as they pro- 
pose to move my family immediately and the place will be 
more central for my winter's labors than this, I have con- 
sented to move in a few days. I shall hereafter address you 
at Washington Butte Post-office, Linn County, O. T. You 
will still address me at this place and the letters will be 
promptly forwarded to me at Washington Butte. It is thought 
that my presence at the Santiam church may be instrumental 


in arresting the sophistical arguments in favor of promiscuous 
communion, while I may be at home the coming winter. This 
situation was unsought and entirely unexpected on my part, 
and, after much prayer on the subject, I have concluded that 
it was one of Providence's calls. The church is very nearly 
in the center of the valley and removed far away from most 
of the talent in the ministry. Should the Board require it, 
I will make up the time I shall lose in moving, which will 
be but a few days, after the first of April. 

Yours in gospel bonds, 

Received Jan. 15, 1856. 

Oregon City, O. Ter., Nov. 28th, 1855. 
To Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, D. D., 

Cor. Sec. of Am. Bap. Home Mission Soc. : 
Herein I send you my report of labor under the appoint- 
ment of the Home Mission Society as General Itinerant for 
the third quarter ending Dec. 31st, 1855. I have labored 13 
weeks in the quarter ; preacher 27 sermons ; attended 1 1 prayer 
meetings; one yearly meeting; six church covenant meetings; 
visited religiously 42 families and 31 individuals; traveled to 
and from my appointments 660 miles. 

Respectfully submitted, 


General Itinerant. 

P. S. The results of the yearly meeting with the Provi- 
dence church in the forks of the Santiam and a subsequent 
meeting held in the vicinity is about 70 hopeful conversions 
and about 40 baptized. A new church constituted; also a 
protracted meeting held on the south fork of Santiam; some 
eight or ten baptized and a church constituted. For the last 
five months the French Prairie church have been somewhat 
revived and have had additions almost every month amount- 
ing to six or eight, and the interest still continues. This is 
in Br. Chandler's field of labor. 



Oregon City, O. Ter. ? Nov. 28th, 1855. 
To Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, D. D., 

Cor. Sec. of Am. Home Mission Soc. : 

Herein I send you my report of labor under the appoint- 
ment of the Home Mission Society as Exploring Agent for 
the third quarter ending Dec. 31st, 1855. 

I have visited Corvallis twice, Albany, Salem and Oregon 
City, Corvallis, Oregon City, French Prairie, Shilo, Santiam, 
Willamette Forks, and Palestine churches. Have labored 13 
weeks during the quarter; traveled to and from my appoint- 
ments 660 miles; have paid for traveling expenses $3.00; 
postage, 30 cents ; total $3.30. 

N. B. Last quarter I was detained from going to The 
Dalles, consequently my traveling expenses were four dollars 
overcharged. You will therefore deduct four dollars from 
that quarter's traveling expenses, which will then read $9.25, 
instead of $13.25. 

Respectfully submitted, 


Exploring Agent. 
Received Jan. 15, 1856. 

Oregon City, Oregon Ter., Nov. 29th, 1855. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bapt. Home Mission Society. 
Dear Brother : 

To accommodate Brother George C. Chandler, I have re- 
ceived of him thirty-two dollars and fifty cents ($32.50) to 
be paid to Edward H. Fletcher, 141 Nassau St., New York. 


Mothers' Journal, 118 Arch St., Philadelphia 5.00 

Missionary Magazine, 33 Somerset St., Boston 3.00 

Total . . $40.50 

Also Mothers' Journal for Mrs. Lucy Jane G. 

Latourette 1.00 

Total . . .$41.50 


I shall order you to pay the above in a few weeks. Deduct 
$41.50 from the amount due me on the receipt of the report 
accompanying this and forward me a draft to cover the bal- 
ance, which will then be my due, at your earliest convenience. 


Soda Springs, Linn Co., O. Ter., Jan. 1st, 1856. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bap. Home Mission Soc., 
Baptist Mission Rooms, N. York City. 
Pay the agent for the Mothers* Journal, 118 Arch Street, 
Philadelphia, five dollars and charge the same to my account. 


Soda Springs, Linn Co., O. Ter., Jan. 1st, 1856. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Sec. Am. Bap. Home Mission Soc., 

Baptist Mission Rooms, New York City. 
Pay the agent of the Baptist Missionary Magazine, No. 33 
Somerset Street, Boston, Mass., three dollars and charge the 
same to my account. 


Washington Butte, Linn Co., Co., Oregon, Mar. 31, 1857. 
Rev. Benjamin M. Hill, 

Cor. Sec. Am. Bap. Home Mission Soc. 
Dear Brother Hill: 

I now take up my long neglected pen to give you a brief 
outline of the cause of Christ in Oregon at present; and I 
may say at once that we are all famishing under the influ- 
ence of a spiritual dearth. The results of the revivals in 
'55 and '56 are being witnessed to an alarming degree. In 
some churches, most of the converts continue to maintain a 
form of godliness; in others, more than half the number of 
those who united with the church are now walking in the 
broad road of sin, I fear, to ruin; and there are churches 


in which the wayside hearers and professors hold a still greater 
proportion. Do you ask the cause of this declension? I 
conceive it is not one but legion. Monthly Sabbaths, and in 
too many instances no Sabbaths, and visiting represent in a 
great degree all Bible reading, as well as almost all religious 
reading among the youths. Sabbath school and Bible classes 
may be sustained, but it is only the few of our youths be- 
longing to religious families who can be induced to become 
habitual members. Our members are in each church scattered 
over large districts of country, with few conveniences for 
bringing their families together on the Lord's day. Those 
who would concentrate their influence cannot without a sac- 
rifice larger than they can willingly make. 

And then the pastoral relation in the churches, beyond that 
of preaching on Saturday and Sabbath once in a month to 
a given church, and occasionally visiting the most delinquent 
members, is merely nominal; we have but two Baptist min- 
isters in Oregon who profess to give themselves to the work 
of the ministry, and one of them is talking of leaving for the 
States; the other is laboring at a salary of $300, and that 
from the States, while clerks' hire is from $600 to $2200 per 
annum. Our families are supported as Paul supported himself 
while laboring for the Corinthian Church. 

And then the question of slavery, as well as that of tem- 
perance,.. must needs be noted, both in and out of the church, 
as we approach the period of the adoption of a state consti- 
tution, and as we hear of the wrongs endured by the Kansas 
patriots on account of their love for the inalienable rights of 
man. A large portion of our members are from slave-holding 
states, and a larger portion are professedly opposed to slavery, 
"but all their sympathies are with the South." What a para- 

And then, too, many of our revivals have singing as the 
instrument more than humiliation, prayer, the reading of the 
word of God and the preached word. With such a train of 
causes, what could we expect other than the sad results we 


are now witnessing" through our whole territory ? Is it a 
wonder, under such influences, that our best ministers should 
talk sometimes of leaving the ministry, and betake themselves 
to teaching, as a means of procuring an honest livelihood? 
Ministers indeed seem willing to make great sacrifices for the 
cause of the blessed Redeemer, and will preach what they can 
under the circumstances. But they must become secularized. 
Their minds will not be fruitful in word and doctrine, and all 
the blighting influences of an ignorant, undisciplined, dis- 
organized ministry and churches driven by every wind of 
doctrine must be the tendency in such a state of things. 

Now what is to be done? Should we not have in Oregon 
at least two substantial, efficient ministers, fully -sustained, 
who will approve themselves workmen not needing to be 
ashamed? Should not the Home Mission Society immediately 
give us such men, either by sending us the men, or appointing 
such as we have among us? 

Should your Board appoint Brother Chandler to the Ore- 
gon City church, that church would do what they could to 
help sustain him. Portland church is virtually extinct for the 
want of a suitable man. I would suggest that the second 
man be appointed to locate himself discretionarily, but at some 
important point. 

With the interest of the churches, our school at Oregon 
City has suffered. Br. Post has withdrawn from that school 
and set up an independent school less than two miles from 
the building erected by the Baptists and where he formerly 
taught. His course with us has not been in harmony with 
the interests of the Baptists. I think I speak the sentiment 
of the whole denomination, so far as he is known, when I 
say that his whole course has seemed to be governed by his 
views of his own interest in dollars and cents. 

At present the school is taught by a son and daughter of 
Br. Hezekiah Johnson, your former missionary, and the school 
is doing as well as could be expected under the circumstances. 
But we need a teacher qualified to teach the higher branches 


of mathematics and Latin and Greek, as well as the natural 
sciences. We all think such a man would be well sustained 
and patronized by the denomination and the citizens, if he will 
come to us willing to identify himself with the Baptist interests. 
A liberal-minded man need feel no embarrassments on this 
subject. The public mind in Oregon seems wonderfully im- 
pressed with the thought that they are to have no good schools 
in Oregon except such as are under the fostering care of some 
religious denomination; and to the evangelical churches they 
will look for good high schools till they learn effectually that 
the churches will not assume this responsibility. We might 
to-day have half a dozen flourishing high schools in Oregon, 
if we had the houses and teachers and necessary apparatus. 
The question is a grave one. Shall we as Baptists suffer these 
positions to slide over into the hands of the Methodists and 
Congregationalists ? Or, what is worse, leave the rising gen- 
eration in Oregon unprovided with even the means of acquiring 
a business education, and our churches uncared for in the 
great work of raising up a living ministry in our midst? Will 
you once more send us a man for Oregon City University? 
I write officially. 

Yours truly, 


Route of Narrow Gauge Railroad in the Willamette Valley 


Compiled by GEORGE H. HIKES. 

Balaton, Noah F. Gregg, b. Or. 1852; d. Sheridan, Feb. n, 1919. 
Barker, Mrs. Miary Ann Hobson, b. Mo., Nov. 22, 1843; 1847; 

March 24, 1919. 


Batcsheller, John Wesley, b. 1830; 1852; d. near Seattle, Wash., Feb. 

28, 1919. 

Boise, Mrs. Emily Parmenter, b. Mass. 1827; 1859; A Salem, March 26, 

Bush., D. W, b. . 1854; d. Portland, Jan. 12, 1919. 

Chance, William G., b. Ky., Jan. 18, 1849; 1852; d. Portland^ Jan. 21, 1919. 

Cook, Robert A., b. Tenn. May 31, 1833; 1853; d. Gold Hill, Or., March 
16, 1919. 

Davenport, John C, b. N. Y. 18 ; 1851 ; d. Hoquiam, Wash., March i, 1910. 

Driver, Samuel B., b. Ind. June 14, 1852; Or. 1853; d. Wamis, March 4, 
1919; nephew of Rev. I. D. Driver. 

Egan, John T., b. Canada, 1852; Or. 1852; d. Albany, Jan. n, 1919. 

Evans, Mrs. Amanda Jane. b. May 7, 1851; Or. 1852; d. Feb. 11, 1019. 

Foster, Mrs. Nancy Jane Hubbard, b. I1L Feb. 6, 1847; Or. 1853; d. Portland, 
Jan. 19, 1919. 

Fuller, Mrs. Laura M., b. ; Or. 1852; d. Portland, Marcch 28, 19x9. 

Harpole, Peter, b. 111. Feb. 5, 1841; Or. 1847; d. Junction City, Fb. 15, 1919. 

Hawn, Jasper C., b. Texas, Feb. 8, 1840; Or. 1843; d. Yamhill, Jan. 25, 1919. 

Hembree, James Thomas, b. Tenn. Sept. 13, 1826; Or. 1843; d. Portland, 
Jan. 12, 1919. 

Hughes, Mrs. Ella, b. Ohio, 1851; Or. 1858; d. Feb. 6, 1919. 

' March 22, 1919. 

Mass. Jan. 12, 1919. 

, 'Portland, March 27, 1919. 

La Rue, Mrs. Lydia W., b. Vt. 1834; Or. 1853; d. Portland, Feb. 8, 1919. 

Lewis, Frederick George, b. Or. 1847; d. Airlie, Feb. 19, 1919. 

Magers, J. E., b. Ohio, 1848; Or. 1852; d. near Portland, Jan. 25, 1919. 

Martin, James White, b. Or. Aug., 1853; d. Lafayette, Jan. 23, 1919. 

Mays, J. R., b. 111. June 29, 1836; Or. 1852; d. North Plains, Feb. 7, 1919. 

Miller, W. G., b. Mo. June 25, 1834; Or. 1852: d. Dillard, Jan. 12, 1919. 

Mitchell, William H., b. 111. 1834; Or. 1853; d. Los Angeles, Cal., March 14, 

McHaley, Andrew J., b. Mo. 1839; Or. 1843; d. Portland, Jan. 24, 1919. 

McClure, Mrs. Laura V. Pierce, b. Ohio, May 13, 1837; Or. 1852; d. La 
Grande, March >, 1919. 

Pittock, Henry Lewis, b. England, March x, 1835; Pittsburgh, U. S., 1839; 
Or. 1853; d. Portland, Jan. 28, 1919. 

Robison, George Crews, b. 111. Oct. 18, 1837; Or. 1853; d. McMinnville, Jan. 
31, 1919. 

Russell, A. P., b. Me. 1832; Cal. 1849; Or. Linn county, 18 ; d. Salem, 
March xo, 1019. Father of 17 children, twelve surviving. 

Sears, Charles W., b. Va. 1837; Or. 1854; d. Albany, Feb. 18, 1919. 

Severson, Peter W., b. N. Y. 1830; Cal. 1856; Or. 1858; d. Portland, Jan., 

Taylor, John A, b. N. Y. Sept. 12, 1825; Or. 1852; d. Feb. 12, 1919. 

Tustin, Caleb S., b. 111. 1830; Or. 1847; d. McMinnville, Feb. xx, 1919. 

Umphlette, Mrs. Serena, b. Mo. 1833; Or. 1850; d. near Amity, March ax, 

Van Ogle, H. E., b. Ohio, Sept. 21, 1825; Or. 1853; d. Orting, Wash., Fb. 17, 

Washburn, Charles W., b. Ohio, Sept. 13, 1824; Cal. 1849; Or. 1853; d. 
Junction City, Jan. 12, 1919. 

Welch, Mrs. Margaret Levisa Simmons, b. Iowa, May 4, 1838; Or. ; d. 

Ridgefield, Wash., Feb. 13, 1919. 

Only those marked with a * were ever at any time members of the Oregon 
'Pioneer Association which was organized in 1873. 


of the 

Oregon Historical Society 


Copyright, 1919, by the Oregon Historical Society 
The Quarterly disavows responsibility for the positions taken by contributors to its pages . 



Forty years ago the Willamette Valley was eager for rail- 
roads, just as now for automobile highways. The navigable 
river which drains the valley was an easy avenue of transport- 
ation, but wagon roads leading to the river were difficult, and, 
in much of the productive area, were impassable in winter and 
impossible in summer. Two lines of railroad reached south- 
ward from Portland, the one forty-eight miles to Saint Joseph, 
on Yamhill River 2 , the other, two hundred miles to Roseburg 3 , 
in the valley of Umpqua River. Wagon road approaches to 
these steel highways were difficult, like those to the river. In 
short, agricultural growth was held back by poor means of 
hauling to market. The best remedy then known was con- 
struction of iron railroads. And the cheapest railroad to 
build and operate was the narrow-gauge. 4 

1 The writer is indebted, for matter of this article, to Charles N. Scott, who 
as receiver of the narrow gauge railroad, was its manager in 1885-90; to Richard 
Koehler, who was foremost in management of the property after its acquisition 
by the Southern Pacific in 1890; to F. E. Beach, who was manager in 1878 in 
the initial stages of the railroao:; to Joseph Gaston's Centennial History of Oregon, 
the author of which promoted, financed and built the first twenty miles in 1878; 
and, especially, to the files of The Oregoniati, the consecutive reading of which 
has afforded the working materials of this article. See history of narrow gauge 
in The Oregonian, January i, 1889; also March 6, 1889, by William Reid. 

2 Built in 1870-72; the Oregon Central Railroad. 

3 Built in 1868-72; the Oregon and California Railroad. 

4 The rails of the narrow gauge were three feet apart; of standard gauge, 
are four feet eight and one-half inches. 


The narrow gauge or "Yamhill" railroad, initiated in 1877 
between Dayton and Sheridan, in Yamhill County, with a 
branch to Dallas in Polk County, grew in 1879-81 to be an 
ambitious system, embracing the length of the Willamette 
Valley, from Portland to Airlie 80 miles on the west side, 
and to Coburg, 123 miles on the east side, a total trackage of 
183 miles, with proposed extensions to Winnemucca on the 
Central Pacific in Nevada, and to Astoria at the mouth of the 
Columbia River, and with proposed connections with 
Yaquina Bay, the whole system to contain nearly one 
thousand miles of track, seaports at Astoria, Portland and 
Yaquina, and transcontinental rail connections with the Cen- 
tral Pacific and Union Pacific railroads. The scheme ended 
in 1881 when the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company 
leased the railroad in order to rid Henry Villard' s system of 
its rivalry. 

The narrow gauge exercised important competitive effects 
upon other railroad lines in Oregon. It forced extensions of 
the Oregon and California Railroad. It influenced the policies 
of Henry Villard, who was then in command of the Northern 
Pacific, the Columbia River rail route of the present Oregon- 
Washington Railroad and Navigation Company, and the pres- 
ent east side and west side lines of the Southern Pacific in 
Oregon. But the narrow gauge was only partly built; the 
bridge across the Willamette River near Dundee, to connect 
the two main branches, was not constructed; tracks, rolling 
stock and bridges fell into disrepair under Villard; the exten- 
sion to Portland did not reach completion until a later time, 
and then under its Southern Pacific owners, who discarded 
the large scheme, and used the tracks merely as "feeders" to 
other lines. The tracks of the narrow gauge, broadened to 
"standard," now are components of the Southern Pacific, some 
of them electrified. 

The history of the narrow gauge makes an important nar- 
rative in the progress of Oregon, a narrative which the writer 
has had in mind during several years, and to which he finds 


himself brought suddenly by the unexpected call of the editor 
of this magazine for "copy." 

The initial credits for financing the railroad were supplied 
by Yamhill and Polk county farmers. The San Francisco 
firm that furnished the rails took mortgage security, and had 
to resort to foreclosure for collection. Other credit came 
from Joseph Gaston, who had promoted the Portland-Forest 
Grove railroad in 1867-70, and who, though possessing but 
small means in cash, owned lands which he offered as pledges. 
These financial resources were so inadequate that the project 
soon fell into receivership, from which it was extricated by 
Scotch capitalists headed by William Reid, who in 1878-81 
invested some $2,500,000 in the property. This capital of the 
Scotchmen also proved insufficient, a further expenditure of 
more than $400,000, borrowings by the Oregon receiver in 
1885-89, failed to place the railroad on a sound financial basis, 
and finally the property passed to the Southern Pacific for 
less than half its original cost, netting to the Scotchmen an 
apparent loss of some $1,300,000. 

So much for the general survey of the history. Now for 

Farmers of Yamhill and Polk counties had been waiting 
many years for promised railroad construction, when, in 1877, 
a narrow gauge scheme was proposed, to extend from steam- 
boat connections at Dayton to Sheridan, twenty miles. The 
farmers had grown impatient. Joseph Gaston had promised 
them a railroad in 1867-70, and Ben Holladay in 1870-73. 
The latter had opened the west side railroad from Portland 
to Saint Joseph, 5 near McMinnville, in 1872, and then had 
collapsed financially. Residents of Yamhill and Polk had 
expected big things from the west side line, and had seen 

5 By way of Forest Grove. At this time the Oregon and California Railroad, 
operating between Portland and Roseburg, and between Portland and Saint 
Joseph, could not finance the extensions demanded by the people of Willamette 
Valley, and the best that it could do was to extend fifty miles in 1878 from Saint 
Joseph to Corvallis. This period of popular clamor for railroads, which resulted 
in the narrow gauge project, was a period of depression in the earnings of the 
Oregon and California lines, brought about partly by low rates, which were due 
to river competition and by the need of stimulating wheat producti9n, and partly 
by high cost of replacement construction of trestles, bridges and rails. "The net 
earnings," writes Mr. Richard Koehler in a recent letter to the writer, "dwindled 
down to less than was necessary to pay one per cent on the bonds outstanding." 


their hopes dashed to disappointment. So they were keenly 
responsive to the independent scheme of the Dayton-Sheridan 

A leading sponsor in its early stages appears to have been 
Isaac Ball, one of the long-suffering farmers. At his instiga- 
tion, citizens held a meeting at Amity, October 20, 1877, to 
consider the project. The meeting named a committee to 
report upon the practicability of the plan, which committee 
met at McMinnville, November 1, and reported at a second 
meeting at Amity, November 17. The report estimated the 
cost of the railroad between Dayton and Sheridan at $150,000, 
based upon costs of similar construction in Ohio, Illinois and 
Missouri. It cited that the railroad would serve 300,000 acres 
of land, which would produce 1,000,000 bushels of wheat 
annually. An assessment of fifty cents an acre would build 
the railroad, and add five dollars to the value of every acre. 6 
The report continued : 

"Let every farmer figure for himself. Let him count the time it takes to 
haul his grain away to Dayton now; count the wear and tear of himself, his 
teams and the harness and wagons; and the loss in the prices of grain in not 
being handy to the market to catch it at the top notch. Let him also count the 
increased cost of all machinery, merchandise, salt, iron, lime, etc., that must be 
hauled from Dayton or Saint joe. And then let him consider how much more 
grain he could raise, if he could save the time spent in hauling off his crop to 
Dayton, and put it on the farm in fall planting." 

This report was dated at Dayton, November 5, 1877, and 
was signed by B. B. Branson, Charles Lafollette and W. S. 
Powell. The second meeting at Amity, which received the 
report November 17, responded promptly by pledging $24,000 
to the enterprise. The committee also went through the pre- 
liminaries of incorporating a company, the Dayton, Sheridan 
and Grand Ronde Railway Company. 7 The directors of the 
company were B. B. Branson (the first president), Ellis G. 
Hughes (the succeeding president, elected March 22, 1878), 
Sylvester Farrell, W. S. Powell, and F. E. Beach. The sec- 
retary of the company and its manager in 1878 was Mr. 

6 See The Oregonian, November 15, 1877; also September 24, 1878. 

7 Date of incorporation of the Dayton, Sheridan and Grand Ronde Railway, 
November 14, 1877; capital stock, $200,000; 2,000 shares, par $100. 


Beach, 8 until the railroad passed into the hands of a receiver, 
George Revette. 

Joseph Gaston, well known railroad promoter, attended the 
two meetings at Amity, and subscribed to one-half of the 
2000 shares. He was authorized to canvass the farmers so as 
to enlist them to make pledges. The pledges were payable in 
three instalments, at specified stages of construction, were to 
be refunded by the railroad in three payments, namely, No- 
vember, 1, 1880, November 1, 1881, November 1, 1882, and 
were to be evidenced by "freight orders or script," that is, 
the railroad was to redeem the pledges by rendering an equiva- 
lent value of railroad service. This "freight script" was later 
held chargeable to the railroad by the supreme court of Ore- 
gon, and $61,000 was refunded. 9 

The heaviest financing was performed by the creditor that 
supplied the rails, the Pacific Rolling Mill Company, of Cali- 
fornia. 10 It accepted three mortgages as follows : 

Rails for 20 miles, mortgage executed November 5, 1878 $62,724.56 

Rails for 12 miles to Dallas, executed December 4, 1878, 27,134.00 

Mortgage executed May 7, 1879 4,058.00 

Total $93,916.56" 

As the railroad company was unable to make the payments 
due under the mortgage in 1878, the rolling mill company 
began suit to recover January 23, 1879, and had the receiver, 
Revette, appointed, who conducted the management more than 
a year, or until April 17, 1880. 11 

By arrangement with the Scotch buyers of the railroad, 
headed by William Reid, the rolling mill company was satis- 
fied. The railroad was conveyed June 2, 1879, to a company 
representing the new investors, the Willamette Valley Rail- 
road Company, and the old company was dissolved. 12 

8 See Powell vs. Dayton, Sheridan and Grand Ronde Railroad Company, 16 
Oregon 34. 

9 Joseph Gaston's Centennial History of Oregon says that farmers pledged 
$45,000 and citizens of Dallas put up $17,000 additional for the branch to that 
town. See Vol. I, p. 533. See also Branson et al vs. Oregonian Railway Com- 
pany, Limited, 10 Oregon 279; Powell vs. Oregonian Railway Company, U. S. 
reports, Sawyer 13, 536. 

10 The contract for rails was dated February 14, 1878. 

11 See Pacific Rolling Mill Company vs. Dayton, Sheridan and Grand Ronde 
Railroad Company, Willamette Valley Railway Company, Joseph Gaston et al, 
U. S. Court, Ninth Circuit, Sawyer 7, 61. 

12 See Powell vs. Dayton, Sheridan and Grand Ronde Railroad Company, 
13 Oregon 450-52. 


Contract for construction had been let in April, 1878, and the 
track between Dayton and Sheridan opened for traffic October 
24, 1878. The track was poorly constructed and not ballasted. 
Speed did not exceed twelve or fifteen miles an hour. The 
equipment consisted of two Baldwin locomotives, not heavier 
than ten tons each, and a number of flatcars, from which pas- 
senger coaches were improvised. The rails weighed twenty- 
eight pounds to the yard. 

At this juncture, the Pacific Northwest was just opening 
upon a progressive period of railroad construction, and begin- 
ning to receive great funds of outside capital. In the years 
1880-83 Henry Villard expended $150,000,000 upon the lines 
of the Northern Pacific railroad and its allied properties. 13 
His German capitalists of the Oregon and California Railroad 
extended in 1878-79 the Portland-Saint Joseph line fifty miles 
to Corvallis, 14 and the Portland-Roseburg line in 1881-84, one 
hundred and fifty miles to Ashland. 15 His Eastern investors 
in- 1879 acquired properties of the Oregon Steam Navigation 
Company and the Walla Walla-Wallula Railroad, and in 
1880-84, built the lines of the Oregon Railway and Naviga- 
tion Company from Portland to Huntington and to points 
north of Walla Walla. 16 The Northern Pacific connected with 
the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company, at the mouth 
of Snake River, by building lines, in 1879-83, through the 
Spokane country and the Clark's Fork region. The Pacific 
Northwest was electrified with the spirit of financial venture. 
And the Willamette Valley was an inviting field for the 
investment of Scotch savings. Although the money returns 
were poor to the thrifty folk of Scotland, yet who will deny 
that the stimulus afforded to the farmers of Oregon may 
have strengthened the sons of Oregon to aid the "kilties" on 
the late battlefields of France? 

13 Villard gained control of the Northern Pacific Railroad in June, 1881. 

14 Opened, Portland to Saint Joseph, late in 1872, by Ben Holladay; Saint 
Joseph to Corvallis, January 25, 1879, by Henry Villard. . 

15 Opened, Portland to Roseburg, November 2, 1872, by Holladay; Roseburg 
to Ashland, by Villard, May 4, 1884. Villard took the management of the Holla- 
day lines (Oregon and California Railroad) April 18, 1876. 

1 6 Villard organized the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company in June- 
July, 1879. 


There came to this far off shore in 1874, from Dundee, 
Scotland, a man who was destined to extend the narrow gauge 
through the wheat fields of the Willamette Valley, and later, 
to lead the way to realization of a railroad for the Tillamook- 
Astoria region. He was William Reid. He heralded his 
coming with copious newspaper comments both on things of 
Oregon and on things of his native heather. With him came 
as an asset of his equipment a fund of Scotch persistency and 
shrewdness. For five years he acted at Dundee, Scotland, as 
American vice consul, in which capacity he published in 1873 
a pamphlet entitled: "Oregon and Washington as Fields for 
Capital and Labor." This pamphlet had wide circulation and 
resulted later in the promotion by Reid at Portland of the 
Oregon and Washington Trust Company, which was con- 
verted into the Dundee Mortgage and Trust Investment Com- 
pany. Thus Reid became resident agent at Portland for Scotch 
funds, first for mortgages and then for the narrow gauge 
railroad. He organized a board of trade at Portland and 
became its secretary, in which capacity he wrote many de- 
scriptions of Oregon resources and progress. He organized 
the Oregon and Washington Mortgage Savings Bank at Port- 
land, and later the Portland National Bank. At Salem he 
organized the First National Bank. At Turner and Salem he 
built flour mills. Due to his operations, the Legislature of 
Oregon enacted a law in 1878 authorizing foreign corporations 
to build railroads in Oregon. 17 Reid's record in Oregon prog- 
ress is that of an energetic and useful constructor. 

The Dundee buyers of the thirty-two miles of narrow gauge 
railroad, having taken hold of the property in 1879, built in 
1880-81 one hundred and fifty additional miles of track, ex- 
pending, in all, sums as follows : 18 

17 See session laws, p. 85. 

18 Figures taken from Dundee Courier and ^Argus, March 8, 1889, at time 
of bankruptcy in Scotch court. The original capital was 16,000 shares, par 10 
each, issued in year 1880; 16,000 additional shares issued in 1881. Original 
mortgage 95,000, 6 per cent, ^ dated February ^ 14, 1881; 119,700, 6 per cent, 
dated February 4, 1882. To this capital expenditure was added in 1885-89 by the 
receiver the further sum of $423,000. 


Funds from sale of capital stock, 32,000 shares, par 10, @ 7 17$ 

6d, 252,000 $1,227,240 

Funds from sale of bonds, 214,700 1,045,589 

Other borrowed funds 255,225 

Total $2,528,054 

Construction went forward rapidly in 1880. Ground was 
broken for the east side branch at Silverton, April 19, 1880, 
by the wife of Governor W. W. Thayer. The line was opened 
from Ray's Landing, on Willamette River, near Saint Paul, 
to Silverton via Woodburn, October 4, of that year; to Scio, 
November 4, and to Brownsville, December 28. The line 
leached Coburg in July, 1882. William Reid offered to build 
to Albany, if that city would erect a river bridge and pay a 
bonus of $45,000, but the total outlay to Albany of between 
$100,000 and $140,000 was deemed excessive, and so the nar- 
row gauge passed by Albany to the eastward. 19 The west 
side branch of the road was extended from Dallas to Mon- 
mouth in June, 1881, and to Airlie in the following Septem- 
ber: from Lafayette to Dundee and Fulquartz Landing, on 
Willamete River, opposite Ray's Landing, September 16, 1881. 
To connect the east side and the west side branches a bridge 
was to be built between Ray's Landing and Fulquartz Land- 
ing. The Earl of Airlie, president of the railroad, when in 
Portland in October, 1880, directed the chief engineer Major 
Alfred F. Sears, to begin at once construction of this viaduct. 
This work began the following month but was halted next 
year by Henry Villard. 20 

10 See The Oreponian, March 13, 1880. 

20 These operations were conducted by the Oregonian Railway Company, 
Limited, a corporation of Dundee, Scotland, formed April 30, 1880. This com- 
panv succeeded the Oregon Railway Company. Limited, of Oregon, incorporated 
ft 'Portland. February 20. 1880, by William Reid, Donald Macleay and Ellis G. 
Hughes, and formally took over the railroad from the earlier company, December 
TI, 1880. The Oregon Railway had been preceded by the Willamette Valley 
Railroad Company, which conveyed to it, April 2. 1880, and which has been re- 
ferred to earlier in this article as the successor of the original Dayton, Sheridan 
and Grand Ronde Railway. The chief and the longest lived of these companies 
was the Oregonian Railway Company. Its officers in 1881 were William ReiJ, 
president, and Ellis G. Hughes, secretary. (Hughes vs. Oregonian Ry. Co., n 
Oregon 159.) It is the view of Mr. Richard Koehler that the Central Pacific 
project, from Winnemucca, Nevada, to the Willamette _ Valley, in the period 
1880-81, was not seriouslv considered by the Huntington interests, and that their 
advantage and their preference lay along the land-grant route of the Portland- 
Sacramento line. "If there 'was in Mr. Reid's mind at that time," writes Mr. 
Koehler in a recent letter to the writer, "a vision of a railroad to Winnemucca. 
it was in connection with a similar vision of Mr. B. J. Pengra, who maintained 
from the earliest planning of railroad enterprises that the most practicable and 
cheapest route was from Winnemucca, via the Pengra Pass and the Middle Fork 


The junction of the two branches was to be at Dundee, from 
which place the railroad was to lead to Portland. The com- 
pany directors in Scotland had ordered completion of the 
line to Portland prior to September 1, 1881, and construction 
was carried on in a desultory way within ten miles of that 
city, beginning- in March, 1880, but was stopped in 1881 by 
Villard. As the east side and west side branches were sep- 
arated by the Willamette River, and the extension of the west 
side branch to Portland was not opened until November 26, 
1887, the railroad company operated two steamboats, City of 
Salem and Salem, through its subsidiary, Oregonian Naviga- 
tion Company, Limited. 21 These steamboats and others con- 
nected with the east side branch at Ray's Landing, and the 
west side branch at Dayton. By taking steamboat from Port- 
land at 7 o'clock a. m., passengers reached Dayton at 2 o'clock 
that afternoon, whence the railroad conveyed them to Lafay- 
ette, Dallas, Monmouth and Airlie. The train reached Sheri- 
dan at 6:30 p. m. In September, 1881, completion of the track 
from Lafayette to Fulquartz Landing expedited this business. 
The company also maintained connections with Salem, Cor- 
vallis and Albany by means of river boats. Amid the rosy 
railroad prospects in 1880-81, Central Pacific extensions to 
Oregon by the route of Humboldt River, Goose Lake, 
Sprague River, Pensra Pass and Middle Fork of the Willam- 
ette River, possible connection with the Scottish narrow gauge 
were often heralded. The country was agog with the grand 
expectations of Villard's and Huntington's railroad system. 
The Dundee investors were happy over the prospect. Airlie, 
when in Portland in October, 1880, ordered a survey of the 
intermediate route. An ambitious company, the Astoria & 
Winnemucca Railroad, incorporated at Astoria, May 8, 1879, 
pursued this scheme, and the Oregon Legislature in 1880 

of the Willamette. . . . T also firmly believe that while Mr. Reid may have 
spoken and written about this errand system of narrow gauge lines, reaching from 
Portland to Winnemucca, to Yaquina Bay and to Astoria, he based his action 
in taking over and extending the narrow gauge system upon the belief that by 
building nearer to the foothills on both sides of the river, than the then existing 
lines of the Oregon and California Railroad, he could gather a very substantial 
part of the valley business, and thus make the narrow gauge lines pay." 
21 See ii Oregon 159, Hughes vs. Oregonian Railway Company. 


offered free right of way through state lands. This project 
revived in 1885 in negotiations with Huntington, and again 
in 1890, when Huntington took over the narrow gauge and 
planned extensions. It revived once more during the activities 
of E. H. Harriman in 1906-10, and finally lapsed on account 
of government repression of railroads. 

Villard's move to protect his Oregon and California Railroad 
from competition of the growing narrow gauge was the logical 
one of gaining control of the invader. The narrow gauge 
had given him and his associates a taste of competition when 
they had felt impelled to build a road in 1879 to Corvallis, and 
to Lebanon in 1880. For the latter extension Villard had 
caused to be incorporated the Albany and Lebanon Railroad 
Company, March 1, 1880, by Joseph N. Dolph, J. Brandt Jr., 
and Paul Schultze, capital, $200,000. He had also caused to 
be incorporated a similar company to build from Salem to 
Silverton. This extension was not built, but the Lebanon ex- 
tension, eleven miles, opened September 22, 1880. 

So Villard sent to Scotland, to negotiate a lease with the 
narrow gauge owners for ninety-six years, J. B. Montgomery, 
who had built ninety miles of the narrow gauge from Ray's 
Landing to Brownsville and had also built parts of the North- 
ern Pacific. The lessee was Villard's Oregon Railway and Navi- 
gation Company, which like the Oregon and California and the 
Northern Pacific, were then controlled by Villard's Oregon 
and Transcontinental. The annual rental, $140,000, to be paid 
to the Scotch owners, represented seven per cent a year on 
the total investment, which, up to that time, amounted to 
nearly $2,000,000 or one hundred and sixty miles of track. 
This lease was strenuously opposed; by William Reid, builder 
and president of the narrow gauge, who, in three years saw 
his reasons for opposition to a rival that meant no good to 
the narrow gauge, amply verified. Reid's purpose was a con- 
nection with the Central Pacific at Winnemucca by the Pengra 
Pass and Htimboldt route, the success of which would have 
brought to the Pacific Northwest a transcontinental connec- 


tion with the Central Pacific, Union Pacific, and valuable 
activities of progress. Reid sent Ellis G. Hughes, vice presi- 
dent of the narrow gauge company, to New York to deal with 
Huntington for these connections at the same time that Vil- 
lard sent Montgomery to Scotland to deal with the owners. 
Hughes arranged a lease for payment to the stockholders of 
the narrow gauge four and one-half per cent annually on the 
cost of the road, plus one-half of the net receipts of the 
Winnemucca extension. But as the four and one-half per cent 
offered by Huntington was visibly less than the seven per cent 
offered by Villard, the thrifty Scotch prized more highly the 
larger promise and chose the money that three years later 
proved them penny wise and pound foolish. 22 

The successful lessee took charge of the narrow gauge, 
August 1, 1881, and immediately set about doing its real pur- 
poses. Extensions to Portland and Yaquina immediately 
stopped ; also the terminal plans for use of the public levee at 
Portland, of which more will be said later; also the bridge 
project at Ray's Landing which would have united the two 
branches of the system. Villard showed plainly his real policy, 
namely, to subordinate the lines of the troublesome invader 
and make them serve as feeders to the Oregon and California 
Railroad. When taken over by the receiver in 1885 the nar- 
row gauge system was divided into six separate parts: (1) 
Coburg to South Santiam, 39 miles, operated in connection 
with the Lebanon branch of the Oregon and California Rail- 
road ; (2) South Santiam to West Stayton, eleven miles, not 
operated; (3) West Stayton to Woodburn, thirty-nine miles, 
operated in connection with the Oregon and California Rail- 
road; (4) Woodburn to Ray's Landing, ten miles, not oper- 
ated: (5) Fulquartz Landing" to White's Junction, sixteen 
miles, not operated ; (6) White's Junction to Airlie, forty 
miles, operated in connection with the Oregon and California 
Railroad. This policy worked ruin to the narrow gauge prop- 
erty. Bridges washed out by floods were abandoned. The 

22 See details of lease negotiations in The Oregonian, March 6, 1889, written 
by William Reid. 


railroad in the three years ensuing the lease went to wreck 
as an earning property. Finally, the Oregon Railway and 
Navigation Company, after retirement of Villard from its 
affairs, abandoned the narrow gauge and repudiated the lease, 
May 14, 1884, as null and void. 23 Consternation ensued. Bonds 
of the narrow gauge at once fell from 120 to 40. Stock shares 
which had brought $40 fell to $2. Without terminal connec- 
tions, tracks and rolling stock dilapidated, the plight of the 
railroad was sad, indeed. 24 A receivership ensued under 
Charles N. Scott, who was appointed by the circuit court of 
the United States, Judge Deady, March 30, 1885, and took 
charge of the property April 14, 1885. 2S The receiver was 
named in the lease suit against the Oregon Railway and Navi- 
gation Company and not in foreclosure for the creditors. 
Under the receiver's management bridges, track and equip- 
ment were restored as well as available borrowings would 
avail until the railroad was taken over in 1890 by the Southern 

The Scotch owners sought remedy in the United States 
circuit court of Judge Deady to bind the Oregon Railway and 
Navigation Company to the ninety-six year term of the lease 
and were victorious in that court by winning judgments for 
the rental dues, but the supreme court of the United States on 
March 5, 1889, held the lease void because it had not been 
validated by the Legislature of Oregon. Judge Deady, on 
March 18, 1885, and at intervals thereafter awarded judgment 
against the lessee for accruals of unpaid rent. The supreme 
court of the United States held that the Oregonian Railway 
Company had no power to execute the lease and the Oregon 
Railway and Navigation Company no power to accept it. 

For success of the narrow gauge system, after the lease 
fiasco in 1884, it was clear that these several things must be 

23 The Oregon Railway and Navigation Company continued to operate the 
lines until November 15. 1884. See The Oregonian, November 12, 1884. 

24 See article by William Reid, The Oregonian, March 6, 1889. 

25 Charles Napier Scott proved himself an effiicent railroad man and an 
able administrator of the narrow gauge. Before coming to Oregon he had many 
years' experience in railroading. He was born April 16, 1846, at Hamilton, 
Ohio. He is a resident of Portland, Ore. He was finally discharged as receiver 
August 12, 1891. (Portland Evening Telegram, August 12, 1891.) 


done: Restoration of the bridges across North Santiam and 
South Santiam; erection of a bridge between Ray's Landing 
and Fulquartz Landing ; extension of thirty miles to a terminal 
outlet at Portland from Dundee; purchase of new rolling 
stock and renewals of ties and trestles. Receiver Scott set 
himself to the task of rebuilding the Santiam bridges, repair- 
ing the tracks and roadbed and buying new equipment, while 
William Reid undertook the work of building the connecting 
bridge across Willamette River and the extension to Port- 
land. As the receiver could raise funds only by borrowing, 
he was authorized by the United States court to issue certif- 
icates of indebtedness amounting in all in the five years of 
his administration, to some $423,000. 26 

The Dundee-Portland extension was undertaken by the Port- 
land and Willamette Valley Railway Company, incorporated 
January 19, 1885. 27 The widespread interest taken in the crea- 
tion of this company throughout Willamette Valley is attested 
by the large number and the scattering of its incorporators, 
who were: W. S. Ladd, H. C. Leonard, R. B. Knapp, Wil- 
liam Reid, Van B. DeLashmutt, Aaron Meier, J. A. Chapman, 
Ira F. Powers (Sr.), John Schuerer, J. F. Coyne, C. E. Smith, 
William Gallick of Portland; A. R. Burbank, H. Hurley, J. H. 
Olds, W. D. Fenton, P. P. Gates, J. M. Kelty, R. P. Bird, R. 
R. Daniel, W. M. Townsend, J. W. Watts of Lafayette; L. 
Bently, T. S. Powell, A. W. Lucas, D. T. Stanley, Wm. Daw- 
son, N. B. Gregg of Monmouth; Goodman Hubbard, Charles 
F. Johns, H. L. Deacon, Geo. W. Crystal, Wm. Grant, F. G. 
Richmond of Dallas; Peter Hume, J. M. Moyer, Oliver P. 
Coshow, W. R. Kirk, Thomas Kay, R. N. Thompson of 
Brownsville ; A. Coolidge, R. C. Geer, L. C. Russell of Silver- 
ton; Robert Pentland, W. E. Price Jr., J. C. Johnson, R. F. 
Ashly, H. A. Johnson Jr., Frank J. Villa of Scio. 28 

The Portland and Willamette Valley Railway Company was 
capitalized at $150,000 capital stock and $400,000 bonds. Its 

26 Contracts for the Santiam bridges were let July 26, 1886; first authoriza- 
tion to borrow money granted by United States circuit court ApriJ ig, 1886. 

27 See The Oregonian, January 18, 1885. 

28 See The Oregonian, January 18, 1885. 


funds were supplied by Huntington, Thomas H. Hubbard and 
their associates, but the source of the money was not publicly 
known at the time of construction. The work of building tres- 
tles and making rock cuts was extensive and costly. For ex- 
ample, Chehalem Creek was spanned by a 700-foot trestle ; Blair 
Creek by a 1000-foot trestle; Rock Creek by an 1800-foot 
trestle and Tualatin River by a 180-foot trestle. Deep rock 
cuts were made at Elk Rock ? Oswego and Chehalem Gap. The 
chief engineer was H. Hawgood. 

Construction of the route had suspended in 1881, at the 
time of the Villard lease and was resumed in January, 1886, 
by the new company. The track was finished to Elk Rock, 
near Oswego, in the following December. This progress was 
signalized December 11, 1886, by an excursion of Portland citi- 
zens to Dallas. 29 The first train arrived in South Portland, 
November 26, 1887. The first train started from Jefferson 
Street, Portland (public levee), July 23, 1888. 

The narrow gauge system gravitated to the Southern Pa- 
cific in the years 1885-90. In that period the Southern Pa- 
cific absorbed the Oregon and California Railroad. The 
Southern Pacific entered into negotiation in 1887 with the 
stockholders and bondholders of the Oregon and California 
and succeeded in adding the railroad properties of that com- 
pany to its extensive domains and of connecting them with its 
California lines. 30 Southern Pacific acquisition of the narrow 
gauge by steady steps was a natural sequence and became 
obvious in 1887, when Huntington's ownership of the Port- 
land-Dundee line was no longer concealed, and his negotia- 
tions with the Scotch owners of the other branches of the 
system were tending to a focus. In May, 1887, control was 
announced of the Portland and Willamette Valley Railway by 
the Pacific Improvement Company, the principal stockholders 
of which, C. P. Huntington, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, 

29 By steamboat, City of Salem, Portland to Elk Rock. For narrative, see 
The Oregonian, December 13, 1886. 

30 See Argument of B. D. Townsend, U. S. vs. Oregon and California Rail- 
road Company, p. 17. Connection with California made at Ashland, December 
17, 1887. 


Charles F. Crocker and Timothy Hopkins, controlled the 
Southern Pacific. This second merging of the two railroads 
of the Willamette Valley (the first by Villard in 1881), was a 
disappointment to Oregon citizens, who had hoped for com- 
petitive activities. 31 

A corporation, formed by Reid to build the Ray's Landing 
bridge, called the Oregonian Railway Bridge Company, in- 
corporated at Portland, July 21, 1886, capital, $100,000, but 
the merging with Southern Pacific interests in 1887 made the 
bridge project superfluous. This bridge was repeatedly au- 
thorized by the Oregon Legislature. 32 

The "seizure" of the public levee at Portland for a terminal 
by William Reid and his Portland and Willamette Valley 
Railway, made many vexing episodes in the progress of the 
extension to that city. This property on the river bank at foot 
of Jefferson Street had been bestowed upon the city by Stephen 
Coffin, one of the proprietors of the townsite, for public 
wharfage purposes. It was situated just where Reid needed 
his terminal, and Reid proceeded to appropriate it through 
the Legislature, against protests of Portland. This action had 
the support of farmers of the Willamette Valley, who desired 
to afford an outlet for the narrow gauge system. The Legis- 
lature made two grants of the levee, the first in 1880, 33 the 
second in 1885. 34 The first franchise was awarded to the 
Oregonian Railway Company over Governor Thayer's veto, 
but the act was defeated in the supreme court of Oregon in 
March, 1881, 35 but Judge M. P. Deady in the United States 
circuit court allowed temporary use of the levee pending the 
suit. This franchise lapsed by its own limitations, because the 
narrow gauge extension was not built before expiration of the 
time limit for completion, July 1, 1882. 

The second award of the levee, this time to the Portland 

31 Se The Oregonian, July 8, 1889, for history of control by Southern Pacific 
On May 5, the Pacific Improvement Company acquired for the Southern Pacific, 
stock control of the Oregonian Railway Company, but not control of the bond 
ownership until 1889. 

32 See session laws 1887, pp. 339-40; also session laws, 1889. 

33 See session laws, pp. 57-60. 

34 See session laws, pp. 100-06. 

35 See 9 Oregon 231, Oregonian Railway Company vs. City of Portland. 


and Willamette Valley Railway, included a free right of way 
through state lands. The railroad entered into possession of 
the levee December 1, 1887, after tests in the state and federal 
courts. The company built warehouses and a depot on the 
river bank, and its successors occupied the property some 
twenty-five years. 

The latter history of the narrow gauge is soon told. The 
lines of the Oregonian Railway Company were foreclosed by 
a group of Southern Pacific interests in 1890, chief of whom 
were C. P. Huntington and Thomas H. Hubbard. The line of 
the Portland and Willamette Valley Railway was foreclosed 
in 18?2 by the same interests. A new company was formed 
in 1890 to take over the property, the Oregonian Railroad 
Company, T. E. Stillman, president; Richard Koehler, vice 
president; W. W. Bretherton, secretary; Charles N. Scott, 
superintendent ; C. B. Williams, auditor ; A. L. Warner, acting 
auditor; George H. Andrews, treasurer. Receiver Scott 
turned over the railroad to this company in May, 1890. Soon 
afterwards the work began of broadening the east side road 
to standard gauge. At this time Huntington was considering 
large projects in Western Oregon, among them the Astoria 
railroad and the Fengra route across Cascade Mountains, 36 
together with an extension of the narrow gauge from Silver- 
ton to Portland. 37 Surveys for the latter ran by way of Lents 
and Molalla, 38 but the surveyors were called in late in 1890 39 
and the project was abandoned. Huntington extended the 
railroad from Coburg to Springfield and Natron. Further 
extension to Wendling was made in 1900. The west side 
branch was made standard gauge in 1893. Crocker and Stan- 
ford interests for a time opposed Huntington's schemes as to 
the narrow gauge acquisition, and were brought into line, ac- 
cording to current gossip, by Huntington's threats of connect- 
ing the narrow gauge system with the Central Pacific. 40 

36 For Huntington's plans, see Quarterly, vol. xv, pp. 231-32. 

37 See The Oregonian, April 7, 1890. 

38 See The Oregonian, August 5, 1890. 

39 See The Oregonian, December 2, 1890. 

40 See The Oregonian, November 24, 1890; December 24, 1890. 


The mortgage bonds of the Oregonian Railway Company, 
amounting to 214,700 or $1,045,589, were paid in full by 
Huntington in 1889, pursuant to arrangements made with the 
official liquidator, David Myles, appointee in bankruptcy by 
the supreme court of session of Scotland, March 20, 1889, to 
wind up the affairs of the Oregonian Railway Company, Lim- 
ited, and sell its property for benefit of the creditors. 41 Myles 
sent to Oregon his attorney, Alexander Mackay, to examine 
the railroad properties. The number of stockholders of the 
bankrupt railroad was 183 ? only two of whom dwelt in Oregon, 
J. B. Montgomery, 4,000 shares out of 32,000, and William 
Reid, 149 shares. Reid had also owned 4,000 shares before 
the Villard lease, and sold all but his 149 shares because dis- 
liking the prospect of Villard's control. The price paid to the 
liquidator yielded a balance of some $135,000 over the bonds, 
to pay floating indebtedness due Scotch creditors, amounting 
to $250,000. The proceeds were distributed to the various 
creditors in Scotland, January 15, 1890. Huntington paid, in 
addition, receiver's certificates to the amount of some $423,000. 
The cost to him of the 147 miles of the Oregonian Railway 
amounted as follows : 42 

To the mortgage bondholders, 235,000 and other creditors ............ $1,064,450 

To the holders of receiver's certificates ............................. 423,000 


The cost of the thirty miles of the Portland-Dundee line 
probably brought the total up to $2,000,000. The loss accruing 
from the narrow gauge system came out of the pockets of the 
stock subscribers which appears to have been practically a 
total loss, $1,227,240, and also out of the coffers of Dundee 
bank lenders to the extent of $115,000 additional. The lines 
of the Oregonian Railway Company were foreclosed in the 
United States circuit court at Portland, in 1890, and the report 
of the master in chancery, George H. Durham, was finally ap- 
proved August 12, 1891. The transfer to Huntington took 
place May 20, 1890. Huntington made an inspection of the 

41 See The Oregonian, February 10, 1890. 

42 Newspaper dispatches of the time of the sale stated the purchase price at 
$1,500,000. (The Oregonian, June 27, 1890.) 


road April 27, 1890. The receivership of Charles N. Scott was 
not officially terminated, however, until August 12, 1891. In 
the summer of 1890 the newly organized company abandoned 
the line between Woodburn and Ray's Landing, ten miles. Late 
in 1890 the narrow gauge system was leased to the Oregon 
and California Railroad, but was not formally absorbed by 
the latter company until 1893. 43 

43 The principal places along the route of the narrow gauge, and the mileage, 
were as follows: Portland to Oswego, 7.3 miles; Tualatin, 13.1; Newberg, 26.4; 
Dundee Jt, 28.8; Fulquartz, 31.2; Kay's Landing, 33.3; St. Paul, 35.4; Wood- 
burn, 43.4; Mt. Angel, 49.7; Silverton, 53.9; Howell Prairie, 58.2; Macleay, 
63.8; Waldo Hills, 66.1; Aumsville, 69.1; West Stayton, 72.9; North Santiam, 
75; West Scio, 78.3; South Santiam, 83.8; Lebanon Jt., 90.8; Brownsville, 
103.7; Coburg, 123.0. Dayton, 32.7; Lafayette, 34.7; Dayton, Tt., 37.8; Whites, 
44.8; Sheridan Jt., 50.2. Ballston, 52.9; Sheridan, 57.2. Perrydale, 52.4; Dallas, 
63.0; Monmouth, 70.1; Airlie, 79.4. 

From official time tables, 1887. Running time, Portland to Dundee Jt., 3 
hours; Dundee to Lafayette, 37 minutes; Sheridan Jt. to Airlie, 2 hours, 30 min- 
utes; Ray's Landing to Coburg, 8 hours. 



To determine the exact date when the first seeds of Chris- 
tian truth were planted in Oregon soil meaning historic 
Oregon, or the "Oregon Country/' the area bounded on the 
south by the 42d parallel, west by the Pacific Ocean, north by 
the 49th parallel, and east by the summit of the Rock Moun- 
tains is very difficult. So far as known, the first white men 
known to have set foot on any portion of this soil were Davis 
Coolidge, first mate of the sloop Washington, commanded 
at this time by Capt. Robert Gray, and Robert Haswell, third 
officer of the Columbia, who had been transferred to the sloop 
as second mate, and several of the crew. On or about August 
3, 1788, the little vessel "made a tolerably commodious harbor" 
presumably Tillamook Bay when Captain Gray sent the 
officers named ashore with several of the crew, among them 
his colored boy, Marcos, to get some grass and shrubs. The 
latter, having used a cutlass in cutting grass, carelessly stuck 
it in the sand while carrying the grass to the vessel ; whereupon 
a native seized it and ran to the Indian village. Marcos pur- 
sued the thief and seized him by the neck, but was soon over- 
powered by the savages and killed. The officers and men re- 
treated to their boats and rowed to the sloop, followed by the 
natives in canoes, who were checked by swivel fire from the 
sloop. One of the crew was wounded by a barbed arrow. 

The next men to touch the soil of Oregon were Captain Gray 
and his clerk, John Hoskins, "in the jolly-boat," and presuma- 
bly a number of his crew all going "on shore to take a short 
view of the country," in the afternoon of May 15, 1792, on 
the north bank of the Columbia at a point about twenty miles 
from its mouth. 

Whether Gray or any of his men gave the Indians, 
who were very numerous about the good ship Columbia 
when it was anchored in what is now known as Gray's Bay, 
any hint or suggestion relating to religion in any sense, is not 


known. There is no doubt,^ however, that there were white 
men upon the Oregon shore before the date above mentioned, 
but who they were, and where they came from, or whether they 
sought to instill religious convictions of any sort into the minds 
of the natives, is and probably always will be unknown. 

With the advent of the Lewis and Clark Exploring Expedi- 
tion in November, 1805 the first expedition of the kind sent 
out by the Government of the United States the John Jacob 
Astor sea expedition in October, 1810, and the Wilson Price 
Hunt party, the overland section of the Astor party, in April, 
1811, the North- West Company in December, 1813, and the 
Hudson's Bay Company, which absorbed the North-West 
Company in 1821 and began active operations in Oregon in 
1824 there came a considerable number of French Canadian 
employees and traders, most of whom had been trained in the 
Roman Catholic church to some extent. While these men led 
wild lives to a considerable degree, yet they never forget their 
faith, and in every emergency, when danger threatened, they 
appealed to God for succor. However elemental their ideas of 
worship, they probably followed the best light they had at 
the time. In this manner the Indians by whom these trappers 
and traders were surrounded received their first impressions 
of the White Man's "Book of Life," and learned of the "Black 
Gowns" long before they were visited by a priest. 

The Wilson Price Hunt party already alluded to as coming 
overland in 1811-12, endured great hardships and lost a good 
many men by desertion, among them twenty-four Iroquois, 
who had received religious instruction from the Jesuits, or 
"Black Robes," as they were known, belonging to the mission 
near St. Louis. By intermarriage they became members of 
the tribe whose territory was embraced in what is now the 
country in the vicinity of the present city of Spokane, Wash- 
ington. Before long they began to yearn for the presence of 
the "Black Robes," and a council was called and the probability 
of securing a visit from them discussed. Finally four braves 
volunteered to go to St. Louis to communicate their desires, 


and in the spring of 1831 they started eastward and reached 
their destination that fall. Their presence, however, did not 
seem to attract any special attention, since there were many 
Indians about St. Louis at that time. The hardships of the 
journey told heavily upon them, and two became dangerously 
ill and afterwards died. In their sickness both asked to be 
baptized by the black-robed priests, which was done. Their 
Christian names were Narcissa and Paul, and the record is in 
the Cathedral of St. Louis, and both were buried in the Roman 
Catholic cemetery at that place, Narcissa on October 31st and 
Paul, November'l7th, 1831. 

The story of the Indians going from the "Oregon Country" 
to St. Louis in search of the white man's "Book of Life" has 
been repeatdly told, but has been doubted in many quarters. 
The above statement with reference to the occurrence was con- 
densed from the writings of Rt. Rev. Joseph Rosati, Bishop of 
St. Louis in 1831 ; and a further proof that the Indians ar- 
rived in St. Louis in 1831 may be found in the letter books of 
Gen. William Clark, Governor of Missouri at that time, now 
in possession of the Kansas Historical Society. 

A second deputation was sent in 1832, consisting of one 
Iroquois and his family. He arrived safely in St. Louis, had 
his children baptized, was returning home to his people, with 
the hope of soon having priests in his country, but was killed 
by the Sioux Indians. 

Dr. John McLoughlin, of Canada, who began his career in 
1800 as an employee of -the North-West Company, when that 
company was merged into the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, 
was selected as chief factor to take charge of the combined 
business of both companies in all the territory west of the 
Rocky Mountains. He came to Oregon in 1824 and changed 
the headquarters from Astoria to Belle Vue Point the site of 
the present citv of Vancouver and built a fort there. He 
permitted the employees whose terms of service had expired 
to settle in the Willamette vallev and on the Cowlitz river. 
Numbers of these men had married Indian wives, had children, 
and began to wish for the presence of a priest. 


Upon Dr. McLoughlin's arrival he began the practice at once 
of reading the services of the Episcopal Church every Sunday, 
and frequently would read a chapter in the Bible, a sermon or 
a tract or a prayer. Most of the gentlemen of Fort Van- 
couver, according to Mrs. Whitman, who arrived there in 
September, 1836, were Scotch Presbyterians, and a few were 
Episcopalians. However, many of the laborers were Roman 
Catholics and had a service of their own, at which Dr. Mc- 
Loughlin officiated in French, and sometimes would translate 
a sermon or a tract, but this kind of service was not satisfac- 
tory. Accordingly two petitions were sent to the Bishop on 
Red River for a priest, one on July 3, 1832, and the other on 
February 23, 1833. In response two missionaries were 
granted Rev. F. N. Blanchet and Rev. Modeste Demers ; but 
thev did not arrive at Fort Vancouver until November 24, 
1838, after enduring incredible hardships in coming over the 
northern lake, river and horseback route. These fathers toiled 
alone for four year?, and in 1842 were reinforced by two 
more priests. On December 1. 1843. the Oregon Mission was 
erected into a vicariate apostolic. This was erected into an 
ecclesiastical province on July 24, 1846. with three sees 
Oreeon City. Walla Walla and Vancouver Island. Rt. Rev. F. 
N. Blanchet, Rt. Rev. A. M. A. Blanchet, and Rt. Rev. Modeste 
Demers being constituted the presiding: Archbishops and 
Bishops respectively, with perhaps forty helpers. 

So much for the planting of the Roman Catholic work. 
Now I will recite the origin of the Protestant work among the 

By the close of the vear 1832 the knowledge of the Indians' 
trip to St. Louis became generally known throughout 
Protestant missionary circles, and plans began to be formed 
with reference to responding* to their request. Dr. Samuel 
Parker, of Ithaca. N. Y., a Congregational minister and a 
supporter of the American Board of Commissioners for For- 
eign Missions the foreign Missionarv Societv of the Congre- 
gational. Presbvterian and Dutch Reformed Churches was 
one of the first, and I am not sure but the very first, among 


Protestants, to take up the call and urge a quick and hearty 
response. But his efforts did not arouse those to whom he 
appealed to sufficient activity to begin operations at once. 
The Macedonian cry reached the ears of Dr. Wilbur Fisk, 
President of the Wesleyan Methodist Academy at Wilbraham, 
Mass. He was a man of action, prompt and decisive, and on 
March 20, 1833, he wrote a letter to the Methodist Missionary 
Board suggesting the establishment of a mission to the Flat- 
heads without delay. This Board having a fund which could 
be used at once, considered the suggestion favorably, and after 
a few preliminaries, Dr. Fisk became the leading spirit in pro- 
moting the enterprise. 

In recalling the young men who had been former students 
under him, his mind reverted to one Jason Lee, who had come 
to his school from Canada, and who was then in the service 
of the Wesleyan church at Stanstead, Canada, the place of his 

Mr. Lee caught the inspiration from Dr. Fisk and at once 
said, "Here am I, send me." Needed preparations were made 
as rapidly as circumstances would permit, and in March, 1834, 
Revs. Jason Lee and Daniel Lee, and three laymen, Cyrus 
Shepard, P. L. Edwards and C. M. Walker, started in com- 
pany with Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth, of Massachusetts, who 
was coming west on a business expedition. 

On the way across the plains, Sunday, July 27, 1834, Mr. 
Lee held public worship in a grove. This was the first re- 
ligious service he conducted after starting for the Pacific 
slope from Liberty, Mo., April 21, 1834. His audience was a 
mixed company of Indians, half breeds and Canadian French- 
men. That evening, while two of the French-Canadians were 
racing, a third one ran across the track and a collision ensued 
which caused the death of one of the riders. Although the 
deceased person was a Roman Catholic, Captain Thomas Mc- 
Kay, requested Mr. Lee to conduct the funeral service, which 
he did the next day, thus making Monday, July 28, 1834, mem- 
orable as being the day on which the first funeral service west 
of the Rocky Mountains was conducted by a Protestant min- 


ister. On Monday, September 15, 1834, Mr. Lee and party 
arrived at Fort Vancouver, and were kindly received by Dr. 
McLoughlin and the gentlemen of the fort. Several days were 
spent by Mr. Lee in looking" out a mission station. At length a 
suitable one was found, whereupon he returned to the fort on 
Saturday, September 27. The next day he held religious serv- 
ices at the fort, and the following account I take from his 

"Essayed to preach to a mixed congregation of English, 
French, Scotch, Irish, Indians, Americans, half-breeds, Japan- 
ese, etc. some of whom did not understand five words of 
English. Found it extremely difficult to collect my thoughts 
or find language to express them ; but am thankful that I have 
been permitted to plead the cause of God on this side of the 
Rocky Mountains, where the banners of Christ were never 
before unfurled. Great God ! grant that it may not be in vain, 
but may some fruit appear even from this feeble attempt to 
labour for thee. 

"Evening: Preached again, but with as little liberty as in 
the morning: but still I find it is good to worship in the public 
congregation. My Father in Heaven, I give myself to Thee. 
May I ever be Thine and wholly Thine always directed by 
Thine unerring counsel, and ever so directed as to be most 
beneficial in the world, and bring most glory to the Most High, 
that I may at last be presented without spot, and blameless 
before the throne." 

Lee intended to locate in the Flathead country, but Dr. Mc- 
Loughlin nersuaded him to abandon that idea and establish 
his mission in the Willamette Valley, giving as a reason that 
he would be more easily protected in the event of attack by 
Indians if he was not so far away from Vancouver. Lee 
vielded to this argument, and began his work in what is now 
Marion County, a few miles below Salem. That mission farm 
is now owned by Mr. A. M. Lafollet. It may be of interest 
to know that on September 22, 1834, Lee and his companions 
were on French Prairie, that on the following Sunday, Sep~ 


tember 28, he preached at Vancouver, and on the next day, 
September 29, preparations were made for returning to lay the 
foundation of Christian work here, and on October 6 the jour- 
ney was completed and the party encamped on the spot selected 
for their mission ten miles north of Salem, on the east bank of 
the Willamette river. 

The first sermon preached by Mr. Lee in the Willamette 
Valley was on October 19 at the house of Mr. Gervais, near 
the present town of that name, and the congregation was 
composed of French, half castes and Indians. The following 
March, Mr. Shepard, who had taught school at Vancouver 
during the winter, assumed charge of the mission school. Lee 
soon saw that he was poorly equipped to accomplish what he 
desired, hence he appealed for reinforcements. In response, 
Dr. Elijah White and his wife, Alanson Beers and wife. Miss 
Anna Maria Pittman, Miss Susan Downing, and Miss Elvira 
Johnson, arrived in May, 1837, and in September of that year 
Rev. David Leslie and wife, Rev. H. K. W. Perkins and Miss 
Margaret Smith arrived. With this addition the way seemed 
clear to Lee to advance his outposts. Accordingly he made 
a trip as far south as Fort Umpqua, from which he returned 
in March, 1838. This not proving altogether satisfactory, he 
concluded to establish a mission at The Dalles, and with this 
purpose in view he left the Willamette on March 14, 1838, and 
reached his destination on the 22d. The mission there was 
decided upon and placed in charge of Rev. H. K. W. Perkins 
and Rev. Daniel Lee. 

Affairs moved along in the even tenor of their way until 
July 16, 1837 a day which should be forever memorable in 
the history of religious effort on the Pacific Coast. That day 
Jason Lee was married to Anna Maria Pittman, Cyrus Shep- 
ard to Susan Downing, and Charles Roe to Miss Nancy, an 
Indian maiden of the Callapooia tribes. Rev. Daniel Lee offi- 
ciated at the marriage of Jason Lee, and then the latter per- 
formed the ceremony for the other two couples, and preached 
a powerful sermon from Numbers 10:29 "Come thou with us, 
and we will do thee good : for the Lord hath spoken good con- 
cerning Israel." 


The rules of the Methodist Episcopal Church were then 
read by Mr. Lee, after which he baptized the young man just 
married and received him into the church and administered 
the Lord's Supper. At this point a young man who had been 
raised a Quaker and who for some time had shown a change 
of heart, asked to be baptized and partake of the Lord's Sup- 
per. This man's name was Webley Hauxhurst, and I have 
been informed that he lived a consistent, well ordered Christian 
life until his death fifty years later. Thus it was that the ordi- 
nances of the church were observed for the first time, according 
to the Protestant form, on the Pacific Coast. 

The following winter Lee felt that a special effort should be 
made to arouse a greater interest in the religious work of 
Oregon, and began to realize that it was not alone to the In- 
dians that the Gospel should be preached, but that the gradu- 
ally increasing population of the whites should also have 
Christian privileges. With this in view he started east over- 
land in March, 1838, carrying with him a memorial to Con- 
gress from the American settlers in Oregon which aroused 
such a degree of interest on the part of the President and 
Congress that five thousand dollars was given out of the "Se- 
cret Service" fund of the Government to aid in Americanizing 
Oregon. Lee's efforts produced a sensation, arousing the mis- 
sionary authorities of the Methodist Episcopal Church to vig- 
orous action. This resulted in the equipment of the Ship Lau- 
sanne for a voyage around the Horn to Oregon, and upon Octo- 
ber 25, 1839, she set sail for the Far West carrying 51 souls, 
known as the "Great Reinforcement/' arriving in the Columbia 
in May, 1840, and finally debarking at Vancouver on June 1st. 
Soon after, three buildings were erected in Salem the first 
there and thus that place became the headquarters of the 
Methodist mission field. The preaching force brought on the 
Lausanne were allotted as follows : Nisqually, Puget Sound. 
J. P. Richmond; Clatsop, J. H. Frost; Umpqua, Gustavus 
Hines, W. W. Kone; The Dalles, Daniel Lee, H. K. W. Per- 
kins ; Willamette Station, Daniel Leslie ; Willamette Falls, A. F. 


In connection with Rev. J. P. Richmond it may be said that 
he was the first minister to begin work north of the Columbia 
River ; that in the summer of 1840 he went to a point about 
twenty miles from the present city of Tacoma, and built a log 
cabin, and surrounded it by a stockade for defense from the 
Indians, about three-quarters of a mile from old Fort Nis- 
qually, which was a post of the Puget Sound Agricultural 
Company, a branch of the Hudson's Bay Company, established 
in 1833, and that here, on August 16, 1841, Dr. W. H. Willson 
and Miss Chloe A. Clark were married. The first child of 
this union was the late Mrs. J. K. Gill of this city. 

The name of Willamette Falls was soon changed to Oregon 
City, and there Waller erected the first Protestant church on 
the Pacific Coast, the building of which was begun in 1843 and 
dedicated in 1844. A little later he built the first house of 
worship in Salem. Early in 1842 it was decided to create 
an educational institution to be known as the Oregon Institute, 
and on October 26, 1842, it formally came under the control 
of the Methodist Church, and the "Oregon and California Mis- 
sion Conference" was organized, by authority given by the 
General Conference of the United States, on September 5, 
1849. At this time on the entire Pacific Coast there were 348 
members of the Methodist Church and six probationers; of 
Stinday Schools there were nine, with 261 scholars. At the 
close of the Conference of March 22, 1853, which by that time 
was called the Oregon Conference, there were 35 local preach- 
ers. 558 church members, and 214 probationers. 

The first camp meeting in Oresron or on the coast was near 
what is now Hillsboro, and was begun on July 12, 1843. The 
first dav 14 were present, Rev. Jason Lee preaching from the 
text. "Where two or three are gathered together in my name 
there am I in the midst of them." The other ministers present 
were: Rev. Gustavus Hines, Rev. H. K. W. Perkins, Rev. 
David Leslie, and Rev. Harvey Clark, the latter a Congrega- 
tionalist. Mrs. Wiley Edwards, now of Portland, is probably 
the only person living who was present at that meeting. On 
Sunday there were about 60 present, of whom 19 were not pro- 


fessing Christians. At the close of the day 16 of these made a 
public profession, among- them Joseph L. Meek, so well known 
in the early annals of Oregon. 

I now return to Dr. Parker. By the spring of 1835 he had 
been commissioned by the American Board, and had chosen 
Dr. Whitman to be his companion in undertaking "an explor- 
ing mission to ascertain by personal observation the condition 
of the country, the character of the Indian tribes, and the 
facilities for introducing the Gospel and civilization among 
them." Dr. Parker started on March 14, from Ithaca, New 
York, and arrived at St. Louis on April 4, finding Dr. Whitman 
already there. They proceeded on their journey and arrived 
at Green River on August 12. Here they met a large number 
of Indians, and it became apparent at once that they were 
not prepared to do the work that they saw would be needed 
among the Indians, consequently Dr. Whitman returned east, 
taking with him two Ne Perce boys, whose presence in the 
East greatly assisted him in arousing the Christian public 
to activity in missionary effort. The effect of this was to 
secure an adequate equipment, and in March, 1836, Dr. and 
Mrs. Whitman, Rev. and Mrs. H. H. Spalding, and Mr. W. H. 
Gray started on the trip overland to Oregon. They arrived at 
Vancouver September 12. Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding 
were the first white women to cross the continent, and for the 
first time a wagon was brought to waters flowing into the 
Columbia. Dr. Whitman at once selected his mission station 
at Wai-il-et-pu, six miles west of the present city of Walla 
Walla, and in October he and Mrs. Whitman went thither and 
began their work among the Cayuses. In November Mr. and 
Mrs. Spalding went to Lapwai on the Clearwater, thirteen miles 
from the present city of Lewiston, a tributary of the Snake, 
and raised their standard among the Nez Perces. The mis- 
sion church at Wai-il-et-pu was formally organized August 
18, 1838, with seven members. That fall reinforcements ar- 
rived in the persons of Rev. Elkanah Walker and wife, Rev. 
Cushing Eells and wife, Rev. A. B. Smith and wife, W. H. 
Gray and wife, and Andrew Rogers all sent by the American 


Board. All of these united with the mission church already re- 
ferred to on Sept. 2d, making a membership of sixteen. At a 
meeting held soon after Mr. Gray was selected to assist Mr. 
Spalding, Mr. Smith to aid Dr. Whitman, Messrs. Walker and 
Eells were to select a new location among the Spokanes, and the 
place chosen was six miles north of Spokane river. In the 
summer of 1839 Mr. Smith located at his own request at 
Kamiah, sixty miles from Lapwai, and remained until 1842, 
when he dissolved his connection with the mission and went 
to Sandwich Islands. In the fall of 1839 Mr. Gray removed 
from the mission and located in the Willamette, and for a time 
was a teacher at the Oregon Institute at Salem. With these 
exceptions the missionary force among the Indians remained 
the same until it was broken up by the massacre of Dr. Whit- 
man, his wife, and twelve others on November 29-30, 1847. 

In 1840 Rev. Harvey Clark and Rev. John S. Griffin came 
to Oregon as independent Congregational missionaries. The 
latter sought a location among the Indians of the Snake River 
region, but finally abandoned it and came to the Willamette 
valley and settled in the vicinity of what is now Hillsboro. 
Mr. Clark also came to the valley and settled at West Tualatin, 
now Forest Grove. The first Congregational church to be 
organized was that of "The First Church of Tualatin Plains," 
as it was originally, called, in 1842, of which Rev. Mr. Griffin 
was the acting pastor. In 1845 the location was changed to 
Forest Grove, when Rev. Harvey Clark became the pastor. 
Early in his ministry a log house was built which answered 
for school use on week days and church purposes on Sunday. 
In this building what is now Pacific University had its origin. 
The second Congregational church organized was that at 
Oregon City, in 1844, with three members. This was really 
a Presbyterian church, and was first known as "The First 
Presbyterian Church of Willamette Falls." Rev. Mr. Clark 
served the church until 1847, walking thither from Forest 
Grove, at every preaching service, a distance of more than 
twenty miles. He was followed by Rev. Lewis Thompson, a 
Presbyterian minister, who preached a few times. A Mr. 


Robert Moore, the leading Presbyterian member, having with- 
drawn to assist in the organization of a Presbyterian Church on 
the west side of the river at Linn City, the remainder of the 
members, some time in the latter part of 1848, voted to change 
the name to the "First Congregational Church of Oregon City." 

Rev. George H. Atkinson, of Massachusetts, a graduate of 
Andover, the first minister sent to the Pacific Coast by the 
Congregational Home Missionary Society, arrived at Oregon 
City on June 23, 1848, via Cape Horn. His first service was 
held in a private house, and the membership of the church 
numbered seven. Subsequent services were held in the court 
room and then in the basement of a house; but by August, 
1850, a church edifice was erected at a cost of $3,900, and 
dedicated. Lumber was $80.00 per thousand; carpenters' 
wages ten dollars a day; windows, twenty dollars apiece; and 
everything else in proportion. The lot where the church now 
stands cost $250.00, and it was covered with heavy timber, 
most of which was removed by Dr. Atkinson. He did a good 
deal in aiding to build the church in carrying lumber, brick 
and mortar. Labor was indeed very hard to get, as a large 
proportion of the population had gone to the gold mines in 
California. Out of these two churches came the organization 
of the Congregational Association of Oregon on July 13, 1848. 

The third Congregational Church was that at Milwaukie, 
organized in 1850 by Rev. Horace Lyman, with three mem- 
bers. At that time it was difficult to decide which was the 
most promising place for a church, Milwaukie or Portland. 
At length, however, it became apparent that the latter place 
would lead, hence all the members at Milwaukie moved away. 

The fourth was the First of Portland, on June 15, 1851, 
by Rev. Horace Lyman, pastor, with ten members, and the 
fifth was that of the First Church of Salem on July 4, 1852, 
by Rev. D. R. Williams, who had taught school at Forest 
Grove for the greater part of the previous year. 

Among our Baptist brethren the early church organizations 
were as follows: The church of West Union, May 25, 1844, 
with six members. That fall Rev. Vincent Snelling, the first 


Baptist minister to reach Oregon, arrived and served this 
church for a time. Its location was a few miles north of 
Hillsboro, Washington County. Revs. Ezra Fisher and Heze- 
kiah Johnson (1845) were the next Baptist ministers to arrive, 
and churches were organized at Yamhill and Rickreall in 1846, 
at Oregon City in 1847, at Clatsop plains, near Astoria, in 
1848. These, with the West Union church, had a combined 
membership of 95. On June 23 and 24, 1848, pursuant to 
a call by the West Union church, an association was organized, 
each church being represented by four delegates. It was 
resolved that two hundred dollars be raised at once to employ 
a minister to travel and preach within the bounds of the 
association for one year. The church at Forest Grove was 
organized on May 22, 1852, and it was the thirteenth Baptist 
church organized in Oregon. 

In the period under review there was but one Presbyterian 
church organized, that of Clatsop Plains, on September 19, 
1846, by Rev. Lewis Thompson, and in the historical summary 
of the growth of the Presbyterian denomination in Oregon, 
published by the First Presbyterian Church in Portland under 
date of June 18, 1899, it asserted that that "was the first 
Presbyterian Church on the Pacific Coast." The Presbytery 
of Oregon was organized on November 19, 1851. 

The first service of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the 
original Oregon Territory was held at Vancouver in 1836, by 
Rev. Mr. Beaver, the chaplain of the Hudson's Bay Company. 
He held services at Cathlamet, also. Rev. St. M. Fackler held 
services at Champoeg, and possibly at Oregon City. The 
first Episcopal missionary was Rev. William Richmond, who 
arrived in Portland in May, 1851, and organized Trinity Church 
on May 18. On the 25th he organized St. Paul's at Oregon 
City. The first Roman Catholic Church in Portland was dedi- 
cated Feb. 22, 1852. By the end of 1854, the total number of 
Catholics in Oregon Territory was 303. 

It is impossible to state with any degree of certainty the 
number of professed Christians connected with Protestant 


churches in Oregon at the close of the year 1852, but it will be 
seen from the foregoing that the Methodist, Congregational, 
Baptist, Presbyterian and Episcopalian denominations were 
represented in an organized form the aggregate of all prob- 
ably not exceeding 1,000 persons. To my knowledge there 
was a goodly number of the Disciples of Christ sometimes 
known as "Campbellites" in this field, but I do not think 
there was any regular organization. The total population of 
Oregon at the close of the year 1849 was about 10,000. 




Simultaneously with the congressional agitation over the 
question of giving notice, the steps which were to lead to a 
settlement of the controversy between Great Britain and the 
United States were being taken. The British Government, as 
we have seen, had not been too pleased when Pakenham rejected 
Folk's offer in the way he did. After some uneasiness on the 
part of Lord Aberdeen as to how the question could be re- 
opened, since it was obvious that England must move first if 
anything was done, he authorized Mr. Pakenham once more to 
propose arbitration. 

Already, while awaiting new instructions from his govern- 
ment, Pakenham had talked matters over unofficially with 
Buchanan, who found the British minister no less friendly 
although more grave. In anticipation of these informal con- 
ferences Buchanan had asked, at a Cabinet meeting, what sort 
of a manner he should assume with Pakenham; particularly 
he desired power to say that the President would submit a 
British proposition to the Senate. 1 But Polk said he had not 
yet determined upon this course and under no circumstances 
would he intimate that he was thinking of it. Buchanan, there- 
fore, could do no more than he had at previous times in the 
way of smoothing a path for renewed negotiations. He did, 
however, inquire of Pakenham the significance of the military 
and naval activity of Great Britain, and was assured that the 
preparations had no reference to the United States. 

This assurance did not satisfy the President. He had 
Buchanan ask McLane to bring the question up with Aberdeen. 2 
In the same dispatch in which this query was sent Buchanan 

1 Polk Diary, I, 119-21. 

2 Buchanan to MfcLane, 13 Dec. Works of Buchanan, VI, 341-2. Also pri- 
vate letter of same date, Ibid. 


told the American minister, although the President did not 
at first approve the notion, that in all probability if the British 
government should make a proposition for settling the Oregon 
controversy the President would submit it to the Senate for 
advice. This hint was but one of those which, in the months 
that followed, revealed the true manner in which the negotia- 
tion was being conducted ; ostensibly Washington was the scene 
of action, with Pakenham and Buchanan the principals; quite 
as much, however, did the negotiation take place in London 
between Lord Aberdeen and Mr. McLane. The formal ex- 
changes occurred in America; the real dickering was done in 
England. Buchanan's communications, both to Pakenham and 
to McLane, were always supervised and sometimes dictated 
by the President ; those to the minister in London afforded the 
material for the campaign which finally brought the compro- 
mise offer. 

On the twenty-third of December McLane's hint that a new 
proposal for arbitration might soon be expected was received 
by Buchanan. It was discussed at length by the President and 
his Cabinet and all agreed that arbitration could not be ac- 
cepted, but Polk refused to allow the Secretary of State to 
tell Pakenham that a new proposition on which to base nego- 
tiations would be respectfully considered; this would mean 
that the United States had taken the first step, and Polk was 
determined that Great Britain should move first. He did say 
definitely that if Pakenham should offer the United States free 
ports on the sea and on the Straits of Fuca north of 49 degrees 
he would confidentially consult three or four Senators from 
different parts of the country and might submit such a propo- 
sal to the Senate. So difficult did Buchanan find it to bring 
himself to the President's view as to what constituted a proper 
reply to Pakenham's probable overture that Polk dictated to 
him what he should write : 3 

"I would refer him to the correspondence and your last note 

3 In part the difficulty Polk had with Buchanan was due to the latter's dis- 
appointment about an appointment in Pennsylvania; he thought the President was 
using his patronage in such a way as to hurt him in his own state. Diary, I, 
134-6, 143-7. 


of the 30th of August, and say, it has been at your option with 
a perfect liberty to propose any proposition you thought proper, 
and you had no reason to conclude from what had occurred here 
that the Government would not have treated such a proposition 
with respectful consideration when made. You have made no 
new proposition, & the question therefore stands in its present 

Four days later the formal offer of arbitration was received. 
Buchanan, when he received the note, agreed with Pakenham 
that he would like to see the question settled; although he 
would present the British proposition to the consideration of 
the President he must say that both he and the President 
thought a negotiation appeared the better way to go about 
the business. After learning that the arbitration proposal 
would find little favor, P'akenham proceeded to comment on 
some of the bills introduced in Congress, particularly the ones 
which would make land grants to settlers; such measures, he 
believed, were in contravention of the terms of the convention 
of 1827. The proposed fortification of the Columbia River 
brought up the subject of the Hudson's Bay Company, and 
Buchanan understood from the drift of the conversation that 
the rights of this company formed one of the most serious 
obstacles to a settlement of the question. 4 

In Cabinet it was discovered that the British proposition 
was to submit to an impartial tribunal not the question of title, 
but of division of the Oregon country, and all were in accord 
that it could not be accepted. As Buchanan wrote McLane, 5 
to accept this basis would be to acknowledge that the President 
had been in error in asserting the title on the part of the United 
States, and it would be an admission that Great Britain had 
good title to some part of the territory. On this ground, then, 
Buchanan notified Pakenham that the proposition was inadmis- 
sible. The British minister this time was not inclined to balk 
at trifles and on his own authority, subject to the approval of 

4 Pakenham to Buchanan, S. Doc. No. 117, agth C. ist S. ; Pakenham to 
Aberdeen, 29 Dec., Br. & For. S. Papers, 34:-i37-8. A Memorandum to the 
conversation is in Works of Buchanan, VI, 350-3. 

5 29 Dec., Sen. Doc. No. 489, 29th Cong 1 , ist. Sea. See Polk, Diary, I, 147- 


his government, he suggested a modification to meet the objec- 
tion ; first let the title be considered by the arbiter, then, if it 
should be found that neither party had good title to all the 
region, an equitable line of division could be made. Further- 
more, since there seemed to be some question as to whether 
there could be found a suitable arbiter, there might be a "mixed 
commission with an umpire, or a board composed of the most 
distinguished civilians and jurists of the time, appointed in such 
a manner as to bring all pending questions to the decision of 
the most enlightened, impartial and independent minds." 6 

No immediate answer was returned to this proposal, not 
because Polk intended to accept it, but, as Buchanan informed 
McLane, 7 because it was desired to find out what had been the 
impression made by the Annual Message upon the British gov- 
ernment and people. McLane was told once more that the 
United States would never accept any proposition which in- 
volved the surrender of anything south of 49 degrees, and, in 
view of popular excitement, state legislature resolutions, and 
the temper of Congress, "if the British government intend to 
make a proposition to this givernment they have not an hour 
to lose if they desire a peaceful termination of the controversy." 

While the second arbitration proposition was before the 
administration Polk made to his Cabinet a tentative sugges- 
tion which would have redoubled the efforts of the Whigs in 
Congress could they have known of it. He suggested for con- 
sideration a possibility for a new line of approach to the solu- 
tion of the question, since it appeared probable that no division 
of the territory could be agreed upon; let there be made a 
treaty of commerce, whereby each country agreed to relax 
its restrictive tariffs; Great Britain should lower her taxes 
on American foodstuffs, cotton, tobacco and other articles to 
a "moderate revenue standard" and the United States would 
do the same with its duties on British manufactured articles. 
Such a reduction of the United States schedule of duties would 

6 Buchanan to Pakenham, 3 Jan., Sen. Doc. No. 117; Pakenham to Buchanan, 
16 Jan., Ibid.; Pakenham' to Aberdeen, Br. & For. St. Papers, 34: 140, (20 Jan.) 

7 Buchanan to McLane, 29 Jan. Given in full in Works of Buchanan, VI, 
366-8. Only parts of the letter were submitted to Congress. 


be a great object for England and she might be willing to 
surrender all of Oregon if the United States should pay a 
round sum for the improvements made by the Hudson's Bay 
Company. 8 This suggestion was not enthusiastically received ; 
Buchanan for one saw in it, if carried out, a total loss of popu- 
larity in his own state, for Pennsylvania was not even then a 
good place in which to talk about lowering tariffs. 

On the fourth of February Buchanan formally rejected the 
British offer of arbitration, stating that if for no other a single 
reason was sufficient basis for the rejection; the territorial 
rights of a nation were not properly a subject for arbitration, 
especially if, as in this case, the amount involved was great. 9 
Holding as he did that the title of the United States was best, 
the President could not jeopardize all the great interests in- 
volved with the possibility, however remote, of depriving the 
United States of all the good harbors on the coast. The ter- 
ritory was not of equal value to both nations, for it could at 
best be but a colonial possession of Great Britain while it would 
be an integral part of the American Union. Although these 
considerations, said Buchanan, had no direct bearing on the 
question, they were presented because they would explain why 
the President refused to adopt any measure which would with- 
draw the title from the control of the Government and the 
people of the United States. With this rejection of arbitration 
the negotiation rested for a time. 

While it had under consideration the answer to the British 
minister the Cabinet had before it the resolutions from both 
houses asking for copies of correspondence between the two 
governments later than that submitted with the Annual Mes- 
sage. Again a carefully selected list was prepared and for- 
warded by the President. It included Buchanan's inquiry of 
McLane about the warlike preparations in Great Britain; 

8 J. Q. Adams, when he read of the revolution in Great Britain's commer- 
cial policy then taking place, wrote in his diary (Memoirs, XII, 248) : "It is evi- 
dent that the Oregon question will be settled by the repeal of the corn laws and 
the sacrifice of the American tariff; a bargain, both sides of which will be for the 
benefit of England, and to our disadvantage; a purchase of peace, the value of 
which can only be tested by time." The date of the entry is 20 February. Folk's 
suggestion is in his Diary, I, 191-2. 

9 Buchanan to Pakenham, Sen. Doc. No. 117. 


McLane's reply reporting the conversation with Lord Aber- 
deen; and the formal notes relating to the propositions for 
arbitration. 10 

McLane, meantime, had been active in London, although 
always acting informally. 11 He reported the British disap- 
proval of Pakenham's rejection of Folk's offer, a disapproval, 
he said, which all classes expected to have weight with the 
American government in disposing it to a favorable reception 
of further overtures which might be made for resuming nego- 
tiations. This had been indicated in Parliament 12 as well as 
in official circles outside. On the basis of this disposition of 
the British Government McLane urged that the last American 
proposition be taken as the starting point for a final adjust- 
ment, allowing joint occupancy and free navigation of the 
Columbia for a period of from seven to ten years longer. 
Better terms than these, he thought, were not to be obtained. 
To this suggestion Buchanan was directed, after a full Cabinet 
discussion, 13 to reply to McLane that the President would con- 
sent, though reluctantly, to present to the Senate for advice a 
proposition on the lines indicated by McLane ; 49 degrees to 
the sea and then the straits, but the matter of free ports must 
be omitted if the tip of Vancouver's Island were yielded, 
although they might stand if 49 degrees without deviation were 
adopted. \ - , ^^TJ 

"There is one point on which it is necessary to guard, 
whether the first or the second proposition should be submitted 
by the British government. The Strait of Fuca is an arm of 
the sea, and under public law all nations would possess the 
same right to navigate it, throughout its whole length, as they 
now have to the navigation of the British Channel. Still, to 
prevent further difficulties, this ought to be clearly and dis- 
tinctly understood." 

These indications, sufficiently plain to us in studying the 
period at a later date, that Polk was going to submit a compro- 

10 Globe, XV, 332. For war preparations see Chap. XI below, 
it McLane to Buchanan, 3 Feb., Sen. Doc. t No. 489. 

12 3 Hansard, 83; 9 seq. 

13 Polk, Diary, I, 244-5. Buchanan to McLane, 26 Feb., Works of Buchanan, 
VI, 377-83. 


mise offer, if one came, to the Senate, which would undoubtedly 
advise him to accept it, were not upon the surface then. Even 
members of his Cabinet were still a little uncertain of the 
situation, and, except for those Senators with whom Polk 
talked freely and to whom he had stated that he would submit 
a proposition to the Senate, Congress was wholly at sea. In 
the Senate the debate on the notice was going on ; in the House 
the topic was quiescent for the moment, although early in 
March it was in the forefront again. The war spirit had some- 
what subsided, however. The threatened change of ministry 
in England, which would have given Palmerston the Foreign 
Office, had not taken place and men felt that Aberdeen could 
be counted on to pursue a pacific course as long as he was 
given half an opportunity. 14 Nevertheless there was general 
unanimity in the belief that things must go on and be settled; 
the problem must be solved and giving notice was the first step 
on the American side. 15 

Before McLane received an answer to his suggestion he 
wrote again, 16 following an interview with Lord Aberdeen, 
that the United States could not expect the British govern- 
ment to accept anything less than 49 degrees to the sea and 
free navigation of the Columbia for the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany for a period of years. If it should be found that the 
Columbia was not navigable at the point where it was crossed 
by the forty-ninth parallel this point would probably not be 
insisted upon. He reiterated his belief that no proposition 
of any sort would come until the notice had been acted upon 
in Congress. The same day he wrote Calhoun to much the 
same effect, although here he stated that he believed the British 
government, despite repeated refusals, still had some notion 
that the United States would ultimately agree to arbitration. 

14 For instance the letters of Webster, Calhoun, Ingersoll and others re- 
flect this view; there would be peace, although fust how they could not tell. Yet 
J. R. Poinsett wrote Van Buren, 2 Mar., (Vari Buren Papers, Vol. 53) : "I very 
much fear our foreign relations are becoming too complicated for the management 
of those, who now direct them, to be disentangled without war." 

15 Buchanan analyzed the situation in a letter to McLane, 26 Feb., Works, 
VI, 385-7. I ,-: ! d, *>dW 

16 To Buchanan, 3 Mar., No. West Bound, Arb.; to Calhoun, Correspondence 
of Calhoun, 1076-9. 


The American cause, he felt, had been hurt by the long delay 
over the notice, as well as by the opinion of some American 
writers who belittled the pretensions of the United States. An 
article in the North American Review, especially, had pro- 
duced in England the feeling that the claims of the United 
States were not, even in the minds of Americans, as good as 
had been stated. 17 

Henry Wheaton, then on his way to Berlin as American 
minister to Prussia, had felt the British pulse as he stopped 
in London. From there he wrote Calhoun 18 that he did not 
believe the government or the people were inclined to push 
matters, nor did he think that the passage of the resolutions 
for notice would be taken as a hostile measure. He told the 
"great mediator" (his own appellation) that he always let it 
be understood when anyone talked to him about Oregon that 
49 must be adhered to as the most equitable boundary 
line, that there was no possibility of modifying this basis. 
This letter, and possibly the one from McLane, was in Cal- 
houn's possession when he made his great speech in March 
and undoubtedly added to the conviction with which he urged 
a conciliatory course. 

Arbitration had been and was being urged in England out- 
side official circles. In the July (1845) issue of the Edinburgh 
Review Senior had exhaustively examined the Oregon ques- 
tion and had come to the conclusion that arbitration was the 
only way out. The newspapers, when in a conciliatory mood, 
looked upon it as a most satisfactory solution. The London 
Quarterly Review, however, believed that in the end a line 
following 49 and the Straits of Fuca would be selected. 19 

"We are more and more convinced by the advices which we 
have lately received, that the American cabinet will not and 
if it would could not make any larger concession. It is, we 
believe, all that any American statesman could hope to carry, 
and we are equally satisfied, that on our part, after so much 
delay and complication, and considering it in its future effect 

17 Bown's article, Jan., 1846. Other articles of the same tone are found in 
American Whig Review, Jan. and Feb., 1846. 

1 8 10 Feb., Correspondence of Calhoun. 1071. 

19 March, 1846, VoL XLVTI, 603. 


on the tranquility of the district itself, it is the best for our 
interests and sufficient for our honor." 

Among all the other indications that the British mind was 
adjusting itself to 49 is a significant letter from Joshua 
Bates, head of the British banking house of Baring, to a Bir- 
mingham Quaker, Sturgis. Early in December he wrote that 
stockjobbers were saying "the 49 is about right and 
there can be no difficulty." This was written before Congress 
had received Folk's message so the suggestion of fuller terms 
for a settlement are the more suggestive. The Hudson's Bay 
Company, he said, desired a settlement and might be more 
tractable if allowed twenty years' occupation and the right 
of pre-emption of the lands they were then cultivating, together 
with the right to elect their allegiance when the United States 
assumed full control. "This with 49 and the end of 
Vancouver's Island is as much as any American, be he Bos- 
tonian or Carolinian, will, I think, consent to give. If Great 
Britain is not satisfied with that, let them have war if they 
want it." 20 In April Bates wrote Sturgis that the Oregon 
Question was as good as settled. 21 "Your pamphlet has done 
more than all the diplomatic notes. I claim the merit of sug- 
gesting the mode of getting rid of the question of the Hudson's 
Bay Company and the navigation of the Columbia, by allowing 
the company to enjoy it for a fixed number of years. Mr. 
McLane and the Government had not thought of it. In the 
Quarterly is an article written by Croker which completely 
adopts these views." 

The British government was, as McLane had more than 
once pointed out, waiting for Congress to act upon the notice 
for as soon as word reached London that the Senate had 
passed the resolutions and before McLane had received in- 
structions, Aberdeen summoned him to a long conversation and 

20 2 Dec. In No. West Bound. Arb., 42-3. 

21 3 Apr., Ibid. The Quartely referred to is the London Quarterly Review 
quoted above. J. Q. Adams received a copy of Sturgis' pamphlet, in which Bates' 
suggestions had been incorporated, also a letter from Sturgis who told him, Adams, 
that his speech in Oregon was inflaming his countrymen to war. Adams notes in 
his diary (Memoirs, XII, 256-7), that "Sturge" was a Quaker to whose unqualified 
denunciation of war he could not subscribe. Adams took the trouble to write 
Sturgis explaining his own position on the whole subject. 


talked over with him the offer which he thought he should 
make. The proposition as outlined and as reported to Wash- 
ington by McLane included ( 1 ) a boundary line following 49 
to the seat and the Strait of Juan de Fuca with free 
navigation of the Straits confirmed; (2) security of British 
and American property rights north and south of the proposed 
boundary; and (3) free navigation of the Columbia for the 
Hudson's Bay Company, although Great Britain would claim 
no right to exercise any police or other jurisdiction for itself 
or the company ; the navigation rights would be under exactly 
the same conditions which should apply to American citizens. 
"It is scarcely necessary for me to state," added McLane by 
way of comment, "that the proposition as now submitted has 
not received my countenance. ... I have therefore felt 
it my duty to discourage any expectation that it will be accepted 
by the President, or, if submitted to that body, approved by 
the Senate." 22 The two points, of free navigation of the 
Columbia and the claim to all Vancouver by Great Britain, seem 
to have impressed McLane with the fear that no adjustment 
could be expected. He reported that Lord Aberdeen seemed 
to have the impression that the Senate would advise the Presi- 
dent to accept these terms and the latter would not take the 
responsibility of rejecting them without consulting the Senate. 
The same steamer which brought McLane's letter to the 
United States also bore instructions to Pakenham. After a 
careful review of the course of the British government on the 
Oregon Question and including a statement of the situation 
of the previous summer, Lord Aberdeen said that Her Majesty's 
government would "feel themselves criminal if they permitted 
considerations of diplomatic punctilio or etiquette to prevent 
them from making every proper exertion to avert the danger 
of calamities which they were unwilling to contemplate, but 
the magnitude of which scarcely admits of exaggeration." 
The legislature of the United States, moreover, had, in com- 
plying with the recommendations of the President to terminate 

22 To Buchanan, 18 May, No. West Bound. Arb., 49-5. To Calhoun he 
wrote in similar vein. Correspondence of Calhoun, 1073-4. 


the convention of 1827, accompanied their decision with con- 
ciliatory sentiments. Therefore the British government di- 
rected its minister in Washington to propose to the American 
government terms which had been drawn up in the form of a 
treaty which accompanied the instructions. The relative con- 
cessions involved in the proposal were reviewed and compared 
by Lord Aberdeen, but, said he, "I am not disposed to weigh 
minutely the precise amount of compensation or equivalent 
which may be received by either party . . . but am con- 
tent to leave such estimiate to be made by reference to a 
higher consideration than the mere balance of territorial loss 
or gain. We have sought peace in the spirit of peace." 23 

Even more conciliatory was the letter of private instructions 
which accompanied the document intended to be shown the 
American Secretary of State. 24 Pakenham was told to con- 
clude a treaty on the terms outlined, if possible, "since the 
present constitution of the Senate appears to offer a greater 
chance of acquiescence . . . than might be present at any 
future period. 1 ' However, if the President declined to accept 
the proposal, and made a counter-proposition, "you will ex- 
press regret that you possess no power to admit any such 
modification, and, without absolutely rejecting whatever pro- 
posal may be submitted on the part of the United States, you 
will refer the whole matter to your government." This time 
there was to be no opportunity for a slip on the part of the 

Before information reached America of the steps taken by 
the British government, men of the conciliation party felt that 
it was for the United States to show by some sign a disposition 
to settle the controversy and preserve peace, for, not being 
altogether in the confidence of the President they had not his 
conviction that an offer would be made from the other side. 
Senator McDuffie thought that a renewal of the offer of 49 
should accompany the notice. Richard Rush, who had 

23 Aberden to Pakenham, 18 May, S. Ex. Doc., I, pt. 6, 226-8, 42d Cong. 
3d Ss. 

24 Ibid., 228-9. 


eagerly watched the proceedings from the outside, wrote Vice- 
President Dallas to the same effect, and Dallas pressed this 
view upon the President. 25 To them as well as to all others 
who raised the point Polk always returned the same answer; 
the move must come first from the other side, but he invariably 
softened this statement by his old formula that, in confidence, 
he would say that he intended to submit any reasonable offer 
to the Senate for previous advice. 

A more difficult situation faced the President on account of 
an article in the official organ, the Union. Ritchie, the editor, 
had not been taken into the confidence of the man whose gen- 
eral views he was supposed to spread broadcast, so, when the 
notice was finally passed by Congress, he thundered out against 
the Democrats who had combined with the Whigs to oppose 
the President. A storm immediately arose. Buchanan re- 
ported that there was much dissatisfaction among the Demo- 
crats ; somebody, they said, ought to be associated with Ritchie 
to make the Union a strong paper and to prevent alienation 
of members of the party. Allen, whose views the condemned 
article might have been expected to represent, thought a man 
like Francis P. Blair (who with Rives had formerly conducted 
the Union) ought to be associated with Ritchie who could 
not get five votes as Public Printer from the Calhoun faction. 
Polk himself agreed that although he disapproved the course 
of Calhoun and his followers, the article had been too denuncia- 
tory and severe. He talked it over with Ritchie, who was 
much perturbed and excused himself by saying that he had 
prepared it late at night and in a hurry. Thereupon the Presi- 
dent gave him the sketch of an article on the matter, telling 
him to "make out of it what he pleased." "This is the second 
or third time since I have been President," wrote the Presi- 
dent in his Diary, "that I have sketched an article for the paper. 
I did so in this instance to allay, if possible, the excitement 
which I learned the article in yesterday's Union had produced 
among the Democratic members." 26 

35 Polk, Diary, I, 348-9; 37- 
26 I, 351 seq. 


Allen went so far as to propose to Cass that they take steps 
to convert the Congressional Globe into a daily and, under 
Blair and Rives, make it a new Democratic organ. Both Polk 
and Cass, who grasped the situation more clearly than the Ohio 
Senator, saw that this would only split the party more since 
the proposed sheet would probably be a Van Buren and Wright 
paper and its first issue would be taken as the beginning of 
the next presidential campaign. Allen did not press the topic 
and it was dropped. 

Throughout the country as a whole, except in parts of the 
West, the passage of the notice was looked upon as a virtual 
settlement of the Oregon Question, for they were few who 
believed that then the President would refuse to consider a 
compromise which in some way was going to be proposed. 
Editorial advice was not wanting. For example the Charles- 
ton Mercury from the stronghold of Calhoun said, 27 

"We repeat that we are glad the matter is now in the hands 
of the President, with the wishes and views of Congress and 
the people clearly expressed we sincerely hope that he will 
not allow any mere notion of form or etiquette to prevent him 
from at once acting on England for the settlement of the 
boundary at 49. If we were to choose for ourselves we would 
rather be the party to make the offer of 49 than to receive 
one from the other side." 

Confidence that there would be no further hitch in settle- 
ment received a severe blow when the Mexican situation was 
brought before Congress and that body was stampeded into a 
declaration of war. Calhoun, who tried to prevent the Presi- 
dent's sending any message on the subject, feared that it would 
affect the European relations and arrest or possibly defeat the 
settlement of the Oregon Question. There would be, he 
thought, a powerful incentive for England and perhaps France 
to get into the contest. 28 Yet at the same time Buchanan was 
speaking "publicly and confidently of a settlement at 49" 
and adding that this would not have been obtained if 

27 Quoted in Niles* Register, 16 May. 

28 See letters to T. C. Clemson, 12 and 14 May, to J. E. Calhoun, 29 May, 
Correspondence of Calhoun, 690, 692-4. 


54 degrees 40 minutes had not been claimed. He asserted as 
confidently that there would be no war. 29 Such information, 
coming from the Secretary of State, was taken to express the 
sentiments of the Administration and could not fail to have 
effect. Nevertheless it was undoubtedly fortunate for the 
United States that the offer from Great Britain was sent as 
it was. A new ministry was in office, with Lord Palmerston 
of imperialistic tendencies as Foreign Secretary, when the 
treaty as ratified in the United States was received in London ; 
it would have been passing strange if such a ministry would 
not have held out for the demands first formulated by Canning 
had it seemed expedient to do so. As it was the treaty had 
been submitted to the Senate by the time England had received 
news of the outbreak of hostilities with Mexico. 

On June third Buchanan received McLane's letter forecast- 
ing the British offer. "If Mr. McLane is right in the character 
of the proposition which is to be made, it is certain that I can- 
not accept it, and it is a matter of doubt in my mind whether 
it be such as I ought to submit to the Senate for their previous 
advice," commented the President. 39 But he submitted the 
letter to his Cabinet the next day. Buchanan inclined to sub- 
mitting the offer to the Senate, for, as he pointed out, if free 
navigation of the Columbia was only for the period of the 
existing charter of the Hudson's Bay Company the point would 
not be vital. Bancroft, Marcy and Mason also thought it 
should be submitted. 

On June sixth the formal proposition from Pakenham was 
before the Cabinet where the discussion was largely over the 
proposed navigation concession. Buchanan had changed his 
mind and thought it doubtful whether the right would termi- 
nate in 1859 when the existing charter of the Company ex- 

^Webster to Haven. 28 May. Speeches and Writings, XVI, 454- 'Neverthe- 
less only two weeks before this Buchanan had urged Polk to allow him to send 
to the ministers of the United States in foreign countries along with the announce- 
ment of the war a statement that in going to war the object of the United States 
was not to dismember Mexico. When Polk refused Buchanan said "You will 
have war with England as well as Mexico and probably France, too, for neither 
of these powers will stand by and see California annexed to the United' States." 
Polk, Diary, I, .397-8. 

30 Polk, Dutry, I, 444-8; 451-62 passim. 


pired; Walker and Marcy agreed with Polk in thinking it 
would, and they, together with Bancroft and Johnson, said 
offer should go to the Senate. Buchanan was still in doubt; 
friends of 54 degrees 40 minutes were such good friends of 
the administration that he wished no backing out on the propo- 
sition. This volte-face on the part of the Secretary of State 
angered the President, although he records that he remained 
calm, and caused him to explain that submission of a proposi- 
tion was in line with the Annual Message, as well as in 
accord with the acts of former presidents. Thereupon Buchanan 
said he would advise submission but declined to prepare the 
message to accompany it. Privately the other members of the 
Cabinet spoke to the President expressing their astonishment 
at the course of Buchanan, and he explained it in this way : 

"My impression is that Mr. Buchanan intends now to shun 
all responsibility for the submission of the British proposi- 
tion to the Senate, but still he may wish it done without his 
agency, so that if the 54 40' men shall complain, he may be 
able to say that my message submitting it did not receive his 
sanction. I shall be disappointed if any message which can be 
drawn will receive his assent. He will choose to dissent and 
if it is condemned he will escape all responsibility. In his 
dispatches to Mr. McLane I have more than once, & in the 
presence of the Cabinet, caused paragraphs to be struck out 
yielding as I thought too much to Great Britain, and now it 
is most strange that he should suddenly, and without assign- 
ment of any reason, take the opposite extreme, and talk as 
he did yesterday of 'backing out from 54 40'." 

A second time Buchanan was requested to draw up the mes- 
sage and refused, saying he would have no agency in its 
preparation; he also doubted if any of his own or McLane's 
dispatches ought to be sent to the Senate, which Polk ex- 
plained to himself on the ground that Buchanan had formerly 
urged 49 and this would be shown. He was, however, dis- 
satisfied with Folk's draft of a message and finally drew one 
up himself, but neither the President nor the rest of the Cabinet 
thought it was suitable, while Bancroft reminded his colleague 
that he had himself said a month ago "the title of the United 


States north of 49 was a shakling one." After some more 
discussion Polk, with the assent of all but Buchanan, deter- 
mined to send only that portion of his own draft which sub- 
mitted the British offer, gave his own reasons for taking the 
course, reiterated his opinions of the Annual Message, and 
ended with a declaration that he would be governed by the 
advice of the Senate. 31 He had already consulted several of 
the Senators and all had advised sending the offer although 
the 54 40' men had said that they would vote against accept- 
ing it. 

Accordingly the proposition reached the Senate on June 
tenth, and as that body went into executive session Senator 
Sevier was heard to say, "Now, fifty-four forties, come up to 
the scratch." 32 This they attempted to do, but numbers were 
against them and voted down every effort to block immediate 
consideration of the message and the offer. The next day 
Haywood's resolution advising the President to accept the 
offer was adopted by a vote of 38 to 12, and even an amend- 
ment proposed by Niles to fix the time limit for the Hudson's 
Bay Company's privileges was rejected. 33 

When the treaty itself was before the Senate for ratification 
Benton urged its acceptance as presented, but Cass said that it 
was not an ultimatum but a "project" to be met with a counter- 
project, basing his contention upon the correspondence of Mc- 
Lane which had accompanied the treaty. Allen wished the 
iniquities of the peace men to be exposed to light by moving 
the suspension of the rule which closed the doors for execu- 
tive session, but only a small group of 54 40' men would sup- 
si See Message in Richardson, IV, 449-50. On the day the Message was sent 
to the Senate Polk offered to Buchanan to nominate him to the vacant position 
on the Supreme Bench at the next session of Congress. Buchanan, who had 
been indicating that he would like the place, seemed gratified and, a little later, 
urged that his name be sent immediately. When Congress convened in December, 
however, he had changed his mind and did not wish the place, probably because 
presidential possibilities seemed brighter. 

32 Register, 13 June. Globe, XV, 1223. The "veil of secrecy" was removed 
in July and the proceedings printed. 

33 The point was brought to the attention of Pakenham by Buchanan who 
explained that the United States understood that the Company was to enjoy the 
privilege only for the duration of its actual charter. McLane was also instructed 
to make this (point clear to Lord Aberdeen. Buchanan to McLane, 13 June, Sen. 
Doc. No. 489. The treaty was signed, ratified and sent to England by Robert 
Armstrong, consul at Liverpool, on the 226. of June. 


port him. The alignment on ratification was the same as that 
when the resolutions for notice were adopted two months 
before, with the exception of two votes ; Evans, a Maine Whig, 
had voted against the notice and now supported the treaty, 
while Cameron, a Pennsylvania Democrat, opposed the treaty 
although he had voted for the resolutions. 

Some of the Western Senators were not inclined to submit 
to their defeat without protest. Allen resigned his position as 
chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, saying as 
he did so that his views and those of the majority of the Senate 
were so diametrically opposed that he felt it inadvisable 
longer to retain the position. 34 Cass, whom Allen urged to 
resign also, refused to do so but would not accept the chair- 
manship which would naturally come to him. Allen succeeded 
in blocking the election of a successor to himself, being sup- 
ported by Hannegan, Semple and Atchison, who had "lashed 
themselves into a passion" because of the action of the Senate 
and who after "that time voted and acted with the Whig 
party." 35 They voted for Whigs for the committee position 
and refused "through many ballottings to vote for Senator 
Sevier, who was the Democratic candidate, and ultimately 
defeated his election." "They now," went on Polk in describ- 
ing their conduct, "vote against my nominations as I suppose 
out of spite. . . . They oppose and embarrass the military 
bills for the prosecution of the war against Mexico. They pro- 
fess to be in a great rage (there is certainly no reason for 
their course) at the settlement of the Oregon question, and 
yet they can find no just cause of complaint against me. . . . 
Their course is that of spoiled children." Later on Senator 
Atchison told the President that he had been excited on the 
Oregon Question but he remained a personal and political 
friend. Hannegan, however, harbored so deep a resentment 
that it was not until the following January that he could bring 
himself to call upon the President." 36 

34 Globt, XV, 972. 

35 Polk, Diary. I, 472, 477, 486-7. 

36 Ibid., II, 78, 348. Webster wrote his son that 54 40' men seemed a "good 
deal cast down." Van Tyne, Letters, 330. 


Rumors of what was going on found their way into news- 
papers and current discussion. In the House one last attempt 
to save the honor of the country was made by McDowell 
who asked for a suspension of the rules to allow him to intro- 
duce a set of resolutions in which he asserted once more the 
"clear and unquestionable title," in spite of which there had, 
"it is believed, within a few days past, (been) submitted to the 
President, and through him to the Senate, a proposition to 
surrender half of Oregon. In view of the ignorance of the 
people as to what was going on he called upon the House to 
resolve with him that the question ought to be submitted to 
the people for their decision, and that if the treaty-making 
power had been used to settle a question of such magnitude 
it would "furnish another example of Senatorial and Executive 
supremacy which (was) incompatible with the Constitution and 
the rights of the people." The House was not of his mind 
and refused to suspend the rules. Representative Sawyer, 
however, denounced the President for backing down and the 
Senate for deliberately voting away half the disputed terri- 
tory; "If England knew the character of the treaty-making 
power as it exists in the present Senate she could ask anything 
she wants and gets it. We are degenerate sons of noble sires." 37 

There remains the question, not important perhaps, but of 
interest, as to the real "savior of the country." Was it Polk, 
Benton, Calhoun or some other? On the day that the Senate 
advised the President to accept the British offer Calhoun 
wrote, "It is to me a great triumph. When I arrived here it 
was dangerous to whisper 49, and I was thought to have taken 
a hazardous step in asserting, that Mr. Polk had not disgraced 
the country in offering it. Now a treaty is made on it with 
nearly the unanimous voice of the country. I would have an 
equal triumph on the Mexican question, now the Oregon is 
settled, had an opportunity been afforded to discuss it." 38 

Senator Benton claimed that he had proposed the course 

37 Globe, XV, 979. 16 June. 

38 To T. C. Clemson, n June; to J. E. Calhoun in the same strain, 2 July; 
Correspondence, 697, 698. 


which led out of the difficulty, that of submitting a British 
offer to the senate. 39 The President, he said, had been in a 
quandry at the reception by the public of his offer of 49, he 
had quailed before the storm raised by five hundred Demo- 
cratic newspapers, and he had underhandedly urged Senators, 
including Benton himself, to speak in favor of Forty-nine. 40 
Benton saw all the Whig Senators and found that they intended 
to act in the best interests of the country, patriotically, in spite 
of the attacks upon them by the Administration. As for him- 
self, although he was subjected to similar attacks, he pursued 
his course depending neither upon the President nor upon 
the newspapers, but guided by his study of the question for 
twenty-five years. Four years later, in 1850, he referred to 
his course on Oregon as not only having been opposed by 
Greenhow's book but by those who had made that " false and 
shallow" document the compendium of all knowledge "When 
I was actually extricating the United States from war by 
exposing the truth (about 49 as a line) I was blackguarded 
in the organ, calling itself Democratic, by Greenhow." 41 

Besides the President, whose course will be considered in 
the next chapter, there may be another claimant of the honor. 
In 1847 a candidate for Parliament from Glasgow, McGregor, 
told how he had received a letter from Daniel Webster saying 
that unless there was an equitable compromise at the forty- 
ninth parallel as a basis there would be trouble between the 
two countries. 42 

"Mr. McGregor agreeing entirely with Mr. Webster in 
the propriety of a mutual giving and taking to avoid a rup- 
ture, and more especially as the whole territory in dispute was 
not worth 20,000 pounds to either power, while the prepara- 
tions alone for war would cost a great deal more before the 
countries could come into actual conflict, communicated the 
contents of Mr. Webster's letter to Lord John Russell, who 

39 Thirty Years' View, II, 673 seq. 

40 On the third of January, 1846, Preston King had the House clerk read a 
charge made in the London Times that Polk would rely upon the Whigs and a 
few Democrats to block the action of the House; Polk would thus appear popular 
in the West, by a daring declaration, while Nw England and the South would 
prevent fatal consequences. Globe, XV, 131. 

41 Ibid., XXI. Pt. 2, 1662- 

41 YtHrf.. AA1, ft. 2, 1 552-3. 

t London Examiner, 24 July, 1847, quoted in Marshall, Acquisition of Or~ 
. 372-3. 


at the time was living in the neighborhood of Edinburgh, and 
in reply received a letter from Cord John, in which he stated 
his entire accordance with the proposal recommended by Mr. 
Webster and approved by Mr. McGregor, and requested the 
latter, as he (Lord John) was not in a position to do it him- 
self, to intimate his opinion to Lord Aberdeen. Mr. McGregor, 
through Lord Canning, Under Secretary of the Foreign De- 
partment, did so, and the result was that the first packet that 
left England carried out to America the proposition in accord- 
ance with the communication already referred to on which the 
treaty of Oregon was happily concluded. Mr. McGregor may 
therefore be very justly said to have been the instrument of 
preserving the peace of the world, and for that alone, if he 
had no other service to appeal to, he has justly earned the 
applause and admiration not of his own countrymen only, but 
of all men who desire to promote the best interests of the 
human race." 

Whether it was Mr. McGregor or Mr. Webster who was 
the "instrument of preserving the peace of the world," or 
whether a further claim could be brought by Joshua Bates 
or any other, it is sufficiently obvious that no one man could 
claim the merit of having brought about the adjustment. So 
far as the United States was concerned it is sufficient to point 
out that events clearly showed that no one man, President or 
Senator, was in a position to determine the outcome. The 
North and the South wanted no war, and they were lukewarm 
about Oregon. As the Charleston Mercury put it just after 
the notice had been authorized by Congress : 

"What has Congress been doing? Why carry out western 
measures under western dictation? Oregon and 54, 40 
with its kindred measures rifle regiments, mounted and un- 
mounted increase of the army bills to protect settlers and 
establish our laws in Oregon mail facilities to Oregon, to 
be followed soon, we suppose, with a grand railroad to Oregon. 
And then nearer home, their rivers and harbors, and that most 
magnificent of all humbugs, the Cumberland road a regular 
wagon road. Thanks to the economical sensibilities of the 
Yankees, this was too much for even their stomachs, and they 
threw it up." 43 

43 Quoted in< NileS Register, 16 May. 


The most spectacular as well as the most critical episode in 
the history of Oregon's relations to the Federal government 
of the United States is inextricably bound up with James K. 
Polk. Any study of the Oregon Question in its last diplomatic 
stages necessarily makes President Polk the central figure, 
whether the topic is viewed as an issue in Congress or an 
international controversy between Great Britain and the United 
States. In fact, adequately to treat the subject in the period 
from March, 1845, to June, 1846, necessitates an attack from 
three points ; the diplomatic, the Congressional including the 
Senatorial action in executive capacity and from the plans 
of President Polk. The three phases are so interwoven that 
it is difficult to deal with one and not introduce the others, 
and yet each has its individual stamp and must be followed out 
by itself if a clear picture is to be presented. Having, in the 
foregoing chapters, taken the Congressional and diplomatic 
sides, it remains to consider the problem of Folk's attitude on 
the Oregon Question. 

And a problem it is. Polk has left us his diary, which in 
print makes four good sized volumes, with an intimate account 
of his life while he was President, with the exception of the 
period between March and August, 1845. The diary is an 
invaluable document for throwing light upon most sides of 
national political activity during one administration, and it 
was the Oregon Question itself that suggested keeping such 
a record, for, says Polk, in the entry of 26 August, 1846 : ! 

"Twelve months ago this day, a very important conversation 
took place in Cabinet between myself and Mr. Buchanan on 
the Oregon Question. This conversation was of so important 
a character, that I deemed it proper on the same evening to 
reduce the substance of it to writing for the purpose of re- 
taining it more distinctly in my memory. ... It was this 

1 II, 100-1. 


circumstance which first suggested to me the idea, if not the 
necessity, of keeping a journal or diary of events and trans- 
actions which might occur during my presidency." 

The resolution was faithfully carried out and to Folk's care- 
ful transcription of each day's events is due in considerable 
part our knowledge of the inside factors of the political game 
of that eventful period. Shrewd comments on men in public 
life afford glimpses which illuminate otherwise obscure occur- 
rences. Yet in one respect the Diary is most exasperating: 
nowhere does Polk let us see completely enough the workings 
of his own mind to ascertain how he came to adopt the course 
he followed with respect to Oregon. So far from explaining 
his apparent volte-face Polk assumes or seems to assume that 
his course from the beginning was undeviating and that which 
happened, so far as he personally was concerned, was exactly 
what might have been expected. Consequently there is no 
help in his definite statements, and it becomes necessary to 
gather hints as they seem to have been casually, perhaps, un- 
consciously, dropped. 

Three possible explanations of Polk's course naturally sug- 
gest themselves : the declaration of the Baltimore convention 
was political thunder which was intended to influence voters 
in a certain section, and Polk's inaugural was in harmony with 
it in order to maintain the ruse for a decent time; a second 
possibility is that while Polk really took the Baltimore plat- 
form in good faith, events, too strong for him to resist, forced 
him to depart from its pronouncement; a remaining solution 
would attribute to Polk a plan by which he intended from 
the outset to accept a compromise at the proper moment. 
Although leading to the same end this last explanation differs 
from the first in that a policy of laissez-faire finds no place in it. 

It is necessary to recall the words of the Baltimore con- 
vention respecting Oregon: "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." Compare this with the statement in Polk's 
Inaugural Address: "Nor will it become in less degree my 


duty to assert and maintain, by all constitutional means, the 
right of the United States to that portion of our territory which 
lies beyond the Rocky Mountains. Our title to the country 
of Oregon is 'clear and unquestionable' ; and already our people 
are preparing to perfect that title by occupying it with their 
wives and children. . . . The world beholds the peaceful 
triumphs of the industry of our emigrants. To us belongs 
the duty of protecting them adequately wherever they may be 
upon our soil. The jurisdiction and the benefits of our re- 
publican institutions, should be extended over them in the 
distant regions they have selected for their homes." Certainly 
no one can blame the westerner from reading in this a con- 
firmation of his belief that all of Oregon was to be insisted 
upon, and all meant up to 54 40'. 

The same impression was forced upon others, more respon- 
sible for the declaration of the Democratic party at Baltimore. 
John C. Calhoun as Secretary of State was telling Mr. Paken- 
ham, the British minister, that the parallel of 49 North Lati- 
tude was the lowest line the United States would accept, 
although he hinted that perhaps the United States might not 
insist upon the tip of Vancouver's Island. At the same time 
the popular understanding in the country at large was that the 
Democratic party would never accept anything less than the 
Russian line. Calhoun, while not on the surface an active 
worker in the preliminaries of the Baltimore convention, was 
the leader of his party in the South and was not unacquainted 
with the causes which led to the nomination of President Polk. 
Yet Calhoun, in May, 1845, when writing his daughter about 
not being in the newly-formed cabinet, declared that with Folk's 
"imprudent declaration in the (Inaugural Address) in refer- 
ence to the Oregon question, I could not have remained in it 
had he invited me. I did my best in a conversation I had with 
him, a week or ten days before he delivered his inaugural, 
to guard him against the course he took in reference to Oreogn, 
but it seems in vain." He went on to say that he had had the 
negotiation in such a state that he saw his way through and 
would have laid the results before Congress at the last session, 


had Mr. Pakenham received expected instructions from his 
government in time. 2 

To Francis W. Pickens 3 he wrote in the same strain : "I fear 
Mr. Polk has taken a false view of that important question. 
The remarks of the inaugural in reference to it, have made it 
impossible to settle it by negotiation, unless he retracts, or ex- 
plains away what he has said. . . ." 

"I saw the danger, and endeavored to guard Mr. Polk, in 
my first interview, against it ; but as it seems in vain. I, also, 
endeavored to guard Mr. Buchanan, but I know not whether 
with more success. A war with England about Oregon would 
be the most fatal step, that can be taken ; and yet there is great 
danger that it will come to that. In my opinion, if prevented, 
it must be by the Senate and the South. The question might 
have been successfully managed. I saw my way clearly 
through it, and left it in a good way. . . ." 

It is fairly clear that Calhoun never thought that any presi- 
dential candidate when he had won the campaign and had been 
inaugurated would ever take seriously the literal words of a 
campaign slogan. Such was the view of the Democracy of 
the South and of the North for the most part ; only in the 
West, and there were exceptions there, was Polk expected to 
adhere to the plank. Thomas Benton said that 54 40' was 
adopted as a "campaign message" and the framers of the plat- 
form knew little of the geographical situation or of former 
treaties and negotiations. 4 The bulk of the Democracy in the 
House of Representatives, however, appeared to be convinced 
that Folk's words meant what all believed to be the literal 
meaning of the platform, and this view was strengthened when 
his first Annual Message outlined what he had done in the 
summer of 1845 and apparently reiterated his determination 
never to surrender a foot of Oregon. The Whigs, too, un- 
derstood him in the same way and did; their best to show that 
this meant war with Great Britain. 

2 22_May, 1845, Correspondence, 656. 
to J 

showed that his views were shared by many of his political friends. 
4 Thirty Years' View, II. 677. 


The press, Whig and Democratic, saw in the Inaugural what 
Calhoun had seen, for if the Oregon Question had been pushed 
into the background during the presidential campaign, it came 
to its own in the publicity attained from the time the Inaugural 
was pronounced to the Treaty of 1846. With growing intensity 
the newspaper discussion was waged, for the most part along 
party lines. The Whig papers deplored the tone of the Presi- 
dent and brought forward arguments and assertions as to 
why negotiations should be continued and a compromise 
reached. On the other hand the Democratic papers, taking the 
lead from the new Administration paper, the Union, backed 
the cry for all of Oregon, although some portions of the South- 
ern press would not take the same stand. The Charleston 
Courier, 5 for example, showed the influence of Calhoun's views 
when, discussing the Inaugural, it advocated a compromise 
"in which each party may relinquish a part of its extreme claim, 
with no loss of honor, nor surrender of dignity, or sacrifice of 
material interests." But the New York Evening Post 6 had 
gathered a large number of leading articles from western papers 
and was gratified to see "the cordial unanimity of opinion with 
which (the Oregon Question) is taken up, and the universal 
determination that our rights to the territory should be stoutly 
and ably advocated. There is but one sentiment and one voice 
on the subject. What is clearly ours will be so claimed and 
maintained, let Great Britain take offense as she may." 

"Undoubtedly," was the reply of the National Intelligencer 
(Whig), "'what is clearly ours' ought to be 'so claimed and 
maintained,' at the proper time and in a proper manner. But 
the very question at issue, in this case, between the United 
States and Great Britain, was deemed a fit subject for negotia- 
tions by all previous administrations of this government, and 
now admitted by the present to be such, is, what is clearly ours ? 
The 'universal determination,' the Evening Post will grant, 
cannot determine a question of right." 

Between the National Intelligencer and the Union arose an 

5 p^oted #'* Register, 31 May, 1845. 


editorial controversy over the tone of the Inaugural. The 
Intelligencer, Whig as it was and sore over the defeat of Clay, 
took many occasions to point out the defects of the Administra- 
tion's policy, especially on the most pressing matter of Oregon. 
One of these articles reviewed the situation and concluded 
with the opinion that the "case should go forward to its peace- 
ful and reasonable decision; and we hope, as is our public 7 
duty, that it will, in spite of all blusterers, cis or trans- Atlantic." 
The response of the Union to this leader represents the views 
of the Administration so far as those could be read by the 
public in general, for Ritchie, a strong Polk man in the cam- 
paign, had left the Richmond Enquirer to come to Washington 
as editor of Folk's organ. Ritchie's answer, then, to Gales and 
Seaton may well have been considered an outline of Folk's 
desired interpretation of the Inaugural and as such is important 
enough to be liberally quoted : 

"We do not understand that the executive of the United 
States have any intention of closing the door to any nego- 
tiation with Great Britain on the Oregon Question, and, there- 
fore, we might suppose that all the inferences which the 
National Intelligencer draws from the supposed Violent ground 
that the United States (for instance) will not negotiate' upon 
such a course, leaving us the 'alternatives of submission or war' 
and all denunciations which it so gratuitously pours forth upon 
the 'shocking absurdity' and the barbarous doctrine that 'we 
ought not to negotiate,' (which the National Intelligencer 
attributes to some of the republicans,) and thus we revive the 
'old umpirage of private rights the wager of battle' are en- 
tirely misplaced. 

"We certainly do not understand that the negotiation about 
Oregon is at an end ; or that our administration is determined 
or willing to terminate it ; or that there is no prospect of amic- 
ably adjusting the dispute; or that it must necessarily end in 
breaking up the peace of the two countries. . . We yet 
trust that the 'case may go forward to its peaceful and reason- 
able decision' ; and in spite, too, of all unnecessary menaces of 
the British ministers and all the blusterings of the London 

"Instead of giving gratuitous and superfluous advice to our 

7 13 May. 


cabinet, we should have been better pleased to see the National 
Intelligencer coming out with the expression of its own 
opinions on the question itself. We should have been better 
satisfied to have seen the National Intelligencer vindicating 
the just claims of our country against the assaults and argu- 
ments of British tongues and British pens ; and we still hope 
to see that journal thus employed and not again, as in the case 
of Texas, counteracting the rights and interests of our own 

To this exposition the Intelligencer called the attention of 
its readers and bade them mark the course of the government 
which had had its course thus outlined in a reputed organ: 
"We who watch the power, can now oblige it to speak out, and, 
when it has spoken, can force it to stand to what it has said." 
The editors considered that the Administration had in so 
many words bound itself to negotiate on the "question which 
has spread so much alarm through the moneyed and commer- 
cial interests of the country the Oregon question." 8 

Most western papers and many of the northern papers of 
Democratic tendencies looked upon Folk's pronouncements as 
unequivocal in its support of the claim to 54 40'. The Whig 
papers and some of the southern Democratic papers, as noted 
above, reflected the views shown in the citations above. Here 
and there, however, was sounded a note, bitter in the West 
and hopeful in the East, which indicated a shade of doubt. 
The St. Louis Republican, for instance, after printing a letter 
in which Peter Burnett discussed the possibility of an inde- 
pendent Oregon, said: 9 

"In reality there is no reasonable prospect of a settlement of 
the question by negotiation, for years to come; and there is an 
influence in the administration of Mr. Polk, which will prevent 
a resort to any other means. Neither Mr. Calhoun nor any 
of his friends, in South Carolina, nor any of the mettlesome 
statesmen of that school, who were so hot in the pursuit of 
Texas, will tolerate or permit a resort to arms in defense of 
our rightful claim to Oregon. They will have no war with 
Great Britain, come what else may; and Mr. Polk is not the 
man to defy them in such a contingency. What is now only 

8 The articles were in the Intelligencer, 5 and 7 May; the Union articles a*e 
quoted in Niles' Register of 10 May. 

9 Of 9 August, 1845, quoted in Register, ^3 August. 


in contemplation in Oregon (i. e., an independent establish- 
ment) may, therefore, soon become absolutely necessary to 
their own security, and all will admit that there is excitement 
enoug"h in the project of organization of an independent gov- 
ernment, and the offices and honors which even such a govern- 
ment would bring with it, to make it acceptable to a people so 
far removed from the United States as that of Oregon." 

But if the President needed only moral support in his pur- 
suit of a policy which would prefer war to the surrender of one 
inch of Oregon's soil that support was forthcoming in various 
ways aside from speeches in Congress and newspaper articles. 
In Illinois, for instance, there was held a State convention at 
which it was resolved "that the general government were 
bound to adhere to the declarations of President Polk, in his 
inaugural speech in relation to Oregon, and to maintain and 
defend our right to every inch of that territory." 10 Governor 
John H. Steele, in his message to the New Hampshire legis- 
lature in June of 1845, went into an analysis of the situation 
and asserted that previous offers of compromise had been 
unfortunate: 11 

"I say unfortunate, because no people or government ever 
yet admitted, or even proposed to waive or yield any of its 
rights to the claims or demands of Great Britain, but in the 
end had cause to repent of so doing." The memory of the 
disgraceful proceedings by which "that haughty power ob- 
tained possession of a large portion of the State of Maine" 
ought to be in people's minds, and warned by it the administra- 
tion should not again be coaxed or threatened out of just 
rights. "But it is not my desire or intention to enter into a 
discussion of that question. It is in the hands of an able and 
patriotic administration, who will no doubt, use every honor- 
able exertion to bring it to an amicable close. At any rate, 
I feel confident that no timid concession, no unmanly sur- 
render of clear rights, will be made ; and that no truckling to 
menace will again stain the annals of our beloved country." 

In one of the counties of Pennsylvania a meeting came to 
the resolution that, "in regard to our just claims to Oregon, 
we will have no compromises but at the cannon's mouth." A 

10 In Niles 1 Register, 19 July. 

11 Ibid., 21 June. 


largely attended meeting in Marion County, Illinois, declared 
that the title to 54 40' was clear and the joint occupation 
agreement should be terminated immediately and military posts 
established on the road to Oregon. 12 Such expressions of 
popular feeling are but indicative of a sentiment which was 
growing with rapidity in the summer and autumn of 1845 and 
upon which the conservative elements of the North and South 
looked with apprehension. 

Across the water a similar popular clamor was rising as a 
result of the Inaugural. The matter was considered important 
enough to elicit from Lord John Russell a question in the House 
of Commons, 13 and the answer of Sir Robert Peel was not of 
a character which would allay apprehensions. The British 
press was stirred into renewed activity and, led by the London 
Times, conducted a campaign of education as to the sinister 
designs of the United States. The blunt statement of Presi- 
dent Polk had been a blow to the amour-propre of England and 
the feeling was everywhere expressed that the insolent Yankee 
must be taught to adopt a different tone. "There are certain 
animals that may be led, but won't be driven Bull is one of 
them," is the way Wilmer & Smith's Times put it. "In his 
intercourse with foreigners he prides himself upon his cour- 
tesy, and he expects the same courtesy in return. The new 
president's peremptory style has stirred up his bile, and the 
House of Commons has scarcely reassembled after the Easter 
recess, when Lord John Russell's" question brought up the 
matter. This article went on to call attention to the London 
Times' editorial which could be considered an indication of 
the stand which the government would take. 14 

"We are justly proud" said the Times, "that on the Oregon 
question as well as on that of the northeastern boundary the 
British government has uniformly shown its moderation as 
well as its firmness on our side. It is impossible not to deplore, 
on the other hand, that ill regulated, overbearing, and aggres- 
sive spirit of American democracy, which overlooks the real 

1.2 Several such items are in the Register for 9 August 

13 3 Hansard, 79; 178 sea. 

14 Niles' Register of 26 April contains these as well as other quotations from 
the press of England. 


present interests of the two nations in the Oregon territory 
that, namely, of letting it alone for another half century at 
least, or deciding the matter by arbitration before any local 
interests have sprung up too powerful to be so disposed of. 

"But, since the Americans, and even the press of the United 
States, are determined that the question shall be allowed to 
rest no longer since they have rejected the proposal for an 
arbitration, and ostentatiously announce claims and measures 
utterly inconsistent with the system of joint occupation, or the 
equitable recognition of any concurrent rights at all, it is fit 
that they be warned in the most explicit manner that their 
pretensions amount, if acted upon to the clearest causa belli 
which has ever yet arisen between Great Britain and the Amer- 
ican Union." 

Such was the view of the Times, and such was the attitude 
of the British press in general, although there were sugges- 
tions that the whole matter might still be arranged if the proper 
attitude on the part of the American government could be 
restored. The more moderate papers went so far as to suggest 
the modifications which might be made on each side to effect 
a settlement, suggestions which were in the air on both sides 
of the Atlantic and which eventually found their way into the 
treaty. So the London Examiner after setting forth the claims 
on both sides claimed that it would be madness for either party 
to claim its maximum, hence the only question was what was 
the minimum which would be accepted by each; forty-nine to 
the sea with all Vancouver's Island for Great Britain, it 
thought, was the basis for such a mutual surrender. 15 The 
same proposal was made by Senior in the Edinburgh Review, 
much to the disgust of the more radical prints. 16 The Exam- 
iner admitted that whatever policy Lord Aberdeen should adopt 
his course would be attended with difficulty. "The American 
negotiator will employ against him every sort of misrepresenta- 
tion of principle and facts ; for though the national law of the 
American courts and legal writers is admirable, that of their 
diplomatists, and indeed of diplomatists in general, is usually 
a tissue of sophistry and falsehood. We trust that the English 

15 25 April, 1845, quoted in Register, 14 June. Papers on both sides quoted 
liberally from those of the opposite side. 

16 Of July. 1845; Vol. 82:123-37. 


negotiators will not follow their example." It is clear that 
the editors of the Examiner had not learned that American 
diplomacy differed from all other in the world. 

So the war talk on both sides of the ocean grew as the 
uncompromising stand of Polk during 1845 prevented any 
immediate adjustment. If this stand was maintained in order 
to carry out in a realistic manner a political game, a mere 
keeping up of appearances with a promise never intended to 
be kept, then it came dangerously near producing a tragedy. 17 
Yet those who were close to the President found in his words 
the same meaning that the more sanguine westerners approved, 
and that the British public and conservative elements in Amer- 
ica feared. 

The Inaugural had its share in making it difficult for the 
President to find a man to his liking to replace Edward Everett 
as minister to Great Britain. Calhoun, who declined the honor, 
wrote Francis W. Pickens, who had also been approached, 18 
"In addition to the reasons you have assigned, there are others 
connected with the Oregon question as it stands, which I 
fear, would make the position of a minister in England who 
is true to the South embarrassing, should he be charged with 
any duties connected with it." Martin Van Buren was sounded 
on the subject and refused the mission after he had consulted 
with his friends. One of these, 19 after talking the question over 
with Governor Silas Wright of New York, wrote that the 
President had no right to make such a request of an ex- 
President unless he put it on the ground of a great emergency ; 
"if the President would call an extra session of Congress and 
present your name, then the country would say you ought not 
to decline, "but the demand should be so strong as to take the 
whole matter of the Oregon Question out of the "hands of 

17 The Paris Journal des Debates and the Globe, both) Guizot papers and pro- 
British, held that the American demands were unreasonable, and it was hinted 
that a rupture between the United States and Great Britain would show the sym- 
pathy, if not actual intervention, of France would be for England. (Register, 7 
Jun.) La Presse, hostile both to the French ministry and to England, said the 
stand of the United States "as to the territory of Oregon not sustainable." La 
Constitutionel, Thiers' organ, attacked the French tendency to lean toward Great 
Britain "to the prejudice of an ancient and faithful ally like the United States." 
(Register, 14 June.) 

18 Correspondence of Calhoun, 653. 

19 N. C. Flagg to Van Buren* 16 May, 1845. Van Buren Papers, 53. 


the Baltimore conspirators." Franklin H. Elmore of South 
Carolina was also invited to accept the post but he too de- 
clined it. 

Louis McLane, of Delaware, finally consented to undertake 
the task. Mr. McLane had had wide experience in public 
service ; he had served in both houses of Congress, had been a 
minister to Great Britain, and had, under Jackson, been Secre- 
tary of the Treasury and Secretary of State. Nevertheless, 
from a party standpoint, his appointment was looked upon as 

"I do not understand the selection of McLane unless it 
was made under the excessive horror of 'cliques' about which 
poor old Mr. Ritchie proses so much, and it was thought that 
it was better to select for so high a mark of honour one who 
was no democrat at all than any of those who had the mis- 
fortune as to be such prominent democrats as not to escape 
belonging to some clique or other north, east, south, or west. 
It has sometimes occurred to me that the President and the 
Secretary of State see that in the present public feeling about 
Oregon they cannot yield any thing and that (notwithstanding 
the disclaimers) they intend to let the negotiation be really 
made in London, and to throw upon the minister there the 
concession which may be submitted to. I must say I have 
more confidence in Mr. McLane's spirit and sagacity than I 
have in those of the President or Secretary and think he will 
make an abler negotiator than either of them ; but I can hardly 
think of any one whose acts will be more jealously watched 
by the democracy of every section of the country." 20 

While Mr. Gilpin's surmises regarding the probable outcome 
were tinged with a certain shrewdness he was evidently un- 
aware of the efforts Polk had made to obtain the services of 
eminent democrats before he turned to McLane. 

In the Cabinet there was, certainly until late in 1845, a con- 
viction that there would be a break with Great Britain before 
the President would yield a point. After the proposal of 49 
had been made and refused, and when the question of with- 
drawing the offer was being discussed, Buchanan struggled 
hard to leave a loophole through which the British minister 

^~H. D. Gilpin to Van Buren, 7 July, Ibid. 


might gracefully bring back a counter-proposition. 21 Polk 
was obdurate ; he had given much thought to the question and 
he was glad the offer had been rejected; "it having been re- 
jected he felt no longer bound by it, & would not now be 
willing to compromise on that boundary." To the Secretary's 
suggestion that war might follow the President replied, "If 
we have war it will not be our fault." Buchanan then stated 
that he supposed there would be a war sometime but he did 
not think the people of the United States would be willing 
to sustain a war for the country north of 49 and if there 
had to be one he would like to have it for some better cause, 
"for some of our rights of person or property or of National 
honour violated." Whereupn Polk told him that he differed as 
as to popular sentiment and he thought "we had the strongest 
evidence that was to be anywhere seen that the people would 
be prompt and ready to sustain the Government in the course 
which he had proposed to pursue." 

Many a time in the months following (this conversation 
took place in the latter part of August) did the Secretary of 
State strive to secure some definite word which he could use 
in his negotiation and to the comfort of his own soul, to the 
effect that a compromise could be made, but he was forced 
reluctantly to resign himself to the belief that the President 
was bent on maintaining the stand of the Inaugural which 
seemed to be "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight." Such too was the 
opinion of the other members of his Cabinet although no other 
of them found it so hard to be reconciled as did Buchanan. 
And today, in reading the record left by President Polk him- 
self, it is difficult to see how any other view could have been 
reached. Yet is is to be noticed that nowhere did Polk record 
that he would make no compromise; nowhere did he say that 
he intended irrevocably to insist on the full claim. 

At this point it is interesting to note the views of two con- 
temporary historians of Folk's administration. Lucien B. 
Chase, a Tennessee Democrat and a member of both the 

ai Polk, Diary, I, 4. This is from an entry on a separate sheet noting the 
sonrersation which was responsible for the diary. 


Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth Congresses, was a sympathetic 
biographer, and his work was published in 1851 when all the 
events of the period were fresh in mind; furthermore Mr. 
Chase felt himself in close touch with what was going on both 
through members of both houses of Congress and on account 
of his relations to the President. Nevertheless the following 
excerpt shows how little he really did know of the situation: 22 

"In connection with the Oregon Question, Mr. Polk com- 
mitted a fatal error, amounting to what Tallyrand would call 
a 'blunder,' and which, having the effect of alienating some of 
his warmest friends greatly embarrassed his administration 
throughout. In his first communication to the American peo- 
ple, he proclaimed to the world, that pur title to the country 
of the Oregon was 'clear and unquestionable.' In that asser- 
tion he was but reiterating the opinions of his constituents, 
solemnly expressed at the ballot-box. The statement was still 
more solemnly uttered in his message to Congress. In the 
same communication he announced a principle which should 
control the Government of the United States. If it is the 
unchangeable policy of this country to prevent Europeans from 
colonizing any portion of this continent, it applies to a terri- 
tory to which we have no claim, as well as that which belongs 
to us; and if we cannot suffer them to colonize parts of the 
American continent to which we have no claim, how can we 
surrender territory to which our title is 'clear and unques- 
tionable' ? 

"In this communication (i. e., that asking the advice of the 
Senate on the British proposition) he committed himself to the 
action of the Senate, and it was well understood at Washington 
what advice that body would give him. To reject the pro- 
posal of the English Government would have brought him 
into collision with a large majority of the Senate. The nerves 
which had remained unmoved in many political struggles, and 
the firmness which had often overcome the most fiery opposi- 
tion, where the cheeks of the resolute and bold blanched with 
terror, were shaken at the prospect of a rupture with Great 
Britain unsanctioned by one branch of the legislative power." 
(pp. 50-1.) 

Another contemporary biographer was John S. Jenkins 23 
who discusses Folk's Oregon activities in this way : 

22 History of the Polk Administration, 32, 33; 50, 51. 

23 James Knox Polk and a History of His Administration (1851), 233, 4; 235. 


"So thoroughly was Mr. Polk convinced, that the American 
title to the whole of Oregon was 'clear and unquestionable/ 
that if he alone had been responsible, he would have instantly 
declined to surrender any portion of the territory. But by 
former negotiations the government appeared to be committed 
to an equitable division, and a decided majority of Congress 
were avowedly favorable to a compromise. There was, too, a 
new consideration connected with the question, one of policy 
and expediency, motives which always have, and which always 
should, with some limitations, control the actions of nations and 
individuals. Upper Oregon and the Island of Vancouver were 
comparatively valueless, except for the excellent harbors within 
the Straits of Fuca, which were the only safe and easily acces- 
sible one in the whole territory. Those of the southern shore 
of the Straits were, indeed, to belong to the United States 
under the British proposition ; but war now existed with Mex- 
ico, and as that country was largely indebted to American 
citizens, and was confessedly bankrupt, Mr. Polk, as a wise 
and sagacious statesman, could not but have foreseen that 
the contest would terminate with the acquisition, as a satis- 
faction for the American claims and the expenses of the war, 
of a large portion of contiguous territory, in which was em- 
braced the bay of San Francisco, the finest harbor on the Pacific 

"Thus, by the firm determination of Mr. Polk, was this vexed 
question, which at one time threatened to interrupt the friendly 
relations subsisting between the two nations . . . forever 
settled in a spirit of amity and concord; each party magnani- 
mously surrendering part." 

If two contemporaries of Polk could reach such diverse con- 
clusions as to Folk's conduct, contemporaries who supposedly 
were in touch with the political situation, it is not surprising 
that the contemporary man on the street was puzzled. The 
explanation, then, cannot be found in the suggestion that 
Polk was keeping up a campaign bluster for effect. The 
matter was overdone; it was not played skillfully to that end 
for it disrupted the Democratic party. In any case someone 
besides Polk himself would have had to know the real situa- 
tion, but political friend and foe alike came to the conclusion 
almost unanimously that Polk really intended to carry out the 
Oregon plank of the Baltimore convention. 


Only two other explanations offer themselves : Polk took the 
platform in good faith until he saw the course it pointed was 
absolutely impracticable, or he had from the beginning a plan 
which contained his course on Oregon as one of the main 
threads. Of the two explanations the latter presents more the 
appearance of being the real one. There was a "bluff" but 
it was not primarily for the benefit of Great Britain; it was 
not a trick to force Great Britain into yielding the territory 
between the forty-ninth parallel and the Columbia, 24 but it 
was a portion of the game whereby California and other Mexi- 
can territory was to be secured ; Oregon was a secondary con- 
sideration throughout the whole episode. Friend and foe were 
alike mystified ; the southerner who desired more territory to 
the southwest was as much bewildered as was the northerner 
who saw in Folk's madness a course which meant war and com- 
mercial disaster. 

Polk undoubtedly intended to get as much of Oregon as he 
could, but that it occupied a secondary place in his thoughts 
is definitely suggested by an entry in his diary recording an 
interview with Colonel Benton. Before Congress convened 
in December, 1845, Buchanan had shown Benton the corre- 
spondence between the British and American governments 
except the instructions to McLane at Folk's request. Then 
Benton called to discuss the situation (October 24, 1845). He 
doubted the completeness of the United States claim when 
Polk outlined the recommendations which he was going to put 
into his Annual Message (although he did not tell Benton that 
these were to be a part of that document). Polk further stated 
that he inclined to reaffirm Mr. Monroe's doctrine about settle- 
ment of the American continents, whereupon Benton said that 
Great Britain possessed some sort of a title to Eraser's River, 
the same kind that the United States did to the Columbia. 25 

"The conversation then turned on California," Polk wrote, 
"on which I remarked that Great Britain had her eye on that 
country and intended to possess it if she could, but that the 

24 At McLaughlin in his Lift of Cats explains it. 
*f Diory, I. f . 


people of the U. S. would not willingly permit California to 
pass into the possession of any new colony planted by Great 
Britain or any foreign monarchy, and that in reasserting Mr. 
Monroe's doctrine, I had California and the fine bay of San 
Fracisco as much in view as Oregon. Colonel Benton agreed 
that no foreign power ought to be permitted to colonize Cuba. 
As long as Cuba remained in the possession of the present 
government we would not object, but if a powerful foreign 
power was about to possess it, we would not permit it. On 
the same footing we would place California." 

This conversation took place, it is to be noted, in October, 
nearly a year before hostilities with Mexico began and while 
the belief was growing that Mexico was going to acquiesce 
in the loss of Texas. Folk's plan was to prevent Great Britain's 
securing a foothold in California, which the Hudson's Bay 
Company coveted. But so long as California was a part of 
Mexico there was always danger that this province would 
pass into the possession of some strong power, and its posses- 
sion by the United States would be the only real security 
against such a contingency. Mexico, however, would not cede 
California to the United States, therefore California must be 
taken. In order to do this the United States must fight Mexico, 
the people of the country must be brought to a proper warlike 
pitch, and Great Britain must be kept busy so that there 
would be no temptation to create a diversion to the south, for 
there was no likelihood that Great Britain would risk the 
Northwest, where the Hudson's Bay Company had valuable 
interests, in reaching south to California which was as yet 
only longed for. In the United States there was no strong 
disposition to provoke hostilities with Mexico, even in the 
South, which presumably would gain most from such a move, 
but, as we have seen, there was a decidedly belligerent tone 
when Great Britain was under discussion. 

All through the summer the war talk had been increasing in 
both England and America ; this Polk knew very well. For 
instance, shortly after his interview 26 with Benton, he was 
called upon by Mr. Ward, Boston representative of Baring 

26 Diary, I. 73-5- 


Brothers and Company, who told the President that he was a 
friend of the Administration. He said it was of great interest 
to his firm to know whether there would be peace or war; he 
had heard that the President was in favor of claiming all 
Oregon, in which case there should be danger of war. All 
the satisfaction Ward could get was the assurance that the 
general policy of the country was peace. Polk considered the 
call from Ward as significant because less than a week before 
Buchanan had received McLane's letter in which the govern- 
ment's dissatisfaction with the course of Pakenham had been 
stated, and the willingness of the British government to listen 
to a new proposition indicated. In spite of these opportunities 
to allay the war rumors, and against the advice, almost plead- 
ing, of Buchanan for permission to show that the United States 
would go part way toward a compromise, Polk insisted that 
the burden of reopening the negotiation should be placed 
wholly upon Great Britain. 

When the Annual Message was discussed in Cabinet Polk 
told Buchanan, who was trying to secure a modified tone, 
that he had not seen ten Congressmen who were "not roused 
on Oregon and willing to go the whole length." 27 All the 54 40' 
men were pleased with the message. It called attention to the 
accompanying documents which gave the details of the offer 
of 49, its rejection and then the withdraway of the offer. The 
offer was explained in this way : 

"Though entertaining the settled conviction, that the British 
pretensions of title could not be maintained to any portion of 
the Oregon territory under any principle of public law recog- 
nized by nations, yet, in deference to what had been done by 
my predecessors, and especially in consideration that proposi- 
tions of compromise had been thrice made, by two preceding 
administrations, to adjust the question on the parallel of forty- 
nine degrees, and in two of them yielding to Great Britain 
the free navigation of the Columbia, and that the pending 
negotiation had been commenced on the basis of compromise, 
I deemed it my duty not abruptly to break it off." 

27 "It was manifest to me that in the whole discussion Mr. 

Buchanan disapproved the course which he saw I was inclined to take, and that 
he was laboring to prevent it." Diary I. 81. 


But, continued the Message, the spirit of moderation had not 
been met by a like spirit on the part of the British negotiator. 

"Had this been a new question, coming under discussion for 
the first time, this proposition would not have been made. The 
extraordinary and wholly inadmissible demands of the British 
government, and the rejection of the proposition made in 
deference to my predecessors, and the implied obligations which 
their acts seemed to impose, afford satisfactory evidence that 
no compromise which the United States ought to accept can 
be effected. With the conviction, the proposition of compro- 
mise which had been made and rejected, was, under my direc- 
tion, subsequently withdrawn, and our title to the whole of 
Oregon asserted, and, as is believed, maintained by irrefragible 
facts and arguments. 

"The civilized world will see in these proceedings a spirit 
of liberal concession on the part of the United States ; and this 
government will be relieved from all responsibility which may 
follow the failure to settle the controversy." 

Following this was the list of recommendations respecting 
Oregon, including the request for authority to terminate the 
convention for joint occupancy. 

"At the end of the year's notice, should Congress think it 
proper to make provision for giving that notice, we shall have 
reached a period when the national rights in Oregon must either 
be abandoned or firmly maintained. That they cannot be 
abandoned without a sacrifice of both national honor and in- 
terest, is too clear to admit of doubt." 

With a final reference to the title of the United States the 
President mentioned the best offer the British had made and 
stated that a "trifling addition of detached territory'" could 
never be considered by the United States without abandoning 
her rights, her self-respect and her national honor. 

A few days later Senator Benton said to Polk, in the pres- 
ence of Judge Mason, the Attorney-General, "Well, you have 
sent us the message. I think we can all go it as we under- 
stand it." 28 And this is exactly what took place. The 54 40' 
men hailed the Message as fulfilling their utmost desires; the 

28 So Polk records, Diary, I, 116. In his Thirty Years' View Benton states 
that the Message put the issue of peace or war into the hands of Congress. (II, 
658.) Such a view of the situation would obviously be to advance the reputation 
of those who took a prominent part, especially in the Senate, for moderation. 


moderates, like Benton, were not so sure of it. Buchanan, in a 
letter marked "private & confidential and not written as Secre- 
tary of State," told McLane, 29 "The message has been better 
received throughout the country than any similar communica- 
tion to Congress in my day. All moderate men are conciliated 
by our offer of 49 ; whilst the fire-eaters are satisfied with its 
withdrawal & the assertion of our whole claim. This is the 
feeling which pervades the whole Democratic party & a very 
large proportion of the Whigs." 

The newspapers, which during October and November, 
had been alternately predicting that war was inevitable and that 
negotiations would succeed, judged from the Message that the 
negotiations had failed and that "either England or the United 
States must back out of Oregon, or fight for it." 30 Neverthe- 
less even the editors were a little puzzled ; while the first 
"hasty reading" gave the impression that the negotiation was 
ended further consideration seemed to cast doubt on this con- 
clusion. 31 The total silence of the Message on taking steps 
in preparation for war seemed to mean that the Administra- 
tion did not expect hostilities, but a tumble in stocks which 
came a week later showed that the market was uneasy. 

After the Message the pendulum swung from war to peace, 
and along with popular speculation as to the international 
result the political significance of the whole thing was worry- 
ing the Democratic party. While the South could undoubted- 
ly "save the country" and prevent war 32 this would mean a 
break in the union of the West and South ; should southern 
Democracy prevent war and in so doing allow the protective- 
anti-Texas-Oregon wing of the party be in the ascendant, with 
Wright, Benton & Company wielding the sceptre? Polk, too, 
was impressed with the political capital which was made out 

29 Works of James Buchanan, VT, 342. 

30 Mies' Register, 6 Dec., 1845. For weeks the Register had gleaned th 
papers for expressions of opinions, and had printed them under the caption, 
"Peace or War.' The Message comment was headed, "Our worst anticipations 
have been realized." A fiery article in the Union, just before Congress assembled, 
had claimed "All Oregon or none." 

31 Nat. Intelligencer, 6 Dec. 

33 Charleston Mercury, quoted in Nat. Intelligence, 17 Nor. 


of it all. 33 Calhoun was firmly convinced that only by the 
efforts of southern Senators could war be averted, and it was 
on this account that he returned to the Senate in the winter 
of 1845-6. 34 

To one observer the Annual Message was not convincing. 
When John Quincy Adams was asked by George Bancroft 
what he thought of the document and whether he disapproved 
of the offer of 49 he said he did not disapprove the offer 
although he himself would not have made it. He approved the 
reference to Monroe's doctrine and hoped that the President 
would adhere to it by force of arms if necessary, but added 
that he "had not been entirely without apprehension that Mr. 
Polk would ultimately recede from it." Later, after Adams 
had read the correspondence submitted with the Message, he 
noted that the most remarkable thing about it all was that 
notwithstanding Folk's positive assertions he had made the 
offer, "which was formerly made under the impression that 
it would not be accepted." "My own opinion is that this 
offer should never again be made, nor accepted if offered by 
Great Britain herself; but it is too clear to me that Mr. Polk 
will finish by accepting it." 35 

In Europe the Message produced the same feeling that the 
majority of Americans had, that it uncompromisingly com- 
mitted the American government and people to demand all 
Oregon or fight, although the press was inclined to think some 
way would be found out of the muddle. 36 In Parliament there 
was some disposition to press the matter although no formal 
step was taken until April when a demand for papers was 
refused by the government. 37 Aberdeen stated that the nego- 
tiation was not at an end, and, while nothing could prevent 

33 Diary, I, 264-5. See quotation in Chapter IX. 

34 See m Correspondence of Calhoun, letters to Clemson and to T. H Ham- 
mond, 18 and 28 September, 1845. See Globe XVIII, 878, for story told by Holme* 
rbid., 096. that by Bayly of Virginia how some Whig merchants of New York re- 
ouested Holmes to use his influence with Calhoun to have him return to the 
Senate to lead the 49 forces. Bayly refuted the statement made by Holmes that 
until Calhoun appeared in Washington no Democrat dared lift his voice for any- 
thing but 54 40'. 

35 Memoirs, XII, 218-221. 

36 Niles* Register, of 3 Jan., 1846, has a summary of the views of the British 

37 3 Hansard, 79:120-4, 


the American government from terminating joint occupation, 
England could depend upon its government to uphold the honor 
of the country. An amicable settlement was to be preferred, 
but should it be otherwise, "I can only say we possess rights 
which, in our opinion, are clear and unquestionable; and, by 
the blessing of God, and with your support, those rights we 
are fully prepared to maintain." In the United States it 
was believed that the Government's stand was emphasized by 
the report of increased military preparation. 

On all sides, then, Polk could see that there was a strong 
belief that war was scarcely to be escaped. Nevertheless not 
only did he do nothing which would remove this feeling but 
he actually added fuel to the flames, although alleging all the 
time that he believed there would be no war. As we have 
seen 38 Polk was urging military and naval preparations at the 
same time he was telling various Senators, confidentially, that 
he would submit a reasonable British proposition to the Senate 
for its advice. By his messages, by his conversations with 
members of both houses, by the activities of his Secretaries 
of War and Navy with congressional committees, Congress 
was not allowed to forget that trouble might come, even when 
the discussion on the notice had taken a turn so that it was 
well known it would be passed with some sort of conciliatory 

During the period from the beginning of December until 
toward the last of April the Mexican question occasionally 
came before the Cabinet in one form or other, but there was 
no serious discussion of a possibility of war from that quarter ; 
whenever the possibility of war was up it was always connected 
with the Oregon Question and Great Britain. It was not until 
the middle of January that it was definitely known that Slidell 
would not be received in Mexico, thus putting an end to im- 
mediate hope of renewing diplomatic intercourse. General 
Taylor was ordered to take up his position on the north bank 
of the Rio Grande in the strip which Mexico claimed did not 
and never had formed a part of the province of Texas. 

38 See Chapters VIII, IX, and X above. 


With some of the Senators toward the end of March and in 
April Polk talked over the Mexican situation. He broached 
the possibility of purchasing New Mexico and California to 
Allen, Benton and Calhoun, and of the latter asked if it might 
not be possible to secure from Congress an appropriation, such 
as had been given to Jefferson in 1806, so that steps to this 
end might be taken. 39 Calhoun cautioned patience and advised 
a settlement of the Oregon Question before anything was 
tried with Mexico. After having thought the matter over a 
few days Calhoun said that although he approved the object 
he believed it was inexpedient to bring it before Congress at 
the time. Polk said nothing" more about it for time, until it 
was evident that the notice would be passed in a conciliatory 
form. Then, on April eighteenth, he spoke of it again to 
Calhoun ; he believed strong measures would have to be taken 
with Mexico. Calhoun, however, again cautioned the Presi- 
dent against a hasty course ; there were, he said, in Washing- 
ton ministers of several foreign countries who had satisfied 
him of their desire to act as the common friend of both parties 
in the Oregon matter, and this question should be settled before 
there was any thought of pressing the claims against Mexico. 

There can be little doubt that Polk was sure, as soon as the 
British government learned of the passage of the notice, that 
an offer on substantially the same lines McLane had been urg- 
ing upon Aberdeen, with his own tacit permission, would come. 
Such an offer Polk had hinted he would submit to the Senate. 
Consequently he could have little doubted the peaceful conclu- 
sion of the Oregon controversy when, on the ninth of May, 
he received official notice that General Ampudia had ordered 
Taylor to retire with his forces behind the Nueces. He had, 
therefore, no hesitation in sending his famous Mexican Mes- 
sage to Congress. 

The Message fell upon willing ears. The war spirit which 
had been so carefully fostered ever since the opening of the 
presidential campaign in 1844 responded nobly to the chal- 
lenge and legislative action necessary to provide forces for a 
Mexican war fitted easily upon the steps already taken to pre- 


pare for possible hostilities with Great Britain. Congress, ac- 
cording to testimony even of southerners who were not un- 
willing to see the addition of territory which might presumably 
be to their benefit, were stampeded into a declaration of war. 

That Polk intended to force an issue with Mexico in order 
to obtain California and New Mexico providing they could 
not be obtained in any other way has been brought out many 
times; that he never intended to allow the Oregon Question 
to jeopardize the acquisition of the southern territory seems 
equally clear. He intended, no doubt, to get as much of Oregon 
as possible and was not willing to have the issue brought 
bluntly before the British government to stir that body into 
action. But before all he was thinking of the Mexican terri- 
tory and played the British concern over Oregon along with 
the war spirit in his own country to make sure of that. No 
doubt his course was tinged with opportunism, but the essen- 
tial game seems to have been this. From his own record it is 
sufficiently clear that he expected a peaceful solution of the 
controversy with Great Britain, a solution which would never 
have attained had he continued to insist upon all of Oregon. 
Furthermore he was probably aware that his real sentiments 
on the tariff issue fell in with the desires of the English people 
and he may have counted on their willingness to relax their 
pretensions in Oregon rather than to force an issue and bring 
a high-protectionist party into power. 

Some time after the treaty was signed and Congress had 
adjourned there came an incident which emphasizes the belief 
that Polk intended to maintain that his course throughout had 
been marked with consistency. When McLane returned from 
London in the summer of 1846, in answer to an address from 
the Chamber of Commerce of New York, he made certain 
statements which were taken by some of the Whig papers as 
an admission that the President's Annual Message and his 
instructions to McLane were inconsistent. Polk accepted Mc- 
Lane's explanation that, while the President was assured of the 
soundness of the title to 54 40' as an abstract question, never- 
theless McLane was instructed to secure an adjustment on 


the basis of 49 since that line had been offered in July of 
1845. "The truth is," says Polk, "Mr. McLane's language in 
his New York address was susceptible of being misinterpreted, 
and that has given rise to the whole controversy. The Whig 
press has seized upon it for political capital, and (this) has 
made it necessary to set forth in the Democratic the true state 
of affairs." 39 

Among other things McLane had said in his address, "Hav- 
ing some knowledge from my official position at that time of 
the policy and object of the Convention of 1827, I am quite 
persuaded that its main design was to lead in a future parti- 
tion of the territory, to the recognition of our claim to the 
country not north, but south of the 49th parallel, and between 
that and the Columbia River." When Richard Rush saw his 
statement in print he wrote the acting Secretary of State Trist 
to say that this view was all new to him, for he held that Adams' 
view of the title was the same as he had maintained in Congress 
the previous winter, to 54 40'. Then Rush proceeded to 
comment on the course of Polk : 

"For one, I am unshaken in the belief that it was the Presi- 
dent's opening message to the first Congress he met, on the 
second of December last, that produced the settlement of the 
Oregon difficulty. It was like a great bumb-shell thrown into 
the British Cabinet. It took them by surprise, and first aroused 
them to the unavoidable necessity of a settlement. I thought 
when it appeared that it would lead to war, so bold was it, 
though every word was just; whereas it lead [sic] to peace." 40 

Toward the very end of his Administration (16 February, 
1849) there is found in Polk's Diary one more reference to 
his course with Oregon. Howell Cobb and John H. Lumpkin, 
Representatives in Congress from Georgia, had called on the 
President and in the course of the conversation Oregon and 
Polk's relation to it were mentioned. Lumpkin told of a 
conversation he had had with Allen who said, in reply to a 

39 Polk, Diary, I, 313, 317, 37-7 (30 Mar.. 3 and 18 April.) 

40 Diary, II, 136, 139, 167-8, 173-3, for this McLane episode and the newt- 
payer controversy. 


question as to what the President would do if the British 
offered 49, that (to use Folk's words) 41 

"That was all understood, that if such an offer was made 
that the President should submit it to the Senate, and that 
two-thirds of that body would never advise its acceptance. 
Mr. Lumpkin said that when the contingency happened & I 
took the very course indicated he was surprised to find that 
Mr. Allen disapproved it, and, in consequence of it resigned 
his post as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations 
of the Senate. My notes in this Diary in relation to Senator 
Allen's course were very full at the time, they will be found to 
be in accord with Mr. Lumpkin's statement. Before my annual 
message of December, 1845, was sent to Congress I submitted 
it to Mr. Allen, and he advised me in the event (Great Britain) 
returned my offer of 49 to me to take the very course I did, 
and with which, when I did it, he found fault. By referring 
to this Diary a few days before the meeting in Congress in 
December, 1845, and in the early part of June, 1846, what 
occurred between Mr. Allen and myself will be found recorded. 
I note Mr. Lumpkin's statement to-night for reference if the 
subject should ever be brought before the public by Mr. Allen." 

Whether Polk actually believed his course was absolutely 
consistent in spirit there is nothing to show; that he believed 
it consistent in the letter is clear. Whatever may be one's 
personal opinion of his policy it must be admitted that he 
showed himself a man of much greater political ability than 
most of his contemporaries thought him, or than he has been 
pictured by most later accounts. 

41 Ibid., IV, 335-7- 

Professor R. L. Schuyler (Polk and the Oregon Compromise, in Political 
Science Quarterly, XXIV, 443-61), finds nothing to warrant an imputation of 
double dealing in Folk's course. H concludes that Polk, finding the Senate 
would not go with him in his stand on Oregon, decided to throw the whole issue 
upon the Senate so that the Treaty of 1846 was in reality a Senate Treaty. 




Casual discovery of lumps of yellow metal, in the fall of 
1845, in Central or Eastern Oregon by members of the "Meek's 
Cut-off Party," gave rise to the idea, after discovery of Cali- 
fornia gold three years later, that the lumps were of the 
precious metal, and ever since that time the place of the dis- 
covery has been a subject of discussion. A quantity of the 
lumps, gathered in a blue bucket, gave rise to the name. This 
was probably the earliest discovery of gold on the Pacific 

In March, 1919, Tyra Allen, of Pendleton, started discus- 
sion of the subject by asking "Where was Blue Bucket?" in a 
letter printed in the Canyon City Eagle. Numerous responses 
came forth in several newspapers, especially in the Portland 
Oregonian. George Irvin, of Monument, Grant County, said 
in an article quoted in The Oregonian of April 23, 1919, that 
the discovery was made in Spanish Gulch of the John Day 
country. "Son of a Pioneer," writing in that newspaper of 
April 25, 1919, said the discovery occurred probably on a 
tributary of John Day River. He wrote : 

"The party proceeded for a number of days, crossing a di- 
vide separating the valley of the Malheur from either the 
Silvies or the John Day River, and somewhere near the end 
of this digression encampment was made on a small stream 
(more probably a tributary of the John Day River). Either 
while fishing in this stream or while taking water therefrom 
for camp purposes, numerous pieces of yellow metal were 
found in the stream bed or grass roots, the character of which 
was debated and tests made by hammering the nuggets into 
different forms on the wagon tires." 

The father of this writer was a member of the pioneer 
party. Mrs. Ruth Herren Leonard, of Dayton, Washington, 
whose father was also a member of the party, quoted him, in 


The Oregonian of April 26, 1919, as giving the place as in 
Tygh Valley, but this explanation lacks credence because the 
party seems not to have entered Tygh Valley but to have 
turned northward to the Columbia River without crossing 
the Deschutes River. W. W. Oglesby, of Cottage Grove, Ore- 
gon, wrote in The Oregonian, May 1, 1919, that the place of 
discovery was in the waters of John Day River. After the dis- 
covery, wrote Mr. Oglesby, the party spent two days reaching 
Farewell Bend of the Deschutes River, whence the party turned 
north to the Columbia. O. C. Applegate, writing from Klamath 
Falls, in The Oregonian of May 6, 1919, leaned to the belief 
that the discovery was made in the region of Stein Mountain. 
The place of the Blue Bucket is scattered over a wide 
variety of opinions, and may never be known. Fifteen years 
later the placer diggings of Eastern Oregon began an activity 
that produced large findings of gold, especially in the John 
Day country. The frequency of gold nuggets in the beds of 
streams makes the Blue Bucket story not merely credible, but 
in connection with the many authentic versions of the story, 
places it beyond question of doubt. 

NOTE. It is not easy to fix the date when the phrase "Blue Bucket Mines" 
came into use. It certainly was as early as 1868, for it is positively known that 
Stephen H. Meek, the leader of the party of immigrants in 1845 over the route 
afterwards referred to as "Meek's Cut-off," conducted thirty men that year along 
that trail in search of the mine of that name, without success. 

According to a statement given me by William F. Helm many years ago, 
whose father, mother, five brothers and one sister and himself were members 
of the Meek party, the term "Blue Bucket" originated in this way: The Helm 
wagons, yokes, and many of the camp utensils, including several buckets, were 
painted blue. At one camp on a tributary of the John Day River numerous small 
yellow pebbles were found along the water's edge and among the grass roots. An 
attempt was made to catch some fish, but the current being very swift, the effort 
failed. Then Col. W. G. T'Vault, Thomas R. Cornelius and James Terwilliger, 
the latter a blacksmith, conceived the idea of pounding one of the bright pebbles, 
and, finding it/ soft, pounded it thin and used it as a sinker on their fisn lines. 
Others did the same. At one of the camps where an experience occurred of the 
kind here related two blue buckets were left, the Helm family having no further 
use for them. 

None of the company had any idea of gold at this time. Their minds were 
fully occupied by the effort to get out of the wilderness, as their situation was a 
very serious one. At length the party reached The Dalles and went down the 
Columbia River on rafts, all settling in the Willamette Valley. 

It will be remembered that gold was discovered in California January 24, 1848, 
by James W. Marshall, an Oregon pioneer of 1844. News of this discovery reached 
the Willamette Valley in July following. Soon afterwards a number of the adults 
of the Meek party of 1845 went to the California mines, and then they became 
aware 'that the "pebbles" that had been seen and used as sinkers on fish lines 
were gold. 

Mr. Helm went to the vicinity of Canyon City in 1863, soon after the gold 
discovery of that year, and always insisted that there or in the region near there 
was the locality where the gold was found in 1845. That was the opinion of 
Thomas R. Cornelius also, who at the time of my first acquaintance with him in 
1866 was one of the substantial citizens of Washington County, Oregon. George 
M. Himcs, Curator and Assistant Secretary. 



May 10 is the anniversary of the completion of the first 
transcontinental railroad the Union Pacific-Central Pacific, 
the "last spike" of which was driven at Promontory Point, 53 
miles northwest of Ogden, in 1869. The running time of pas- 
senger trains between San Francisco and Chicago thereafter 
was six and one-half days. This event is a momentous one 
in Pacific Coast progress. The second transcontinental rail- 
road, the Southern Pacific Texas & Pacific was completed 
in 1882 ; the third, the Northern Pacific, in 1883. The "last 
spike" of the Northern Pacific, September 8, 1883, was a grand 
event for the Pacific Northwest, and great stores of expecta- 
tion and realization attach to it. 


Efforts to change the name of the snowpeak from Rainier 
to Tacoma are continuous in the city of Tacoma. The Port- 
land Oregonian ventured to adjust the trouble by suggesting 
Mount Roosevelt, but the old name which Captain George 
Vancouver applied in 1792 seems as firmly fixed as ever. 
Several years ago the Legislature of Oregon "changed" 
Mount Pitt to Mount McLoughlin, an act appropriate enough 
since Pitt means nothing and McLoughlin has lasting signifi- 
cance, but Mount Pitt remains in everyday speech around the 
peak. It is curious to contemplate the persistency of names 
and sounds in human speech. Science and history show that 
the sounds of words and the notes of animals are more dura- 
ble even than mountains. Mount Tacoma is euphonious and 
appropriate, but when one contemplates the long list of ill- 
fitting geographical names the thought occurs, "Why stop 
with Mount Rainier?" and then the task becomes insurmount- 
able. Common agreement would establish Mount Tacoma, but 
that seems just as impossible now as during the many past 
years of the effort. 



Earthquake tremblers are reported frequently from parts 
of the Pacific Northwest, and each time cause speculation as 
to the nature of the disturbances. Within the records of the 
white men, running back eighty or ninety years, there never 
has been a general or severe earthquake in this region. But 
the reading of newspaper files shows that slight tremblers 
have been felt every year in some parts of this large area. A 
small local disutrbance was recorded at Seattle, June 5, 1919. 
The most frequent area of disturbance has been the Puget 
Sound region. Probably the severest at Portland occurred 
October 12, 1877, February 29, 1892, and February 25, 1895 ; 
at Puget Sound, March 16, 1904. These quakes caused 
walls to crack and dishes to rattle and church bells to ring, but 
did no real damage. The geological youth of the Pacific 
Northwest and the many fresh volcanic vents indicate recur- 
rent seismic activity, but written history records no violence. 


Members of the Oregon Pioneer Association held their an- 
nual meeting in the Portland Auditorium June 19, and elected 
the following officers: J. J. Hunsaker, of Yamhill county, 
pioneer of 1847, president; C. H. Caufield, of Oregon City, 
1853, vice-president ; George H. Himes, of Portland, 1853, sec- 
retary; William M. Ladd, of Portland, 1855, treasurer. Other 
members of the board of directors are : John W. Baker, 1853 ; 
Miss Ellen Chamberlain, 1857; G. D. Chitwood, 1853. The 
pioneers were welcomed by Mayor George L. Baker, and W. 
H. H. Dufur, retiring president, delivered the response. 
George W. Riddle, 1852, of Douglas County, rendered the 
annual address. Nathan H. Bird, 1846, presided at the after- 
noon session. The woman's auxiliary of the association served 
dinner in the basement of the Auditorium. 



The annual grand encampment of the Indian war veterans 
of the North Pacific Coast was held at Portland June 18. The 
veterans adopted a memorial asking Congress to equalize the 
pensions of the Indian fighters. Officers elected are: Cyrus 
H. Walker, grand commander; C. W. Wallace, vice grand 
commander ; Otto Kleeman, grand adj utant ; Mrs. F. L. Bene- 
dict, assistant adjutant; Charles H. Chambreau, grand pay- 
master; T. Brouillette, grand chaplain; W. R. McCord, cap- 
tain of the guard. 


Whether the battleship Oregon shall be broken up for junk 
or whether the state of Oregon shall maintain the sea fighter 
as a memorial is a question that has been active in the news- 
papers since the government has had to supplant its old war 
fleet with modern vessels. The annual cost of upkeep of the 
Oregon has been estimated at $20,000, a sum which has dis- 
couraged advocates of the memorial plan. The Oregon was 
built at San Francisco and commissioned there in July, 1896. 
In 1898 the vessel made its famous voyage of 14,000 miles in 
68 cruising days from San Francisco to Santiago, Cuba, to 
participate in the destruction of the Spanish fleet July 3, 1898. 
Sister ships of the Oregon, the Iowa, Massachusetts and In- 
diana are to be relegated and broken up, together with the 
Kentucky, Kearsarge, Alabama, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, 
Missouri and Maine. These battleships made up a very pow- 
erful fleet fifteen years ago and cost more than $90,000,000, 
but are obsolete in competition with newer vessels. The most 
famous American battleship is the Oregon, and there is strong 
sentiment for preservation of the vessel, but ways and means 
for paying the expense have not been devised. 



The first airplane flight across Cascade Mountains was ac- 
complished June 30, 1919, between Seattle and Ellensburg, 
115 miles, in 1 hour, 15 minutes, by J. M. Fetters and Ser- 
geant Owen Kissel, army aviators. Airplane flights in the 
Pacific Northwest have been frequent this year. In connec- 
tion with the rose festival at Portland, June 10-13, airplanes 
made numerous trips. The most noteworthy flights have been 
those between Portland and Sacramento in one of which Gov- 
ernor Ben W. Olcott was a passenger. These speed journeys, 
at 100 miles an hour or better, covering the distance between 
Portland and Sacramento in less than six hours, recall by 
contrast the first speed test between the two cities in 1860, that 
of the pony express, which consumed seven days pf continuous 
travel night and day in covering the 700 miles, and was hailed 
as a triumphant feat of speed and endurance. The running 
time in winter was twelve days. 


The ambush and death of Captain Absalom J. Hembree by 
Indians in the Yakima War of 1855-56, has been a tragic event 
in Pacific Northwest annals, and the scene of the tragedy will 
be marked with a monument by the state historical society of 
Washington. The place where Captain Hembree fell was 
identified June 22, by W. D. Stillwell, of Tillamook, Oregon, 
95 years of age, who accompanied Captain Hembree at the 
time of the tragedy. The place is five miles from Toppenish, 
Washington. Others present on June 22 were M. V. Stillwell, 
who is the son of W. D. Stillwell, W. P. Bonney, secretary of 
the state historical society of Washington, and L. V. Me- 
Whorter and C. H. Newell of Yakima, County. 


The Pioneer, a memorial bronze statue, the gift to the 
University of Oregon by Joseph N. Teal, of Portland, stands 


on the university campus, where it was unveiled May 22, 1919, 
by T. G. Hendricks, of Eugene, Oregon. The designer, A. 
Phimister Proctor, used as his model, J. C. Cravens, a trapper, 
whom he found on the ranch of William Hanley, in Harney 
County. Many pioneers were present at the unveiling cere- 


Examination of the Nachess trail of 1853, by a party of 
pioneers, for the purpose of choosing sites for markers of the 
Washington State Historical Society, was accomplished July 
13-21. In the party were George H. Himes, Ezra Meeker, 
C. B. Bagley, Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Woolery, Mr. and Mrs. 
Elden M. Gordon, W. P. Bonney, Sam W. Wall and Mr. and 
Mrs. David Longmire. The party traced the route of the trail 
on the west side of the mountains up to Bare Prairie, some 50 
miles northeast of Tacoma, and, on the east side, ascended 
Nachess River as far as automobiles would go. The old trail 
through the mountains is almost obliterated and for a dis- 
tance of fifty miles cannot be followed by automobiles. The 
party located the site of Camp Montgomery, southeast of Ta- 
coma, the site of the old block-house on Yelm River, and the 
site of the stockades on Chambers' Prairie. 


A pageant of Oregon history, displayed at Salem during 
commencement exercises of Willamette University, early in 
June, 1919, was brilliantly successful. The pageant was writ- 
ten by Professor Delia Crowder-Miller, and commemorated 
the 75th anniversary of the university. The display contained 
22 episodes besides prologue and epilogue. 

Whitman College, at Walla Walla, celebrated its quarter- 
centennial in its commencement exercises in June. 

Umatilla County pioneers held a two days' picnic at Weston 
early in June, and elected the following officers : M. L. Wat- 


son, president; R. Alexander, vice-president; S. A. Barnes, 
secretary; J. H. Price, treasurer. The sons and daughters of 
Umatilla pioneers elected the following officers: Amy Car- 
gill, of Freewater, president; Mrs. William Reed, of Athena, 
vice-president ; Mrs. W. S. Price, of Weston, treasurer ; Mar- 
jorie Bullfinch, of Weston, treasurer. 

The annual celebration at Champoeg, to commemorate the 
historic event of May 2, 1843 the founding of tjie provisional 
government of Oregon was held May 3, 1919. The attend- 
ance was 1000 persons, and was the largest that has thus far 
done honor to the annual event. 

The first annual reunion of the descendants of Henry and 
Elizabeth Hewett, Oregon pioneers of 1843, was held at the 
old home place, seven miles south of Dayton, Oregon, Satur- 
day, July 12. Seventy- five members of the family were 

The McLoughlin house, at Oregon City, perpetuated as one 
of the historic relics of Oregon, contains a growing collection 
of valuable mementoes of early days. The annual meeting of 
the McLoughlin Memorial Association was held June 30, 1919. 
W. P. Hawley, the paper manufacturer, was elected to hon- 
orary membership. Mr. Hawley gave the house to the city, 
which caused the structure to be restored and moved to a high 
site overlooking the Willamette River. 

The sixtieth aniversary of the pioneer banking house, Ladd 
& Tilton, was celebrated at a dinner for the employes at Mult- 
nomah Hotel, Portland, June 5, and afterwards at a theater 
performance in Alcazar Theater. The bank was opened June 
1, 1859, by William S. Ladd and Charles E. Tilton at 105 
Front Street. 

Grays' Harbor Pioneer Association held their annual picnic 
at Brady June 25, and elected the following officers: Presi- 
dent, Elmer Brady; vice-presidents, O. B. Newton, Satsop; J. 
J. Carney, Aberdeen; Mrs. H. W. Patton, Hoquiam; trustee, 


W. E. Campbell, Hoquiam ; secretary, Mrs. J. E. Calder, Mon- 
tesano ; treasurer, Mrs. H. B. Marcy, Montesano ; chaplain, 
Rev. Charles McDermoth, Aberdeen; historian, A. C. Girard, 
Aberdeen ; delegate to annual meeting of state society, M. J. 
Luark, Montesano. W. P. Bonney, of Tacoma, secretary of 
the State Historical Society, was the principal speaker. 

Twenty acres of land at Grand Mound, including the famous 
"mound," have been deeded to the state by John R. James, 
pioneer settler of Southwest Washington, and son of Samuel 
James, the first man to settle in Grand Mound prairie. Other 
heirs of the James estate, numbering approximately 80, will 
give money for the beautification of the place, which is now a 
public park. 

The department of history at the Oregon Agricultural Col- 
lege, under Professor J. B. Horner, is preparing a map locat- 
ing the prehistoric mounds of Oregon. This is being done 
partly as a result of the recent exploration of the prehistoric 
burial grounds on the Calapooia by summer school students. 
Two additional mounds were discovered on the Osburn farm, 
which makes approximately 30 mounds along the banks of the 
Calapooia and half as many others on streams near by. 

Douglas County, Oregon, residents held a reunion at Port- 
land June 22, 1919, in Peninsula Park, to renew old acquain- 
tances and review events of that part of Oregon. The speak- 
ers were : W. H. Brackett, George H. Himes, G. C. Love, A. 
M. Crawford and George W. Riddle. George C. Johnson was 
elected president ; Lou L. Parker, secretary, and Nancy Drain 
Singleton, treasurer. 

Organization of local history materials will be undertaken 
at Eugene by a committee of a teachers' conference which 
held session at the University of Oregon the latter week in 
June. A. N. French, professor of education in the university, 
and J. C. Almack, director of the extension division, suggested 
methods of organization. Dr. H. D. Sheldon, president of the 
conference, was authorized to name a committee for this work. 


Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers on June 18, 1919, 
elected the following officers : Mrs. Benton Killin, president ; 
H. G. Starkweather, vice-president; Miss Lillian M. Hackle- 
man, secretary. Mr. Starkweather narrated the history of the 
Oregon state seal, and Robert A. Miller spoke on pioneer fra- 
ternalism. Cyrus H. Walker's resolution for equal pensions for 
soldiers of the Civil and the Indian wars was adopted. The 
meeting was in Library Hall, Portland. 

A memorial park near Hood River in honor of the eight 
soldiers of the county who lost their lives in the European 
war, and the returning soldiers of that conflict, is to be estab- 
lished at Ruthton Hill, where O. P. Dabney has given a site. 

Linn County pioneers and their sons and daughters held a 
reunion at Brownsville June 18-20. Speechmaking, picnicing 
and athletics contributed to the festivities. 

Salmon Brown, 83 years old, son of John Brown, of civil 
war fame, died at Portland May 10, 1919. He shot himself 
with a revolver on account of sickness and despondency. 

Mrs. Eliza Warren, daughter of the missionary, Rev. H. H. 
Spalding, died at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, June 21, 1919, and 
the body was buried at Brownsville, Oregon, June 26, where 
the remains of other members of the Spalding family are in- 
terred. She was born at the Lapwai mission in 1837, and was 
married to Andrew Warren in 1859. Brownsville's main 
street is named after the Spalding family. 

The 21st annual reunion of the Kelly Clan was held June 
28, 1919, at Portland, at the home of Mrs. O. P. S. Plummer 
on the Dosch road. Interesting features of the afternoon pro- 
gramme were the reading of the family history by Nellie Faw- 
cett and an address by Father Hoberg of McMinnville, who 
is 92 years of age, and who was well acquainted with the four 
Kelly brothers. There are now some 200 descendants in Mult- 
nomah County. 

The Henkle family, of Benton County, Oregon, held its an- 
nual reunion at the Wyatt home, three miles west of Cbrvallis, 
June 26, 1919, with 162 members of the family present. 


APRIL 1 MAY 31, 1919 

Compiled by GEORGE H. HIMES 

Anderson, Mrs. A. J., b. 111., 1839; pioneer of 1852; d. The Dalles, April 
12, 1919. 

Bailey, Mrs. Bridget, b. Ireland, 1826; Or. 1857; d. Wedderburn, May, 1919. 

Brown, Mrs. Alice Virginia, b. Or., Aug. 5, 1859; d. Langell Valley, May 9, 

*Bettman, Lazarus, b. Ger., 1835; pioneer 1856; d. Portland, May 22, 1019. 

Emerson, Mrs. Mary Jane, b. 111., 1838; pioneer 1850; d. Cottage Grove, 
May 9, 1919. 

Fisher, George, b. Or., April 20, 1856; d. Eugene, April 17, 1919. 

Fitzpatrick, Mrs. Margaret Elizabeth McCubbin, b. Or., Apr. 3, 1855; d. 
Lostine, Apr. 3, 1919. 

Ford, Mrs. Georgiana Percival, b. Olympia, Oct. 23, 1856; d. Olympia, April 
15, 1919. 

Gilmore, Charles H., b. Or., Feb. 10, 1856; d. Mt. Pleasant, Or., May 5, 1919. 

Gouly, P. P., b. Mich., 1846; Or., 1846; d. Mt. Pleasant, Or., May 5, 1919. 

Graham, David, b. N. Y., 1836; pioneer 1857; d. Seattle, May 19, 1919. 
Hannum, Wm. M., b. Pa., Aug. 28, 1832; pioneer 1851; d. Josephine Co., 
April 19, 1919. 

Hendricks, Glen Owen, b. Dallas, Or., June 23, 1857; d. Portland, April 17, 

Heustis, Mrs. Sarah M., b. Idaho, 1849; d. Portland, Apr. 17, 1919. 
*Hill, Henry C. b. Mass., 1835; pioneer 1847; d. Orting, Wash., May n, 1919. 

Holt, Dr. C. R., b. Or., 1859; d. Portland, April 26, 1919. 

Howard, Mrs. Edna Jane Smith, b. Mo., 1841; Or., 1852; d. Albany, May 
28, 1919. 

Imbler, Mrs. Margaret, b. Ohio, March 4, 1827; pioneer 1852; d. Roseburg, 
April 12, 1919. 

Jameson, Mrs. Jane Lady, b. Mo., 1837; pioneer 1853; d. Vancouver, Wash., 
May n, 1919. 

Kandle, Wm. A., b. Olympia, 1853; d. Ashford, Wash., May 18, 1919. 

Lane, Mrs. Simon E., b. Or., 1852; d. Roseburg, May 20, 1919. 

Leever, C. T., b. ; pioneer 1850; d. Lebanon, April 9, 1919. 

Lewman, John Amman, b. Ky., 1834; Or., 1852; d. Provolt, March 27, 1919. 

17, 1919. 

Lindley, fames, b. ; Or., 1853; d. Lebanon, Feb. 19, 1919. 

Marks, Matthew, b. ; pioneer 1852; d. Yakima, Apr. 25, 1919. 

Maxwell, Mrs. Susan Christian, b. 1845; pioneer 1853; d. Noti, Or., May 

Cosier, Alonzo, b. Ind., 1838; pioneer 1852; d. Oregon City, May 26, 1919. 
McGuire, Mrs. Maria, b. Canada, 1832; pioneer 1852; d. Salem, Apr. 21, 1919. 
McKinney, J. N., b. Iowa, 1838; pioneer, 1845; d. Hillsboro, May 8, 1919. 
*McNemee, Adam, b. Mo., 1841; pioneer 1845; d. Portland, March 29, 1919. 

Nooning, Mrs. Susan Vickers, b. Ohio, 1849; pioneer 1852; d. Portland, 
May 7. 1919. 

Payne, Champion T., b. Mo. ; Or. 1852; d. Ashland, Feb. 14, 1919. 

*Pettey, Manville B., b. 1841; pioneer 1854; d. Jennings Lodge, April, 

, 1919. 

*Raffety, Dr. Charles, b. 111., 1839; pioneer 1852; d. Portland, May 18 1919. 
Richards Mrs. Mary F., b. Or., 1846; d. near Oakland, Or., April 30, 1919. 
Richey, Wm. G., b. 111.; Or. 1852; d. Camp Creek, Feb. 23, 1919. 

Richardson, Rebecca Ann, b. Mo., 1838; pioneer 1853; d. Lane Co., May 
10, 1919. 

Rickard, John, b. England, 1830; Or. 1852; d. Corvallis, May 10, 1919. 

Robertson, Mrs. R. M., b. ; pioneer 1848; d. Spokane, May 4, 1919. 

"Rowland, Mrs. Eliazbeth M., b. 111., Apr. 25, 1841; pioneer 1852; d. Apr. 
16, 1919. 

Sieforth, Mrs. Polly G. Bowen, b. Mo., Sept. 21, 1842; pioneer 1853; d. 
Dallas, Or., Apr. 22, 1919. 

*Stuart, Alfred V., b. Or. 1853; d. Portland, Apr., 1919. 
*Thyng, Mrs. Caroline Bozorth, b. Iowa, 1842; pioneer 1852; d. Portland, 
Apr. 17, 1919. 

Wakeman, Miles, b. N. Y. 1829; Cal., 1849; Or. pioneer, 1851; d. Pleasant 
City, Apr. 26, 1919. 

Walters, Mrs. Rachel Belknap, b. Iowa, 'May 21, 1843; d. Portland, May 14, 

Watkins, J. C, b. ; Or. 1852; d. Eugene, Feb. 12, 1019. 

White, Marion Jackson, b. Mo., 1845; Or. 1852; d. Woodburn, Jan. 29, 1918. 
Whorton, Mrs. L. B. Veatch, b. 111., 1832; d. near Eugene, Jan. 22, 1919. 
Wilson, Mrs. W. H., b. Mo.; Or. 1843; d. Drain, May 27, 1919. 

Only those marked * were ever members of the Oregon Pioneer Association, 
which was organized in 1873. All persons are eligible who came to, or were born 
in, the original "Oregon Country" at any time prior to Dec. 31, 1859, that being 
the year that the State was admitted to the Union. 


of the 

Oregon Historical Society 


Copyright, 1919, by the Oregon Historical Society 
The Quarterly disavows responsibility for the positions taken by contributors to its pages. 





Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen : 

More than two years have passed since I wrote Judge 
Robert S. Bean, President of the Board of Regents, of my 
desire to erect a memorial to the Oregon pioneers and to have 
it placed on the grounds of the University of Oregon. The 
letter I then wrote expresses my sentiments and thought so 
accurately that I can do no better than read it to you today. 
It is as follows : 

"It has long been my earnest desire to express my admira- 
tion and respect for the Oregon pioneer. Having given 
the subject much serious thought, I am now addressing 
you for the purpose of laying before you and the Board of 
Regents of the University the plan I have formulated, and 
to obtain your consent and approval for the carrying out 
of my idea. 

The pioneer represents all that is noblest and best in our 
history. The men and women who saved the west for this 
country were animated by the highest motives. They made 
untold sacrifices and endured hardships of every kind in 
order that their children might enjoy the fruits of their 
labor. Their courage, foresight, endurance and industry 
should] ever be an inspiration to the youth of the country. 


I therefore propose to erect a memorial, which it seems to 
me should stand on the campus of our great institution of 
learning, the University of Oregon, where for years to 
come the rising generation of Oregon will have before them 
a reminder of those to whom they owe every opportunity 
they enjoy. 

Accordingly I have commissioned Mr. A. Phimister 
Proctor, the distinguished American sculptor, to model a 
statue typifying the real pioneer of the West. It is my 
sincere desire and hope that, as the genius of Saint Gaudens 
has typified in imperishable bronze The Puritan, the genius 
of Proctor will in like degree typify The Pioneer. Should 
my plan meet with the approval of yourself and the Board 
of Regents of the University, I would request that at the 
proper time and in concurrence with Mr. Proctor, a place 
be designated on the University grounds upon which the 
monument may be erected." 

This day evidences the fulfillment of this desire, and we 
have gathered together in honor of those to perpetuate whose 
memory this statue was designed. While it is a matter of 
greater satisfaction to me than I can express to have the 
opportunity of testifying in this way to my affection for the 
pioneers of Oregon, it is the genius of the artist which makes 
it possible to express in enduring bronze not only the senti- 
ment, but the man. I wish to express not only my sincere 
admiration for Mr. Proctor's genius, but the thankfulness I 
feel for his unselfish devotion to the task and for the zeal 
and spirit which from the inception of the idea to this dedica- 
tion have animated his work. The sculptor, not only an 
artist of rare genius, but a man of nature, of the mountains 
and plains, knowing at first hand the pioneer and his life, 
his real worth and what he endured and sought, has created 
a type true to life the real pioneer as we have known him. 

This statue is erected and dedicated to the memory of all 
Oregon pioneers. It is in no sense personal or individual and 
it is my earnest wish and hope that this fact may ever be 
kept in mind. 

The reasons for selecting the University of Oregon as the 



home of this memorial are many. It is sufficient to say that 
here the Willamette and Mackenzie Rivers join their waters 
into one grand channel and create this beautiful valley, the 
paradise to which the pioneer struggled over great mountains 
and across desert plains, to which he first came in numbers, 
and in which he first made his home. Here, too, the state 
which he created has founded its great institution to train its 
young men and women. No more fitting place than the 
campus of the University of Oregon could be found for the 
memorial. Here amid these beautiful surroundings, in this 
institution of learning, acting as an inspiration to Oregon's 
young manhood and womanhood, this pioneer in bronze will 
find a hospitable home in the land he loved so well. I am 
happy in the thought that I have had the opportunity thus to 
show my love and admiration for those whose life was largely 
spent in a work whose greatness and value will be better 
understood when viewed down the perspective of time. The 
greatest honor I have is in honoring them. Joaquin Miller 
thus painted the pioneers: 

"I only know that when that land 
Lay thick with peril, and lay far 

It seemed as some sea-fallen star, 
The weak men never reached a hand 

Or sought us out that primal day. 

And cowards did not come that way." 

Mr. President, my share in this very satisfactory enterprise 
is ended: with this memorial, there goes every good wish for 
this University, coupled with the sincere hope that those who 
seek guidance and aid within its classic walls will never lose 
sight of what they owe the pioneer. 




Mr. President, Mr. Proctor, Mr. Teal, the Faculty and Students 
of the University of Oregon, Ladies and Gentlemen: 

I am not on the programme for an address, and I was not 
aware that I should make any remarks until my arrival in 
Eugene at noon today. But since I have been asked to do so, 
I cannot refrain from saying a few things which I have in 
my mind, for I am a native son of Oregon, and I have been 
for many years President of the Oregon Historical Society, and 
I am familiar with the early history of Oregon, its settlement, 
its upbuilding, and its making, and the kind of people the 
Oregon pioneers were and are. 

Ever since its organization the Oregon Historical Society 
has been engaged in determining the facts and the truths of 
history, particularly relating to the history of Oregon. It ex- 
amines traditions and folklore. It endeavors, as it were, to 
separate the grain from the chaff. It studies the motives, the 
ideals, and the acts of people in regard to the settlement and 
upbuilding of Oregon. It seeks to know the truth. Mr. 
Proctor in this statue, typical of the Oregon pioneers, has 
portrayed truth in a way which should give to him the thanks 
of every student and lover of early Oregon history. This 
statue is a gift to the State of Oregon by a son and grandson 
of true and worthy Oregon pioneers. Great credit is due to 
Mr. Teal for his patriotic and unselfish generosity in making 
this gift. 

The Anglo-Saxon race is a branch of the Teutonic race. It 
was and is a liberty-loving race. It believes in the protection of 
life and of liberty and in the rights of property and the pursuit 


of happiness. This race has large powers of assimilation, and 
its great ideas of liberty and of the rights of mankind caused 
other races to become a part of it, so it became a people as 
well as a race. In early historic times it made its power felt 
and for centuries contended for the rights of the people in 
England, where it had made its home, and finally succeeded 
in making England a free country, as evidenced by the Revolu- 
tion and Settlement of 1688 and the policy of the English 
people ever since. Its instincts and traditions caused some 
of its people to come to North America to begin and to con- 
tinue its settlement and civilization. The first of these 
people came about three centuries ago. Many of them came 
thereafter from time to time. They landed on the Atlantic 
Coast and pushed on westward. They soon adapted them- 
selves to conditions and learned self-reliance and how to over- 
come the difficulties of establishing themselves in a new coun- 
try, theretofore peopled only by Indians. They continued to 
push on westward and occupied what are now the states of Ken- 
tucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and 
other western lands, now the Central States of this country. 
Their courage, their powers, their self-reliance and their ideals 
increased as they moved westward. They fought Indians ; they 
cut down forests; they reclaimed wild lands; they established 
homes, schools and churches. It is of this people that most of 
the early Oregon pioneers are a part. 

The instincts and traditions of the Anglo-Saxoni race have 
ever been to move westward. The star it had followed, which 
showed the westward course of empire, at last stood and 
shone over Oregon. Here was a wild land to be made useful 
and become a part of the civilized world. It was about two 
thousand miles west of the forefront of civilization in the 
United States at that time. Between that forefront and Oregon 
there are great plains, rugged mountains and large rivers to 
be crossed, a road to be established for them and for others, 
coming after them, to travel successfully to Oregon "the 
land where dreams come true." There were great numbers 


of savage Indians to be encountered and forced to respect the 
rights and property of these immigrants. 

The lure of Oregon had appealed to many who had settled 
in the western states and territories. In May, 1843, without 
preconcert, but moved by a common impulse, nearly nine hun- 
dred men, women, and children met at Independence, Missouri, 
ready and anxious to start on the long trip to Oregon. Some 
were poorly equipped for so long, arduous, and perilous an 
expedition, for they had few precedents. But they were re- 
sourceful and filled with an abiding faith in their ability to 

They were courageous folk, filled and moved by great ideals, 
not that they knew they had ideals, and they probably would 
have resented any intimation that they had them. But never- 
theless they had these ideals and were influenced by them. 
These pioneer immigrants moved slowly westward, driving 
the oxen which pulled their wagons until they arrived at Fort 
Hall, about seven hundred miles east of here. There they 
were told that it was impossible to take their wagons to the 
Columbia River. But they were not frightened by this in- 
formation. The men determined to go on as far as they 
could, for they were self-reliant, and their wives and daughters 
had every confidence in these resolute men. Loving arms went 
around stalward necks, with cheering words and saying: 
"Where you go we will go with you and help in every way." 

It was a momentous occasion. They could have abandoned 
their intentions to go to the Willamette Valley, and by forced 
marches, probably, have arrived at their starting point in 
Missouri before traveling by wagons became impossible the 
ensuing winter. If they failed to reach the Columbia River 
probably almost all of the party would have died of starvation 
or from exposure. There was little game west of Fort Hall. 
They cut themselves off from all sources of supply. If they 
failed it would probably have been many years before there 
was another overland expedition of immigrants to Oregon. 
It was practically impossible to send large numbers of immi- 


grants by sea. The government of the United States did 
nothing to encourage or to assist the early settlement of 
Oregon. The peaceful settlement of the Oregon Question, 
especially by the occupation of Oregon by American citizens, 
would probably have been impossible. It was a daring deter- 

If they had failed! These immigrants of 1843 were 
intrepid, determined, resourceful, and self-reliant. They were 
not accustomed to fail in any enterprise they undertook to 

And so, taking in their own hands the lives of themselves and 
of their wives and children and their fortunes, they accepted 
the chances, relying on themselves and their ability to suc- 
ceed. It was a heroic resolution fully carried out. They sur- 
mounted every difficulty. They made roads and crossed 
great rivers and went over seemingly impassable mountains 
until they came to The Dalles on the Columbia River, beyond 
which travel with wagons was impossible at that time. They 
came down the Columbia River, rescued and succored and as- 
sisted to establish themselves in the land they had seen in 
dreams, the beautiful Willamette Valley, then a fertile wilder- 
ness, by that princely great humanitarian, Dr. John Mc- 
Loughlin, the Father of Oregon. Thus the immigrants of '43 
made and showed the way to Oregon for others to follow. 
This first home-building immigration was followed by success- 
ful immigrations, of the same quality of people, in the succeed- 
ing years. The coming of these immigrants was the cause of 
the peaceful settlement of the Oregon Question, which for 
many years had threatened to embroil the United States and 
Great Britain in a long and bloody war. The British govern- 
ment feared that the whole Oregon country would be peopled 
by immigrants from the United States. 

And these are the pioneers of Oregon to whom be ever- 
lasting praise and glory. The coming to Oregon of its pioneers 
is one of the most daring movements and one of the most 
interesting and romantic stories of the settlement and upbuild- 


ing of any part of the United States. These pioneers and 
their qualities, characteristics and ideals Mr. Proctor has 
exemplified and shown in this statue. 

I have not time to go into details or to show how these pio- 
neers upbuilded and made this beautiful Oregon of today, of 
which we are so proud. 

Many of these pioneers have gone to the Great Beyond 
and those now living will soon follow to honored graves. It 
is for their descendants to take up the work which these 
pioneers left unfinished. What they did can never be for- 

But the Oregon pioneers did not comprise all of the people 
of Anglo-Saxon ancestry and heredity in the United States 
nor all who were influenced by its traditions and instincts. They 
exert the great controlling influence in the civilization and life 
of this country. It was their influence which caused the 
Declaration of Independence to be made andl the war of the 
American Revolution to be fought. They carry on Anglo- 
Saxon ideas of the rights of life, liberty, property and the right 
of the pursuit of happiness. All these have been put to the test 
in the great world war beginning in 1914. The United States is 
a peaceful nation. But its people are not pacifists. There 
was, at first, great horror on account of German atrocities. 
This nation was greatly stirred by the sinking of the Lusi- 
tania. But that was a British ship and its sinking was not 
an attack upon the United States, dastardly as was the crime 
of its destruction and the murder of its passengers. While 
it was an offense against humanity and against civilization, it 
was not a cause of war for the United States. 

But there came a time when the rights and liberties of this 
country and of the whole world and their peoples became 
involved ; when as a nation, guided by Anglo-Saxon heredity, 
instincts and traditions, it was not only proper but necessary 
that this country should be a participant in the war; that 
this country should make war so there be world peace; and 
that the liberty of the whole world should be made safe. And 


then we did not hesitate to do our duty. The nation was 
united in its determination that the war should end against 
Germany, and our people pledged their all that success might 
be attained. The young men gave themselves to fight its bat- 
tles. The older men contributed their moneys. The Govern- 
ment Liberty loans and Victory loans were subscribed and 
oversubscribed in many parts of the country by people of all 
classes, by men and women, and even by children. The young 
women gave their services as nurses. And all over the country 
women, old as well as young, willingly and earnestly engaged 
in Red Cross work and other desirable and necessary war 
work and activities for the support, comfort, and health of 
the soldiers and sailors of America and for the successful 
conduct of the war. The Anglo-Saxons were true to their 
traditions. This universal response is the glory of our nation. 

When an American general, at the tomb of LaFayette, 
stood at attention and saluted the place where the body of 
America's great friend is buried, he said : "LaFayette ! we are 
here." It was an acknowledgment that America would pay a 
debt of honor which it owed to France. But that was only a 
part of the object of our entering into the war. There was 
the world's liberty at stake. The assassins of free govern- 
ment were to be conquered and to be subdued. And nobly did 
our boys do their part. 

The armies of France for nearly four years had fought 
nobly, bravely, gloriously. But France was almost bled white. 
They had sworn to die in the last ditch and they were peril- 
ously near the eastern bank of that ditch. Although they 
were fighting desperately they were being slowly forced back 
and were nearly overwhelmed. Their cry was : "When will 
the Americans come?" And the Americans came and nobly 
did they act. They may have lacked somewhat in military 
discipline, somewhat in esprit de corps, but they pressed on and 
fought with a dash and an intrepidity which surprised the Ger- 
mans. They were not to be denied. Had they been com- 
manded and led by God's Archangels of Vengeance and of 


Victory; had they been inspired by the specter of Joan of 
Arc, clad in armor, with flashing sword in hand, mounted on 
a spectral grand war horse, urging our boys on to victory, they 
could not have fought more bravely or more effectively. But 
they did not need to be so commanded or led or inspired. 
They were actuated and impelled by centuries, nay more, by 
thousands of years of Anglo-Saxon heredity, instinct, tradition, 
and courage. And they had it in their hearts. 

When the Americans took part in the war it was the begin- 
ning of the end of the war. At Contigny, at St. Mihiel, at 
Soisson, at Chateau Thierry, at Belleau Wood, at Argonne 
forest, and elsewhere they showed their quality and their 
desire and intention and ability to succeed. 

The liberty-loving branch of the Teutonic race overcame 
the liberty-destroying and autocratic branch of that race. The 
Hun met his master and was vanquished. The world was 
made safe for democracy. 

And Oregon boys were there, and nobly did they do their 
part. Many of them are worthy descendants of noble Oregon 
pioneers. They were true to the genius and traditions of their 
race. "Oh, when will their glory fade!" Never, while the 
history of this war is known. As the Oregon pioneers showed 
their peaceful qualities in coming to Oregon and in its settle- 
ment, its upbuilding, and its making, so their descendants 
showed their virtue, and their fighting and heroic qualities in 
this war. Their actions show that the race has not degenerated. 

Mr. Proctor, with his genius, has perpetuated all these quali- 
ties in this statue, and they will be recorded forever in history. 

The Anglo-Saxon qualities and ideals, its traditions and 
instincts, its love and support of the rights of life, of liberty, 
and of the rights of mankind will survive even the downfall 
of this republic and will endure as long as the human race. 

The human race from its beginning 'has always been inter- 
ested in monuments and statues as work of art, especially 
when they typify great events and manly qualities. The ador- 
ation of statues as deities is forbidden. But it is impossible to 


forbid the veneration of that which moves or touches the 
human heart. Could even divine power prevent the venera- 
tion of the graves of our ancestors, our relatives, our friends, 
and those of the world's great men and women? 

This statue symbolizes and immortalizes in a remarkable 
way the Oregon pioneer and his qualities his courage, his 
determination, his instincts and his high ideals and those of 
the race or of the people of which the Oregon pioneer is a 
fine specimen and example. Let everyone, and especially the 
young men and young women who are now and who will be 
students of this university, observe and study well this statue, 
and thus learn and appreciate what the Oregon pioneers 
the founders of Oregon were and are. Let them strive to 
emulate the qualities and virtues of the Oregon pioneers and 
to respect and to venerate what they hoped, what they dared, 
what they wrought, and what they accomplished. 



The object of history, as the writer understands it, is to 
teach wisdom for the future from the successes and mistakes 
of the past. It is to tell the facts of the past so honestly as 
to do justice to both sides, and in order to do so, it is obvious 
that the mistakes of one's own country must sometimes be 
brought to light. Otherwise, one takes the German point of 
view that whatever one's own country does is morally right. 

The restoration of Astoria is a case in point. With an 
element of the ludicrous in it, in the visit of the Ontario, there 
is also an exhibition of devious, winding, political manoeuvers 
by John Quincy Adams which one would rather hide. Writers 
have heretofore taken the point of view that the restoration 
was gained by American cleverness as against British intrigue, 
and therefore Adams is praised. 

There is no truth in that point of view. Not one statement 
could the writer find, even in the private notes of the British 
Foreign Office officials to each other, that would indicate 
the slightest intention of outwitting America in the claim for 
the Northwest Coast and the Columbia River. 

From July, 1913, to August, 1914, (being caught in Eng- 
land by the war,) the writer went through some seven hun- 
dred volumes in the British Public Record Office, including 
diplomatic correspondence, Colonial and Foreign Office re- 
ports, Admiralty reports, ships logs, and consular reports, from 
1790 until 1867, which would have a bearing on Oregon 

This last date, be it noted, is extraordinary. The usual per- 
mission granted to qualified scholars closes with 1837. When 
the writer made the remark, in a seminar in the University 
of London, that she intended asking for extended permission 
for the records until 1846, she was quickly assured by two 
English college professors of history that such permission was 


more than doubtful. She made the application, however, 
through the correct channels, and permission was received "as 
requested." But on searching the volumes through the 1840s, 
she found that in the San Juan controversy, many papers 
belonging to the Treaty of 1846 had been taken out of their 
proper volumes and used as enclosures in later ones. Many 
important records were missing upon reaching the end of the 
1846 records. She, therefore, in trepidation, asked permis- 
sion of the official in charge of this special "government 
room," not the usual Round Room if the permission from 
the Foreign Office would allow her to look through later 
volumes for the missing papers of the 1840s. He answered 
"No," very courteously, but very positively, adding he would 
look up the permit. With an amazed face he then returned 
and reported that the Foreign Office had failed to set a date 
of limitation upon the permit and therefore I was free to search 
to present date if I chose. He added that it was the first time 
he had ever known the Foreign Office to make such a mistake 
but Oregon history will profit by it. 

In addition to these unusual privileges, the writer had the 
permission of the late Lord Strathcona, Governor of the Hud- 
son's Bay Company, to search the archives of the Hudson's 
Bay Company, and many a day she spent in His Lordship's 
unoccupied office in Lime Street, searching through the rec- 
ords, journals, reports and correspondence, of the famous old 
English company. The results given here are rather more 
as an advance paper upon the history now being written by 
her, than as a final settlement of the whole question. 

It must be remembered, in all Oregon history, that the 
bitterness of America towards Great Britain was intense. Not 
only was the Revolution fought on American soil, with suffer- 
ing unknown to the English people, many of whom did not 
approve of this war by their foreign king, but the hatred 
following that had not died out before the War of 1812 was 
on, and in this war, as in the other, the Indians had joined 
the more tactful British rather than the aggressive Americans 


who were taking their lands away from them. The Ameri- 
cans tried, indeed, although almost in vain, to use the Indians 
against the British ; but they did not know how to manage the 
redskins chiefly because of their own aggressiveness. 

And that aggressiveness showed itself continually towards 
Great Britain. British diplomats wrote home, from Washing- 
ton, in despairing tones, "The aggressiveness of these Ameri- 
cans!" But the Americans were crying, and clippings at- 
tached to the diplomatic letters prove it, "The aggressive- 
ness of Great Britain!" "Like father, like son." John Bull 
and his son Jonathan were so exactly alike they could not 
possibly understand each other until each had mellowed, and 
time and distance had softened bitter feelings. 

And though this may seem far afield, in it lies the explana- 
tion; of much of Oregon's history, and the threat of a third 
war over the Northwest Coast of America. 

In 1804 the writer cannot locate the citation at the 
moment, amongst a mass of papers, the North West Com- 
pany wrote to the Colonial Office, expressing their determina- 
tion to explore to the Pacific, and asking that they be given 
the monopoly of any route found across the Rocky Moun- 
tains and to the western ocean. Such a monopoly was re- 
fused. In that same year, be it noted, Lewis and Clark 
started across the continent, through old-time Louisiana, and 
the southern border of the Oregon Country which lay beyond. 

In 1807, David Thompson, long hammering at the diffi- 
culties of the Canadian Rockies, unsupported by his Indian- 
fearing voyageurs, and actively opposed by surrounding tribes 
who feared their enemies west of the Rockies would thereby 
gain trading goods and guns, suddenly found his way unop- 
posed. The Indians, so he states,* had gathered around the 
"headwaters of the Mississourie," expecting the return of the 
white men that year. Had Lewis and Clark returned, or other 
white men appeared, doubtless there would have been a battle, 
or many gifts to avert one. So Thompson crossed the Rockies 
~~*F. o. 5, Vol. 441. 


and made his way that year, and for several following, around 
the headwaters and upper reaches of the Columbia, arriving" at 
the mouth of the Columbia in July, 1811, a few months after 
the arrival of Astor's men. 

It is clear, in studying fur trade history in its entirety, that 
Astor's plan of an overland route, with posts on the Columbia 
or the Pacific, was not so new or so brilliant as usually cred- 
ited to "a German person, named Oster," as he is described 
in a letter of the time. Nor was his outlay of money more 
daring than that of the North West Company. Nor was his 
plan of operation very different in idea, though with better 
financial backing, than the plan of Captain John Meares, 
half-fraud though Meares was. The laudation of Astor has 
always seemed exaggerated to the writer. 

The British, meanwhile, had in their own eyes a clear case 
to the ownership, or possession, of the North West Coast. 
They, aside from the Spanish, were the first to explore, as 
well as to discover ; and the first to trade. America followed 
more than a boat's length behind; and American traders had 
been on the coast only a year when Spanish claims were set- 
tled so far as Great Britain was concerned, without protest 
or question by America, in the Nootka Sound Convention. 
As to the actual discovery of the river, Meares's record was 
confusing: on approaching the "bay," he says he "steered 
in," meaning "steered in towards." And upon beating a 
retreat, he says he "steered out," he did, but without steering 
in. Broughton, representing an official exploring party, in his 
chagrin and attempt to rob Gray of the credit due to the 
first crossing of that bar, claimed that he was the first to 
explore the "river," and that added to the confusion. If the 
exploration of fur traders could count for national claims, 
then the British were first through Meares's claim of having 
"steered in," three years ahead of Gray. But if fur traders 
did not count, then Vancouver's expedition was the first, and 
here again was Broughton's claim. 

"The discovery of the Columbia is lost in obscurity," wrote 


one Foreign Office official to another, in a private memor- 
andum, and it was. Gray's fur-trading log was not located 
by the Government until 1817, the summer the Ontario sailed. 
When it was looked up through the ship's owners, an affi- 
davit was made only of that fortnight of entering and trading 
in the river, and the exit. The Government did not even 
claim the log, a mistake as against Vancouver's official, pub- 
lished reports, sanctioned and recognized by the British Gov- 
ernment. When in 1837 tension had increased, and the Ameri- 
can Government searched for Gray's log again, both he and 
his wife were dead, and the niece to whom he had left the 
treasure had used the log for wrapping paper! So far as 
Government records went, there was plenty of obscurity, and 
the configuration of the coast, the shape of that large bay- 
like mouth of the river, and the bars, seem not to have been 
comprehended by either government to any degree. 

The sale of Fort Astoria is too well known to need com- 
ment, aside from the fact that almost invariably there is 
omitted the statement, as given by Alexander Henry, (in his 
Journals, ed. by Coues), that Wilson Price Hunt, after an 
investigation of the prices at which the fort and furs were sold, 
assented to them and thus sanctioned the sale. Without his 
approval the arrangements made by McDougall for the sale 
could not have held; so the charge of treachery seems quite 
unfounded for this, as well as for other reasons. 

But with the war on, the North West Company's nudging 
of the British Government, asking for a warship to capture 
this post, brought the matter to the attention of Colonial 
officials and other British statesmen. The Americans were 
mere squatters on the Columbia from the British point of 
view, and hardly was the fort sold, on the Columbia itself, 
and Captain Black's reports sent in cipher overland to Canada, 
and to London, this being the quickest route, than plans 
were being made to colonize the North West Coast. By dis- 
covery, exploration, trade and contiguity to Canada, the British 


considered it theirs. It only remained to make America see 
reason. Spain's claim had been practically settled. 

On July 4th, 1814, William Pitt sent some notes to Lord 
Castlereagh 1 which he called: "Observations on a pamphlet 
entitled, 'A Compressed View of the Points to Be Discussed 
in Treating with the United States of America,' with supple- 
mentary remarks." In these notes Pitt suggests the desira- 
bility of a treaty with Russia, giving her all north of 58, (the 
entrance to Cross Sound), and perhaps Cross Sound to the 
Frozen Sea, or a line east to Mackenzie River from its mouth, 
Slave Lake, Slave Lake to Athabasca Lake, and due west 
to Cross Sound. In this way, he thought, Russia's territory 
would be convenient to her Asiatic possessions, and the most 
advantageous part of the Coast would be secured to Great 
Britain from 58 to the Columbia at 46 degrees. 

It has usually been thought that the restoration of Astoria 
gave the impetus to the Columbia as a line of demarkation, 
even by a very recent writer. 2 But it is clear that Pitt, if he 
regarded Great Britain as having full claim to the Calif ornian 
line, did not intend to exclude the Americans entirely from 
the Pacific coast line. 

Pitt's plan covered the following points : For protection 
and the advancement of commerce, and especially the fur 
trade, he thought there should be a line of internal communica- 
tion across the continent. That there was one, he seemed not 
to know. The British fur traders did not always notify their 
government of all exploration made by them. At Nootka 
Sound, Pitt would plant a colony of "useful and industrious 
British subjects," with a governor, supplying them from the 
Sandwich Islands, China, and New South Wales. These 
colonists were to form a Provincial Corporation, with a small 
naval force to check piracy. Clergymen were to be sent there 
for the settlers and missionaries for the Indians. He refers 
to Vancouver's recommendations in Book 4, Chap. 9. The 
advantages would be: British commerce, the propagation of 

1 F. O. 5, Vol. 103. 

2 Oreg. Hist. Quar., Dec., 1918, p. 277. 


Christianity, and the general civilization of extensive and un- 
enlightened British possessions. 

A week later, July 11, 1814, William Pitt sent a second 
note to Lord Castlereagh on this matter. 3 

The reduction of the navy and army, he thought, would 
give good selections for colonists. These should be young 
men of the best character, soldiers and sailors, married, with 
not more than two children to a family. Each should be 
skilled in some trade or calling useful to a colony. Care must 
be taken in the selection of officers for defence, and for gen- 
eral policy of the colony, married men, he thought, with 
some property. The colonists were to engage in trade, fish- 
eries, and commerce, as well as to explore the country and 
its resources. The precedent for such action had been set by 
Russia, after the death of Peter the Great, in ascertaining the 
resources of the country and the people. Many hints, Pitt 
thought, could be obtained from; the Lewis and Clark reports, 
and from Miiller's report on the Russian people. The selec- 
tion of colonists should include some men of science, skilled 
in natural history, mineralogy, etc. He suggested as a leader 
a Mohawk chief, educated in Scotland, of high character, well- 
informed, master of the English language, an Indian, yet 
warmly attached to Great Britain. Pitt was sure Sir Alex- 
ander Mackenzie, the North West Company, and the Hud- 
son's Bay Company, would all aid in such a scheme. 

There was great overcrowding in England at that time, and 
economic suffering was great. This may have been at the 
bottom of Pitt's plan; but nothing seems to have come of it. 
It is likely that the Government felt more inclined to aid col- 
onists to points in eastern Canada, where safety was greater 
and expense much less. 

The Treaty of Ghent was signed Christmas Eve, 1814, at 
the little Flemish town of that name. The Columbia River 
was not mentioned in the treaty. Shortly after their return 
from Ghent, Lord Bathurst told Simon McGillivray, that "re- 

3F. O. 5, Vol. 103. 


quiring from the Americans any recognition or guarantee of 
His Majesty's rights thereto, might tend to cast doubt upon 
a title which was already sufficiently clear and incontestable." 
[See entire letter below.] 

And James Monroe, for America, had written to the pleni- 
potentaries, under date of 22ndi March, 1814, "On no pretext 
can the British Government set up a claim to territory south 
of the northern boundary of the United States. It is not be- 
lieved that they have any claim whatever to territory on the 
Pacific Ocean. You will, however, be careful, should a defini- 
tion of the boundary be attempted, not to countenance in any 
manner, or in any quarter, a pretension in the British Govern- 
ment to territory south of that line." 3 * 

So the road to difficulties lay wide open. Hardly was the 
ink dry on that Treaty of Ghent than John Floyd of Virginia 
brought in, 1815, the first of his annual bills for the occupation 
of the Columbia. The bill did not reach a third reading. 4 

That same year, 1815, Admiral Porter was urging the ex- 
ploration of the Pacific. 5 Two frigates, the Guerriere and 
the Java were to have been placed under Porter to explore the 
Pacific and the North West Coast. This was Admiral Porter's 
own idea, outlined in a letter written 'to John Madison, then 
President. The expedition was never sent out; the idea was 
revived again in the late 1820s, a commander and ships as- 
signed, but actually the scheme was carried out only in 1840 
by Commander Charles Wilkes. 

But the race for the possession of the North West Coast 
had begun under governmental sanction. No longer was it 
merely a question of the fur trade. 

On July 18th, James Monroe sent a message to Anthony 
St. John Baker, then British Charge d'affaires at Washington, 
following it up by a letter evidently requested by Baker : 
[Monroe to Baker] 6 

3a Bancroft, North West Coast, Vol. 2, pp. 294-5. 
4 F. O. 5, Vol. 157. 
5 F. 0. 5, Vol. 157. 

6 F. O. 5, Vol. \ly. 


"Department of State, 

"July 18th, 1815. 

"It is represented that an expedition which had been sent 
by your government against the post of the United States 
established on Columbia River had succeeded in taking pos- 
session of it. By the first article of the Treaty of peace, it is 
stipulated that all territory, places, and possessions whatso- 
ever taken by either party from the other during the war, 
shall be restored without delay, with the exception only of the 
islands on Passamaquoddy Bay, which should remain in the 
possession of the party in whose occupation they then were, 
subject to the decision provided for in the 4th article. As the 
post on the Columbia river was taken during the war, and is 
not within the exception stipulated, the United States are of 
course entitled to its restitution; measures will therefore be 
taken to occupy it without delay. It is probable that your 
Government may have given orders for its restitution; to 
prevent, however, any difficulty on the subject, I have to re- 
quest that you will have the goodness to furnish me with a 
letter to the British Commander there to that effect. 

"I have the honor to be 

&c., &c., &c., 

James Monroe. 

"To Anthony St. John Baker, Esq., 
&c., &c., &c., 

The next day Baker addressed the following letter to Lord 
Castlereagh. 7 

"Washington, July 19, 1815. 
"My Lord 

"Mr. Munroe having requested an interview with me at the 
Department of State, I accordingly waited upon him at the 
time appointed. 

"He stated he was desirous of speaking to me upon one or 
two points, the first of which related to the establishment 

7 F. O. 5, Vol. 107, No, 24. 


which the United States had possessed before the war on the 
Pacific ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River, but which 
had been broken up by a naval force, sent by the British gov- 
ernment for that purpose. He conceived that it fell within 
the meaning of the first article of the Treaty of Ghent, and 
ought to be restored, for otherwise it would have been par- 
ticularly excepted in the treaty as had been the case with 
the Passamaquoddy Islands, and requested to know whether 
I agreed in that opinion. 

"I replied that I had not considered the subject which was 
unexpected by me; that in fact, I did not immediately call to 
mind what was the result of the expedition to which he alluded, 
and was not aware that any persons whatsoever had been left 
upon the spot who could affect the restoration required, should 
the case be thought to come under the treaty, but that I was 
ignorant of any transaction between the two Governments 
which recognized the claim of the United States to any part 
of the coast of the Pacific ocean. 

"He did not state the foundation on which the claim to this 
territory rested insisting merely upon the fact of its having 
been captured from the United States during the war which 
brought it within the Treaty * * *" [Omission on the 
fishery question.] 

"Mr. Munroe * * * led me to expect that he would 
make a written communication * * * relative to the re- 
storation of the settlement on the Columbia River * * * 
[Omissions on fisheries.] 

"P. S. Since writing the above, I have received Mr. Mun- 
roe's letter relative to the restoration of the settlement on 
Columbia River, a copy of which I beg leave to enclose. It 
is my intention in my reply to refer him to Rear Admiral 
Dixon, who commands in those seas. 

A. B." 


Five days later, Baker sent the following answer to Secre- 
tary Munroe: 8 

"Washington, July 23, 1815. 

"I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 18th 
instant acquainting me that it had been represented to the 
American government that a British force sent for that pur- 
pose had succeeded in taking possession of the United States 
establishments on Columbia River, and claiming its restora- 
tion under the words of the 1st article of the Treaty, upon 
the ground of its having been captured during the War ; stat- 
ing likewise that His Majesty's Government may have given 
orders for its restitution, but requesting with a view to pre- 
vent any difficulty on the subject, that I would furnish a letter 
to that effect to the British Commander there. As I have re- 
ceived no communication on the subject of these orders from 
His Majesty's Government, you will readily, I am convinced, 
perceive the unpracticability of my forwarding a letter of this 
nature ; and although it is believed that the post in question has 
been captured (of which, however, the American Government 
does not appear to have any certain information on which to 
ground the claim of restitution) yet another point equally es- 
sential remains in great uncertainty, viz : whether any persons 
whatsoever were left to retain possession of it. My impres- 
sion is that the establishment was broken up, and the persons 
found there brought away. Vice Admiral Dixon, however, 
the Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Naval Forces on 
the Brazil Station, within whose command the Pacific Ocean 
is included, is no doubt in possession of every necessary infor- 
mation in relation to this post, and will be able to communicate 
on the subject with any authorized agent on the behalf of the 
United States * * * [Omissions on other subjects.] 

Baker also wrote, on July 24th, 1815, to Vice- Admiral Man- 
ley Dixon, in charge of the Pacific; and another letter went 
post haste to Sir Gordon Drummond, Governor of Canada, 

8F. O. 5, Vol. 107. 


asking him for information which might be secured from the 
North West Company. The inquiry went to William McGil- 
livray, but his brother Simon happened to be in Canada, hav- 
ing just arrived from England (see letter below, dated New 
York, November 15, 1817,) and together the Nor'westers 
made their answer. A copy (checked against the dateless 
original) with a subsequent note from Simon McGillivray, 
dated March 23rd, 1822, is used. 

The explanatory note is given first, then the report of 1815 : 9 

"The Statement of which the following is a Copy was drawn 

up at Montreal in 1815, at the request of Sir Gordon Drum- 
mond, who had been applied to by the British Charge 
d' Affaires at Washington for information on the subject of 
the settlement at the Columbia River for it seems that even 
at that early period the American Government took a very 
different view of the case from that which has been expressed 
by Lord Bathurst and from the ulterior measures of Govern- 
ment it is evident that they (the Americans) have carried their 
point as far as the restitution of Fort George. 

"The opinion given by Lord Bathurst and by Mr. Gouldburn 
after the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent are perfectly in 
my recollection, but it is of little use now to refer to them 
further than to show how the American Government succeeds 
in establishing points and obtaining concessions. 

(Signed) Simon McGillivray." 

London, 23rd March, 1822." 


"Statement relative to the Columbia River and adjoining 
Territory on the Western Coast of the Continent of North 
America. [1815] 

"The claim of Great Britain to the Sovereignty of a con- 
siderable part of the Northwest Coast of America was orig- 

9 C. O. 6. Vol. 
enclosure, found in F 

6. Original was taken from its place and used as an 
O. 5, Vol. 123. Checked against the duplicate used. 


inally founded from rights derived from the Discovery of the 
Country by Sir Francis Drake who in the reign of Queen 
Elizabeth visited the Northern part of California which coun- 
try he called New Albion, and of which he took possession 
in the name of his Sovereign. Since that time the claim has 
never been relinquished although the Spaniards have been 
allowed to encroach upon the country in question, by extending 
their settlements to the Northward of the place whereof Drake 
had taken possession, yet still the Country situated to the 
Northward of the Spanish Setlements was always claimed by 
Great Britain and the claim was tacitly admitted if not pub- 
lickly recognized. 

"This early right of discovery is, however, important only 
in a discussion of claims with Spain; for as to any claim 
which may be set up by the United States of America, it will 
be easy to find rights prior to theirs without going back fur- 
ther than the Reign of his present Majesty. Captain Cook's 
repeated visits to that Coast and his taking renewed posses- 
sion thereof in His Majesty's Name before the Americans 
became an independent people, is surely a sufficient title 
against them, and the occurrences at Nootka Sound in 1789 
and the Armament against Spain in consequence of the ag- 
gressions committed upon British Subjects on that Coast, af- 
ford ample proof that the possession thus taken was not meant 
to be merely a nominal possession but it was considered by 
the Government of that day a matter of such importance as 
to afford a sufficient cause for going to war with Spain. 10 

"Subsequent rights of Discovery, also prior to any that can 
be claimed by the United States may be adduced as a further 
confirmation, if any were wanting, of the Title of Great Britain 
to the Territory in question. In the year 1792 Sir Alexander 
McKenzie, then a Partner of the North West Company, ex- 
plored the Country beyond the Rocky Mountains and was the 
first who penetrated to the Pacific Ocean. He also took pos- 

10 [Note by McGillivray] : Reference may be particularly had to the negotia- 
tion upon that subject with the court of Madrid m the year 1790 and the con- 
vention of 28th October of that year, which was the result of these negotiations 
and of the armament referred to. 


session of the Country in the name of his Sovereign, and pre- 
viously, in 1791 [1792], Captain Vancouver had surveyed the 
Coast and the River Columbia from its mouth to the falls, 
which are 200 Miles from the Sea. Soon after Sir Alexander 
McKenzie's Voyages, the North West Company established 
Trading posts in the Country beyond the Rocky Mountains 
and upon the head Waters of the Columbia River. So that 
besides the repeated Acts of taking formal possession, British 
Subjects have for above Twenty Years been in actual posses- 
sion of the Interior of the Country in question and have 
maintained the same uninterruptedly. 

"It was only about two years ago that the Government of 
the United States began to set up pretensions 11 to the North 
West Coast; for until after their purchase of Louisiana from 
Bonaparte they had never possessed or had even claimed any 
Territory to the Westward of the Missisippi ; but upon mak- 
ing the purchase of the Province of Louisiana and finding 
that its Geographical Boundaries to the Northward and West- 
ward had never been expressly limited or defined, they im- 
mediately took advantage of this circumstance to claim Bound- 
aries as extensive and indefinite as possible; and without 
waiting to have the 'matter of right investigated or ascertained 
they hastened to take possession of the Country so claimed by 
them, intending doubtless when they once had taken posses- 
sion to maintain it whether right or wrong. With a view, 
therefore, to extend their territorial claims across the Conti- 
nent to the Pacific Ocean and establish a communication 
therewith through the Rivers Mississourie and Columbia, the 
American Government in the year 1806 [1803] fitted out an 
expedition to explore the Country under the Command of 
Captains Lewis and Clarke, who proceeded to the head of the 
River Mississourie thence across the Rocky Mountains to 
the River Columbia and so down to the mouth of that River 
from whence they returned [1806] by the same route. 

ii Throughout this diplomatic correspondence, pretensions is used with the 
meaning of claim, not with the more sinister meaning now more usually at- 
tached to it. 


"In order to give the Expedition as much as possible the 
Air of a Voyage of Discovery, and to make it appear as if 
they were exploring and taking possession of an unknown 
Country, though in fact the Country in the Interior was well 
known to the Traders from Canada, the Americans as they 
went along, bestowed new Names on Rivers, Mountains, &c., 
such as Jefferson's River, Madison's River, and so forth, for- 
getting or affecting to forget that the Columbia River had 
already been surveyed by Captain Vancouver and that a route 
across the Continent to the Pacific Ocean had already been 
traversed by Sir Alexander McKenzie, both of whom as well 
as Captain Cook, had taken possession of the Country in the 
name of His Majesty as hereinbefore mentioned. 

"Uniting this project of the extension of Territory, with 
another favorite object, the obtaining possession of the Fur 
Trade, and detaching the Indian Nations from their partiality 
to the British and Canadian Traders, the American Govern- 
ment, soon after the return of Captains Lewis and Clarke, 
established a Chartered Company at New York to prosecute 
the Fur Trade of this New Country under the name of the 
Pacific Fur Company at the head of which was Mr. John 
Jacob Astor of New York and this Pacific Fur Company 
commenced their operations in the Summer of 1810, when 
Ships were sent to the Coast, a Fort Built at the mouth of 
the Columbia River, the Country taken possession of as Ameri- 
can Territory, and named Astoria and the rights of Great 
Britain disregarded. 

"Representations upon this subject were from time to time 
made to His Majesty's Government by the North West Com- 
pany's representatives in London. Upon this subject they 
have had the honor of conferring with several of His Majesty's 
Ministers 12 at different times and they all expressed their 
opinion that the country in question belongs of right to Great 
Britain and that the United States had no just claim whatever 

12 [iMote by McGillivray] : The ministers particularly alluded to as having 
given decided opinions on the subject are the Earl of Harrowly, the Marquis of 
Wiellesley, Lord Viscount Castlereagh, Earl Bathurst, Mr. George Rose, etc , 
etc., etc. 


to the possession of it, but still no measures were for some 
time adopted by Government to interfere with their then new 
Establishment at the Columbia River, and this forbearance 
may be imputed to the following causes, viz. viz. 1st. The 
object was remote and possibly considered of less importance 
than it would have been under different circumstances. The 
Country was engaged in War with numerous and powerful 
Enemies and Government was doubtless unwilling to add to 
their number by quarrelling with America or adding to the 
causes of quarrel already existing. 

"The North West Company had in the meantime extended 
their Trading Posts across the Mountains to the Pacific 
Ocean, and it became necessary to send their people Supplies 
by Sea from England, but they had previously applied to 
Government for a Charter or Grant of the Trade of the Coun- 
try to be thus supplied, and to the East India Company for 
permission to carry its produce to China, and thus Two Years 
were occupied by these applications and preparatory arrange- 

"This was the state of matters at the commencement of the 
late War with the United States, when at length Government 
resolved to interfere in the matter. The American Company 
was in possession of a Fort or Trading Post at the mouth of 
the Columbia river and also of some Posts in the Interior. 
The North West Company had established several Posts in 
the Interior, and had sent a party to proceed to the Coast in 
the summer of 1813, to meet a Ship with Supplies from Eng- 
land which was fitted out in the fall of 1812, and which must 
have proceeded on her destination even without the protection 
which Government afterwards granted but ultimately the pro- 
tection sought was obtained. 

"The Phoebe frigate and the Cherub and Raccoon Sloops of 
War were sent around Cape Horn and the Raccoon was sent 
to the Columbia, to destroy the American Establishment and 
to take possession of the Country as British Territory. From 
the detention which had occurred in the sailing of this Expedi- 


tion from England, their arrival at the Columbia was much 
later than had been contemplated, and [than] arranged with 
the North West Company's people who had proceeded to 
meet them from the Interior and who reached the Sea 
in August, 1913, while the Raccoon did not make her 
appearance until the month of December following, and 
the North West Company's ship the Isaac Todd not until April, 
1814. The People from the Interior therefore despairing of 
the arrival of their expected Supplies and Support by Sea, 
found it necessary to make the best arrangement in their 
power with the people whom they found in possession of the 
Country. Many of these though Partners or Servants of the 
Pacific Fur Company were British subjects and would not 
fight against their Country, and learning of the American War 
inclined them to change sides. The Americans were not suf- 
ficiently strong to defend their Fort in the event of this defec- 
tion taking place, and they were under apprehensions from 
the expected arrival of the Men of War. The result was an 
arrangement by which the Americans agreed to retire from 
the Country and to sell the Goods which they had at their Fort 
which the North West Company's people purchased, and thus 
when the Raccoon appeared in December, 1813, she found 
the place in possession of Friends and her Officers were not 
a little disappointed in their hopes of prize Money. Captain 
Black of the Raccoon once more took formal possession of 
the Country in His Majesty's name and called the principal 
post Fort George, under which name it is now held by the 
North West Company. 

"It is evident from this statement that Fort George is not 
a Conquest the restoration of which the American Govern- 
ment are entitled to claim under the 1st Article of the late 
Treaty, nor could it have been so considered by the f ramers of 
that Treaty for one of the representatives of the North West 
Company had the honor of .an interview with Lord Bathurst 
on the subject after the ratification of the Treaty was known 
and not long after Mr. Gouldburn's return from Ghent ; when 
his Lordship declared decidedly that the Country in question 


was not considered as a Conquest to be restored under the 
Treaty, but as a British Territory to which the Americans had 
no just claim, and the reason which his Lordship assigned for 
this country not being mentioned in the Treaty was, that, re- 
quiring from the Americans any recognition or guarantee of 
His Majesty's rights thereto might tend to cast doubt upon a 
Title which was already sufficiently clear and incontestable." 

The many mistakes in the above report, both as to facts and 
dates, are no greater, if as great, as those made in speeches in 
the American congress. On both sides they indicate the lack 
of knowledge prevailing and the resulting confusion. 





From all outward appearances there was nothing to prevent 
the Twenty-ninth Congress from proceeding to the comple- 
tion of the work for Oregon when it convened in its second 
session in December, 1846. While it was expected that there 
might be some angry reverberations from the storm of the 
previous session, no repetition of that hurricane could occur 
for the question of the boundary was permanently settled. It 
now remained for Congress to make those customary provi- 
sions for territorial organization, surveys and land disposi- 
tion, Indian regulation and the like which had so often been 
before Congress with other portions of the public domain. To 
this end Polk included in his second Annual Message a brief 
recommendation calling attention to the remaining needs of 
Oregon. 1 The Secretary of the Treasury also mentioned the 
desirability of extending the revenue laws of the United States 
to Oregon for, as he pointed out, there might easily be inaug- 
urated an illegitimate trade in goods from the Orient and 
elsewhere which would affect the more settled portions of the 
Union. He also adverted to the advisability of land grants ; 
"with a system of liberal donation of tracts of land in Oregon 
sufficient for farms to settlers and emigrants, this highly inter- 
esting portion of the Union would soon contain a considerable 
population ; and near and convenient as it is to Asia, its com- 
merce would rapidly increase, and large revenue accrue to the 
Government." 2 

The Indian Commissioner, in his report to the treasury de- 
partment, pointed out the exposed condition of the American 
citizens in Oregon. He mentioned the fact that the trade rela- 
tions of these Indians of the Northwest were chiefly with the 

1 Globe, XVI, 10. 

2 Niles Register, g Dec. 1846. 


Hudson's Bay Company, and since there was intercourse be- 
tween the bands of natives north and south of 49 it would 
be very easy for persons inimical to the United States to 
excite them to hostility towards Americans. In view of con- 
ditions the department, soon after the adjournment of Con- 
gress the previous summer, had assumed the responsibility of 
appointing as subagent of Indian affairs an American citizen 
resident in Oregon. 3 This gentleman had been instructed to 
visit the different bands and endeavor to promote a feeling of 
friendship toward the United States and its citizens. 

President Polk, in framing his Message, had also had in 
mind a recommendation that Congress provide for the survey 
and marking of the boundary between the possessions of Great 
Britain and the United States, but he had stricken out this 
paragraph on the advice of Buchanan, who told him it would 
revive another heated discussion of the international issue. 
Moreover, Buchanan added, it was well to recall the long 
delay and great expense of surveying the Northeastern 
boundary, for similar conditions might arise in the North- 
west. 4 

Folk's recommendation for territorial organization was re- 
ferred to the appropriate committees of each house and at 
an early date bills were reported. In the Senate, Breese, and 
in the House, Douglas, for the Committee on Territories, 
brought in measures for extending the laws of the United 
States over Oregon and for creating a territorial government. 

The House took action first, on the eleventh of January. 5 
The bill, in the ordinary form, was provocative of discussion 
on two grounds ; the franchise in the territory and slavery. 
The Committee bill extended to all free male white inhabitants 
of Oregon, over the age of twenty years, who had been resi- 
dents of the territory at the time of the passage of the act, the 
right to vote in the first election and to be eligible for office; 

3 Ibid., 8 Jan., 1847. Elijah White had nreviously resigned. See chapter IV 
above and chapter XIII below. 

4 Polk, Diary, II, 254. Walker thought this a reflection on him as a relative of 
his had been connected with the Maine survey. 

5 Globe, XVII, 1 66 seq. 


after the election qualifications both for voting and for office 
holding were to be fixed by the Legislative Assembly. W. W. 
Campbell, a Native American of New York, moved to insert 
in the proper place the words "who is a citizen of the United 
States." After some discussion an amendment suggested by 
Douglas was adopted as clearing up the difficulty: to the 
original provision was added the proviso, "that the right of 
suffrage shall be exercised only by citizens of the United 
States and those who shall have declared on oath, before some 
court of record, their intention to become such, and shall have 
taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States 
and the provisions of this act." 

The slavery issue was not so easily disposed of. It was 
well understood that the war with Mexico would not leave 
the territorial situation of the United States as it had been 
before the outbreak of hostilities ; furthermore, the region be- 
tween the Rockies and the first belt of States west of the 
Mississippi was already offering attractions to pioneer spirits 
who would carry with them their accustomed institutions 
and ideas. That particular portion of the slavery discussion 
and resultant legislation which ended with the Compromise 
measures of 1850 may be said to have started with the debate 
on the Oregon Territory in the winter of 1846-7. As the bill 
for Oregon's organization was being read to the House James 
Thompson, a Pennsylvania Democrat, desired to know whether 
an amendment suggested by him relative to slavery had been 
included. Douglas read the 12th section which he thought 
would satisfy the query : 

"The inhabitants of said territory shall be entitled to enjoy 
all and singular the rights, privileges and advantages 
granted and secured to the people of the territory of the 
United States northwest of the Ohio river, by the articles 
of compact contained in the ordinance for the government 
of said territory, on the 13th day of July, 1787; and shall 
be subject to all the conditions, and restrictions, and prohibi- 
tions in said articles of compact imposed on the people of 
said territory." 


This provision, said Douglas, was in harmony with the 
terms of the provisional constitution which the people of Ore- 
gon had adopted. 

Stevens Adams of Mississippi, a Democrat, when this article 
was under consideration, proposed as a proviso: 

"That nothing in relation to slavery in this act shall be 

construed as an intention to interfere with the provisions or 

spirit of the Missouri Compromise; but the same is hereby 

recognized as extending to all territory which may hereafter 

be acquired by the United States." 

Objection was made to this because it applied to territory 
other than that under consideration in the bill. Hannibal Ham- 
lin of Maine objected to the introduction of the question of 
slavery at all while discussing the Oregon bill. He contended 
that the Missouri Compromise had nothing whatever to do 
with Oregon; when the matter of slavery had come up with 
the annexation of Texas Congress had been told that the law 
of heaven prevented slavery in part of that State, yet when it 
came into the Union slavery existed in every part of it. "It 
was time now," he said, "that it should be fully understood; 
that the resolution had been taken, that there should be no 
more slave territory admitted into the Union or suffered to 
exist there." 

Adams withdrew his amendment but Burt, of South Caro- 
lina, proposed to insert at the place where there was reference 
to the slavery provision of the Northwest Ordinance the words : 
"inasmuch as the whole of the said territory lies north of 
36 30' north latitude, known as the line of the Missouri 
Compromise." He supported his amendment with an examina- 
tion of the whole question of the Northwest Ordinance which 
he said was in violation of the terms of the Virginia cession, 
the Missouri Compromise, and the rights of the South under 
the Constitution to which the Compromise added nothing. 
Some of his southern friends, he said, doubted the wisdom of 
submitting the amendment at that moment, but if the South 
failed to raise her voice at that time it would never again 
have an opportunity and another precedent to her disadvan- 


tage would have been made. The language of the gentlemen 
from the West and from New England, he continued, was 
plain enough that the South must move then or not at all. 7 
Pettit, of Indiana, took issue with him on the power of the 
United States over territories which, he contended, was sov- 
ereign. The South was not ready to answer to Burt's call; 
the amendment was lost after little discussion by a close vote. 
Further consideration in the Committee of the Whole House 
resulted in minor changes only, except that the recommenda- 
tion of the Committee on Territories for a grant of one section 
per township for educational purposes was increased to two. 
When the bill was reported to the House it was adopted as it 
stood although Burt made another attempt to have his amend- 
ment included. The final vote, however, had not been taken 
before the Wilmot Proviso and all that it implied had been 
brought before the House. Leake of Virginia had stated the 
position of the South: twice the South had been cheated by 
compromises, once in 1820 and again in 1833 (on the tariff), 
and now the House had deliberately rejected Burt's amend- 
rent the adoption of which would have shown the good faith 
of the North. By refusing to allow all mention of the Mis- 
souri Compromise in the Oregon bill it was obvious that there 
was shown the same spirit which had produced the Wilmot 
Proviso, and it must all be looked upon as an Ultimatum, not 
a Protocol, of the North. In that case, said Leake, it was 
well for the North to hear the Ultimatum of the South : if the 
Wilmot proviso should be engrafted upon any legislation as a 
part of a permanent policy, "They (the Northerners) will 
have put the South to the exercise of those reserved rights 
guaranteed by the Constitution, and which have not been and 
which shall not be wrested from us. We cannot, we will not, 
we ought not, to submit to it. You have put us on the de- 
fensive and we will defend! For the fraternal bond that has 
hitherto connected us, you will have substituted the chain of 
despotism: we will sever it. By making us feel the union only 

7 Globe, XVII, 178-9; Appendix, 116-7. 


through its oppressions, you will have driven us to the neces- 
sity of withdrawing from it, in order to avoid its despotism. 
By interfering with the rights of property, you will have driven 
us to the necessity of withdrawing it from your grasp." 8 

Leake was supported by Rhett of South Carolina and was 
opposed by Thurman of Ohio who flatly stated the point of 
view of the North as this : while not agreeing with the abol- 
itionists, both Whigs and Democrats of the North believed 
that the Federal Government had supreme power over the ter- 
ritories, and through that government he and his colleagues 
were going to oppose the extension of slavery. Hamlin also 
reiterated this sentiment and said that each side might as well 
know where it stood; the North proposed that no territory 
then free, nor any territory subsequently added to the Union, 
should be slave. He, for one, was in favor of a declaratory 
law (like the Wilmot Proviso) to that effect. 

The vote on the passage of the Oregon bill was 133 to 35 
in its favor. Of the negative votes two came from the North 
(one Whig and one Native American) ; the other thirty- 
three from the South were cast by twelve Whigs and twenty- 
one Democrats, but a considerable number of the southern 
Representatives would not vote. 9 

The Senate referred the House bill to the Committee on 
Judiciary which retained it until the twenty-fifth of January. 10 
It was then reported out with amendments, and on the twenty- 
ninth recommitted that some errors might be corrected. On 
the last day of the session Mr. Allen called up the bill, and, 
when objection was made on account of the many important 
measures which would have to be neglected if it should be 
taken up, declared that he understood the scheme. The interest 
in the Northwest was at that moment the weakest of the three 
interests in the Union; it was overshadowed by the Northeast 
and the South, both of which conspired to check action. The 

8 Leake in Globe, XVII, 188; Appen., 111-3; Rhett, Appen., 214-7; Thurman, 
188-90; Hamlin, 195-7. 
9. Ibid 197. 
10 Ibid., 199, 246, 283, 570. 


two old wings were overshadowing the new center, and this 
could be seen by examining every vote taken since 1820 ; "the 
old North and the old South dreaded the power of the new 
center, and so were willing to let Oregon become independ- 
ent." Allen's efforts, however, could produce no action and 
after a little desultory discussion of the House suffrage amend- 
ment which Huntingdon (Connecticut) and Webster looked 
upon as a dangerous innovation, the bill was tabled and so 

The vote on tabling was twenty-six to eighteen. Fifteen 
of those who wished to postpone action were from slave 
States, while six of the eighteen in favor of immediate action 
also came from south of Mason and Dixon's line. As such 
the vote does not reveal very much, but if the personnel of 
the northern Senators who voted to table the bill is considered 
a little more light is afforded. Gilley (N. H.) and Wood- 
bridge (Mich.) were the two northern Democrats who voted 
to table; the Whigs were Clayton (Del.), Davis and Webster 
(Mass.), Evans (Me.), Greene and Simmons (R. I.), Hunt- 
ington (Conn.), Miller (N. Y.), and Upham (Vt.). When 
one considers the course of the Whigs during the crisis of 
1848-50, their attempt to prevent a break by framing compro- 
mises, one can find in this list of names something which 
affords an explanation of their vote on the Oregon bill in 
1847. All but one of those who voted against tabling were 
Democrats; this group also included all the western Senators 
except Woodbridge of Michigian and the two from Kentucky. 

The Senate action must also be interpreted in the light of 
the resolutions introduced by Calhoun on the nineteenth of 
February. 11 While these were applicable prospectively and 
looked rather to the territory held and about to be acquired 
in the Southwest rather than in Oregon, it was necessary to 
make the principle apply to all if it would have any force; 
and so, in the light of this declaration of principles, it is not 
difficult to see that the supporters of the "peculiar institution" 

ii Ibid., 445. 


were unwilling that a decisive step should be taken with Ore- 
gon. "The territories of the United States belong to the sev- 
eral States composing this Union," read the resolutions, "and 
are held in common by them as their joint and common prop- 
erty" ; no discrimination between the States could be made by 
Congress, their common agent, so that any State should be 
deprived of its full and equal rights in any territory, acquired 
or to be acquired. 

"The enactment of any law which should directly, or by 
its effects, deprive the citizens of any of the States of this 
Union from emigrating, with their property, into any of the 
territories of the United States, will make such discrimina- 
tion, and would therefore be a violation of the Constitution, 
and the rights of the States from which such citizens emi- 
grated, and in derogation of that perfect equality which 
belongs to them as members of this Union, and would tend 
directly to subvert the Union itself." 

Moreover, Calhoun went on to state in his declaration of 
faith, it was a fundamental principle of the American political 
creed that a people has the right to form that sort of a gov- 
ernment which seems best adapted to its needs; this principle 
is embodied in the Constitution, consequently any attempt on 
the part of Congress to place upon a people any other restric- 
tions than that its government shall be republican would be 
not only against the Constitution but "in direct conflict with 
the principle on which out political system rests." 

The skirmish of 1846-7, therefore, but presaged the bitter 
strife which waged in 1847-8 about Oregon and its territorial 
organization but not with reference to it as such. 

With such a fate for the most important measure recom- 
mended by the President it is not surprising that the minor 
suggestions were not followed out. There was, to be sure, 
some little discussion of the Senate bill intended to provide 
for a survey of the lands in Oregon and to make grants to 
settlers. 12 It did not pass, although it reached the third read- 
ing, for it was recommitted on account of two features; no 

12 Globe, XVII, 219, 255-6, 266, 275-6, 293-4. 


provision was made for quieting the Indian title, and there 
was no recognition of the claims of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany and its servants. Congress had the customary petitions 
for grants of lands ; the railroad question did not come up 
except when the House committee to which had been referred 
the memorials of the last session asked to be discharged from 
further consideration of the same. Thomasson of Kentucky 
introduced a resolution in the House to inquire into the 
expediency of setting apart a portion of the country west of 
the Rocky Mountains for the use of the Indians of Oregon 
in perpetuity, "in which district no white man shall settle with- 
out permission of the President of the United States, and 
then only for the purpose of instructing and improving the 
Indians." 18 

Colonel Benton believed that the defeat of the territorial bill 
was the work of pro-slavery propagandists and he did not 
fail to give publicity to this opinion. On the twenty-ninth of 
March, just as he was leaving Washington, he went to the 
President with a letter, a copy of which he intended to send 
to the people of Oregon the next day by the newly appointed 
deputy postmaster of Astoria, Shively. Polk urged him 
strongly not to send the letter as it would inflame the inhab- 
itants of Oregon where they were so far out of touch with 
the older portion of the United States that they would be 
unable to see the whole issue in its proper perspective. 

* * * "I think it right," wrote Benton, "to make this 
communication to you at the present moment, when the 
adjournment of Congress, without passing the bill for your 
government and protection, seems to have left you in a 
state of abandonment by your mother country. You are 
not abandoned! nor will you be denied protection for not 
agreeing to admit slavery. I, a man of the south and a 
slave-holder, tell you this. 

* * * This will be a great disappointment to you, 
and a real calamity ; already five years without law or legal 
institution for the protection of life, liberty and property! 

1 3 The lettr was published in the New Orleans Mercury, quoted in Niles' 
Register, 8 May. See Polk, Diary, II, 444 seq. 


and now doomed to wait a year longer. This is a strange 
and anomalous condition! almost incredible to contemplate; 
and almost critical to endure! a colony of freeman, 4,000 
miles from the metropolitan government, and without laws 
or government to preserve them ! But do not be alarmed 
or desperate,, you will not be outlawed for not admitting 
slavery. Your fundamental act against that institution * 
* * will not be abrogated ! nor is that the intention of the 
prime mover of the amendment. Upon the record, the 
judiciary committee of the senate is the author of the amend- 
ment ; but not so the fact ! That committee is only the mid- 
wife to it. Its author is the same mind that generated the 
'fire-brand' resolutions of which I send you a copy, and of 
which the amendment is the legitimate derivation. Oregon 
is not the object. The most rabid propagandist of slavery 
cannot expect to plant it on the shores of the Pacific, in the 
latitude of Wisconsin and the Lake of the Woods. A home 
agitation, for election and disunion purposes, is all that is 
intended by thrusting this fire-brand question into your 
bill ! and, at the next session, when it is thrust in again, we 
will scourge it out! and pass your bill as it ought to be. I 
promise you this in the name of the south as well as the 
north ; and the event will not deceive me." 14 

Said the President, "I disapproved the letter, but knowing 
his (Benton's) domineering disposition and utter impatience 
of contradiction or difference of opinion, and knowing that I 
could not change his opinions, I contented myself with simply 
stating my objections to the letter and expressing my doubts 
of sending such a letter." Nevertheless the next day Polk 
urged Benton to reconsider his decision; "I told him that 
Oregon was a Northern Territory & that slavery could never 
exist there, that I condemned Mr. Calhoun's course, but this, 
I feared, would not be understood by the inhabitants of Ore- 
gon, who were far removed from newspapers and other sources 
of information." It would produce a mischievous excitement 
in Oregon where there would be alarm while, as those in 
Washington knew, there was no cause for it. Besides, said 

14 Benton voiced similar sentiments when he was notified that the Democracy 
of Missouri desired him as their candidate for president. He thought a northern 
man should be elected. Regsiter, 7 May, 1847. 


Polk, only a day or so before the Secretary of State had ad- 
dressed a communication to. the people of Oregon, as the 
Senator knew, giving them assurances that they would be pro- 
tected by the United States and expressing the opinion that a 
territorial bill would be enacted at the next session of Con- 
gress. Colonel Benton took the President's remarks under 
consideration that the letter would do less harm if published 
in an eastern paper but the letter went on to Oregon. 

According to Benton, Calhoun's object in all his agitation 
was to secure the presidency at the next election, a view in 
which Polk concurred, although he did not say so to Benton. 
Furthermore, "in the course of the conversation Gen'l Benton 
dropped the idea distinctly that the New York gentlemen 
(Dickinson and Dix and the delegation in the House) had 
gone home from Congress with a full record of all the facts & 
intended to make an issue on that question * * * The 
truth is there is no patriotism in either faction of the party. 
Both desire to mount slavery as a hobby, and hope to secure 
the election of their favorite with it. They will fail and ought 
to fail." 

The President, however, did not confide to Benton nor 
even to his own diary that he himself was in general accord 
with the general idea which actuated Calhoun: i. e., the erec- 
tion out of the territory to be gained from Mexico of units in 
which there would be no restriction on slavery. Polk was not 
guided by the desire to be president a second term, for if there 
is in his course any consistency to be ranked with that with 
which he worked to obtain California and' New Mexico, it is 
his unfailing discouragement of all suggestions that he should 
try for a second election. If it was not to curry political favor 
with the South that Polk pursued his course, neither was it 
merely to provide for the extension of territory where slaves 
might be held legally ; he desired an expansion of the territory 
of the United States, but more, he did not wish his country 
disrupted on the issue of slavery, and so he strove to maintain 
the balance between the two sections. This is testified to by 


the fact that he resisted the importunities of Buchanan and 
others in his Cabinet to secure all or a much larger portion 
of Mexico than he did, for this would have disturbed the bal- 
ance as seriously in favor of the South and so equally have 
threatened disunion. 

The letter written by Buchanan, to which Polk referred, 
was entrusted to Shively. 15 It noted the failure of the terri- 
torial bill but pointed to the encouragement to be derived 
from the large vote in the House in its favor, and contended 
that this foretold a successful issue at the next session. The 
disposition of the United States was, moreover, seen in the 
passage of an act extending postal facilities to the people of 
Oregon, as well as in that of the last session for a regiment 
of riflemen. The steadiness with which the demands against 
Great Britain has been maintained was also proof that Oregon 
would never be abandoned. 

Good use was made during the summer and autumn of 
1847 of the blazing issues raised by the Mexican war and the 
prospective increase in territory for the United States. In the 
North the principles of the Wilmot Proviso received approval 
and ten States, through their legislatures, formally endorsed 
the proposition, 16 while some of these went further and insisted 
that no new States should be admitted unless slavery should 
be prohibited. Oregon was swallowed up in the greater issue 
of slavery and its extension. An interesting, although not im- 
portant, comment on the position Oregon was assuming even 
in the West is afforded by a one-time ardent pro-Oregon, 
54-40-or-Fight paper, the Missouri Republican. After pub- 
lishing a letter from L. W. Boggs ? once governor of Missouri, 
on the route to Oregon and California, the Republican said : 17 
"We give place to his instructions not because we desire 
to be understood as recommending any man to go either 
to California or Oregon * * * If we were asked our 
advice in this matter we would tell any man who has any- 

15 Works of James Buchanan, VII, 258-60; 29 March, 1847. 

1 6 Register, 18 Sept. Ohio, New Hampshire and Vermont were opposed 
to admission with slavery. 

1 7 Quoted in Niles Register, 6 Nov., 1847. 


thing to hope for in any of the states or territories of this 
union who is not absolutely an outcast from society and 
deprived of all chances of maintaining a respectable stand- 
ing not to move one foot towards either Oregon or Cali- 
fornia. We have made inquiries from discreet and intelli- 
gent men who have visited both countries and they have 
uniformly concurred not an exception now occurs to us 
in representing both territories as inferior in advantages to 
those offered by our own state, and as representing no in- 
ducement to take any respectable man there." And those 
already there would be glad to get away if they could. 

The Thirtieth Congress presented an example of that mid- 
administration political change which has so often occurred 
in our country. Instead of a comfortable majority of Demo- 
crats in both houses, Polk found the House of Representatives 
in the hands of the Whigs by a small majority. The loss to 
the administration forces had been most serious in New York 
and Pennsylvania, although there had been scattering defec- 
tions elsewhere in the ranks. This disaster Calhoun traced to 
the "course of the Administration in reference to the Oregon 
and Mexican questions;" the Democratic party had become 
distracted, disheartened and divided, and the Whigs were not 
much better off. 18 

How much the Oregon situation played a part in the con- 
gressional elections of 1846 is open to question ; certainly it 
was subordinated completely to the greater issues of the 
Mexican war. On the whole, although the Whig party tried 
to make political capital by holding up as a horrible example 
the course of the President in the Oregon matter, it seems that 
a feeling of satisfaction everywhere except in parts of the 
West prevailed; there was satisfaction that the outcome had 
been no worse. 19 Besides, the President had gotten more 
from Great Britain than many expected that nation to yield 
without war. 

In considering the action of the Thirtieth Congress on the 

18 Calhoun to Lewis S. Coryell, 7 Nov., Correspondence, 709; see also letter 
to his daughter, 21 Nov., Ibid., 713. 

19 This was the note of a speech by Webster at Philadelphia on Dec. zd, 1847. 
Works (1854) II, 320 seq. 


Oregon territorial bill it is constantly to be borne in mind that 
the whole struggle was but an aspect of the greater question 
of slavery, its extension, and its relation to the fruits of the 
Mexican War. That war having dragged through 1847 
Mexico City was occupied by American troops on September 
14th had been ended by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, 
signed on the second of February, 1848, and ratified a month 
later by the Senate. The cession of Upper California and 
New Mexico to the United States had brought about exactly 
the situation which had in prospect stimulated the debates in 
the previous session of Congress, consequently the Thirtieth 
Congress dealt with existing conditions rather than with an 
expected situation as its predecessor had. Nevertheless, the 
discussion was resumed with exactly the same spirit which 
had animated the Twenty-ninth Congress although feeling ran 
higher and a greater tenseness in the country at large was 
reflected in the increasing vehemence of partisans on both 
sides of the question. It is not the purpose here to discuss 
the greater issue in all its ramifications but only the Oregon 
side of the question. 

The Third Annual Message of President Polk renewed the 
recommendations of the former message, particularly laying 
emphasis upon the necessity of creating a territorial organiza- 
tion. There was, he told Congress, a demand for the pro- 
tection of the laws of the United States, for a legalization of 
the Oregon government which, in its existing provisional form, 
was "wholly inadequate to protect (the inhabitants) in their 
rights of person and property, or to secure them in the enjoy- 
ment of the privileges of other citizens, to which they (were) 
entitled under the Constitution of the United States." They 
should be granted the right of suffrage and the privilege of 
sending a Delegate to Congress, and should have all the cus- 
tomary rights of the inhabitants of other portions of the terri- 
tory of the United States. No direct reference, of course, 
was made to the slavery issue as it touched this subject, al- 
though at the end of the Message, Polk did call to the atten- 


tion of Congress the words of Washington, where he warned 
his countrymen against allowing sectionalism to tinge their 
deliberations. 20 

In both houses, bills for the territorial government of Ore- 
gon were introduced early in the session. In the Senate it 
was Stephen A. Douglas, who now had left the House and 
was entering upon his eventful career in the upper body, to 
whom was granted the honor of introducing the measure 
which was immediately referred to the Committee on Terri- 
tories. 21 The Senate, however, did not take up this- bill until 
after the House bill had been under discussion for over a 
month, hence, since each House pursued its own course, it is 
with the latter that we must deal first. 

The House Committee on Territories introduced a bill on 
the ninth of February ; it was made a special order of the day 
for the fourteenth of March and on the twenty-eighth of March 
it was called up by Wentworth, an Illinois Democrat, and con- 
sidered in Committee of the Whole. 22 The slavery debate, 
which had to that time fastened upon other topics the Loan 
Bill, the Deficiency Appropriation Bill, and nearly every other 
measure before the House now seized upon that which, to- 
gether with the bills for the organization of New Mexico and 1 
California, gave the most legitimate excuse for its consid- 
eration. John Gayle, of Alabama (Whig), and Ephraim K. 
Smart, of Maine (Democrat), occupied the time upon this 
first day with their views upon the constitutional power of 
Congress in legislating for the territories. The Southerner 
took the ground that hitherto legislation and decisions of the 
Supreme Court had considered States and territories as upon 
the same legal footing; Congress could not legislate upon 
domestic affairs within the States, consequently it could not 
for the territories. Furthermore, territorial governments could 
not of themselves exclude slavery for that would infringe 
upon the rights of citizens of certain States who might desire 

20 Globe, XVIII, lo-n. 20 Ibid., 136. 

21 Ibid., 136. 

22 Ibid., 322; debate of 28 March, 542-8. 


to take up their residence in that which was common property 
of all the States. Mr. Smart took the opposite ground and 
said that Congress had legislated for territories from the 
beginning, thereby exercising an undoubted constitutional pre- 
rogative. Besides, said he, the opponents of the clause re- 
stricting Oregon from allowing slavery admitted that the 
climate there was such that slavery could never exist; if this 
statement was spoken in sincerity there would be no objection 
to legal prohibition. 

With personal variations these sentiments were those which 
charactized the debate throughout; on the part of the op- 
ponents of the extension of slavery the purpose was to have 
included in the bill a specific prohibition of it in Oregon; 
those from the South preferred that no reference whatever 
should be made to slavery, thus upholding Gayle's contention 
that Congress could not legislate up the subject. If, however, 
it should prove impossible to obtain this, the next best thing 
would be to obtain some kind of a statement which recognized 
the extension of the line of the Missouri Compromise to the 

Nothing further was done with the House bill until the first 
day of May when there was an attempt to have it made a 
special order. The House, however, like the Senate, in addi- 
tion to have more pressing business (the appropriation bills), 
was unwilling to proceed seriously with this measure before it 
was apparent what general principle, if any, was to be estab- 
lished with reference to territories, consequently it was nearly 
a month before any further mention of the Oregon bill was 

Meantime there had arrived in Washington one of the two 
messengers sent from Oregon to present the pleas of that 
territory to Congress. J. Quinn Thornton had arrived in May 
with a letter from Governor Abernathy to Douglas. On the 
basis of this letter Thornton had drawn up a memorial, dated 
May 25th, wherein was a brief history of the Oregon colony, 
and a description of the establishment and work of the Provis- 


ional Government. It stated that there had been thought of 
electing a Delegate to represent the territory in Congress, but 
this had not been done because there was no law authorizing 
such action, and there had been no time to elect a Delegate 
and get him away on the only vessel which could reach the 
Atlantic Coast in time to have him of any use; furthermore, 
it was not expedient to elect a Delegate with the expectation 
that a seat would be accorded by courtesy. After this intro- 
duction the memorial proceeded to enumerate the desires of 
Oregon ; in the first place there should be a regular territorial 
organization, and the law for this should recognize 
private contracts, all legislative and judicial acts already ex- 
isting, and provide for the transfer of suits to the new courts ; 
then the Indian title to the land should be extinguished ; grants 
of land should be made on the basis of a five years' residence, 
and other grants for those who might, during a limited time, 
come into Oregon, as well as grants for educational provision ; 
the revenue laws should be extended ; and finally there should 
be appropriations to pay the public debt, for a library, to im- 
prove the mouth of the Columbia, employ pilots, erect lights 
and buoys and buy; a steam tug. A good wagon road from 
Missouri to the Willamette valley with a cordon of military 
posts was much needed, and the colony would benefit by an 
appropriation for seeds and for agricultural implements. After 
this most modest list of pressing needs the memorial concluded 
with a final plea for a good territorial act but a bad one would 
be better than none. 23 

On the twenty-ninth of May, Caleb Smith of Indiana, chair- 
man of the House Committee on Territories, asked general con- 
sent to allow him to offer a resolution making the bill to 
establish the Oregon territorial government a special order 24 
of the day immediately following the passage of the appro- 
priation bills, except for Fridays and Saturdays. McClernand 
(Illinois) asked Smith to modify his resolution so that the 
House might at once go into Committee of the Whole on the 

23 Sen. Misc. Doc. No. 143, 3oth Cong., ist &es. 

24 Glob*, XVIII, 788 seq. 


subject for he had just received from a resident of Oregon 
a letter depicting the distressing situation of the colony where 
the inhabitants were being harassed by the Indians. 

McClernand's appeal for immediate action was supported 
by a message from the President transmitting a memorial from 
the legislative assembly of the Provisional Government. 25 The 
sorry condition of the people was described and Congress was 
urged to provide both an organized government and to send 
men to protect the whites in Oregon from the natives. 

"If it be at all the intention of our honored parent," 
concluded the memorial, "to spread her guardian wing over 
her sons and daughters in Oregon, she surely will not re- 
fuse to do so now, when they are struggling with all the 
ills of a weak and temporary government, and when the 
perils are daily thickening around them and preparing to 
burst upon their heads. When the ensuing summer's sun 
shall have dispelled the snow from the mountains, we shall 
look with glowing hope and restless anxiety for the coming 
of your laws and your arms." 

President Polk recommended the appeal to the earnest at- 
tention of Congress and advised provision for a regiment of 
mounted men and authority for the Oregon government to 
raise a volunteer force; these together, he thought, would 
be sufficient to deal with the Indian troubles. He pointed out 
the necessity of prompt action if the territory was to benefit 
by it that year for if the laws were enacted too late in the 
summer the mountain passes would be closed and it would 
be late in the spring of 1849 before assistance could reach 
the Columbia valley. 

Howell Cobb of Georgia agreed that immediate action was 
necessary, but Collamer (Maine) raised the question as to 
why the mounted riflemen provided for by the last Congress 
had not been used for the protection of Oregon. He was 
not satisfied with Cobb's explanation that these men had been 
used in the Mexican War, since the bill had made no especial 

25 Richardson, Messages, IV, 584-6. Polk, Diary, II, 463-4. The memorial 
and papers were brought by Joseph Meek, who had been sent on this mission 
at about the same time Thornton had left with the Governor's letter for Douglas. 
Two rival factions in Oregon were represented by the two messengers. 


designation of their , service ; he said there was something 
suspicious in Cobb's eagerness, it looked as though there 
might be an attempt, in which the President was implicated, 
to rush the Oregon territory bill through under an emergency 
plea and thus gag Congress in its discussion of the major issue. 
Collamer's suspicions were shared by others, consequently the 
two measures were separated and the question of protection 
was referred to the Committee on Military Affairs. Nothing, 
however, came of it; whatever protection Oregon received 
from Federal troops came from those which the President 
detailed for that duty after their services were no longer 
needed for the Mexican situation. The territorial bill awaited 
its place after the appropriation bills, as Smith's resolution 
provided, and did not appear again until late in July. 

So long did other matters engage the attention of Con- 
gress, legislative and political the presidential nominations 
had occurred and the campaign of '48 was well under weigh 
that the Senate had proceeded to take up, discuss and pass 
its Oregon bill before the House was in full swing on the 
debate over its own measure. 26 On the thirty-first of May, 
two days after the President's message and the memorial were 
received, the Senate postponed prior orders and took up the 
bill Douglas had introduced four months earlier. Upon 
Benton's motion it was amended by adding a section to au- 
thorize the raising of volunteers in the territory. Next Hale 
(Maine) proposed section 12 of the last session's bill, ex- 
tending to Oregon the provisions of the Northwest Ordinance, 
as an amendment to the original measure. This raised a storm, 
mostly from the southern Senators; said Benton, if this 
"pestiferous question" had not been raised Oregon would al- 
ready have had a government and the Indian disturbances 
would have been quelled at their beginning. Hannegan 
(Indiana) said the amendment was not heeded because every- 
body knew the Missouri Compromise covered Oregon. In 
view of the excitement his amendment had created, Hale pro- 

26 Globe, XVIII, 804 seq.; Appen., 684 seq. 


posed that the question be postponed) a few days, although he 
said there would be slaves in Oregon unless Congress kept 
them out. Westcott gave notice that he would move a sub- 
stitute for the bill, the Senate bill of the last session. 

The next day the bill was up with the question of Hale's 
amendment the immediate point of discussion. He withdrew 
it since he had been accused of casting a fire-brand into the 
Senate although he announced that he would renew it or not 
as circumstances should seem to direct. This action brought 
up Westcott't amendment (the substitute bill) : the personal 
guaranties of the Northwest Ordinance should apply, and the 
laws of the Provisional Government would continue in force 
until the end of the first session of the legislature provided by 
the bill, with this priviso : 27 

"But no provisions of such laws, or of any act hereafter 
passed by the Legislative Assembly of said! Territory shall 
be construed to restrict citizens of any of the United States, 
or of any Territories thereof, from immigrating with their 
property to, and settling and residing in, said Territory, and 
holding and possessing their property therein, and fully 
participating in all the benefits, advantages, privileges, and 
immunities thereof as a Territory of the United States, with 
such property, on an equal footing with the citizens of any 
of the United States ; and all laws and parts of laws which 
shall operate in restraint of, or detriment to, the full en- 
joyment of such rights, are hereby declared to be null and 

This restriction, which in so many words would allow 
slavery in Oregon, was in direct contravention of the laws of 
the Provisional Government. While Hale's amendment, which 
might be renewed at any time, presented the radical anti- 
slavery views, Westcott's voiced the opinions of the pro-slavery 
men. Those who wished to see the bill passed in some form 
joined with those who desired to keep the real issue submerged 
in attempting to dodge the issue if possible. They were willing 
to see struck out of the bill the 12th section by which, since 
it continued the laws of the temporary organization, slavery 

27 Globe, Append., 690. 


would be actually prohibited. However, when Bright (Indi- 
ana), with the consent of his friends, agreed to strike out 
this section Hale threatened to renew his amendment if the 
motion should prevail. Calhoun held that Bright's proposition 
did not touch the real issue, the real difficulty, which involved 
three questions : the power of Congress to interfere with per- 
sons emigrating to a territory which was their property; the 
power of a territorial government to do the same thing; and 
the power of Congress to vest this power in a territorial gov- 
ernment. Westcott's amendment alone, he thought, would 
solve the problem. Hereupon Dickinson of New York pro- 
posed that the troublesome section be left out and that the 
people of the territory be allowed to settle the matter as they 
should chose; in other words he advocated the "squatter 
sovereignty" which played so prominent a part a few years 

Upon the question of striking out the 12th section the debate 
continued, its theme always being the same. Houston of 
Texas proposed to insert in this section, after the provision 
which continued such existing laws in the territory as were 
not incompatible with the provisions of the act, the words, 
"or in violation of any rights by the laws or Constitution of 
the United States vested in or secured to the citizens of the 
United States, or any of them/' 28 Such a clause could be 
interpreted according to the wish of each party, and it was 

The third day of the debate passed without progress. On 
the next day (June 3d) Foote (Mississippi) proposed to in- 
sert after "existing laws now in force in the Territory of 
Oregon" the words, "provided the same shall be compatible 
with the laws and Constitution of the United States." To 
this Westcott would not agree because such a proposal, which 
intended to leave the whole issue to the decision of the Su- 
preme Court, would take the question not a step in advance; 
the Court would have no jurisdiction, for the right to take 


slaves to Oregon rested upon the fact that there was nothing 
in the Constitution to prohibit it. Badger (North Carolina) 
tried to get at the problem 1 in another way by submitting as a 
substitute for Foote's amendment the provision of the Ordi- 
nance of 1787 omitting the slavery clause. 

Here the discussion rested until the twenty-third of June 
when previous orders were again postponed to let the bill come 
up. 29 At that time Badger withdrew his amendment, and 
Berrien, who had previously renewed the amendment to strike 
out section 12, said that his proposition put the whole issue 
squarely before the Senate, the best way to come at the whole 
question. Nevertheless, Jefferson Davis presented an amend- 
ment, which he proposed should come at the end of the bill, 
reading : 

"Provided, That nothing contained in this act shall be so 

construed as to authorize the prohibition of domestic slavery 

in said Territory whilst it remains in the condition of a 

territory of the United States." 

The whole measure appeared to be in danger of meeting 
the fate of its predecessor of the year before. In desperation 
the friends of the bill brought up the question with the Presi- 
dent who advised them to bring forward and press the adoption 
of the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific. 30 Hannegan, 
to whom Polk first made the suggestion, agreed that it was the 
only practicable way of settling the difficulty; Breese (Illinois), 
Bright, Foote, and the members of the Cabinet, concurred in 
the opinion. Even Bradbury, a Maine Democrat, while he 
did not exhibit any enthusiasm over the proposition, admitted 
that it seemed the only way out especially in view of the 
action of the Barnburners of New York, who had bolted the 
Democratic platform as framed at Baltimore. Accordingly at 
the President's table Foote wrote out, at Polk's dictation, the 
amendment which Bright copied and proposed on the twenty- 
seventh of June. 31 

29 Ibid., 871; Appen., 861 seq. 

30 Polk, Diary, III, 501-4. 

31 Ibid., 505. 


"That in all the Territories owned by the United States, 
including Oregon, New Mexico and Upper California, which 
lie north of 36 30' north latitude, slavery and involuntary 
servitude, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes where- 
of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall be and is 
hereby forever prohibited; Provided always, That any per- 
son escaping into the same whose labor or service is law- 
fully claimled in any State or Territory of the United States, 
such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to 
the person claiming his or her labor or services as afore- 

Thus the question of slavery and all the territories of the 
United States came before the Senate in the debate which 
engaged the talents of the most gifted men on both sides. "It 
(the debate) has been," wrote Calhoun, 33 "very able and high 
toned on the part of the South, with a great concurrence of 
views between Whigs and the democratic members of the 
South. I do hope our present danger will bring about union 
among ourselves on the most vital of all questions. All other 
questions ought to be dropped. In Union lies our safety." 
To put the matter even more plainly Underwood of Kentucky 
(Whig) added to B right's amendment the further proviso: 34 

"That citizens of the United States emigrating, with their 
slaves, into any of the Territories of the United States south 
of said parallel of latitude, shall be protected in their prop- 
erty in their slaves so long as the Territory to which they 
emigrate continues under a territorial government." 

The struggle to eliminate all reference to slavery, or to 
embody in the bill some clause specifically opening all the new 
territories to slavery, was thus tacitly abandoned, and the con- 
test turned to the next best course, according to the South, 
of marking in definite terms a region for the expansion of 
their institutions. Nevertheless the debate continued to thresh 
over the question of constitutionality of Congressional action, 
as well as to bring out what the South called the northern 
desire to crush their future political power. 

32 Globe. XVIII, 868. 

33 To 

34 Glo 

33 To T. ^,?,^"J 10U 1?' 9 July> Correspondence, 759. 
be, X'" 


Thus locked, unable to proceed because neither side would 
retreat from its stand, the question stood when Polk, on the 
sixth of July, transmitted to both houses the ratified treaty 
with Mexico, and urged provision for a territorial organization 
in the region newly acquired by the United States. 35 Not alone 
to this public message did the President trust but he held long 
interviews with the Senators of his party and impressed upon 
them the necessity of settling the question in order "to allay 
excitement, prevent the organization of geographical parties, 
& preserve the harmony of the union." 36 Bright was a frequent 
visitor at the White House and was one of those most eager 
to secure action ; in one of his interviews he suggested as the 
most satisfactory solution the adoption of the phraseology of 
the Texas Annexation Resolution which extended 36 30' 
as the dividing line between free and slave territory. 

The preliminary step for a compromise was taken by adopt- 
ing Clayton's (Maryland) motion for a committee of eight, 
two from each party in each section, following the precedent 
set at the time of the Missouri Compromise and the Comh 
promise Tariff of 1833. 37 This was seconded by Foote. 
Calhoun, however, pointed out that the act of 1787 was a 
compromise but the North had rendered it null by refusing to 
return fugitive slaves, a charge which he had previously 
brought, especially against the people of Michigan. Several 
objected to the scheme because the committee would have the 
Oregon bill before it, when it was understood that slavery 
would not be permitted there. Since no one could suggest 
any other solution the motion was adopted by a vote of 31 
to 14. All the votes against the compromise committee were 
from the free States, eight Whigs and six Democrats. The 
committee, which as selected by ballot, was composed of 
Clayton (Chairman), Underwood (Ky.), Whigs, and Calhoun 
and Atchison (Mo.), Democrats, for the south; Clarke (R. I.), 

35 Richadson, Messrages, IV, 587-93. 

36 Polk, Diary, IV, 9, 12-14. Cobb, Houston, Bowden (Ala.), McLane (Md.), 
Sebastian (Ark.), Bright (Ind.), and several from the House talked with the 


37 Globe, XVIII, 928 seq.; Appen., 914 seq. 


Phelps (Vt), Whigs, and Bright (Ind.), and Dickinson 
(N. Y.), Democrats, for the North. 

The committee immjediately proceeded to its work, but it 
found nearly as much difficulty in reaching a basis of com- 
promise as had the Senate itself. In the first place an un- 
qualified acceptance of the compromise line (36 30') was 
rejected, but Dickinson suggested a modification of what he 
had proposed on the floor of the Senate chamber; that is, 
non-interference with the question in New Mexico and Cali- 
fornia. Upon this basis the committee reached a tentative 
proposition of the following nature: the existing land laws 
which prohibited slavery in Oregon were to be left in force 
until altered by the territorial legislature; in California and 
New Mexico the legislative power should be vested in a 
Governor, Secretary and three Judges for each territory, and 
these men should be restricted by Congress from legislating 
upon the question of slavery, leaving the question, if it should 
arise, to the judiciary. Calhoun, who was brought to con- 
ference with the President through the mediation of Colonel 
Franklin H. Elmore of Charleston, 38 told Polk, who approved 
the plan, that he would support the proposition ; much de- 
pended upon the President who would appoint the judges who 
might be northern men for Oregon but for the other two 
territories they must be southerners in order that the southern 
views on slavery might be maintained. "The tone of his con- 
versation," wrote Polk, "on this point seems to be designed 
to elicit a pledge from me to this effect. I at once felt the 
delicacy of my situation & promptly replied that that was a 
subject upon which I could not speak, that if the laws passed 
in the form suggested I would do my duty, and jocosely 
added that my friends, as Gen'l Harrison's Cincinnati com- 
mittee in 1844 [1840?] said for him, must have a 'generous 
confidence' that I would do so." 

38 Polk, Diary, IV, 17-24. Elmore had asked Polk to request Calhoun to 
call (he had not done so since the Oregon treaty of the year before) ; but Polk 
said that the Senator was an older man and had been longer ini public life, 
and a request of this sort would make it appear that he was seeking some sort 
of influence over him; he would, however, be glad to see Calhoun. 


The compromise plan met with one objection from the 
northern memjbers of the committee; they insisted that there 
should be provision for appeal to the Supreme Court of the 
United States, a modification which Calhoun and the two 
other southern members did not like. Calhoun, in fact, sug- 
gested to the President that the whole matter might as well 
be allowed to go over to the next session of Congress; that 
is, until after the election had shown the sentiments of the 
people. Polk strongly objected to this. Finally, however, 
Calhoun yielded the point and a bill was reported to the 
Senate on the eighteenth of July, on the lines outlined; that 
is, the original Oregon bill with added sections dealing with 
New Mexico and California. 39 

On the twenty-second the bill was called up. There was 
a short discussion in which it was contended that there was 
no connection between Oregon and California, the best title 
to Oregon came from the Louisiana purchase so the Missouri 
Compromise applied under any circumstances. Moreover, 
those who were less sanguine than the comjmittee had appeared 
to be felt that the root of the question had not been touched at 
all. Nevertheless a test of strength was taken on a motion 
to strike out all after the 20th section (i. e., all except the parts 
relating to Oregon) and but seventeen votes as against thirty- 
seven could be mustered to defeat the compromise at that 
point. Hamlin, who said he was admonished by whisperings 
that the measure was to be pressed to a decision then and there, 
pointed out that the power of Congress to legislate on the 
subject of slavery was contained in the strongest terms in the 
bill ; he objected to limiting the duration of the existing Oregon 
laws to three months after the meeting of the first Legislative 
Assembly because that would bring the question of slavery 
again before Congress. This point was brought up by others 
and produced from Clarke (R. I.) an amendment to the sec- 

39 Ibid., IV, 24; Globe Appen., XVIII, 1139-40- Clayton, reporting the bill, 
outlined the course of the discussion and added that it was the view of the 
committee that this bill _ would ultimately settle the whole question. The follow- 
ing day he stated that this was not intended as a report, but as a personal opinion; 
the bill must speak for itself. 


tion extending legislative powers to the territory to the effect 
"that no law repealing the act of the provisional government 
of said Territory, prohibiting slavery or involuntary servitude, 
shall be valid until the same shall be approved by Congress." 40 

Like most compromises the bill did not meet with ardent 
support ; even those who had been responsible for it were dis- 
satisfied, and Underwood was outspoken in his complete oppo- 
sition to the principle involved : the portion regarding Oregon, 
said he, could not be voted for by any Senator without sur- 
rendering all constitutional objections to the power of Con- 
gress over slavery ; there ought to have been a compromise on 
36 30' but this had been defeated by the northern Senators. 
He urged his compatriots of the South to migrate to Cali- 
fornia and New Mexico and so settle the question in such a 
way that they would be satisfied. 

On the morning of July 27th the bill was pushed to the 
final vote after a twenty-one-hour sitting of the Senate. Dur- 
ing the all-night session the bill had been resolutely attacked 
by the more radical northerners, the Free-Soilers, who wished 
to wear out their colleagues and force an adjournment before a 
vote could be taken. Senator Niles was interrupted by Foote 
who called his attention to the dawning light. 

"Well, sir," calmly replied the gentleman from Connecticut, 
"then I shall proceed with my argument with renewed en- 
ergy. ... I have ten distinct heads, containing distinct 
grounds of objection to the extension of slavery over those 
Territories, which I propose to consider seriatim. There is 
plenty of time before us, and I shall proceed very deliberately 
in this discussion." 41 

Dickinson took occasion to taunt his Free-Soil colleagues 
with having given a portion of Oregon to Great Britain; the 
"Free-soils" objected to the bill, he said because it gave the 
people of Oregon the right to legislate for themselves ; they 

40 Appendix to Globe, XVIII, 1141-74, for the discussion. 

41 At 2 A. M. Senator Niles was talking and only one Senator besides him- 
self was in sight; he moved an adjournment, and the sleeping members were 
roused from sofas and chairs in the lobby and anterooms to vote down the 
motion, 32 to n. Every other attempt to adjourn before the bill was voted on 
met with the same fat*. 


professed to favor popular liberty, yet were insisting that a 
hasty and imperfect code of laws, designed to suit earlier days 
and framed under the influence of a British corporation, should 
be forced upon the people of the Territory until it should 
become a State. "A baser system of quack legislation never 
disfigured the records of civilized mjan! A blacker decree of 
despotism, in principle, was never fulminated since the edict 
of Nantes!" 

During the debate various amendments which were pro- 
posed in order to nullify the compromise features were voted 
down. Hale, Davis (Mass.), Clarke, Baldwin (Conn.) all 
attempted in one form or another to defeat the purpose of the 
clauses dealing with New Mexico and California, but with no 
success. No vital amendment was made and the bill in essen- 
tially the form reported by the com/promise committee was 
passed by the Senate on a vote of 33 to 22. All but three of 
the full membership responded to their names when the roll 
was called, and one of these three had "remained till a late 
hour" when he had been "obliged to go home on account of 
fatigue." 42 The twenty- two votes against the bill were all 
from the North, except for two from Kentucky and one (Bell) 
from Tennessee. Nine Senators from the free States, four 
of them westerners, voted for the bill. Thirteen Whigs were 
for the measure while four opposed it. 

The House had just gotten started with its Oregon bill 
when the Senate Compromise bill reached the Speaker's desk. 
During the Senate debate, which had been closely watched by 
the Representatives, some Congressmen had announced to 
the President their intention to vote for it when it should 
reach them, but the strength of the northern non-slave vote 
was shown by the summary manner in which it was disposed 
of. Smith of Indiana expressed the sentiments of most of his 
northern colleagues when he said that the bill contained no 
promise of settling the controversy, and Alexander H. 
Stephens, of Georgia, taking the same ground, moved, as a 

42 Webster was not present, and Jones of Iowa did not take his seat until 
December, 1848. 


test of the House, that it be laid on the table. By a vote of 
112 to 97 this was done and a motion to table the motion to 
reconsider was carried, 114 to 96. 43 Thus in a few minutes 
all the work of the Senate was undone and the House pro- 
ceeded with the discussion of its own bill. 

"I regard this vote of the House's as most unfortunate," 
recorded the President in his Diary** "The majority, I learn, 
was made up of every Northern Whig, of about half the 
Northern Democrats, & of 8 Southern Whigs. Those of the 
Democratic party whose sympathies are with the Barnburners 
of New York, or who are timid & afraid to risk their popu- 
larity at home, united with the Whigs to defeat the bill. * * 
* The political factions in Congress are all at work and they 
seem to be governed by no patriotic motives, but by the effect 
which they suppose may be produced upon the public mind 
in the pending Presidential election. A heavy responsibility 
rests upon these, and especially upon the 8 Southern Whigs, 
who have united to defeat this mieasure of compromise of this 
most delicate & vexatious question. If no Presidential elec- 
tion had been pending I cannot doubt the compromise Bill 
would have passed the House. If it had done so the agitation 
would have ceased and the question would have been at rest." 
He thought it probable that the Northern candidate would 
take more distinctly anti-slavery ground (i. e.. Van Buren, 
who had been nominated by the Democrats who were dis- 
satisfied with the Baltimore platform) ; that no candidate 
would have a majority in the electoral college, and so the 
election would go to the House. The Whig leaders in both 
Houses, he learned, desired to adjourn early and so prevent 
any action on the territories, thus enhancing, as they supposed, 
the chances of General Taylor, their candidate. 

In addition to the ever-present slavery issue, which occupied 
most of the attention of the House, there was some objection 
to the particular form of the land grant provisions and to the 
veto power given to the governor in the House bill. The 

43 Globe, XVIII, 1006-7. ^ ,> 

44 IV, 33-4. 


measure, however, was reported to the House by the Com- 
mittee of the Whole in its original form, except for a few 
minor details and the addition of some sections, relating to 
ports of entry, recommended by the Committee on Commerce. 
Toward the end of the discussion in Committee McClernand 
had moved to strike out all but the enacting clause and to 
insert the Senate bill; he was declared out of order, in the 
midst of great confusion. An appeal from the ruling was 
taken but the House upheld the chair. A similar fate over- 
took an attempt to substitute the Senate compromise for the 
whole bill. 

On the second of August the bill as reported from the 
Committee of the Whole was taken up in the House and 
disposed of with no debate. There was no division on the 
amendments except that relating to the governor's veto, which 
was taken away by the House, and that on slavery. In Com- 
mittee at a tim when there was a light attendance the 12th 
section had been striken out, but the House now replaced it 
by a vote of 114 to 88. The bill was then ordered engrossed 
and passed (129 to 71). In the division on the slavery section 
all the Congressmen from the slave States voted to retain the 
Committee amendment with the exception of fourteen who 
refused to vote ; ten northern Representatives voted with their 
southern brethren, they were from Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and 
Pennsylvania. 45 

The defeat of the Senate measure in the House had been 
taken by all as a most unfavorable omen; nevertheless the 
western Democrats were determined to save something from 
the wreck if possible. Hannegan, 46 on the last day of July, 
in giving notice that he would introduce on the following 
Monday a bill for organizing the territories of Oregon, Cali- 
fornia and New Mexico, stated that it was his conviction 
that it was vain for any individual to attempt to adjust the 
question; the defeat of the compromise measure had brought 
to members of both houses numerous requests from all over 

45 Globe, XVIII, 1027. 

46 Ibid., loio, 1016. 


the country to leave the matter open because that would pro- 
mote the interests of his (Hannegan's) favorite candidate for 
the Presidency (i. e. General Cass). That, however, he con- 
sidered an impossible way to view the situation, for Christen- 
dom would look upon the United States as on the verge of civil 
war, especially as talk of disunion was so freely heard within 
the Senate chamber. It was the duty of Congress to adopt 
some measure to put a stop to this treasonable talk, for it was 
moral treason to breath the word "disunion." Benton, too, 
offered a bill, framed upon the act of 1806 by which the 
people of Louisiana were to be governed according to existing 
law until other provision should have been made. He said 
he would call this up later if nothing better should be presented. 

The House bill, however, came before the Senate on August 
third. Senator Clayton was for extending it the same courtesy 
the Senate bill had received in the House, but this was refused, 
Clayton himself being the only one to vote for it. The bill 
was referred to the Committee on territories and by that com- 
mittee reported back two days later with two major and two 
minor amendments ; the veto power was restored to the gov- 
ernor, and in the proper place were inserted the words, "In- 
asmuch as the said Territory is North of the Parallel of 36 30, 
usually known as the Missouri Compromise." 

On the eighth of August the Senate took up the bill and 
modified the veto amendment so that any act disapproved by 
the governor should be specifically submitted to Congress in 
such a way as to provide a Congressional veto of the gov- 
ernor's veto. As to the amlendment touching the Missouri 
Compromise Douglas stated that it was the unanimous desire 
of the committee that no Senator's vote should be understood 
as committing him for the future. The northern radicals, 
however, refused to take this view and some of the southerners 
(e. g., Butler of South Carolina) opposed giving the North 
all the valuable territory north of the compromise line; this 
Oregon bill, said Butler, which two years before had been an 
innocent measure, now masked a battery from behind which 


the institutions of the South were being attacked. On two 
days the bill was discussed, but no decision was reached. On 
the tenth of August the Senate convened for an evening 
session and threshed over the slavery issue until the final vote 
was taken the next morning at ten o'clock. First the com- 
mittee amendment was voted on, with the understanding that 
if it was lost a vote should be taken on an amendment, sub- 
mitted by Douglas, extending the Missouri Compromise line 
to the Pacific without reference to Oregon. The committee 
amendment was lost, 52 to 2, and the Missouri Compromise 
clause was inserted (33 to 21). The opposition to the amend- 
ment was nearly the same as that to the Compromise Bill which 
had passed the Senate a couple of weeks before; Atherton 
(New Hampshire Democrat), Breese and Phelps, who had 
voted for the Compromise Bill, now voted against the amend- 
ment ; Atherton and Phelps voted against the bill. Fitzgerald 
(Michigan) and Underwood had opposed the Compromise bill 
and now voted for the amendment and the bill ; Calhoun voted 
for the amendment but against the bill, which, he said, was 

During the night while the Senate discussion was in prog- 
ress the. House was in great confusion so long as it sat, and 
the next morning the excitement was even more pronounced. 47 
When the Oregon bill was brought before it for concurrence 
the whole section dealing with the veto was rejected, for, it 
may be remarked, the veto might conceivably be used to pro- 
mote pro-slavery interests, since the governor would be ap- 
pointed by a southern President. The Missouri Compromise 
line provision was lost, 121 to- 82. 

The bill was now before the Senate again (12 August). 
Benton moved that the Senate recede from its amendment and 
spoke feelingly for action on the bill. He said he had voted 
reluctantly for the compromise amendment, but now that the 
Senate had taken its stand enough had been done for concilia- 

47 So stated the reporter of the debates, and the President, who had gone to 
the Capitol late in the evening and had stayed until 11:30 P. M. in order to 
sign such bills as should be presented to him. Diary, IV, 79. 


tion; in the meantimle Oregon was in a deplorable condition 
and it would be criminal to adjourn before passing the bill. 
The provisional government, he went on, had reached a point 
where it could no longer handle the situation, and not only 
would there be war between Indians and whites but between 
whites and whites. Berrien begged his colleagues of the South 
not to let slip this opportunity for if the Senate amendment did 
not prevail the North would rule the South with a rod of iron. 
Calhoun spoke with bitterness of the defeat which the South 
had experienced ; he denounced any southerner who supported 
this attempt of the North to turn the population of the whole 
South into slaves, for it had become not a question of terri- 
torial government but of the existence of the Union itself. 
Several attempts were made to induce Benton to withdraw 
his motion, which had precedence under the rule, but the 
Missouri Senator was adamant ; he was going to see that bill 
pass if it was a human possibility. 

All through the night and until nine o'clock on Sunday 
morning the ground was beaten over in the southern attempt 
to prevent action but finally the futility of the endeavor was 
seen. The amendments to which the House had refused its 
concurrence were taken up one by one and the Senate receded 
from its stand. The vote on the veto was 31 to 23 and that 
on the slavery section was 29 to 25. Four Senators did not 
vote; Clayton and Sturgeon were absent and Atherton paired 
with King of Alabama, who had left the Capitol exhausted. 
Those who voted to recede were all from the free States ex- 
cept Benton of Missouri and Houston of Texas. Party lines 
were forgotten ; twelve Whigs and seventeen Democrats voted 
to recede, and eight Whigs and seventeen Democrats voted not 
to recede. 

Only one recourse was now left and to the President went 
Senators to urge him to refuse to sign the measure. Turney 
of Tennessee protested that the President must not sign; 
Calhoun said the bill must be vetoed on constitutional grounds ; 
Hannegan said he would sustain a veto. 48 Polk, however, had 

~# Diary, IV, 71-3. 


already made up his mind to approve the bill even before the 
Senate had acted. He had consulted his Cabinet and had 
found its m/embers unanimous for approval since Oregon was 
north of 36 30'. Then, asked he, should he accompany the 
signed bill by a message explaining that this was the reason 
for his approval? All agreed that some explanation should 
be made, although Buchanan qualified his assent by stating 
that its effect upon Cass' chances of election should be con- 
sidered, and Walker inclined to think that a statement in the 
Union would serve the purpose better than a message. Ac- 
cordingly Polk requested Buchanan and Walker to prepare a 
draft which was read and discussed in Cabinet on the twelfth ; 
on the thirteenth, after the Senate had receded from its amend- 
ments, Polk revised the draft and with the advice of all his 
official family, except Buchanan, took it with the bill to the 

When he arrived at his room there he found the Senate 
engaged in a discussion as to whether the rules relating to 
presenting measures for the president's signature on the last 
day of a session should be suspended. Polk frankly told many 
of the Senators that if the rule should not be suspended it 
would defeat not only the Oregon bill but many other impor- 
tant measures, and in that case he would immediately issue a 
proclamation for an extra session of Congress. This threat 
was sufficient to cause the rules to be suspended, for not only 
had Congress been in session more than eight months, but 
the presidential campaign was in full swing and many fences 
needed immediate attention. Calhoun made one final appeal 
and urged the President, if he was bound to sign the bill, to 
do so in the usual manner and not accompany the signature 
with a mteasure. The request was of no avail and the President 
signed both bill and message and sent them by his private 
secretary to the House. 49 

In this message 50 Polk reviewed the course of the statesmen 
of earlier days on the slavery issue including the framing of 

49 Polk, Diary, IV, 76-7. Globe, XVIII, 1083-4. 

50 Richardson, Messages, IV, 606-10. 


the Missouri Compromise which calmed "the troubled waters 
and (restored) peace and good will throughout the States of 
the Union. A similar adjustment, he went on, would un- 
doubtedly produce the same happy results, for it had been 
successfully applied to Texas when that State was admitted. 

"The Territory of Oregon lies far north of 36 30', the 
Missouri and Texas compromise line. Its southern bound- 
ary is the parallel of 42, leaving the intermediate distance 
to be 330 geographical miles. And it is because the pro- 
visions of this bill are not inconsistent with the laws of the 
Missouri compromise, if extended from the Rio Grande to 
the Pacific Ocean, that I have not felt at liberty to withhold 
my sanction. Had it embraced territories south of that 
compromise, the question presented for my consideration 
would have been of a far different character, and my action 
upon it must have corresponded with my convictions * * 

"Holding as a sacred trust the Executive authority for the 
whole Union, and bound to guard the rights of all, I should 
be constrained by a sense of duty to withhold my official 
sanction from any measure which would conflict with these 
important objects." 

This blunt statement of the President's stand upon the whole 
issue the House refused to allow to go before the country as a 
public document and in spite of the efforts of some Repre- 
sentatives it was not officially printed until the following De- 
cember, after the election. It was circulated, however, in the 
newspapers, since Polk, with a little difficulty secured a copy 
from the Clerk of the House for that purpose. 

Oregon, having played a major role in international rela- 
tions, now completed its first appearance as a leading figure 
in the slavery drama, a part which it took again when the 
question of statehood came up. After being the subject of 
discussion for many years it was furnished, as far as the law 
went, with the ordinary form of organic law, excepting that 
its governor had no veto power and slavery could not legally 
exist within its borders so long as the territorial status con- 








- - 







"- *" p f HVDSO 





The unveiling of a tablet at Oregon City on August 9th 
to mark the site where The Oregon Spectator, the first news- 
paper in American territory west of the Rocky Mountains 
was issued on February 5, 1846, seventy-three years and seven 
months before, was an interesting feature of the joint pro- 
gramme of the National and State Editorial Associations at 
their meetings in Portland on August 8-10, 1919. 

At the time The Spectator was started the difficulties con- 
fronting such an enterprise were very great. Then Oregon 
City had a population of less than five hundred. The total 
population of the "Oregon Country" meaning the area now 
constituting the States of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and 
the parts of Montana and Wyoming west of the summit of 
the Rocky Mountains did not exceed two thousand. The 
total voting population on June 3, 1845, was five hundred and 
four. Yet the citizens in and around Oregon City determined 
to have a newspaper. A subscription paper was prepared that 
year and enough pledges at ten dollars a share were secured to 
aggregate approximately twelve hundred dollars. That sum 
was entrusted to Gov. George Abernethy and forwarded to 
New York; and through him a hand-press, type, cases and 
other items needed in a printing plant, including a supply of 
paper, were purchased and sent to Oregon City via Cape Horn 
in a sailing vessel. Arrangements were made with John 
Fleming, a printer from Ohio, who came across the plains to 
Oregon City in 1844, to do the printing. The size of the 
paper was 11^ by 15^2 inches, with four pages of four col- 
umns each, and it was issued twice a month at $5.00 a year. 
Beginning with September 12, 1850, the paper was issued 
weekly with D. J. Schnebly as editor, and the subscription 
price was raised to $7.00 a year. 


Time does not permit reference to many other details of 
interest; suffice it to say that the journal had a fitful existence 
until the date of suspension in March, 1855, having been 
edited by seven different persons, and its mechanical depart- 
ment operated by nine different printers. It is likely that 
there were others, but no trace of them can be found. The 
salary of the first editor, an attorney named W. G. T'Vault, 
was at the rate of $300.00 per year. He was a native of Ken- 
tucky and was reported to have had some experience as an 
editor in Tennessee before coming to Oregon. His services 
were dispensed with at the end of two months. 

Out of the twenty-two persons whose names appear upon 
the tablet I have had a personal acquaintance with thirteen, 
the first of them being T. F. McElroy, who was associated 
with James W. Wiley in publishing the Columbian, the first 
newspaper north of the Columbia river, the first issue of which 
was on September 11, 1852, at Olympia at the head of Puget 
Sound. He was master of the first Masonic lodge in Wash- 
ington Olympia No. 1, in 1853, and officiated at the funeral 
of James McAllister, a member of his lodge, who was killed 
by Indians on October 28, 1855, at the beginning of the 
Yakima Indian war which lasted a year, and was a neighbor of 
my father's family. Acquaintance with George B. Goudy 
began soon afterwards, as he was a captain of volunteers dur- 
ing that Indian war. Both men became prominent in public 
affairs in the early days of Washington Territory. 

Other members of The Spectator family achieved consider- 
able distinction, notably James W. Nesmith, as supreme judge 
of the Provisional Government, volunteer soldier, Superin- 
tendent of Indian Affairs, United States Senator, and member 
of the House of Representatives ; George Law Curry, as secre- 
tary of Oregon Territory and the last territorial governor; 
Wilson Blain, as a minister and educator; Aaron E. Wait, as 
a lawyer and circuit judge; D. J. Schneby, as a newspaper 
man at Ellensburg, eastern Washington. 

My association with the men mentioned, together with a 


growing consciousness of the importance of memorials to 
perpetuate the beginnings of various enterprises as well as 
events of historical importance, led me more than forty years 
ago to make a thorough investigation in locating the site of the 
building where The Spectator was printed. Then this point was 
selected as the proper one and the choice was confirmed by a 
number of persons then living who had been original subscribers 
to the paper, among them the late Hiram Straight, a pioneer of 
1843, Sidney W. Moss, Medorem Crawford, F. X. Matthieu, 
and J. R. Robb, pioneers of 1842, W. Carey Johnson, a pioneer 
of 1845 ; and this choice had additional confirmation by Wil- 
liam L. Adams, who bought the Spectator plant in April, 1855, 
and issued therefrom the Oregon Argus on the 21st of that 
month, as well as by David W. Craig, his foreman. 

A number of plans for securing a tablet to mark this spot 
occurred to me from time to time during these passing years, 
but none seemed feasible until after this property had been 
acquired by its present owner, the Hawley Pulp & Paper Com- 
pany. About eighteen months ago Mr. Hawley was inter- 
viewed and a tentative plan for a tablet submitted to him. This 
he accepted and I was bidden to proceed to carry out the idea 
suggested. No definite time, however, was agreed upon for 
the fulfillment of the project. 

In April of the present year, after learning that the National 
Editorial Association had arranged to make a coast-wide trip 
in August, it occurred to me that if the contemplated tablet 
could be dedicated as a feature on the joint programme of 
the National and State Editorial Associations it would be 
well to have the tablet ready for the ceremony of dedication 
on the date already alluded to. The matter was then referred 
to Mr. Hawley, and he consented to all the arrangements that 
I had made, and the editorial associations alluded graciously 
gave the proposed dedication a place upon the joint programme. 

And now, here the tablet is, owing to the public spirit of 
Mr. Willard P. Hawley, and a photostat copy of No. 2 of The 
Spectator, February 19, 1846, can be seen in his office. 


This memorial, mounted on a huge bowlder taken from the 
foot of the cliffs near by where the five Indians who killed 
Dr. Marcus Whitman, his wife and twelve others, on No- 
vember 29-30, 1847, were hung on June 3, 1850, is to honor 
the beginning of newspaper life on the Pacific Coast.* 

*The tablet stands on; the right hand or west side of Main street, Oregon City, 
near the office of the Hawky Pulp & Paper Company. When the buildings that 
ar contemplated by this company are erected a recess or alcove will be provided 
in order that the tablet may be readily seen from the street. 



The contributions of Mr. Shippee on "The Federal Rela- 
tions of Oregon, V." in the June Quarterly, reminded the 
writer of a rather interesting letter written during the Con- 
gressional debate, from Richard Pakenham, British Ambas- 
sador, to the Elarl of Aberdeen, the original of which was 
found in the London Public Record Office. The letter is 
given below : 

Richard Pakenham to the Earl of Aberdeen. 

"Washington, March 29, 1846.* 
"My Lord, 
[Formalities, and general reference to the debates in Congress, 

on the Oregon question.] 
******* * 

"But a fact which I must not omit to point out to Your 
Lordship's notice, is, that it seems to have become a received 
opinion among even the most moderate members of the Senate, 
that the claims of the United States extend fully to the parallel 
of 49, which they consider ought to be insisted on as the 
basis of any arrangement. 

"So certain is this, that the advocates of a peaceful settle- 
ment of the question are now universally designated as 49 
men, in contradistinction to those who go for the whole of 
Oregon even at the risk of war, and are called 54.40 men. 

"In the course of this debate, a good deal of interest was 
excited by the speech of Mr. Haywood of North Carolina, 
(Intelligencers of 23rd and 24th March)** who from the 
intimacy which has long subsisted between him and Mr. Polk 
was supposed to speak, in a certain degree, the President's 

"Mr. Haywood's language was entirely in favor of com- 
promise upon the basis of 49, and he gave it to be understood 

Foreign Office, series 5, vol. 447, No. 34. 


that those who imagined that the President was inclined to 
persist in asserting at all risks a claim to the whole of Oregon, 
or that he felt bound by the resolution to that effect, passed 
at the Convention which nominated him to the Presidency, 
were mistakes. 

"This avowal was received with violent indignation by the 
advocates of extreme measures. I beg leave to request Your 
Lordship's attention to the extraordinary language made use 
of on the occasion by Mr. Hannegan of Indiana (Intelligencer 
of 6 March)** who did not hesitate to declare that if it was 
true that the President thus belied the pledge taken by the 
Baltimore Convention: 

" The story of his infamy would be circulated from one 
end of the land to the other, and his perfidious course would 
sink him in an infamy so profound, in a damnation so deep, 
that the hand of resurrection could never reach him, a 
traitor to his country so superlatively base need hope for neither 
forgiveness from God nor mercy from man.' 

"This is what the President has brought upon himself by 
the imprudent lengths to which he allowed himself to go in 
his inaugural address, as well as in his Message of the 2nd 
December, and in the correspondence of his Secretary of State 
on the subject of Oregon. 

"Fortunately for the country, the party in the Senate who 
think with Mr. Hannegan, is so insignificant, not numbering 
as it has repeatedly been asserted in the course of the debate, 
above a fourth, or as some say, a fifth, of that body, that 
Mr. Polk need have no fear that he will not be supported 
amply, both in and out of the Senate, if he should wisely 
determine to adopt a moderate and pacific course of policy, 
but what his real intention in this respect may be, he has 
given the public no opportunity of judging, since the scene in 
the Senate of which I have above spoken." * * * 

(Signed) Richard Pakenham. 
To the Earl of Aberdeen, K. T. 

**Citations by Mr. Pakenbam. 

June 1-September 30, 1919. 

Compiled by GEORGE H. HIKES. 

Applegate, Miss Irene, b. Mo. 1839; Or. 1843; d. Yonealla, July 35. 
Baker, Melvin, b. Tenn. 1836; Or. 1853; d. Sherwood, Aug. 15. 
Barger, Mrs. Rebecca Smith, b. Ohio Jan. i, 1825; Or. 1847; d. Portland, Sep- 
tember 22. (Was crowned "Mother Queen" of Oregon Pioneers in June, 1917.) 
Beard, Ambrose, b. Or. 1855; d. near Fossil, July 29. 

Benefiel, William Harrison, b. : 1857; Or. 1852; d. Portland, Aug. 15. 

Burns, James H., b. Or. 1851; d. Bridgeport, Baker County, Aug. 7. 

Burton, Dixon, b. Cal. 1853; Or. 1882; d. Eugene, June 16. 

Caldwell, Gerald, b. Va. 1827; Or. 1845; d. Williams, Josephine County, Sept. 10. 

Caldwell, W. H., b. 1849; Or. 1856; d. Aug. 7. 

Caspell, Mrs. P. A., b. Or. 1856; d. Salem, Aug. 22 

Catlin, James, b. 111. 1834; Or. 1848; d. Palo Alto, Cal., June 16. 

Chrisman, Pret., b. Mo. 1845; Or. 1851; d. Cottage Grove. Aug. 18. 

*Clarke, William Jessup, b. Or. Feb. 24, 1857; d. Portland, June 20. 

Denver, Mrs. Eva, b. Or. 1859; d. Astoria, June 19. 

Dunn, Mrs. Cecelia Christian, b. 111. 1840; Or. 1852; d. Eugene, June 15. 

Graham, Walter, b. N. Y. Oct. 12, 1828; Or. 1853; d. Seattle, Sept. 15. 

Griggs, J. A., b. Holland, N. Y., May 9, 1834; Cal. 1852; Or, 1872; d. Cottage 

Grove. Sept. 20. 

*Haley, Mrs. Mary Ann W9odcock, b. Mo. 1842; Or. 1844; d. Portland, June 24. 
Hamilton, Mrs. Mary C. Mires, b. Iowa 1842; Or. 1852; d. Fossil, Sept. 26. 
Harbert, Joseph W., b. 1835; Or. 1859; d. Walla Walla, July 27. 
Heater, Mrs. Mary Jane, b. Aug. 30, 1829; Or. 1850; d. near Newberg, Sept. 4. 
Hill, Dr. J, L., b. Tenn. 1851; Or. 1853; d. Albany, Aug. i. 
Hines, Cicero, b. Mo. Feb. 4, 1846; Or. 1848; d. Gales Creek, Aug. n. 
*Hodgkin, Mrs. Adelaide Jennings, b. Or. Feb. 6, 1855; d. Vancouver, Sept. 20. 
"Houck, Mrs. Leah J., b. Mo. Feb. 5, 1842; Or. 1853; d. Portland, Sept. 
Hurley, Mrs. Mary A. McCarver, b. 111. 1842; Or. 1843; d, Santa Barbara, 

Cal., Aug. 5. 

Johns, W. W., Or. 1852; d. Salem, Sept. 27. 

* Jones, Mrs. Losia Amelia, b. I1L 1846; Or. -850; d. Stevenson, Wash,, March 6, 

Kandle, Frank M., b. Ind. 1842; Or. 1851; d. Portland, Aug. 15. 
Keeney, Mrs. M. R., b. 111. 1857; d. Kalispell, Mont., June 8 
Kennedy. Charles, b Mo. 1850; Or. 1852; d. Portland, Oct. 31, 1918. 
LaChapelle, Mrs. Adrian, b. Oregon Ter. 1819; d. St. Louis. Or., June 6. 
Laffey, Mrs, Bernard, b. Mich. 1830; Or. 1852; d. Portland. Aug. 27. 
Larkins, Cicero Nelson, b. Or. 1857; d. near Oregon City, Aug. 14. 
Lewis. Mrs. Mary Dunn, b. Iowa 1853; Or. 185.; d. Astoria, Aug. 17. 
*Luelling, Mrs. Mary Campbell, b. Mass. 1834; Or. 1849; home at Milwaukie, Or,. 

for many years; d. Orofino, Idaho, Aug. 23. 
Marquis, James W., b. Mb. 1841; Or. 1850; d. Portland, Sept. 14; served in 

First Or. Cavalry in Civil War. 

*Meldrum, John W., b. Iowa Dec. 17, 1839; Or. 1847; d. near Milwaukie, Sept 23. 
Mercer, Mrs. Ann Stiver, b. Eng. 1841; Or. 1852; d. Seattle, Sept. 30. 
Michals, Girard B., b. 1839; Or. 1847; d. Sedro-Wooley, Wash., July. 
"Miller, George R. H., b. Ireland 1832; U. S. 1854; enlisted in U. S. Army at 

Cincinnati May 18, 1855; Or. that year; d. Oregon City, July 2. 
Miller, Mrs. Maria A. Probst, b. Or. 1856; d. Knox Butte, Lmn County, Sept. n. 
*Moore, Mrs. Margaret Octavia Meldrum, b. 111. 1836; Or. 1845; d. Portland 

Sept. 25. 
"Moore, Mrs. Mary Helen Me Williams, b. Mo. 1830; Or. 1845; d. Hillsboro, 

Aug. 9. 

Moss, Mrs. Emiline Barr, b. Mo. Nov. 27, 1845; Or. 1853; d. Sept. n. 
McCain, James, b. Ind. 1844; Or. 1848; d. McMinnville, Aug. 5. 
McKinncy, John F, b. Mo. 1832; Calif. 1850; Or. 1851; d. Aug. i. 
Osborn, Alexander R., b. Utah 1847; Or. 1847; d. Bandon, Dec. o, 1018 
Owen, Mrs. Millie A., b. Or. 1852; d. Nov. 6, 1918. 

Paquette, Mrs. Monica, b. Canada 1838; Or. 1841; d. Scotts Mills, July n 
Pease, Archie L., b. Oregon City, 1859; d. Portland, Aug. 27. 
Peterson, Mrs. Louisa Cyrene Denney, b. Or. 1853; d. Beaverton, July 6. 
Pettys, Amanuel C., b. N. Y.j Or. 1854; d. lone, June 18. 
Price, James H., b. Oregon City, June 8, 1847; d. Tacwna, April 10, 1919. 


Robbins, Mrs. E. Ellen Rees, b. Or. Sept. 18, 1851; d. Portland, Aug. 4. 
Sears, David Walker, b. Mo. _ 18.49; Or. 1850; d. Sherwood, Sept. 9. 
Shortridge, Mrs. 
Shrum, Andrew _ 
Simons, Mrs. Elmira 
June 13. 

alker, p. Mo. 1849; Or. 1850; a. anerwooa, sept. 9. 
. Amelia, b. Ind. 1835; Or. 1853; d. Eugene, Aug. i. 
Jackson, b. Mo. 1841 ; Or. 1846; d. Boise, Idaho, July 23. 
ilmira Rose Ann, b. 111. May 30, 1844; Or. 1852; d. Lebanon, 

white child b. on 

111119 WC91 Ul A UI tidllUj 8HJ Iftl d KJILTWIJ. 

Turnidge, Joseph Lane, b. Scio, Feb. 3, 1856; d. South Bend, Wash., Aug. 24. 

Van Atta, William, b. 1841; Or. 1854; d. Vance, Wash., Aug. u. 

* Warren, Mrs. Eliza Spalding, b. Or. Nov. 15, 1837; d. Coeur d'Alene, June 21. 

The second white child born in Oregon Territory. 

Wells, Lovell H., b. 1834; Calif. 1855; Or. 1907; d. Portland, Sept. i. 
Wilson, Mrs. Angie, b. 1848; Or. 1852; d. Sprague, Wash., Sept. 10. 
Wilson, Mrs. Hannah Dickerson, b. N. J. 1832; Or. 1847; d. Yoncalla, May 


f, 7 \Vifliam H., b. N. Y. 1822; Or. 1848; d. Lostine, July 20. 

Note Only those marked * joined the Oregon Pioneer Association. 



Oregon Historical Society 


Copyright, 1919, by the Oregon Historical Society 
The Quarterly disavows responsibility for the positions taken by contributors to its pases . 



(Continued from page 260) 

Meanwhile, the Nor'westers had been very uncertain as 
to their rights and standing on the North West Coast, not 
only as indicated by McGillivray's interview with Lord 
Bathurst, but by the letters of Inglis, Ellis & Co., to Henry 

In one, dated London, July 25th, 1815, 13 they stated they 
had fitted out for the River Columbia quantities of manufac- 
tured goods, solely for Indian trade, but "We have been very 
much alarmed by reports circulated of other stipulations made 
in a commercial treaty subsequent to that of Ghent, by which 
all intercourse of trade is said to be interdicted between His 
Majesty's subjects and the Indian tribes residing within the 
territories of the United States." They ask for information, 
and whether the British Government will protect them, espe- 
cially on the Columbia, and on the coast north of it, should they 
"be molested by American citizens or the American govern- 
ment." "We are perfectly aware," they add, "that our own 
interests in this trade must be sacrificed by necessity to views 
of public policy." They insist, however, they must have the 

13 C. O. 42, Vol. 164. 


actual situation before investing more money in the Columbia. 

Three days later, 14 the firm again wrote to Henry Gould- 
burn, 28th July, 1815, "to ascertain whether we may rely on 
the protection of His Majesty's Government in our arduous 
undertaking of establishing a colony, (to carry on the fur 
trade between China and the Columbia River) on the shores 
of the Pacific, which was first discovered and taken possession 
of by British subjects. . . . 

"We certainly would prefer prosecuting the trade as British 
subjects, unconnected with citizens of any other state, but 
still from circumstances which have come to our knowledge, 
it may become absolutely necessary, either to combine our 
interests in the trade with those of American merchants, or to 
abandon it entirely, without we have some assurance of protec- 
tion on the part of our government." 

Again on 2nd August, 181 5, 1S in a third letter to Gouldburn, 
Inglis, Ellis & Co. write: "We have established a colony of 
British subjects on the Columbia River, for the purpose of 
carrying on the fur trade with China." 

Three vessels in two years, they stated, had been sent with 
Indians goods, "for that trade [Columbia] in which we have 
involved property exceeding one hundred and fifty thousand 
pounds sterling. 

"We are now assured that that property is subjected to 
the risk of forcible seizure by American citizens or the Ameri- 
can government, on the plea that as British subjects we have 
no right to carry on trade with Indians within the territories 
of the United States, which are now said to extend to the 
shores of the Pacific." 

The Nor'westers again demand assurance of safety in car- 
rying on their trade from the mouth of the Columbia to Rus- 
sian settlements, and from the Rocky Mountains to the sea. 
If the colony on the Columbia river was on British soil, they 
could advance trade; otherwise they must abandon it. 

The other side of this correspondence will never be known, 

i4~C. O. 42, Vol. 164. 
15 C. O. 42, Vol. 164. 


until the long-lost North West Company documents are discov- 
ered, unless burned, or destroyed, which will probably be in 
some cellar or attic in Montreal. They are not in London, 
nor have they ever been in the possession of the Hudson's 
Bay Company, as stated by Edward Ellice to that Company 
in a letter of 1825, after the two companies had merged and 
the English company made inquiry regarding the papers of 
the Nor'westers. 

The year 1815 was a busy one for the Americans, as the 
British saw it. 16 Aside from the economic problems involved 
by the great European wars, a rumor was out that Spain had 
again ceded the Floridas to Great Britain in payment for 
money loaned during the war in the Peninsula. Secretary 
Monroe was very anxious about it. That year, also, there 
was the war with the Dey of Algiers. The Indians were also 
on the rampage, on the northern and western frontiers, and in 
the Floridas. The British noted it. And the determination 
seems to have become stronger at Washington to have the 
future of the United States troubled with as few neighbors 
as possible, and that meant controlling a larger section of 
the North American continent. War had broken out also in 
South America, where Spain was fighting her badly-treated 

A bill appeared again in 1816; but the public were paying 
little attention to the Columbia, at that moment. 

By 1817, decisions seemed to have been reached, as shown 
in a letter from Sir James Lucas Yeo, written from H. M. S. 
Inconstant, Spithead, 30th August, 1817, to John Wilson 
Croker, Secretary of the Admiralty, London. 17 

The sympathies of the United States were with the Spanish 
insurgents, he wrote, especially in Florida, trade was at a 
standstill, and Americans said to be in close touch with the 
Spanish insurgents on the Pacific. The United States were 
"indefatigable in training the militia and have removed every 

i6F. O. s, Vol. 106. Baker to Foreign Office. 
17 F. O. s, Vol. 128. 


foreigner from their army." Large orders had recently been 
given to the cannon factory, and everything "portends a rest- 
less and hostile spirit towards this country." Meanwhile, in 
the same letter, Sir James also noted that the Ontaria, a U. S. 
sloop of war, was sailing around the Horn with three com- 
missioners and two secretaries "to obtain possession of some 
island or territory in that quarter, preparatory to their estab- 
lishing a very extensive commerce in those seas." 

To omit the Ontario for a moment, a better view is gained 
of the United States as a whole, by continuing the British 
comments on the general trend of things. On April 16th, 
1818, James Buchanan (a relative of the President of the 
same name), then British Consul at New York, wrote to 
Lord Castlereagh : 18 

The acquisition of Louisiana, the claims founded thereon, 
the seizure of and means used to obtain the Floridas, the 
energetic increase of the navy, the determination to rival the 
naval and maritime power of Great Britain, the commercial 
warfare the United States are now carrying on towards Eng- 
land, the avowed aim to possess Cuba and His Majesty's 
possession in North America, which pervades all classes, sanc- 
tioned by the measures of the executive . . . well, it 
made America a rather difficult country for Great Britain to 
deal with. And it explains John Quincy Adams and the send- 
ing of the Ontario. 

On November 7th, 1817, Charles Bagot wrote to Lord Cas- 
tlereagh, from his post at Washington: 19 

"A report has been in circulation here that the United States 
sloop of war Ontario who has lately sailed from New York, 
and which is believed to be destined to the South Pacific, has 
received instructions to proceed also to the mouth of the 
Columbia river, I cannot hope to ascertain positively whether 
this report is well founded or not, but I thought it right to com- 
municate it privately to Sir John Sherbrooke, in order that 
he may, if he thinks proper, put the North West Company 

i8~F. O. 5, Vol. 135. 
19 F. O. 5, Vol. 123. 


upon their guard against any design which may possibly be 
in contemplation of the American government to re-establish 
the settlement which they formerly attempted to make at the 
mouth of that river, and of which your Lordship will see by 
a reference to Mr. Baker's despatch No. 24, of the year 181 5, 20 
that soon after the peace they endeavored to claim the restitu- 
tion under the 1st article of the Treaty of Ghent . . ." 

But Simon McGillivrary, down in New York City, had also 
heard rumors, and he took prompt means to communicate 
with the British representative at Washington, as below : 21 

"New York, November 15th, 1817. 
"To his Excellency, 

the British Ambassador. 

"I am induced to take the liberty of addressing this letter to 
your excellency, in consequence of information which I have 
obtained, relative to the destination of the United States ship 
Ontario, which sailed about six weeks ago for South America, 
and which, according to newspaper report, is likely to have 
gone to the Pacific Ocean. 

"I am not at liberty to mention the channel through which 
I have received the information in question, but it comes from 
a source which in my opinion entitles it to attention. Other- 
wise, I certainly should not have presumed to make this appli- 
cation to your Excellency upon the subject. 

"My information is that the Captain of the Ontario has 
instructions to proceed ultimately to the Columbia River, and 
to seize or destroy the establishment and trade of the North 
West Company upon that Coast, what pretext may hereafter 
be set up to justify this attack I really cannot imagine unless it 
should be the recent act of Congress prohibiting foreigners 
from any trade or intercourse with the Indians within the 
territories of the United States, and the assumption that the 
country bordering upon the Columbia River form a part of 

20 Quoted above. 

21 F. O. 5, Vol. 123. 


their territories. This assumption, destitute of foundation as 
it can easily be shown to be, is one which the American gov- 
ernment has aimed at setting up ever since the purchase of 
Louisiana, and the attention which they have always directed 
towards that object affords in my opinion a strong corrobo ra- 
tion of the story relative to the Ontario. 

"In the month of July, 1815, Mr. Baker, who was then 
Charge d'Affaires at Washington, applied to Sir Gordon 
Drummond, who at that time administered the Government of 
Canada, for some information relative to the actual situation 
of the country in question, and Sir Gordon Drummond conse- 
quently applied to my brother, who, as the principal director of 
the North West Company, was of course the person most 
competent to speak to the facts. I happened at the time to 
be in Canada, having recently arrived from England, where I 
usually reside, and where I had the honor of seeing and con- 
versing with my Lord Bathurst upon this very subject, subse- 
quent to the ratification of the Treat of Ghent. Having also 
been the person chiefly engaged in planning and fitting out the 
North West Company's adventures to the Columbia River, 
from the first suggestion of that undertaking, I necessarily had 
an intimate knowledge of the particulars which appeared 
requisite to answer Mr. Baker's enquiries, and after due con- 
sideration and comparison of the information thus possessed 
by different individuals a statement was drawn up 22 and sent 
to Sir Gordon Drummond, who transmitted it to Mr. Baker, 
and that gentleman, whom I had the honor of seeing at Wash- 
ington afterwards, but before your Excellency's arrival, ac- 
knowledged having received the statement, but discouraged 
any discussion relative to it which I attempted to introduce. 

"I heard no more upon the subject until now, on my way 
from Canada to England, that the information reached me 
which has caused this letter, and having among my papers a 
copy of the statement in question, I take the liberty to enclose 
it, in case it may be found to contain any thing worthy of your 

22 See McGillivray statement above. 


Excellency's consideration. The state of the country in ques- 
tion still remains nearly the same as at the time this paper 
was written. Fort George and various trading stations in 
the interior are held by the North West Company, who have 
about three hundred persons permanently employed in the 
trade of the country between the Rocky Mountains and the 
Pacifick Ocean. We have one vessel now on that coast and 
another sailed from England with supplies for our people in 
September last. 

"I cannot presume to suggest to your excellency any course 
to be adopted on this occasion but it appears to me that the 
question might be put whether the Ontario had any instruc- 
tions to act [with] hostility towards the British traders on the 
North- West Coast, and the Columbia River. This, however, 
I merely venture to submit to your Excellency's judgment, and 
have the honor to be, &c. } &c. 


On November 21st, 1817, Sir Charles Bagot received this 
notice from Simon McGillivray, that the Ontario was "to seize 
or destroy the establishments and trade of the North West 
Company" on the Columbia. In a report to Lord Castlereagh, 
he wrote: 23 

"Upon receipt of this letter, I thought it my duty to lose 
no time in endeavouring to ascertain distinctly, from the Amer- 
ican government, whether such a measure really was in con- 
templation; and I accordingly asked for a conference with 
Mr. Adams, at which I communicated to him the information 
I received, and requested him to acquaint me whether it had 
any foundation. 

"Mr. Adams appeared to me to be considerably embarrassed 
by my question, but after a short silence, he said that the 
Ontario had certainly gone to the North West Coast of Amer- 
ica, but that she had not received any orders either to destroy 
or disturb the trade of the North West Company. 

"He then said that I must be aware that the United States 

2$ F. O. 5, Vol. 123. 


had long possessed a settlement upon the Columbia River 
which had been captured during the late war, and that upon 
the peace, application had been made to Mr. Baker for its 
restoration, to which Mr. Adams alleged that Mr. Baker merely 
replied that the fort had been destroyed, and that he believed 
that no persons would be found there who could make restitu- 
tion, and that the object of the voyage was to re-establish 
this settlement ; which, he rather seemed to imply, was already 
in the possession of the United States. 

"Having ascertained the fact of which I desired to be 
assured, I made very little observations upon Mr. Adams' 
remarks ; but in the short conversation which followed, he stated 
that the Columbia had been first discovered by an American 
ship which sailed from Boston between the years 1780 and 
1790. To this I immediately replied that the coast had been 
uniformly claimed by Great Britain, as might be seen by refer- 
ence to the discussions which had formerly taken place with 
the Spanish government, the only government with whom any 
discussion upon that subject could arise." 

Further than that, Mr. Adams then "only observed that, 
in his opinion, it would be hardly worth the while of Great 
Britain to have any differences with the United States on 
account of the occupation of any part of so remote a territory." 

But Sir Charles thought that a ship of war sent to a country 
claimed by Great Britain was "a serious matter." He had sent 
an express to Sir John Sherbrooke, asking if they could warn 
the North West Company through an express sent by their 
interior posts, overland. The Ontario, so Sir Charles noted in 
a closing sentence, had on board a Mr. Tyler for Peru. 

But Sir John's answer 24 was that it was too late for an 
express overland. The North West Company would send a 
memorial, to be used as a basis of representations to "the 
United States cabinet." 

On December 23, 1817, 25 the North West Company did 
present a petition to Sir John C. Sherbrooke, Governor of 

5, Vol. 130. 
5, Vol. 131. 


Upper and Lower Canada, and Vice Admiral, asserting their 
rights to the North West Coast, stating that the Ontario "is 
bound for the North West Coast of America, with intentions 
hostile to the trade and establishments of the North West 
Company in that quarter." She was going to Fort George, 
yet that was a "place not having been taken possession of by 
right of conquest but by a right founded on the just claims of 
discovery and previous possession of the country by His 
Majesty's subjects." 

On November 24th, Sir Charles wrote to Lord Castlereagh, 
in cipher: 26 

"My Lord, 

"I have been this day informed by Mr. Adams, in answer 
to an inquiry which I thought it my duty to make upon the 
subject of the destination of the United States sloop Ontario, 
commanded by Captain Biddle, and rated at eighteen guns 
which sailed from New York the 4th of last month [October] 
that that vessel had been ordered to proceed to the mouth of the 
Columbia River, for the purpose of establishing the settlement 
of which the United States were dispossessed during the late 

"I have thought it proper to lose no time in giving Your 
Lordship this information. 

"I shall write more fully by the packet which will sail in 
a few days. 

"I have the honour to be with great truth and respect, 
"Your Lordship's most humble, obedient servant, 


Two days later, November 26th, 1817, 27 Sir Charles wrote 
John Quincy Adams that the post was not captured, but aban- 
doned by agreement, and "as it thus appears that no claim for 
the restitution of the post can be grounded upon the 1st article 
of the Treaty of Ghent, and as the territory itself was early 

O. 5, Vol. 123. 
27 F. O. 5, Vol. 123. 


taken possession of in His Majesty's name, and has been since 
considered as forming a part of His Majesty's dominions, I 
have to request that you will do me the honour to furnish 
me with such explanation as you may judge proper of the 
object of the voyage of the Ontario, so far as it may relate 
to establishments upon the territory to which I refer, in order 
that I may be enabled to represent to His Majesty's govern- 
ment ... a measure in which His Majesty's rights and 
interests appear to be so materially involved." 

On December 1st, Sir Charles wrote to Lord Castlereagh, 28 
as follows: 

"Washington, December 1, 1817. 

"In my private letter of the 3rd of last month, I had the 
honour to acquaint your Excellency with a report which has 
been in circulation here respecting the destination of the United 
States sloop-of-war Ontario. I have since had an opportunity 
of ascertaining that this report is well founded. 

"At an interview which I had a few days ago with the 
Secretary of State, I communicated to him the information 
which I had received upon this subject, and I requested that 
he would inform me whether orders had been given to the 
Ontario, to proceed to the Columbia River, for the purpose of 
making establishments in its vicinity, or of disturbing in any 
way the trade of the North West Company. 

"Mr. Adams stated to me in reply, that the Ontario had 
certainly been directed to proceed to the North West Coast 
of America, and that she had been instructed to establish a 
settlement, which the United States had formerly possessed, 
at the mouth of the Columbia River, and which has not been 
restored since its capture in the late war, but that she has not 
received any orders to disturb or interrupt the trade of the 
North West Company. 

"It is not necessary for me to trouble your Excellency, at 
present, with any examination of the arguments which the 
American government may design to urge, in support of this 

?JfF. O. 5, Vol. 123. 


measure which they have thought proper to adopt, but a refer- 
ence to Sir Gordon Drummond's despatches to Mr. Baker of 
the 14th and 31st of August, 1815, will prove to your Excel- 
lency that the settlement to which Mr. Adams adverted was 
not captured during the war, consequently that its restitution 
cannot be claimed under the 1st article of the Treaty of Peace. 

"The enclosed copy of a note which I have addressed to 
the American government, will sufficiently explain to your 
Excellency the course which I have thought it my duty to take 
in this business, until I can receive an answer to the despatches 
which I have forwarded by this mail to His Majesty's govern- 

"I have not yet received an answer to this note, nor is it 
necessary for the immediate purposes of this letter, that I 

"Whatever may be the grounds which the American govern- 
ment may assign for the step which they have taken, it appears 
to me to me to be in the highest degree important, that the 
Ontario should if possible, find upon her arrival at the Columbia 
River, that the Territory is in the actual possession of His 
Majesty's subjects. For this purpose I am anxious to submit 
to your Excellency's consideration, whether it might not be 
still practicable, through the means of the interior posts of the 
North West Company, to convey to such of its traders, as may 
happen to be upon that Coast, intelligence of the destination 
and object of the Ontario, which may reach them before her 

"The Ontario sailed from New York on the 4th of October, 
but as she has been directed to take out Mr. Tyler, who has 
been charged with some business on the part of the American 
government in Peru, she will probably be detained some time 
upon the South West Coast of South America. 

"I am fully aware that it will be a matter of great difficulty 
to make this communication, but it will also be a matter of 
great delicacy ; for it appears to me that unless Your Excel- 
lency can entirely rely upon the intelligence of the North 


West Company traders in that quarter, clearly to understand, 
that it is only in the event of their being upon the spot pre- 
viously to any attempt being made by citizens of the United 
States to establish settlements, that they are to take into their 
own hands the assertion of the territory, they may perhaps be 
induced to dispossess by force American settlers whom they 
may find there, and by so doing greatly embarrass any negotia- 
tion which may hereafter take place upon the subject, if they 
do not occasion yet more serious consequences. 
"I have the honour to be, &c., &c. ? &c., 


The next day, Sir Charles wrote again to Lord Castlereagh. 29 
The letter is somewhat confused. The three commissioners 
he had mentioned as in the Ontario, were he said, presumably 
Mr. Graham, late the chief clerk in the Department of State, 
Mr. Rodney, and Walter Jones, District Attorney of the United 
States in the District of Columbia. The Ontario, he said, 
was originally destined to sail in the summer of 1817 [ which 
explains the letter of Sir James Lucas Yeo, given above] but 
was delayed for unknown reasons. So that the three com- 
missioners, so far as Sir Charles could make out and he 
seemed to have difficulty in getting exact information on this 
mysterious Ontario did not sail on the Ontario, but went on 
the frigate Chesapeake to South America, in a diplomatic 

On January 6th, 1818, 30 Sir Charles reported to Lord Castle- 
reagh that he had received no answer from Secretary Adams 
to his note of November 26th regarding the sailing of the 

On January 26th, 1818, Lord Castlereagh notified Lord 
Bathurst as follows, the draft of the letter only being found 
in the Records: 31 

29 F. O. 5, Vol. 123. 

30 F. O. 5, Vol. 130. 

31 F. O. 5, Vol. 139. 


"Draft "Foreign Office, 

Jan. 26, 1818. 

"I have this day addressed to the Lord Comnirs. of the 
Admiralty, acquainting their Ldps [Lordships] that Mr. Bagot, 
His Ms Minister in America, having transmitted intelligence 
that the U. S. sloop of war Ontario has been sent by the 
Amn Govt to reestablish a Settlement on the Columbia River, 
held by that state on the breaking out of the war, it is H R H's 
pleasure that in pursuance of the 1st Article of the Treaty of 
Ghent (without, however, admitting the right of that Govt 
to the Possession in question), due Facility should be given to 
the Reoccupation of the said Settlement by the officers of the 
United States, and I am to request that Your Lp will be pleased 
to take such steps in furtherance of that object, as you may 
judge expedient." 


That same January Simon McGillivray sent to Henry Gould- 
burn the letter in which he states that he had instructed Mr. 
Keith, in charge of Fort George, to obey any instructions given 
him with regard to giving up Fort George. 32 

On February 4th, 1818, Lord Castlereagh wrote to Sir 
Charles Bagot as follows : 33 

"Foreign Offiice, 

Febr. 4, 1818. 

"You will observe, however, that whilst this Government is 
not disposed to contest with the American gov't the point of 
possession as it stood in the Columbia River at the moment 
of the rupture, they are not prepared to admit the validity of 
the title of the Govt of the United States to this Settlement. 
In signifying therefore to Mr. Adams the full acquiesence of 
your govt in the re-occupation of the limited Position which 
the U. States held in that River at the breaking out of the war, 
you will at the same time assert in suitable terms the Claim 
of Great Britain to that Territory upon which the American 

32 F. O. 5, Vol. 139. (Enclosure by Gouldburn, Feb. 2, 1818.) 

33 F. O. 5, Vol. 129. 


Settlement must be considered as an encroachment. You 
will at the same time acquaint that Minister, that whilst your 
Govt could not but view with some surprise and regret the 
departure of the Ontario for the purpose of re-occupying the 
Port in question, without any previous concert with yourself, 
for the regular and amicable transfer of this possession, that 
your Court have nevertheless lost no time, as will appear by 
the enclosed instructions, in taking such steps as depended on 
them, in order to obviate any unpleasant collision. 

"It appears from your Despatch that Mr. Adams, in con- 
versation, attempted to account for this on grounds of a former 
reference to Mr. Baker, but upon turning to the correspond- 
ence which then took place, it does not appear to this Govt 
that anything which then passed would justify the Govt of 
the U. States in taking such a step without at least some pre- 
vious communication with you. 

"In adverting to this point with the American Secretary of 
State, which brings pointedly into view the unsettled nature 
of the pretensions of the two govts in the whole extent of their 
Frontier to the Westward, from the Lake of the Woods to the 
Pacific Ocean, adverting also to the omission in the Treaty of 
Ghent of any provision for the demarcation of Limits beyond 
the point above referred to, it has appeared to the Prince 
Regent's Govt insistent with the friendly Spirit of our exist- 
ing relations, to take measures for settling our Boundaries 
with the U. States throughout the whole of this line." 

It was easier, Lord Castlereagh stated, and this was always 
the position taken by the British Government, right up to the 
Treaty of 1846 to settle the boundary before the country 
was settled and while it was little known, because there were 
fewer difficulties, one way and another, with settlers. A new 
motive now was the treaty of America with Spain, giving the 
Americans the old Spanish rights, such as they were, and 
Bagot was therefore ordered to try to settle the boundary ques- 
tion if he could. 

The easiest way to do this, Castlereagh thought, was by a 


supplement to the Treaty of Ghent, or by additional articles, 
and the United States was to be requested to give its Minister 
in London power to sign such article. And he thought it 
well to begin on the Coast. 

Meanwhile the Ontario reached Valparaiso, then blockaded, 
between January 19th and February 1st, 1818. Commander 
Bowles, 34 under date of February 18th, 1818, reported : 

"The arrival of the Ontario at Valparaiso caused much specu- 
lation. She carried out a Mr. Prevost who was said to be high 
in the confidence of the present President [of the U. S.]. He 
(Prevost) went immediately to Santiago, visiting General 
San Martin's quarters on his way." 

Prevost was to remain in Chili a month or six weeks at 
least, while the Ontario was to go to the Columbia. She sailed 
immediately after the Battle of Maypie; had returned in late 

Orders from the British Government to the North West 
Company were received by Commander Bowles, at Rio Janeiro 
on April 19th, 1818, enclosed from London in a letter of Janu- 
ary 27th. The Blossom was to be sent to the 'Columbia. The 
Blossom reached Valparaiso on 16th of May. On June 1st, 
Earl Bathurst's orders were sent to Captain Sheriff, the Blos- 
som to be detached immediately for service to the Columbia. 
The Blossom sailed July 12th, under Captain Hickey, some 
two or three weeks after the Ontario had returned to Val- 
paraiso. Prevost was fully empowered to receive possession. 

Meanwhile on June 2nd, Sir Charles Bagot wrote to Lord 
Castlereagh as follows: 35 

Washington, June 2, 1818. 
"My Lord : 

"Upon receipt of your Lordship's despatch No. 7, of the 
4th of February last, I immediately communicated to Mr. 
Adams the acquiesence of His Majesty's Government in the 
re-occupation, by the United States, of the position held by 
them upon the Columbia River prior to the late war. I stated 

34 Admiralty :, Vol. 23. 

35 F. O. 5, Vol. 132. 


to him that His Majesty's Government entertained no doubt 
of the United States being entitled under the provisions of the 
1st Article of the Treaty to resume possession of whatever was 
held by them at the moment of rupture which was not subject 
to the exceptions made by the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th articles; 
and I acquainted him with the orders which were given to 
prevent any interruption being offered to the re-establish- 
ment of the Post in question. In conformity, however, to 
Your Lordship's instructions, I did not disguise from him 
that His Majesty's Government had seen with some regret 
the irregular mode in which the United States had seen fit to 
resume possession of the settlement; and I took the oppor- 
tunity of laying a general claim, on the part of the British 
Crown, to the territory upon which it had been made. 

"Mr. Adams appeared to receive what I said in good part. 
He stated that in fact the American % government put very 
little value upon the post of Astoria. That the Ontario had 
received her orders before he had entered upon the duties of 
his office, but that he could assure me that she had been in- 
structed not to commit any act of hostility or force whatever 
and that with regard to her having been despatched without 
previous concert with me, he could take it upon himself to 
say that it was entirely owing to the belief founded upon a 
statement formerly made by Mr. Baker, that there was no 
person upon the spot by whom a formal surrender could be 

Sir Charles urged upon Secretary Adams the settlement of 
the whole question of contiguous boundaries. And Secretary 
Adams agreed, adding other points, such as the fisheries ques- 
tion, slaves, colonial trade, etc. The letter continues : 

"Mr. Adams informed me that he had been directed by the 
President to assure me that the circumstances of the Ontario 
having been despatched to the Columbia River without any 
intimation being given to me of her destination, was entirely 
incidental; that she had received her instructions whilst he 
was at New York on his tour to the northern frontier, and that 


in the pressure of business there, he had omitted to direct the 
proper communication to be made to me upon the subject." . . . 

But if the Ontario was originally destined to sail in August, 
one wonders whether this excuse was entirely truthful. 

Meanwhile, in August, the Ontario arrived at the Columbia ; 
and we have reason to think from other reports that it 
was one of the soft summer days at the mouth of the river, 
when the river flowed swift and wide and blue as it does today, 
on a sunny August day, under a blue sky, though lashed to 
gleaming whiteness in the crashing breakers on the bar. James 
Keith tells the story, two months later, in October, and a 
ludicrous yarn it is, to any one with a sense of humor ; though 
Keith had no intention of being humorous. 

Captain Frederick Hickey of the Blossom, sent in his formal 
request to the fur trader : 36 

H. M. S. Ship Blossom, 
Columbia River, 
Oct. 4, 1818. 
To James Keith, Esq., 

Fort George. 

Sir: Upon the restitution of the post and settlement of 
Fort George to the American Government, I request that you 
will have the goodness to furnish me with an exact account 
of its state and condition, and with such other information as 
you may deem of importance should be communicated to His 
Majesty's Ministers. 

I have the honor to be, &c., &c. 


And the fur trader promptly replied, with full details, and 
then gave the story of the Ontario. Part of this is published 
in the U. S. Government documents, but not the Ontario 
episode. 37 

36 F. o. 5, Vol. 147. 

37 F. O. s, Vol. 147. 


"Fort George, Columbia River, 
7th October, 1818. 
"To Captain Frederick Hickey, 

H. M. Ship Blossom. 

"In compliance with your request conveyed to me in your 
communication of the 4th instant, of being furnished with an 
exact account of the state and condition of this settlement on 
its restitution, together with such further information as I 
might deem of importance to be communicated to His Majesty's 
Ministers, I shall first advert to the number of its inhabitants 
who (myself excepted) were and still are, under either written 
or verbal agreements, as servants of the North- West Company : 
consisting of two gentlemen clerks, and one surgeon of Scotch 
parents, one overseer, seventeen engagees, including mechanics, 
and mostly Canadians ; twenty-six natives of Owhyhee, and 
one Indian boy (native of the soil) who added to two Owhy- 
hees absent, and sixteen trappers, Canadians and Iroquois 
employed by the Company among the surrounding tribes to 
hunt skins, form a grand total of sixty-six persons, exclusive 
of women and children who may properly be said to belong 
to the settlement; and with regard to the minor establish- 
ments in the interior of this River, supplied from and dependent 
hereon, the number of people employed, the extent of our 
trade, annual produce, prospects, and mode of conducting it, 
it would too far exceed my intended limits to detail, and other- 
wise I presume is not altogether unknown to Government. 

"As to the progressive improvements and material changes 
the settlement has undergone subsequent to our purchasing 
it from the American Company in October, 1813, and which 
have been extended with immense labour and heavy expenses, 
you will be enabled to form an imperfect idea from the extent 
it occupied under that concern, the nature and properties of 
buildings raised with precipitancy to protect persons and prop- 
erties from the injuries of the weather, as well as the attacks 
of the Natives, and the prospects which a five years quiet 


possession now open to view, and which joined to your own 
observation, the minute sketch of one of your officers I trust 
will sufficiently demonstrate. 38 

"With regard to the transfer, it ought to have been con- 
sidered by the party benefited thereby, as one of those fortunate 
contingencies seldom to be met with; what the said party 
upwards of three months antecedent to such transfer had 
otherwise fully resolved to abandon by the dissolution of their 
concern, as expressed at full length in the preamble [of the 
bill of sale of Astoria]. But to return to my subject; the 
principal arms and ammunition we now possess consist of two 
long 18-pounders mounted in the square of the buildings, six 
6-pounders, and four 4-pounders. Guns ; two 6-pounder co- 
horns and seven swivels stationed in the block houses and on 
the platforms, besides blunderbusses, muskets, and fusils ; there 
are upwards of eight hundred round and cannister shot for 
the cartridge guns, principally 18 and 6-pounders, together 
with a certain proportion of powder, ball, etc., part of which 
is indispensable for the trade, etc., and the gross amount of 
property (buildings excluded) on a rough estimate, cannot, I 
conceive be over rated at about 30,000. The Natives are 
very numerous and much addicted to theft, lying, and plunder, 
and though with few exceptions we have hitherto kept smooth 
with them without which we must long ere now have ceased 
to be a trading establishment, we require to be vigilant, cir- 
cumspect, and much on our guard. These I conceive consti- 
tute the leading points which your communication embraces. 

"One circumstance, however, I had almost omitted. I allude 
to the manner of Captain Biddle's last visit. By the Levant, 
a Boston vessel, freighted with part of our annual supplies, 
and from on board of which were landed 80 to 90 bags of 
Spanish flour belonging to the Ontario we were informed by 
verbal authority, founded on conjectures, that the latter was 
destined hither for the purpose of taking possession either of 
the settlement, or of the country, but having entertained similar 
suspicions the preceding summer and moreover conceiving it 

38 Ore. Hist. Quarterly, V. XIX, pp. 276-82; V. XX, p. 30, T. C. Elliott. 


a mere piece of formality which I had every reason to think 
the British Government could not consistently wink at, I felt 
perfectly easy and secure until the Ontario arrived off Cape 
Disappointment, on the morning of the 19th of August, fol- 
lowed by Captain Biddle's appearance about 3 p. m. Accom- 
panied by a strong party, including officers, in three boats, 
apparently well armed, only Captain Biddle and his Surgeon 
landed at the settlement, the others being immediately ordered 
off, conducted by one of my men to Point George, to cut spars. 
"Exceedingly social and polite, but not the most distant 
intimation of the object of this visit of which, as if studious of 
exciting the least suspicion, he glossed over the circumstances 
of the arms, etc., from his apprehensions of the Natives. With 
much reluctance (from our having a superabundance) and not 
till after repeated solicitation, I gave him bills on Canada for 
the flour, and towards 5 p. m. accompanied by another of my 
men in an Indian canoe rowed by the natives, Captain Biddle 
and surgeon set off to join their party, giving to understand 
they would proceed on board ; however, learning that they had 
encamped where my people left them, I next morning de- 
spatched the same two men with some fresh supplies, who 
soon after returning with accounts of their departure, re- 
ported having seen a board unusually painted and nailed upon a 
tree in a rather secluded and unfrequented place on Point 
George about one-half mile hence, whereon we found in- 
scribed in large characters: 

Taken possession of in the name and on 
the behalf of the 

United States 

By Captain James Biddle, commanding the 

United States Sloop of War, Ontario 

Columbia River, August 1818 

"Such mysterious and unaccountable proceedings, of which 
the subsequent reports of the Natives, joined to the gloomy, 
desponding conjectures of my own people rather aggravated 
the unfortunate impression, excited the most anxious and pain- 
ful sensations at what would probably be the next step and so 


far operated to redouble our vigilance that on your arrival with 
J. B. Prevost, Esqr., every gun was shotted and small arms 
ready for all hands. The agreeable contrast since experienced 
it would be deemed flattery in me to dwell upon. Justice, 
however, demands that I should bear testimony to the hand- 
some, unassuming, yet dignified manner in which Mr. Prevost 
comported himself, during the late changes and though much 
disappointed in my expectations relative to the pledges of 
security and publick faith, without which no commercial body 
can promote their own, much less contribute to the national 
prosperity, I attribute the cause solely to his circumscribed 
powers and must act accordingly. There is nothing of a 
public or private matter connected with the late change, of 
which you have not official documents, or are perhaps ac- 
quainted with, excepting my communication with Mr. Prevost 
together with his replies, 39 copies of which I herewith transmit 
you, and as your short stay precludes the possibility of my 
completing the various papers I intended forwarding for Lon- 
don, as well as Canada, I request that you will be pleased to 
hand the present for the perusal of Mr. Prevost to enable him 
to extract such materials for the information of the Govern- 
ment of the United States, as he may think proper to lay 
before them. 

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedt & humble servant, 

"To Frederick Hickey, Esq., 

Captain H. M. S. Blossom, 
Bakers Bay." 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent. British com- 
missioners and John Quincy Adams were debating a treaty 
which should settle the boundary of the North- West Coast of 
America. In orders to F. Robinson and Henry Gouldburn 
from Lord Castlereagh, dated London, August 24th, 1818, he 
gave as a fifth point to be considered in the commercial treaty 
under consideration : 40 

39 F. O. 5, Vol. 147; also V. 2, Miscellaneous American State Papers. 

40 F. O. 5, Vol. 138. 


"5th. The position on the Columbia River occupied by the 
Americans, and now ordered to be restored to them in pur- 
suance of the first article of the Treaty of Ghent, but under a 
protest as to their right to the same." 

If actual douSt existed as to sovereignty, the commissioners 
were to consider a species of stipulation which would serve 
the rights of all states from being prejudiced by a transaction 
to which the British government were then parties so read 
Castlereagh's instructions. He urged them to adopt some prin- 
ciple of demarkation, such as a parallel, to save delay and 
expense of survey. The question was to be settled if possible 
by amicable discussion, or referred for adjudication similar to 
the 4th, 5th and 6th articles of the Treaty of Ghent. 

During the discussion on the North- West Coast of America, 
incident to the joint-occupancy treaty, three subjects: the 
Columbia River, the North- West boundary, and the problem 
of captured negroes, the United States refused to submit to 
arbitration, because (1), of the difficulty of an impartial arbi- 
tration, and (2), because the United States preferred to keep 
its own affairs to itself. So wrote Henry Gouldburn to Lord 
Castlereagh, August 29th, 1818. 41 

A month later, September 26th, 1818, Gouldburn wrote to 
Lord Castlereagh with regard to the American claims on the 
North-West Coast of America, and one can fairly feel the gasp 
of amazement in his letter. The words in italics were under- 
scored by him. He wrote : 41a 

The "article for settling the boundary to the westward of 
the Rocky Mountains, claimed on the part of the United States, 
an extent of territory beyond what had ever been contemplated 
as belonging to them. 

"They stated it generally to rest on the right of prior dis- 
covery and occupation, but in the statements which they sub- 
sequently made, they appeared rather to address agreements 
in support of their claim to the mouth of the Columbia River, 
than to the whole of the interior territory which the terms of 
their article conveyed to them." 

41 F O. s, Vol. 138. 
41 a F. O. 5, Vol. 138. 


The Treaty of 1818, with one paragraph making the Oregon 
country a joint-occupancy country was the result. But the 
restoration of Astoria, as a post, had been secured a private 
fur company's post, claimed after its sale, by the American 
government, as a national possession. 

Under the circumstances one is hardly surprised at what 
happened a few years later. 

Something of the British view again, is shown in a letter 
from Lord Castlereagh to Stratford Canning, then British 
Minister at Washington, under date of August 7th, 1820, in 
response to a worried letter from Canning. It was marked 
"Confidential" : 42 

"The tendency of the American government is rather to 
contentious discussion. The ancient relations of the British 
and American nations, and the jealousies as yet imperfectly 
allayed, incline the Govt of the United States to maintain their 
pretensions in discussions with us, perhaps in deference to 
those prejudices, in a tone of greater harshness than towards 
any other Government whatever. The American people are 
more easily excited against us, and more disposed to strengthen 
the hands of their Ministers against this than against any other 
state. Time has done a good deal to soften these dispositions, 
and the more we can permit them to subside by avoiding angry 
discussions, the less will the American Govt be capable of 
contesting unreasonably those various points which the recipro- 
cal interests of the two countries may from time to time be 
expected to present themselves for adjustment." 

Castlereagh continued that he looked for an "abatement of 
that most unbecoming acrimony which has generally been 
prevalent between these two nations since the period of their 

Six months later came an example of this. On January 28th, 
1821, Stratford Canning wrote an eighteen-page letter, on 
heavy plate paper, in "fair round hand," to Lord Castlereagh : 
but it was the letter of a startled statesman. 43 Having heard 

42 F. O. 5, Vol. 150. 

43 F. O. 5, Vol. 157. 


much about the occupation of the Columbia Floyd's annual 
bills had been appearing regularly he went to Mr. Adams 
about it. The reduction of the army was under debate 
in Congress, when a member asked if this was prudent when 
the United States were planning a settlement on the Columbia. 
The bill to occupy the Columbia had been read twice. The 
bill began that "The President of the United States be, and 
he is hereby authorized and required to occupy that portion 
of territory of the United States on the waters of the Columbia 
River . . . " It gave lands to settlers and prescribed a gov- 
ernment. It was H. R. 222, of January 25th, 1821. It was read 
twice and was to come before the Committee of the Whole 
the day after Canning's letter, that is, January 29th. He 
enclosed a copy, with a newspaper letter from Mr. Robinson, 
author of a book on Mexico. 

Canning therefore called upon Mr. Adams, though knowing 
the "peculiarities of Mr. Adams' character," but with con- 
fidence, since their relations had been "satisfactory and con- 
fidential heretofore." 

"Mr. Adams replied in the most determined and acrimonious 
tones, that the United States did probably mean to make a 
new settlement on the Columbia, and that they had a perfect 
right to do so, the territory being their own." 

Being asked if this answer could be said to come from the 
Government, "he replied, with increased asperity, in the af- 
firmative. He seemed determined to consider my interfer- 
ence respecting the Columbia as offensive and unwarranted." 
In the course of further conversation, he expressed "an em- 
phatic repetition of the right the undisputed, indisputable 
right of the United States to the territory of the Columbia 
and an utter denial of any right on my part, as British Minister, 
to interfere with their eventual arrangements on that head." 

Canning quoted Lord Castlereagh's remark, in a letter of 
February 4th, 1818, to his predecessor, Sir Charles Bagot, that 
"It is always more easy to come to an arrangement on such 
subjects where the territory in discussion is little known, or 
little cultivated, than where enterprise and industry have led 


to settlements which cannot be abandoned without loss, and 
cannot be ceded without the alienation of subjects owing al- 
legiance to one or another state." 

Mr. Adams promptly replied regarding Great Britain's posi- 
tion in 1818, 

"That he considered the claim then put forward as a mere 
chicaine of the moment. What more, he exclaimed, would 
England grasp at ? Could it be worth while to make a serious 
question of an object so trifling as the possession of the 
Columbia? What would be thought in England if Mr. Rush 
were to address the Secretary of State on the occasion of a 
regiment being destined for New South Wales, or the Shet- 
land Islands? The United States had an undoubted right to 
settle wherever they pleased on the shores of the Pacific with- 
out being molested by the English Government and he really 
thought they were at least to be left unmolested on their own 
continent of North America." 

Those eighteen pages are rather interesting reading. 

But Lord Castlereagh, determined to keep peaceful rela- 
tions between the two countries, wrote to Canning, on April 
1st, 1821, 44 directing him not to renew the discussion of the 
Oregon question without special instructions from the king. 
He reminded him that by article 3 of the treaty of 1818, "The 
rights of both parties were saved for subsequent adjustment, 
but no attempt was made either to determine those rights, to 
define what might be regarded as the existing state of occupa- 
tion, or to preclude either party from forming new settlements 
within the disputed territory during the period, viz., ten years 
. . . together with the reservation of any right which the 
formation of such settlement might either appear to impeach 
or establish. Whatever therefore may be the . pretensions of 
Great Britain upon the Columbia River, they must be urged 
on antecedent grounds of right. . . . But it is not His 
Majesty's intention under present circumstances to provoke 
any discussion with the American Govt on the final adjustment 
of these claims." 

44 F. O. 5, Vol. 156. 


On April 27th, 1821, Minister Canning reported to Lord 
Castlereagh, after another interview with Adams. 45 

"Mr. Adams went on to say that he hoped nothing would 
occur for a long time to weaken those mutual dispositions" 
to good will between the two nations. 

A little aside from the above, and yet in close connection 
with it, is a letter from Sir Charles Bagot to Lord Castle- 
reigh, dated Washington, March 6th, 1819 : 46 

"... A small expedition is preparing by the Government, 
under the command of Major Biddle of the United States 
army, for the purpose of ascending to the source of the Mis- 
souri River. This expedition, which is entirely unconnected 
with that of the Yellowstone River, is to be performed by means 
of a steam boat which is to draw eighteen inches of water only. 
Upon reaching the source of the Missouri, Major Biddle hopes 
to be able to carry the steam machinery of the boat to the other 
side of the Rocky Mountains, where he proposes to build 
another vessel, in which he will descend the Columbia River 
to its mouth, where he may expect to meet with the Ontario, 
sloop-of-war, commanded by his brother. Major Biddle ap- 
pears to be of the opinion that this expedition will occupy 
about two years. There can, I think, be little doubt that it 
is connected with some proposed establishment at the mouth 
of the Columbia which has for its object the double purpose 
of securing the fur trade, and promoting the American whale 
fishery in the South Seas." 


47F. O. 5, Vol. 158. 
46 F. O. 5, Vol. 142. 

(Some Hudson's Bay Company Correspondence) 


The documents presented herewith are supplemental to that 
printed at pages 27-34 of this volume of the quarterly and are 
taken from the same source and very little need be said by 
way of introductory comment. These are of special interest 
as showing the intimate connection of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany with the British cabinet in 1825-26; Messrs. Henry Ad- 
dington and William Huskisson being the two commissioners 
appointed by Secretary George Canning to discuss with repre- 
sentatives of the United States the question of the Northwest 
Boundaries. These are also of interest when compared with 
our own congressional reports and speeches during the period 
of 1821-27, showing that the British were then concerned only 
in the trade in this Columbia River Country while the atten- 
tion of Americans was already being directed toward occupa- 
tion and settlements. It was in 1825 that Senator Thomas H. 
Benton first uttered his oft-quoted declaration that the ridge 
of the Rocky Mountains should forever remain as the western 
terminus of the government of the United States ; an opinion 
which he later directly reversed. 

At the time of reorganization following the coalition of the 
North- West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821 
Mr. George Simpson was placed in charge of all the properties, 
men and business of the last named company in North America, 
and hence came to be known as the "governor of Rupert's 
Land" ; Mr. J. H. Pelly of London was governor of the Hud- 
son's Bay Company. Two years, 1822 and 1823, were necessary 
to reconcile differences and reorganize the business East of the 
Rocky Mountains, but after the regular summer council meeting 
in 1824 Governor Simpson started from York Factory on Hud- 
son's Bay for his first personal visit to the Columbia District, 
Dr. John McLoughlin accompanying him to assume the duties 

332 T. C. ELLIOTT 

of manager of the district. The winter of 1824-25 was spent at 
Fort George (Astoria) and in selecting the location for the new 
trading post to be called Fort Vancouver and Governor Simpson 
returned to the East side of the mountains in the spring of 1825, 
having personally visited all the trading posts in the district 
except those at Thompson River, the Kootenay river and 
among the Flatheads. His knowledge of the Columbia River 
basin in 1825 cannot be said to have been complete but was 
not superficial. His replies to 'Messrs. Addington and Huskis- 
son were therefore partizan rather than ignorant. 

These documents should be read in connection with that in 
this Quarterly for March, 1919, already cited, and also in con- 
nection with the valuable contribution upon The Federal 
Relations of Oregon (L. B. Shippee) in this Quarterly for 
September, 1918. 

Journal 721, p. 261) 

Mr. Henry Addington presents his compliments to Mr. 
Simpson, and having received Mr. Secretary Canning's direc- 
tions to communicate with Mr. Simpson on the subject of the 
Columbia River and North-West Boundaries with a view to the 
final adjustment of those important questions with the Govern- 
ment of the United States he is desirous of arranging an inter- 
view with Mr. Simpson and in so doing wishes to consult Mr. 
Simpson's convenience equally with his own. 

He therefore requests that Mr. Simpson will have the good- 
ness to let him know at what hour and day, and where it would 
be most convenient to him to favour Mr. Addington with an 
interview. ; , > ! ; ' > If f] 

191 Regents Street, 28th Decemb: 1825. 

Mr. Simpson presents respectful compliments to Mr. Adding- 
ton will have much pleasure in communicating with and giving 
him all the information he possesses in regard to the Columbia 
River and North- West Boundary; for which purpose Mr. 
Simpson will do himself the honour of waiting on Mr. Adding- 
ton when and where he may be pleased to appoint, Mr. Simp- 
son's time being quite at Mr. Addington's disposal. 


Hudson's Bay House, 29th Deer. 1825. 

Mr. Addington presents his compliments to Mr. Simpson, 
and requests the favor of a visit from him agreeably to his 
proposal at one o'clock p. m. to-morrow, if perfectly convenient 
to Mr. Simpson. 

Thursday 29th December 1825. 

191 Regent Street, 
30th December, 1825. 

Sir: I inclose herewith the set of queries on which I wish 
for more particular information. 

The answers to them may be as concise as is consistent with 
perfect perspicuity. The more matter of fact they are, the 
better. That to query IX, I wish to be as strictly conformable 
to fact and history as possible. I am, Sir, 

Your very obedt. humb ; servt., 


P. S. Be so good as to send your answer whenever it may 
be ready addressed to me at the Foreign Office. 

Mr. Henry Addington requests that Mr. Simpson will have 
the goodness to send in the answers to Mr. A's queries (when- 
ever they shall have been finished at Mr. Simpson's entire 
leisure) addressed to him at his own lodging which he has 
changed, instead of to the Foreign Office, 194 Regent Street, 
Jany 4th, 1826. 

Mr. Simpson presents respectful Compliments to Mr. Ad- 
dington, begs to hand him answers to his list of Queries like- 
wise a corrected chart of the Country on both sides of the 
Rocky Mountains; should Mr. Addington require further in- 
formation on this important subject Mr. Simpson will do him- 
self the honour to wait upon him at any time he may appoint. 

Hudson's Bay House, 5th Janry, 1826. 

Q. 1. What is the nature of the soil, its capability of pro- 
duction, and general character in the vicinity of the Columbia 
and Lewis's 1 Rivers ? What the climate ? 

A. The banks of the Columbia on both sides the River from 
Capes Disappointment and Adams to the Cascade Portage a 
distance of from 150 to 180 miles are covered with a great 
variety of fine large timber consisting of Pine of different 
kinds, of Cedar, Hemlock, Oak, Ash, Alder, Maple and Poplar 

i Snake River. 

334 T. C. ELLIOTT 

with many other kinds unknown to me. The soil of the low 
grounds is alluvial and found very productive, that of the 
high grounds a rich black mould, chiefly composed of decayed 
vegetables. Some of the points formed by the windings of the 
river are extensive and beautiful with sufficient timber for 
use and ornament, and where the plough may be used imme- 
diately and the point on which the Company's Establishments 
of Fort Vancouver is situated is from its extent and from the 
fertility of its soil capable of producing large quantities of grain 
of every kind of pasturing numerous herds of cattle and nutri- 
tious roots are so abundant that almost any number of Hogs 
may be reared. 

The climate delightfully temperate from the month of April 
until the month of October, and from November until March 
rainy with little or no Frost or Snow. 

From the Cascade Portage to the entrance of Lewis's River, 
the banks are sterile, the Soil very Sandy producing Stinted 
Grass and willows and little or no timber. The Country in 
the vicinity of Lewis's River I understand is level and generally 
fertile but I cannot speak with certainty on this point not 
having had an opportunity of visiting it personally except at its 
junction with the River Columbia. 

Q. 2. Are the natives on the Northern bank of the Colum- 
bia warlike or pacific, inclined or averse to intercourse with the 
whites ? Is the Country between the Rocky Mountains and the 
Columbia densely or thinly inhabited ? 

A. The different Tribes on the banks of the Columbia are 
generally bold and warlike as regards each other and extremely 
jealous of any encroachments on each others Territory or priv- 
ileges, but peaceable and well disposed towards the whites with 
whom they are very anxious to maintain a friendly intercourse. 
Occasional differences I understand took place when we first 
entered the Country in which some lives were lost on both 
sides but at present the best understanding exists between us 
and them. The Country is densely inhabited, on account of 
the great abundance of its resources in the way of living. 

Q. 3. Is there good hunting ground immediately on the 
northern bank of the Columbia ? 

A. The hunting grounds immediately on the Northern 
banks of the Columbia are nearly exhausted in respect to fur- 
bearing animals, but the back country is still productive and 
Beaver are found in all the small Rivers and Lakes. 

Q. 4. What, on a rough calculation are the annual profits 
of Trade in the district of Columbia and do they arise from 


the Northern or Southern portion of that district principally? 

A. The Trade of the Columbia district is yet in its infancy 
and the countries to the Northward and Southward produce 
about an equal quantity of Furs amounting together in value 
to between 30 and 40,000 pr. annum. 

Q. 5. Have the Americans any Post or trapping parties on 
the Columbia or to the West of the Rocky Mountains in that 
direction ? 

A. The Americans have not had a Post on the West side of 
the Rocky Mountains since the year 1813, and I am not aware 
that they ever had any Trapping parties on the West side of 
the Mountains until last year when the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany's Snake Country Expedition fell in with five Americans 
who had straggled across the sources of the Missouri. 2 

Q. 6. Is the Country Northward of the Columbia favour- 
able for Land and Water communication? 

A. The Country to the Northward of the Columbia is not 
favourable for water communication with the Coast on account 
of the impetuosity of the current at particular Seasons in the 
different rivers and frequent chains of rapids and dangerous 
falls, and the Communication with the Coast by Land is quite 
impracticable on account of the mountainous character of the 
Country which is covered with almost impenetrable forests. 

Q. 7. For what extent of Country does the Columbia 
River furnish an outlet for Trade? Specify this exactly and 
according to the latest and most accurate accounts? 

A. The Columbia is the only navigable river to the interior 
from the Coast we are acquainted with, it is therefore the only 
certain outlet for the Company's Trade west of the Mountains 
comprehending that of thirteen Establishments now occupied : 3 

1. Ft. Vancouver. 7. Kilmany. 

2. Nez Perce. 8. Eraser's Lake. 

3. Okanagan. 9. Ft. St. James. 

4. Colville House 10. McLeod's Fort. 

5. Flat Head 11. Chilcotin Fort. 

6. Kootenais. 12. Thompson's Fort. 

13. Alexandria Fort 

Q. 8. What time is required for communication between 
Hudson's Bay (York Fort) and Fort Vancouver? 

A. I was last year occupied 84 days traveling from York 

a These were Jedediah Smith and others. See Or. Hist. Quar., Vol. 14, page 
385. Also see The Ashley-Smith Explorations (Dale), page 97. 
3 See Note 17 at page 33, Vol. 20, Or. Hist. Quar. 

336 T. C. ELLIOTT 

Fort, Hudson's Bay to the mouth of the Columbia, but I 
think the journey can be performed in the height of the season : 
in a light canoe, unincumbered with baggage for the water 
communication and with good horses for the journey by Land 
which may be about 1/6 of the whole distance, in 2 months or 
65 days by a different route 4 to that which I took. 

Q. Upon what foundation does the assertion rest that 
"British subjects had been trading on the Coast in the vicinity 
of the Columbia, prior to Gray's voyage thither in 1788? 

N. B. Consult every authority within reach on this point 
and state the fact if anywhere positively ascertained, accom- 
panied by date, and specification of the point which such per- 
sons opened an intercourse with the Natives. 

A. Both Meares' and Vancouver's Voyages confirm the as- 
sertion that "British subjects had been trading on the coast in 
the vicinity of the Columbia prior to Gray's voyage thither in 
1788 Vizt. In Meares' observations on the probable existence of 
a North- West passage page 55 it is stated "that the Imperial 
Eagle Captn. Barclay sailed from Europe beginning 1787 and 
not only arrived at Nootka Sound in August but explored the 
Coast from Nootka to Wacananesh and so on to a Sound to 
which he gave his own name. The boat's crew was dispatched 
and discovered the extraordinary Straits of John de Fuce, and 
also the coast as far as "Queenhythe" within 30 to 40 miles 
of the Columbia River "when after the fatal catastrophe which 
happened to some of them, the ship quitted the Coast and pro- 
ceeded to China having performed the whole voyage in twelve 
months." The following note appears in Meares' Journal page 
124: "The Imperial Eagle was a Ship employed to collect Furs 
on the Coast of America, in 1787, in the course of its business 
the Captain dispatched his long boat from King George's Sound 
on a trading expedition as far as 47 degrees North. She then 
anchored abreast of a river, the shallowness at whose entrance 
prevented the long boat from getting into it." A small boat 
however, which was attached to the other was sent up the River 
with Mr. Millar an officer of the Imperial Eagle, another young 
Gentleman and four seamen. They continued rowing till they 
came to a village where they were supposed to have been seized 
and murdered by the Natives, as their clothes were found after- 
wards stained with blood." 5 

By Meares' Journal pages 163 to 168 it appears that on the 

4 In 1841 Gov. Simpson followed this different route and journeyed from 
Fort Garry on Red River to Fort Vancouver in less than sixty days. 

fThis incident occurred at the mouth of Hoh River in the State of Washing- 
ully 100 miles north of the mouth of the Columbia River. 


5th July 1788 he traded with Natives of Cape Shoalwater in 
about Lat. 46, 47 N. and on the 6th he named "Cape Disap- 
pointment" calling the mouth of the Columbia Deception Bay, 
making it by an indifferent observation in Lat. 46.10 Lon: 
235.34. In page 219 same Journal (17th Septr. 1788) it is 
stated that Mr. Gray in the Washington joined him at Nootka 
Sound, that vessel had sailed in company with the Columbia 
from Boston in August 1787, they separated in a gale of wind 
in Lat. 59 South and had not seen each other up to that time. 
Mr. Gray informed Meares that he had put into a Harbour on 
the Coast of New Albion where he got on shore, and was in 
danger of being lost on the Bar, was attacked by the Natives 
and had one man killed and one of his officers wounded. The 
harbour could not admit vessels of a very small size and must 
lie somewhere near Cape Lookout ; Meares in page 220 further 
says that he (the Master of the Washington) "appeared to be 
very sanguine in the superior advantages which his Country 
Men from New England might reap from this track of Trade, 
and was big with mighty Projects in which we understand he 
was protected by the American Congress." It, therefore, ap- 
pears evident that up to this period, Gray knew nothing of the 
Columbia and that the Americans were total strangers to the 
Country and Trade of the North- West Coast altogether. 

Vancouver's Voyages Volume 2 page 53 April 1792 states 
that the River Mr. Gray mentioned should from the situation 
he assigned to it, have existed in the Bay, South of Cape Dis- 
appointment. Mr. Gray stated that he had been several days 
attempting to enter it and at length he was unable to effect 
it in consequence of a strong outset. 

Page 388 same Work October 1792 Vancouver prepares to 
examine the Coast of New Albion and particularly a River 
and Harbour discovered by Mr. Gray in the (Ship) Columbia 
between the 46th and 47th degrees of North latitude of which 
Senr. Quadra had given him a Sketch. 

Vol : 3 page 124 Decbr. 1792 "The Discovery of this River 
we are given to understand is claimed by the Spaniards who 
call it Entrada de Ceta after the Commander of the Vessel 
who is said to be its first discoverer, but who never entered it, 
he places it in 46 degrees North Latitude ; it is the same opening 
that Mr. Gray stated to us in the Spring (1792) he had been 
nine days off the former year (1791) but could not get in in 
consequence of the out setting current. That in the course of 
the late Summer (1792) he had however entered the River or 

338 T. C. ELLIOTT 

rather the Sound and had named it after the Ship, he then 
commanded (Columbia). 

The extent, Mr. Gray became acquainted with on that occa- 
sion, is no further than I have called Gray's Bay (15 miles 
from the mouth of the River) not more than 15 miles from 
Cape Disappointment, though according to Gray's sketch it 
measures 36 miles. By his calculation its entrance lies in Lat. 
46 degrees 10, Lon : 237 degrees 18 differing materially in these 
respects from our observations." From these extracts it will 
appear that Lieut. Meares of the R. N. was the first who dis- 
covered the entrance of the Columbia in July 1787 naming the 
head Land of the Northern entrance of the River Cape Dis- 
appointment which it still bears, and that Captn. Barclay of 
the Imperial Eagle had previously traded in the vicinity of the 
River and at about half a degree to the Northward lost a boat's 
crew in the year 1787. 

Gray's Bay is situated on the North side of the Sound about 
half way between Cape Disappointment and the mouth of the 
River which he appears never to have entered as Vancouver's 
Voyages Vol 3 page 109 says "Previously to his departure how- 
ever he formally took possession of the River and the Country 
in its vicinity in His Britannic Majesty's name having every 
reason to believe that the subjects of no other civilized Nation 
or State had ever entered this River before ; in this opinion he 
was confirmed by Mr. Gray's sketch in which it does not appear 
that Mr. Gray either saw or was within five leagues of its 
entrance." 6 

These extracts and remarks will I trust satisfactory answer 
query 9. 

Q. What comparison does Eraser's River bear in magnitude 
and capacity for the purposes of Trade with the Columbia? 
Is the Native population on its banks dense or not-well-dis- 
posed or not- warlike or pacific? 

A. Eraser's River is not so large as the Columbia and not 
to be compared with it for the purposes of Trade, the depth 
of water found at its entrance was about 3 fathoms ; and banks 
are generally high and steep, covered with Timber and such 
places as are sufficiently low and clear for the site of an estab- 
lishment bear marks of having been over flown in the Seasons 
of high water. 

About 70 miles from its entrance the navigation is interrupted 
by Rapids and Falls so as to render it nearly impossible, and 
according to the best information I have been able to collect, the 

6 See Note 3 at page 28 of Vol. 20, Or. Hist. Quar. 


banks of the river about 150 miles up form precipices where 
the towing line cannot be used, and the Current so impetuous 
at certain Seasons as to render it impossible to use either the 
setting Pole or Paddle, Canoes being the only craft that can 
attempt to stem the current at any Season. 

The Natives treated our party 7 with civility and seemed 
anxious that we should settle among them. They assembled 
from the back Country to the banks of the River in great 
numbers during the fishing season (from April until October) 
when the population is very great, and at all Seasons the 
Country may be said to be densely peopled, and their character 
much the same as that of those inhabiting the banks of the 
Columbia. I should not however consider it safe to form an 
Establishment there, with a smaller force than 60 to 70 men 
and officers, until we are better acquainted with them. 

Q. Could the Fur produce to the North of Eraser's River 
and West of the Rocky Mountains be conveniently transported 
by means of this river for shipment to other Countries? 

A. From all the information I have been able to collect 
respecting Fraser's River, it is not my opinion that it affords 
a communication by which the interior Country can be supplied 
from the Coast or that it can be depended on as an outlet for 
the returns of the interior. I will further altho' unasked take 
the liberty of giving it as my opinion, that if the navigation 
of the Columbia is not free to the Hudson's Bay Company, and 
that the territory to the Northward is not secured to them, 
they must abandon and curtail their Trade in some parts and 
probably be constrained to relinquish it on the West side of the 
Rocky Mountains altogether. 

(Signed) GEO. SIMPSON. 

London, 31st December, 1825. 

Journal 722, p. 3 

Hudson's Bay House, 

London, 25th July, 1826. 

To the Right Honourable, Wm. Huskisson. 

Dear Sir : I have annexed to your queries such answers as 
the records to which I refer afford: I think that there is suf- 
ficient proof that the Traders of the N. W. Company had 
established Posts on the Columbia long before the establish- 

7 See the Wash. Historical Quarterly, Vol. 3, page 198 et seq., for the journal 
of this expedition. 

340 T. C. ELLIOTT 

ment at Astoria in 1811. Harmon distinctly states that they 
were established in 1806, the American Fur Company was only 
formed in 1810 and were erecting their Fort in August 1811 
when Thomson went there from one of the North-West Com- 
pany's posts in the Interior. 

Lewis and Clarke had been down the Columbia in 1805 and 
returned in 1806 the natives on their route had many European 
articles but McKenzie had crossed the mountains and pro- 
ceeded to the sea in 1793 and Thompson further south in 1802 
at which time he was I understand on one of the tributary 
streams of the Columbia. From Meares' Memorial it appears 
that certain merchants under the immediate protection of the 
East India Company fitted out ships in the year 1786, and 
and traded with the natives between the Lat. of 60 and 45.30, 
and obtained from the Chief of the District surrounding Port 
Cox and Port Effingham in Lat. 45 and 49, promise of free and 
exclusive trade with leave to build on the land, and purchased 
from another a tract of land. 

I likewise inclose for your information copy of a statement 
relative to the Columbia River and Territories connected 
therewith drawn up in 1815 at the request of Sir Gordon Drum- 
mond. It was sent me in 1822 by Mr. Simon McGillivray ; if 
there is any other information that you require I shall be happy 
to furnish it as far as I am able and shall feel obliged if you 
will allow me an audience any morning either this or the fol- 
lowing week except Thursday. 

I am, Dear Sir, Your faithful & obedt. servt. 

(Signed) J. H. PELLY. 

Q. State the date (the year if possible) when any party or 
individuals belonging to the Northern or Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany first had a station in or near to the Columbia or to any 
of its Tributary Streams and the proof on which such state- 
ment rests : 

A. The first year that any party belonging to the North- 
West Company had a station on or near to the Columbia was 
in 1806. Harmon, an American by birth who was a clerk 
in the North- West Company's service and afterwards a partner 
published a Journal of Voyages and travels commencing April 
1800 and ending August 1819 says in page 282 "That the 
country West of the Rocky Mountains with which I am ac- 
quainted has ever since the North-west Company first made 
an Establishment there, which was in 1806 gone by the name of 
New Caledonia" and in page 220 he states "Monday April 6th. 


Six Indians have arrived from Eraser's Lake who delivered 
to me a letter written by Mr. David Thompson which is dated 
August 28th 1811 at Yek-koy-ope Falls 8 on the Columbia River. 
It informs me that this Gentleman accompanied by seven 
Canadians descended the Columbia River to the place where it 
entered the Pacific Ocean where they arrived on the 16th day 
of July. There they found a number of people employed in 
building a Fort for a company of Americans who denominated 
themselves as the Pacific Fur Company; he also writes that 
Mr. Alexander McKay and others have proceed Northward in 
the vessel that brought them there on a coasting trade. Mr. 
Thompson after having remained seven days with the American 
people set out on his return to his establishments which are 
near the source of the Columbia River." From this it would 
appear that Mr. Thompson hearing at his Establishment higher 
up the Columbia of the unexpected arrival of the Americans 
at the mouth of the River went down to reconnoitre their pro- 
ceedings, was with them when they were erecting their Fort 
and then returned to his own Posts which had been established 
after his first visit to the Country from the East of the Moun- 
tains in 1803, herewith is sent a copy of Harmon's work and 
in pages 194, 196, 218, 224, 228, 237, 239, 240, 242, 245, 246, 
will be found remarks relating to the establishments. 9 

Note: Mr. Alexander McKay has been in the service of 
the North-West Company for several years, was a British 
subject and was engaged by the Pacific Fur Company from 
the knowledge which he had acquired of the trade while in 
the service of the North-West Company. There were also 
Duncan McDougall, Donald McKenzie, David Stuart and sev- 
eral other British subjects who had all been previously in the 
service of the North-West Company attached to the crew and 
party sent out in the Tonquin and who built the American 
Fort on the South bank of the Columbia River. 

Q. When was the Name of McGillivray given to the River 
now bearing that name? Was its course or any considerable 
part of it explored by any person of that name being a subject 
of His Majesty in the service of the Company and was there 
any settlement or station formed by him or others acting with 
him on that River and about what time? 

A. In 1803 when Mr. Duncan McGillivray who died in 1807 
set out on an Expedition with David Thompson from the North- 

8 Ilth-koy-ape, or Kettle Falls, in the State of Washington; see "David Thomp- 
son's Narrative ' (Tyrrell) for verification of this. 

9 Daniel Harmon was located at Lake Stuart in, British Columbia, many miles 
from the Columbia River. 

342 T. C. ELLIOTT 

West Go's post in Saskatchewan River to cross the Rocky 
Mountains to explore the country and with a view to establish 
Trading posts, Mr. McGillivray was taken ill and obliged to 
remain behind. Mr. Thompson proceeded with the Expedition 
crossed the upper part of the Columbia and called the first 
River he reached McGillivray the next after himself. Mc- 
Gillivray and Thompson were both partners in the North- West 
Company. They traded with the Natives but formed no Estab- 
lishment at that time. 10 x 

Q. Did McKenzie explore and what parts of the Columbia 
or its Tributary Branches: in what year and was he then in 
the service of the Company ? 

A. Sir Alexander McKenzie did not explore any part of 
the Columbia or its tributary branches he proceed from the 
Athapescow district by Peace river crossed the Mountains and 
travelled to the Pacific far to the Northward both of the 
Columbia and Thompson Rivers, this was in the year 1793 at 
which time he was a partner in the North-West Company. 

Q. In what year was the first English ship sent to the 
Columbia for the purpose of collecting Furs and carrying sup- 
plies to the Company's Agent sand trading with the natives on 
the Columbia River? Has a ship been sent every year since 
the first? 

A. The Isaac Todd which sailed from England in 1813 
and arrived at the Columbia River in April 1814; was the 
first ship that took any Produce of the North-West Company's 
trade collected on the West side of the Rocky Mountains and 
carried it to China from whence she brought a cargo of tea 
to England for account of the East India Company; all that 
had been collected in former years having been sent by the 
Interior to Canada but as early as 1786 the East India Compy 
had vessels on the Coast and purchased Land of the Natives 
as related by Meares in his Memorial see States papers annual 
Register 1790 page 287. The Isaac Todd took at the same 
time all that had ever been collected by the American Fur 
Company at the Establishment of Astoria. The Americans 
arrived in the Columbia as before observed Summer 1811, the 
Furs that were collected the following Winter, they were not 
able to send away the ship that was to have conveyed them 

10 These statements as to the movements of David Thompson are incorrect. 
He was on the waters of Peace River nearly all that year. In the year 1800, 
in company with Duncan McGillivray, he made a trip from Rocky Mountain House 
on the Saskatchewani westward into the Rocky Mountains, but neither of them 
reached the summit, as their survey notes clearly show. See "David Thompson's 
Narrative" (Tyrrell), page 8t. 


having been destroyed by the Natives on the coast and the 
whole of the Crew massacred. No ship arrived in 1812 and 
in the fall of 1813 it was that the North- West Company pur- 
chased of the American Traders all they had collected the pre- 
ceeding two years therefore no American ship ever took away, 
or have the Americans ever taken any produce of their Trade 
from the Country and when they established themselves in 1811 
on the South side of the River, they had no establishment on 
the North side, and from the terms of the Treaty for the pur- 
chase it appears that they had one subsequently on Thompson 
River but abandoned it when they left the Country and they 
have never been there since. 

In 1814 the schooner Columbia was sent out which arrived 
at Fort George in the spring of 1815 and having delivered her 
supplies proceeded with skins to Canton from whence she 
returned to the Sandwich Islands and to the Columbia River in 
order to carry the skins of the following season to Canton. 

The supplies sent from England in 1815 and which reached 
Fort George in the Spring of 1816 were sent in the Brig 
Colonel Allen which vessel returned from the Columbia to 

All these were British vessels belonging to and fitted out 
by the Agents of the North- West Company with supplies for 
their Traders at the Columbia River. 

The outfits of these vessels having been found expensive and 
unproductive in consequence of the restriction of British sub- 
jects from trading in China except under License from the 
East India Company which Company refused to permit the 
Agents of the North-West Company to carry away tea in 
return for the skins sold by them at Canton whilst American 
ships and Traders not being under similar restrictions had 
the benefit of freight for the whole voyage to China and back. 
Under these circumstances in the year 1815 an arrangement 
was made with a house at Boston under which the supplies 
of British manufactures required for the establishments at the 
Columbia were sent from England to Boston from whence a 
ship was dispatched to convey them to the Columbia to take 
the skins from the Columbia to Canton and to carry the pro- 
ceeds of their sale in Teas and other produce of China from 
Canton to Boston where the American house retained a certain 
proportion of the net proceeds as a compensation for the 

In this manner annual supplies were sent to the Columbia 
River in each year from 1816 to 1820 and in 1821 the Estab- 

344 T. C. ELLIOTT 

lishments were transferred to the Hudson's Bay Company since 
which time the proceeds have been brought by British ships 
to England. 

Q. House many posts and settlements has the Company 
now on or near the Banks of the Columbia or its Tributary 
Branches ; when as nearly as can be ascertained were they first 
formed and how many are North and how many are South 
of the Rivers or of its Branches? 

A. The Company have now six settlements on the Columbia 
and its Tributary Branches exclusive of Fort George and 
thirteen settlements in the whole on the North side of the 
River in New Caledonia. The Company have none on the 
south side but parties have been fitted out from Fort George 
to hunt the Country on that side. 

Q. When the Company was formed on which Mr. Astor 
was the head, of how many partners did it consist, how many 
of that Company were citizens of Great Britain and how many 
citizens of the United States? 

A. Formed in 1810 after Lewis and Clarke's return, do 
not know their number but several of them were British sub- 
jects and had been in the service of the North- West Company. 

Q. Had the Company any charter of incorporation or other 
instrument of special recognition from the State of New York 
or any other authority in the United States ? 

A. Cannot say if they had a charter of incorporation, but 
believe they were recognized by the State of New York. 




In Chapter IV there was noted the establishment of the 
Provisional Government in Oregon, with its dependence on 
voluntary contributions and its tripartite executive, a gov- 
ernment over some six hundred souls of European descent who 
then found themselves within the limits of the territory. If 
the American contingent was doubled in 1842, 1843 brought 
nearly twice as many whites as Oregon had previously had, 
for the migration of that year numbered close to a thousand 
persons who came over the Oregon Trail with their wagons 
and herds, from Missouri and the surrounding States. At 
this point a word in relation to Dr. Marcus Whitman's relation 
to the migration of that year may not be out of place. While 
Whitman did go to Washington in the winter of 1842-3, and 
while he talked with President Tyler, Webster and others, 
there seems to be no warrant for the "Whitman Legend" which 
would have it that it was his work that -saved Oregon for the 
United States. 1 Oregon was becoming well known, the more 
so because the Wilkes Expedition and the later exploring 
expedition led by Lieutenant Fremont had resulted in ac- 
counts which were spread abroad in pamphlets, books and in 
newspaper reprints. 

In 1844 still greater numbers sought the Coast, most of the 
emigrants settling in the Willamette Valley, although the 
efforts of the Hudson's Bay Company, acting through the 
chief factor. Dr. McLoughlin, to prevent their entrance into 

i The investigations of Professor E. G. Bourne (see Legend of Marcus 
Whitman, Am. Hist. Rev., VI, 276-300) and Principal William I. Marshall (his 
Acquisition of Oregon, 2 volumes, contains the bulk of his findings) have pretty 
thoroughly exploded the theory that Whitman's journey east in the winter of 
1842-3 was due to the fear that the Unied Sates was going to abandon Oregon. In 
like manner these historians have demonstrated that the migrations of those years 
had nothing to do with the activities of Whitman, despite the assertions in such 
works as Barrows' Oregon. See also Letters and Times of the Tylers, II, 438. 


the fertile regions north of the Columbia and about Puget 
Sound, served to goad a few families to find homes in that 
country. The stream of migration, started in 1842, continued 
unabated until the news of gold in California turned the 
greater flood in that direction in 1849 and the years following. 
Such was the volume of emigrants that in the debates in 
Congress as early as 1845-6 ten thousand was freely stated 
as a conservative figure for the population in Oregon. A 
memorial in 1848 said that there were 12,000 American citizens 
in the territory, and Governor Lane's census of 1849 showed 
a population of 8,785 Americans, and at that time the exodus 
to California had started. The first actual enumeration, in 
1850, showed a total non-Indian population of 13,294, hence 
it is probable that the estimate of the Provisional Government 
in 1848 was not more than twenty per cent, above the actual 

The great increase in population obliged the people of Oregon 
to modify their organic laws. The Utopian scheme of a gov- 
ernment supported by voluntary contributions, however well 
it would have continued to operate with the original parties 
to the compact, proved inadequate as soon as the new comers, 
unfamiliar with the situation, were on the ground. In 1844 
the Legislative Committee levied a tax of one-eighth of one 
per cent, on certain improvements and on some commodities; 
all who refused to pay were to have none of the benefit of 
the laws of Oregon and were not,-io vote. 2 In the revision 
of the organic laws in 1845 the legislative body was specifically 
given power to "p ass laws for raising a revenue, either by the 
levying and collecting of taxes, or the imposing licenses on 
merchandise, ferries or other objects." 

The revision of the organic law in 1845 also brought about 
a change which gave practically a constitution on the lines of 
the State constitutions of the time, including the customary bill 
of rights. 3 Instead of a Legislative Committee there was to 
be a House of Representatives composed of not less than 

2 Act given in White's Ten Years in Oregon, 347-9. 

3 Ibid., 358-67. 


thirteen nor more than sixty-one members. The powers of this 
body were those "necessary for a legislature of a temporary 
government, not in contravention with the restrictions imposed 
in (the) organic law/' Specifically power was given to im- 
peach officials, constitute districts and apportion representa- 
tives, enact revenue laws, open roads and canals, regulate inter- 
course with the Indians, 4 establish a postal system, declare war 
and suppress insurrection, provide fdr ia militia, regulate 
the importation, manufacture and sale of ardent spirits, 5 regu- 
late the "currency and internal policy of the country," create 
inferior tribunals and offices, and "generally, to pass such laws 
to promote the general welfare of the people of Oregon, not 
contrary to the spirit of this instrument; and all powers not 
hereby expressly delegated to remain with the people/' A 
judicious admixture of liberal and strict construction was thus 
placed in the fundamental law, presumably to meet the oppos- 
ing political doctrines of those who came from different por- 
tions of the United States. For the peace of mind of the 
courts it was no doubt fortunate that the Territory of Oregon 
was erected by Congressional act before there came any per- 
plexing problems over the interpretation of "all powers neces- 
sary for a legislature of a temporary government, not in con- 
travention with the restrictions imposed in this organic law" 
and the "general welfare" clause, in the light of the restriction 
in "all powers not nearby expressly delegated to remain with 
the people." 

The Executive Committee was thrown over and executive 
power was vested in "one person, elected by the qualified 
voters at the annual election." The judiciary was to be com- 
posed of a supreme court with one judge and inferior tribu- 
nals. That questions of constitutional import might be decided 
"the supreme court shall have power to decide upon and annul 
any laws contrary to the provisions of these articles of compact ; 
and whenever called upon by the house of representatives, the 

4 In the bill it was stated that "the utmost good faith (should), always be 
observed towards the Indians," whose lands were not to be taken without their 
consent, or rights invaded "unless in just and lawful wars, authorized by the 
representatives of the people." . 

5 In 1844 the Legis. Com. had prohibited sale and importation of spirits. 


supreme judge shall give his opinion touching the validity of 
any pending measure." In the land law, which constituted 
one of the articles of the new compact, there was an important 
modification of the original act, for the proviso which allowed 
religious missions to pre-empt a square mile was omitted. 
As before, an individual might take 640 acres, although part- 
nerships might take up tracts of 640 acres per member pro- 
vided no member had a claim in his own name. 

There was no thought that all these provisions would be 
other than temporary in nature; they were merely to fill in 
until the United States should have extended over the territory 
its protection and its laws. While there was some talk of an 
independent establishment, caused by the delay in settling the 
boundary and then by the failure of Congress to provide ter- 
ritorial government, few thought seriously of that possibility. 
The temporary nature of the organization had been referred 
to in the memorial which was presented to Congress in 1848, 6 
as well as in the letter from Governor Abernethy which formed 
the basis of Thornton's memorial. 

The advent, then, in Oregon of the newly appointed Federal 
officers was hailed with joy as well as relief in March, 1849. 
At the head of the list was General Joseph Lane, of Indiana, 
who had been appointed by Polk after the first choice, General 
James Shields of Illinois, had declined the nomination. 7 The 
other territorial officials were Knitzing Pritchett of Pennsyl- 
vania, secretary; William P. Bryant of Indiana, chief justice, 
and James Turney of Illinois and Peter H. Burnett of Oregon 
(one of the promoters of organization in 1843 and 1844), 
associate justices; Joseph L. Meek, who had brought the dis- 
patches from the legislature, marshal ; Isaac W. R. Bromley 
of New York, district attorney, and John Adair of Kentucky, 
collector of the port. Burnett and Bromley declined the posi- 
tions offered them and these were filled by William Strong 
and Amory Holbrook, both of Ohio. It is to be noticed that 
the names of only two Oregonians appear in this list and that 

6 See Chapter XII. 

7 Polk, Diary, IV, 91-3. 


neither of these is that of J. Quinn Thornton, who brought 
Governor Abernethy's letter. 8 The memorial from the Legis- 
lature, the majority of which represented onie Oregonian 
clique, had practically requested the President to give the more 
important positions to persons who were not residents of the 
territory in order to prevent the appointment of Abernethy, 
who headed another faction, as governor. 

While the new officers were on their way to Oregon the 
President received another appeal from Governor Abernethy 
for aid against the Indians. 9 The conflict which had broken 
out, known as the Cayuse War, was the immediate result of 
the Whitman massacre which occurred in the fall of 1847. 
Up to this outbreak there had been comparatively little serious 
trouble with the Indians in the Oregon Territory ; the Hudson's 
Bay Company's influence over the native tribes had long con- 
tributed to prevent hostilities and some little good seems to 
have been accomplished by Elijah White, the sub-Indian agent 
appointed by President Tyler, although he had been inclined 
to make promises which he neither was able nor attempted to 
fulfil. White had resigned his position in 1846, when Con- 
gress refused his petition for the extra salary which he con- 
sidered due him, 10 and Charles E. Pickett had been appointed 
in his place. After White left Oregon, however, the relations 
between the settlers and the Indians had been taken over by 
the Provisional Government acting through the Governor. 

When the warlike activities of the Indians were reported to 
Pickett, then in California, he had applied to Governor Mason 
for forces with which to go to the assistance of the Oregonians. 
The Governor refused his request and Pickett remained in 
California believing that his mere presence would count for 
little. No assistance was received from Washington either, 
for Congress had not' acted on the measures reported in both 

8 This factional situation is hinted at in Polk, Diary, IV, 81-3, in the account 
of Thornton's attempt, finally successful, to secure payment of his expenses in 
going to Washington. The inner features of the episode are not indicated by 
Thornton, History of Oregon and California, II, 249-50. For the whole affair see 
Bancroft, History of Oregon, I, 773, note, where the account is based on MSS. in the 
Bancroft collection. 

9 Polk, Diary, IV, 144, 10 Oct., 1848. 

10 White had gone to Washington with the 1845 memorial and did not return 
to Oregon until 1850. 


houses for the defense of the whites and the regiment of rifle- 
men, released from service in the Mexican War, had to be 
recruited to full strength before it could be sent to Oregon. 
The situation, however, had been on the President's mind, for 
just before receiving the second communication from Aber- 
nethy he had, after consultation with his Cabinet, decided to 
unite the military districts of Oregon and California and put 
them under the command of General Persifer F. Smith. Gen- 
eral Smith, who was then in Washington (October) had 
already been ordered to Oregon with the mounted riflemen as 
soon as they should be ready to leave. 11 Abernethy's plea, 
then, could receive no other direct response, although the 
Secretary of the Navy was directed to order the commander of 
the Pacific squadron to proceed at once with a part of his force 
to Oregon and to furnish the inhabitants with arms and am- 
munition and such of his men as he could spare. 12 Polk once 
more took occasion to confide to his diary what he believed to 
be the cause of the misery of the Oregonians; "the neglect 
and inattention of Congress" which had failed to act in accord 
with his recommendations, because it had been "more occupied 
at the last session in President-making than in attending to 
public business." 

Oregon, therefore, was forced to defend herself. A volun- 
teer force was raised and this, together with the efforts of 
the Hudson's Bay Company and of the Catholic priests from 
the missions, succeeded in making the allied tribes seek peace. 
Incidentally the massacre which had opened the strife was 
made the excuse of declaring forfeit the lands of the Cayuses 
about Walla Walla, thus throwing them open to settlement. 
The expenses incurred by the Provisional Government in the 
war became the cause of a long-standing claim against the 
Federal Government. 

In his last Annual Message 13 Polk did not hesitate to speak 
plainly on the Oregon situation and emphasized his remarks 
by sending to Congress the latest letter he had received from 

1 1 Polk, Diary, IV, 149. 

1 2 Ibid., 155-6. 

13 Globe, XIX, 7. 


Governor Abernethy. It had always been the policy of the 
United States to cultivate the good will of the aborigines, and 

"that this could have been done with the tribes in Oregon, 
had that Territory been brought under the government of 
our laws at an earlier period, and had suitable measures been 
adopted by Congress . . . cannot be doubted. Indeed, 
the immediate and only cause for the existing hostility of the 
Indians of Oregon is represented to have been the long delay 
of the United States in making them some trifling compensa- 
tion, in such articles as they wanted, for the country now 
occupied by our immigrants." 

This compensation had been promised by the Provisional 
Government but the fulfilment had been postponed for two 
years while awaiting Congressional action. Accordingly Polk 
repeated his recommendation for laws to regulate intercourse 
with the Indians. ' No further recommendations did he make 
with regard to Oregon, although he reiterated his reasons, 
given in the message accompanying the signed territorial bill, 
for approving the act. He announced that steps had been 
taken to carry into effect the act for mail service between 
Panama and Oregon, and in this connection mentioned a 
proposal for establishing a line of steamships to New Orleans 
and Vera Cruz as potentially beneficial to the commerce of 
both Oregon and California. 

But the Thirtieth Congress had spent enough time on Ore- 
gon affairs. The whole question of California and New 
Mexico, with relation to slavery extension, had been left over 
from the first session, and, as this was the short session, there 
was little time to attend to other than the most pressing and 
routine business. Consequently all the action taken to deal 
with Oregon was the passage of a resolution allowing the Sec- 
retary of War to furnish emigrants to Oregon, California and 
New Mexico with arms and ammunition. 14 The greater ques- 
tion of removing the most important source of trouble between 
the settlers and the natives, that of land titles, was not touched, 
neither did Congress take any steps to remove certain diffi- 

T^Globe, XIX, 535, 560, 616. 


culties in the land situation which had arisen from the Terri- 
torial Act. 

The first section of the organic act of 1848 had confirmed 
the title of lands occupied as missionary stations to an amount 
not exceeding 640 acres each, and the fourteenth section had 
declared null and void the laws of the Provisional Govern- 
ment making grants to settlers. The result was that of all 
the people living in Oregon only the missionaries, and they 
only for their religious organizations, and persons whose "pos- 
sessory rights" had been guaranteed under the Treaty of 1846, 
had any valid claims under the law. 15 The title to all land, no 
matter what improvements might have been made or how long 
it had been occupied, was in the United States there to remain 
until Congress saw fit to pass an act relieving the situation. 
Those already in Oregon and those about to emigrate thither 
petitioned Congress to act ; but though several bills were intro- 
duced nothing was done and it was left to the Thirty-first 
Congress, under a new Administration to deal with the re- 
maining problems which Oregon presented to the attention of 
the Federal Government. 

This new administration appeared to Polk to have at its 
head a man with the most astounding ideas. When President 
Taylor and ex-President Polk were riding back from the 
inaugural exercises the former said, in reference to a chance 
remark, that in his opinion both Oregon and California were 
too far distant to become members of the Union and it would 
be better for them to set up independent establishments. Well 
might the man who had made the acquisition of California 
the paramount purpose of his Administration note that these 
were alarming sentiments to be heard spoken by a President of 
the United States. 16 

15 See letter of the Secretary of the Treasury transmitting the annual report 
of the Commissioner of the Land Office, Ex. Doc. (House) No. 12, pp. 14-15, 
30th Cong., ad Ses. 

16 Diary, IV, 375-6. He had discussed this possibility with his cabinet in the 
previous December and had stated that he thought the leading Whigs would be 
glad to give up California in order to get rid of the Wilmot Proviso; consequently 
Taylor's remark must have seemed significant. If California went, thought Polk, 
Oregon would join her. 


"I have entertained serious apprehensions and have expressed 
them in this diary, that if no Gov(ern)ment was provided for 
California at the late session of Congress there was danger 
that that fine territory would be lost to the Union by the estab- 
lishment of an Independent Government, Gen'l Taylor's 
opinions as expressed, I hope, have not been well considered. 
Gen'l Taylor is, I have no doubt, a well meaning old man. He 
is, however, uneducated, exceedingly ignorant of public affairs, 
and, I should judge of very ordinary capacity. He will be in 
the hands of others, and must rely wholly upon his cabinet to 
administer his Government." 

Circumstances changed, however, and even if President 
Taylor did seriously entertain the opinion he expressed to 
Polk, by the end of 1849 he would have found few in the 
United States to agree with him; the gold fields, if nothing 
else, prevented giving up California, slavery agitation or no 
slavery agitation. Nothing in the Annual Message which 
Taylor sent to Congress in December, 1849, indicated that he 
retained his pessimistic views on the desirability of keeping the 
Coast territories. 17 Railroads and canals across the Isthmus, 
and railroads across the continent, came in for considerable 
attention; for, read the Message, the mineral wealth of both 
California and Oregon made it certain that a large population 
in both of those regions would demand speedier means of 
transportation than those actually existing. For Oregon spe- 
cifically he called attention to the land title situation. 

Congress took up and disposed of most of the issues con- 
nected with the land question, although minor questions con- 
tinued to arise for many years. The Indian title was extin- 
guished and provision was made for surveys and for disposing 
of the public domain, and questions of special grants as well 
as the status of the holdings of the Hudson's Bay Company 
were brought up. Samuel R. Thurston, the Delegate from 
Oregon, was sufficiently active in keeping the needs of his 
constituents before the House. He it was who took the first 
steps with most of the measures dealing with Oregon. His 
resolution for looking into the matter of extinguishing the 

e, XXII, Pt. i, 70-1. 


Indian title to the land west of the Cascades was referred to 
the Committee on Indian Affairs, although a bill of the cus- 
tomary type for this purpose was introduced in the Senate, 
passed by that body and adopted by the House. 

Disposing of the public domain, however, gave rise to great 
interest. After the introduction of a resolution requiring the 
Committee on Public Lands to look into the expediency of 
creating a land office and providing for the survey of lands 
in Oregon, Thurston, in February, moved a set of eight reso- 
lutions. The Committee on Territories was to be directed 
to inquire as to the relative numbers of Americans and for- 
eigners in Oregon, and what proportion of the latter had de- 
clared an .intention to become citizens of the United States ; 
the expense and time it took to reach Oregon; how long the 
people there had managed for themselves without assistance 
from the Federal Government. 18 The purpose of the resolu- 
tions was, of course, to point out the duty of Congress to pro- 
vide liberally for those who had undertaken the sacrifice nec- 
essary to go to Oregon. In April a bill was introduced in 
each house, and in May the House of Representatives took up 
the one on its calendar. Two questions arose. As reported 
the bill would make grants of land to settlers, but Bowlin 
wished to amend the provisions by inserting the word "white" 
thus provoking a little anti-slavery skirmish led by Giddings, 
who always took every opportunity to deliver a blow at any- 
thing connected with slavery. The obnoxious word remained 
in the bill as passed by the House, for Thurston told the Con- 
gressmen that the people of Oregon were so in dread of the 
introduction of free negroes that they had passed a law pro- 
hibiting their coming to the territory. The second question 
was on the new policy of giving away the public lands, which 
some opposed. 

A long delay ensued and Thurston began to get uneasy ; he 
feared that the session would end before his land bill became 
law and so, at the end of July, he tried to introduce a resolu- 

iSGlobe, XXII, 413. 


tion in which he showed the flourishing condition of Oregon 
under the Provisional Government and the chaos which had 
resulted from the territorial organization which had nullified 
all land titles. While there was objection to the reception of 
this resolution, it had been read and its work accomplished, 
for a few days later the land bill was brought up, and after a 
few minor changes passed. In the Senate some little question 
was raised as to whether a clause should be inserted so that 
lands designated by the President for public purposes should 
be excepted from the provisions of the bill. Douglas said 
that such a provision might result in taking arbitrarily the 
improved land of settlers, that he learned from the Delegate 
from Oregon that exactly that had happened at Astoria. 
Jefferson Davis, who had moved the amendment, looked up 
the point and found that no injury had been done; he insisted 
upon his amendment, therefore, and the Senate adopted it. 
In this way was defeated a rather shrewd attempt to make the 
government of the United States pay for many of the sites 
which might be desired for military posts and the like. 

The law as it was passed at the very end of the session 
allowed every white man or Indiam half-breed, citizen of the 
United States or having declared his intention to become 
such, to take a half-section of land ; married men might double 
this quantity. 19 This very liberal gift was made only to those 
who were in Oregon and should take advantage of it before 
the first of December, 1851. Those who came after this date 
and until the first of December, 1853, could receive a donation 
half as large. No one could claim under the act and the 
treaty. Special provisions granted two townships for the 
endowment of a university and the so-called Oregon City 
claim, at the falls of the Willamette, was given the territory 
to be disposed of by the Legislature also for the benefit of the 
university. In this gift two exceptions were made ; the island 
in the river was confirmed to the Willamette Milling and 
Trading Company, and the title to all city lots sold by Dr. 

19 Globe, XII, 1846, 1953. St. at L., IX, 496-500. 


McLoughlin before the fourth of March, 1849, was confirmed 
to the purchaser. 

Not only was there a departure from precedent in the dis- 
posal of lands by donation rather than by sale but no provision 
whatever for sale of parts of the public lands was made. The 
British claimants under the treaty presented problems for the 
Land Office to solve, but local officials were instructed 20 to 
avoid sectional or other minute subdivisional lines in confirm- 
ing the claims presented. In 1853 Congress amended the land 
act by extending the donation privileges two years, and by 
allowing the settler, after an occupation of two years, to com- 
mute the remainder of the residence requirement by a payment 
of $1.25 per acre. Joseph Lane, then Delegate to Congress, 
attempted to have included in the amendment a provision 
whereby bounty lands (which were allowed to those who had 
participated in Indian wars anywhere since 1790) might be 
located in unsurveyed as well as in surveyed regions. This 
was opposed as a possible opening for speculation in lands. 
Said one objector, Oregon had already been treated with more 
than ordinary liberality, what with land donations, bounty 
lands, $100,000 for the Cayuse War, university lands and 
double school lands, and there was no reason for allowing 
great tracts to come under the control of small groups of 
persons. The House was inclined to this view and Lane could 
not secure his amendment. He did, however, have added to 
the general appropriation bill a sum of money for extinguish- 
ing the Indian title north of the Columbia where emigrants 
were going in constantly increasing numbers. 21 

The year following these changes Lane came back to Con- 
gress with further requests. Especially did he desire the law 
amended so that a sale might be made of a part of a claim ; 
many persons, he said, had taken claims for one to three years 
before the original law had been enacted so that while the 
law had been complied with no sale could take place because, 

20 Report of Commissioner of Land Office, 26 Nov., 1851; Sen. Ex. Doc. 
No. i, 32d Cong., ist Ses. 

21 Globe, XXV, Pt. i, 627, 1445; 890, 1852. 


in many instances, the survey had not been made and no 
patent could be issued. A 640 acre claim, with no privilege 
of sale, made population sparse and schooling dear; many 
young men had gone to Oregon and they should be allowed to 
sell a portion of their land in order to be able to return to the 
States for wives. Although the restriction was removed there 
was some opposition; Letcher (Virginia) saw in it another 
evidence of the intention of the North to force population into 
the northern territories thus further destroying the balance 
which had been disturbed by letting California in on the prin- 
ciple of squatter sovereignty. He urged men of the South 
to oppose all these attempts to propagate northern sentiment 
and to multiply northern representatives in both house of 
Congress. 22 

Lancaster, the Delegate from the newly-created territory 
of Washington, who was in favor of Lane's amendment as a 
benefit to his own constituents, threw into the discussion a 
reference to one factor which had proved troublesome in the 
territory ever since 1845 and which had persisted in coming 
up. in Congress whenever the land question was mooted. He 
charged Thurston with having secured the original restriction 
on account of fear that the Hudson's Bay Company and the 
Puget's Sound Agricultural Company would get control of 
large tracts, and that Dr. McLoughlin would "reap some bene- 
fits from the labor and money he bestowed in promoting the 
interests of American citizens." 

The relation of McLoughlin to the land question brings up 
one of the least pleasant incidents of early Oregon history. 
While it was the almost universal testimony that the venerable 
chief factor had treated with the utmost consideration and 
liberality the early settlers in Oregon, and had united with 
them in all proper activities for promoting mutual interests, he 
had incurred the enmity of some persons, notably of those 
with whom he came in contact on account of the claims at 

22 Globe, XXIX, Pt. 2, 1075 seq. A provision prohibiting the establishment 
of donation claims on townsites and places selected for the purposes of business 
and not of agriculture was adopted without opposition. The law also extended to 
Oregon and Washington the provisions of the Preemption Act of 1841. 


Oregon City, a site valuable for manufacturing and com- 
merce. The place was, according to 'McLoughlin's idea, 
"destined by nature to be the most important place in the 
country," hence he had, in 1829, taken a claim there in the 
name of the Company, thinking to use a part of it for him- 
self when he should have retired from active service. He 
knew that it would be on American soil, but he intended to 
become an American citizen when he no longer was employed 
by the Hudson's Bay Company. Furthermore he considered 
it a good business venture for the Company to have a station 
at the Falls. . People connected with the Methodist mission, 
also, saw the value of this site ; as McLoughlin at a later date 
said: 23 

. . . . "The Methodist Mission wanted to possess them- 
selves of the place, of which I was informed in 1840. But I 
could not believe that persons calling themselves Ministers of 
the Gospel would do what their countrymen in the most humble 
station in life having the least regard for right, would con- 

In view of the animosity toward the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany, fostered in some degree by the Mission, he had made 
improvements at the Falls in his own name. Sir George 
Simpson, however, was not in favor of this project, since it 
would eventually be located upon territory of the United 
States, consequently McLoughlin could get no authorization 
from the Company to act either for himself or for it. When, 
thereafter, attempts were made to encroach upon his claim he 
could but protest and point to the fact that he had established 
his claim many years before. A rival mill was built on the 
island and, as the emigrants of 1842 began to arrive, many 
people sought lots at this desirable location. 

". . . . I went so far in my zeal as to risk my private 
means to carry on the works at Wallamette Falls so as to 
secure it from persons who wanted to get it in order to use 

23 See letter from McLoughlin to Governor, etc., of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany, 20 Nov., 1845, his last official communication and the one in which he 
announced his resignation. In Am. Hist. Review, XXI, 110-34. Incidentally this 
letter disposes of the oft repeated charge that it was the purpose of the Company 
to drive Americans out of Oregon. 


the influence that place would give to the prejudice of the 
Hudson's Bay Company, to which I was also induced on ac- 
count of the hostile feeling the immigrants had to the Com- 
pany, as I was afraid if I did (not) give them employment, 
that animated with this feeling and urged by their wants, they 
might make an attack on the property at this place which 
might be destroyed, and for which the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany would never get any indemnification, and the Com- 
pany's business in this department would be ruined. In 
doing which, by Sir George Simpson's not writing me in 
1843, to take the place in my own name, I had to give five acres 
of the best ground for building lots, and five hundred dollars 
to Rev. Mr. Waller, and by the Hudson's Bay Company not 
giving me sanction to take it in my own name in time (which 
they could readily have done) I had to pay three thousand 
four hundred and twenty dollars for improvements not worth 
one half the money and one thousand nine hundred and eighty 
dollars for lots to which they had no claim." 24 

Dr. McLoughlin resigned his position as chief factor in 1845 
owing to disagreement with Sir George Simpson on the gen- 
eral policy of the Company in the Columbia district. He took 
up his residence at Oregon City where he spent the remainder 
of his days, expecting when the boundary question was set- 
tled that there would be little difficulty in straightening the 
tangle over the title, for the Provisional Government had 
made no effort to adjudicate between him and his rivals, chief 
among whom was Alvan F. Waller, one of the Methodist 
missionaries. When the treaty was concluded the inhabitants 
of Oregon found that it contained a clause which stated that 
"the possessory rights of the Hudson's Bay Company and of 
all British subjects who may be already in the occupation of 
land or other property lawfully acquired within said territory, 
shall be respected." This apparently gave to Dr. McLoughlin 
a specific basis for his claim for, in the absence of laws recog- 
nized by the respective countries, priority of claim would give 
title, especially since the convention of 1818 and 1827 placed 
American citizens and British subjects in exactly the same 

24 Ibid., p. 133. For a discussion of the McLoughlin affairs, see Holman, 
Dr. John McLoughlin; also Bancroft, History of Oregon, I, 203 seq.; II, 113 seq. 


footing in Oregon. Nevertheless there were many who had 
hoped that the treaty would not only place the boundary at 
54 40' but also oust both British companies as well; these 
were much disappointed that they could not immediately pos- 
sess themselves of the improved lands held by those organiza- 
tions. Some of the disaffected took revenge by squatting upon 
portions of McLoughlin's Oregon City, whereupon he brought 
suit for trespass in the court of Clakamas county. Claim- 
jumping, however, did not meet with widespread approval for 
once it received sanction there would be no security for any 
claim in the territory. 

Two years passed by and then the territorial act produced 
even greater dissatisfaction for it annulled the land laws of 
the Provisional Government and put none in their place. The 
only persons who enjoyed legal title to their land claims were 
the missions, in the name of the religious bodies controlling 
them, and those who held under the treaty. One of the most 
important things, then, for a territorial Delegate to secure 
from Congress was a land law ? and Samuel Thurston took 
advantage of the hostility to the British Company and 
everybody connected with them to win popularity and an elec- 
tion. He began his campaign in the House of Representa- 
tives on February sixth, 1850, by introducing a series of 
resolutions. 25 In the form of an inquiry addressed to the Com- 
mittee on Judiciary the resolutions raised the question of the 
meaning of "possessory rights"; could the United States, by 
making payment, dispose of the lands occupied by the British 
Companies and British subjects; had any British subject "law- 
fully acquired" land at the time the treaty was made; how 
much land could be claimed by the Puget's Sound Agricultural 
Company ; and could the Hudson's Bay Company import goods 
free of duty through the port of Astoria? 26 

While on the surface Thurston did not appear to be taking an 

25 Globe, XXII, 295. This was his second attempt to bring them before the 

26 The Company's right to navigate the Columbia was under the same 
restrictions applying to American citizens, hence duty would have to be paid on 
imported goods, a fact which had been overlooked by the British when the treaty 
was made. 


active part in framing the details and pushing the land bill, ex- 
cept to urge its consideration, he had placed in it certain appar- 
ently innocuous clauses which would practically have prevented 
every British subject in Oregon from obtaining a donation 
grant as well as have deprived Dr. McLoughlin of his claim. 
To accomplish the first purpose the bill contained the words 
"all white American citizens" to designate those eligible to 
secure land ; the Committee on Public Lands had considered 
this a little too strong and had changed it to "all male citizens 
of the United States, or persons emigrating from the United 
States, and who shall have made a declaration of intention to 
become citizens." This amendment the House adopted, but 
it meant that every British subject in Oregon, including those 
who had long since established their homesteads along the 
Willamette, would have to go into some one of the United 
States and "emigrate" from there in order to qualify for a 
donation claim. The Senate struck this out, leaving it neces- 
sary only that aliens should make a declaration of intention. 
Aliens still would have to wait until the process of naturaliza- 
tion should have been completed before a patent for their lands 
would be issued. 

Dr. McLoughlin, however, was dealt with in a section by 
itself. This was the more easily done since Thurston had 
played upon the ignorance of the members of Congress; he 
had described McLoughlin as the enemy of Americans in 
Oregon and as a menace to American interests still. The 
Oregon City claim, except for the lots sold or given away by 
the Doctor before the fourth of March, 1849, was to become 
the property of the territory. Abernethy's Island in the 
Willamette, on which the mills had been erected, was granted 
to the Willamette Milling and Trading Company which had 
bought up the claims of the Methodists. No provision was 
made to reserve to McLoughlin any of his original claim, and, 
as he had declared formally his intention to become a citizen 
of the United States, he had lost his standing under the treaty. 

When the text of the proposed act was received in Oregon 


there was much dissatisfaction; some felt that McLoughlin 
had been treated unfairly; others to whom he had sold lots 
after the fourth of March were angry because they had not 
been protected, and many of them demanded back their pur- 
chase money. The latter class was later appeased by an act 
of the territorial Legislature which confirmed their titles, 
although certain members protested that there was no power 
given to rob the university in this way. Before Thurston 
returned to Oregon some of the dissatisfied persons met and 
drew up a memorial to Congress. They protested against any 
discrimination among purchasers of the Oregon City lots and 
prayed Congress not to pass the bill in the proposed form since 
it would work a hardship upon them as well as do an injustice 
to the county to which Dr. McLoughlin had recently donated 
some two hundred lots for educational, religious and charitable 
purposes. At the following session of Congress this memorial 
raised a storm for Thurston had represented that his bill 
would meet the approval of most of the, people, and all the 
Americans, in Oregon. Thurston defended his course in a 
violent speech against McLoughlin whom he charged with 
having made advances to him, Thurston, for his influence 
respecting the claim. 27 

The land law was made the main issue in the campaign to 
elect a successor to Thurston, and it is significant that the sit- 
ting Delegate was supported for re-election, although his death 
in April, 1851, put an end to his career. The Legislature did 
not act immediately to accept the gift for the university 
although eventually it did so, ( 1856-57). 28 In 1862, five 
years after the death of McLoughlin, the Legislature allowed 
his heirs to purchase Abernethy Island for the nominal sum 
of one thousand dollars. 29 

27 Globe, XXIII, 120. In a similar manner Thurston has attacked McLoughlin 
when his bill had been up in the previous session ; he had asserted that McLoughlin 
would not become an American citizen, and that he had always worked against 
American interests. Most of his statements were unfounded, but a letter from 
Judge Bryant, one of the assignees of the Willamette Milling and Trading Company, 
affirmed their truth. Globe, XXII, 1079. 

28 In Feb., 1856, the Oregon Legislature memorialized Congress to release the 
claim to McLoughlin, except the island, and grant two townships instead. Nothing 
was done. H. Misc. Doc. No. 97, 34th Cong., ist Ses. 

29 See document, found among McLoughlin's papers, expressing the deep 
disappointment of his old age. In Ore. Pioneer Ass'n Transactions, 1880; also in 
Marshall, Acquisition of Oregon, I, 430-40. 


Although Thurston had been successful in ousting Dr. Mc- 
Loughlin from his claim, the attempts against the Hudson's 
Bay Company and the P'uget Sound Agricultural Company 
were less successful. According to the terms of the treaty 
the United States might purchase from the latter company 
its property if "the situation of these farms and lands should 
be considered by the United States to be of public and political 
importance." It was the expectation both of the settlers and 
the Hudson's Bay Company officials that steps would be taken 
immediately to act in accordance with this permission, and 
the Company was the more willing to sell because of the in- 
definite character of its rights as reserved under the treaty. 
Its desire to sell was further increased after the passage of 
the donation land act and the discovery of gold in California 
had made it increasingly difficult to retain its servants on the 
old terms. 

In July, 1848, the first offer of sale was made through 
George N. Sanders, who proposed that the United States pay 
a million dollars for all the property and rights of both com- 
panies, everything, in fact, claimed south of 49. 30 The Presi- 
dent refused the offer immediately on the ground that the 
United States would be purchasing something the value of 
which it did not know ; furthermore he suspected that Sanders, 
whom he had characterized as unscrupulous and unprin- 
cipled, was acting for speculators. 31 When Congress con- 
vened Sanders again made his appearance and secured the 
interest of some Senators, Hannegan and Breese in the num- 
ber. They asked Polk if he would enter into negotiations for 
the purchase of the possessory rights of the Hudson's Bay 
Company and the privilege of navigating the Columbia if the 
Senate, in Executive Session, should pass a resolution re- 
questing him to do so. The President replied that he was 
opposed to buying anything or entering into negotiations for 
the purpose until more specific information had been received. 

30 The correspondence covering the period down to Oct., 1850, is in Sen. 
E.v. Doc. No. 20, 3ist Cong., zd Ses. Polk had submitted to the Senate, replying 
to a resolution, the first offer of the Company; Richardson, Messages, IV, 603. 

31 Polk, Diary, IV, 301-?, 


The unsatisfactory situation of the Hudson's Bay Company 
was emphasized when in 1850 a vessel, the Albion, was seized 
and condemned by the revenue officers of the United States 
on the^ charge of violating the revenue laws. Although the 
Federal Government restored the seized property such a thing 
was likely to happen at any time, as Sir John Pelly pointed 
out to Secretary of State Webster, when he called attention 
to an offer the Company had made the year before. 32 At that 
time Sir John had offered to sell all the rights of the Hudson's 
Bay Company for $700,000 and all the farms and property for 
$150,000 more. The Company had been more impressed 
with the lessened value of its rights since free navigation of 
the Columbia was accompanied by the necessity of paying 
duty upon all goods brought in for trading purposes ; this 
added cost cut further into the profits which had already begun 
to decrease by the time of the treaty. 

Nevertheless Congress was unwilling to take the matter 
seriously, although the lands claimed by the British Com- 
panies were constantly being "squatted" upon by Americans 
who refused to recognize any prior rights. In December, 1855, 
President Pierce called attention to the situation and recom- 
mended a "cession of the rights of both companies" as the 
"readiest means of terminating all questions," a cession which 
he believed could be obtained upon reasonable terms. 33 It 
was not, however, until 1863 that a treaty 34 was concluded by 
which a commission with an umpire was to investigate all 
claims and fix the purchase price. In 1869 the commissioners 
awarded to the Hudson's Bay Company $450,000 and to the 
Puget's Sound Agricultural Company, $200,000, and thus 
ended the long controversy. 

If securing large appropriations from the Federal treasury 
forms the basis of a successful career as a representative of 
a State or territory, then the first Delegate from Oregon 
deserves to be ranked high in the regard of that State. Not 

32 See Note 30 above. 

33 Richardson, Messages, V, 333. The same recommendation was made the 
following year. 

34 Treaties and Conventions, 1871, 402-4. 


only did he secure the donation land act, the essential idea 
of which. had been in Dr. Linn's bill many years before, and a 
bounty land law, but appropriations for paying the expenses 
of the Cayuse War, for extra customs houses, for govern- 
ment buildings and a penitentiary (most of which was wasted 
so that later $67,000 more was appropriated), for light houses, 
for surveying, and for the expenses of an extra session of the 
Legislature. Well might he move that a bill for building roads 
and bridges at an expense of $100,000 be laid aside because 
he did not wish to draw too heavily upon the treasury or upon 
the good nature of Congress "who have treated me with such 

Thurston's acquisitive example was followed by the second 
Delegate, Joseph Lane, who had lost his position of terri- 
torial governor when the Whig administration came in. 35 
Lane succeeded in obtaining additional money to settle the 
expenses of the Cayuse War and also an act to pay the ex- 
pense incurred in the Rogue River War, in which he had 
taken an active part when governor. Military roads added 
$40,000 to be expended in the territory, although some ques- 
tion was raised as to whether such an appropriation could 
constitutionally be made. 

Military roads, however, were felt to be a necessity in deal- 
ing with the Indian outbreaks which took place with especial 
ferocity in the summer of 1855 and had not wholly ended 
until 1857. The most serious of the Indian wars in Oregon 
started in the Rogue River country in Southern Oregon and 
involved most of the tribes of that region. Its story forms a 
part of the local history of Oregon but it had a side which 
particularly brought in the United States, 36 Like most of the 
Indian wars it represented on one side the Indian's determina- 
tion to keep the white man from overrunning his hunting 
grounds; on the other was the white man's desire to clear 

35 Globe, XXIII, 67; Lane was called by Ewing of Ohio (Whig) one of the 
electioneering office holders who had so abused Taylor in the presidential cam- 
paign, when the question of his removal from, office had been brought up in the 

36 See Bancroft, History of Oregon, II, chapters 12, 15, 16. Sen. Ex. Doc. 
No. 66, 34th Cong., ist Ses. 


the land of Indians. It did not take long for the struggle to 
become one of extermination on both sides. The Federal offi- 
cials, in attempting to protect the innocent Indians, aroused 
the ire of some of the settlers, and further animosity was pro- 
duced by the lack of harmony between the United States 
officer in command of the Federal troops, General John E. 
Wool, and the territorial officials of Oregon and Washington. 
The territorial governments raised volunteer forces to fight 
the Indians and issued script to pay them. 

The whole affair came before Congress in the form of 
requests for appropriations to cover these expenses. The dis- 
cussion brought out the lack of cooperation between the local 
and Federal authorities, and Congress was inclined to allow 
some weight to the statements of General Wool that the whole 
thing was nothing less than a crusade on the part of the 
whites to rid the country of the Indians: "Oregonians," he 
wrote, in one dispatch, "say that war is a God-send to the 
country." 37 Congress did, however, pass a measure authoriz- 
ing a commission to investigate the whole affair. At the next 
session (1856-7) the Committee on Military Affairs of the 
House asked to be discharged from further consideration of 
the bill which was framed to pay the award of the commis- 
sion. In spite of the efforts of Lane the sum recommended 
by the commission was cut down materially. Two years later, 
after the report of a special commissioner who had been sent 
to Oregon, the claim was allowed, and Oregon claimants re- 
ceived $424,000 while those in Washington got $229,000. 38 
This amount was not considered by Oregonians as sufficient 
and the desire to secure an additional appropriation was one 
of the factors which made them work for statehood. 

The great distance between the Mississippi valley and the 
Pacific Coast and the dangers attending the journey to Oregon 
continued to come up in Congress in one form or another. 
The regiment of mounted riflemen, which had been authorized 

37 Globe, XXXIII, 1135. 

38 H. Ex. Doc. No. 37, 34th Cong., 36! Ses. Part of the troubles had been 
due to ,a failure of the Senate to ratify the treaties negotiated by the Indian 
Superintendent. See Fillmore's message, 6 Dec., 1852, Richardson, Messages, 
V, 178, 


and then diverted to service in the Mexican War, was one 
tangible evidence that Congress recognized some of the dan- 
gers. The regiment, however, had been of little service to 
Oregon. In 1852 Lane brought in a resolution calling upon 
the President to inform the House what steps had been taken 
for the protection of emigrants, and in case nothing had been 
done to request him to order the regiment placed on duty 
within the Territory of Oregon. The resolution, as was in- 
tended, did nothing more than call attention to the fact that 
the regiment had been withdrawn from Oregon, much de- 
pleted, in 1851. 

At the same session (July, 1852,) the Senate had before 
it a definite and elaborate measure for the protection of emi- 
grants. Douglas had brought in a bill which would provide 
three ten-company regiments, with one hundred men to the 
company, to guard and protect emigrants on their way to 
Oregon and California. The bill also proposed to allow H. 
O'Reilly the privilege of erecting at his own expense a tele- 
graph line along each of the routes, to be protected, of course, 
by the troopers. 39 In spite of the numerous petitions and 
memorials which were coming to Congress the bill found 
support only from one Senator besides Douglas; opponents 
like Senator Butler looked upon it as little more than a bounty 
of $4,000,000 per year granted to emigrants who were lured 
away by the promise of free lands on the Pacific Coast. Others 
opposed it on the ground of excessive cost, and still more 
because such a measure would tend to defeat any provision 
for a railroad. 

The project of a railroad to the Pacific had long been in 
the air. It had come up in connection with the bills intro- 
duced by Dr. Linn. At the time of the territorial bill agitation 
there were numerous petitions for rail communication. 40 The 
scheme most favorably mentioned in such appeals was that 
which Eli Whitney had long had before Congress. Whitney 

39 Globe, XXV, 1683-6; 1758-60. As early as 1848 Douglas had presented 
O'Reilly's petition for telegraphic communication between the Mississippi Valley 
and the Pacific Coast. 

40 There were memorials and petitions from the legislatures of Rhode Island, 
New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. 


had succeeded in arousing interest in his plan both in and 
out of Congress, to such an extent that even in the crowded 
session when the Territorial Act was passed there was found 
time to give it brief consideration. Senator Benton had been 
skeptical and was astonished that any Senator would take 
the time of the Senate to suggest its consideration; he had 
studied the history of Oregon and California before Niles 
(who had moved to take up the bill) had ever thought of it; 
he would never vote a million acres to any man. It would not 
be surprising, thought Benton, if Whitney brought in a bill 
of damages to reimburse him for going to the legislatures of 
all the States in the Union for recommendations. Neverthe- 
less the notion that there was something in the scheme was 
gaining ground, for twenty-one out of the forty-eight Senators 
would have been willing to consider the bill. 

At the next session not only did Whitney's bill reappear, but 
there were requests from Timothy Carver and his associates 
for a grant to construct a railroad over the same route, and 
one requesting government aid in building a railroad across 
the Isthmus of Panama. The last request was from W. H. 
Aspinwall and others who had secured a long-term contract 
to carry the mails for New Granada. Benton favored this 
idea and brought in a bill to assist the project but the Senate 
was not interested. Another plan which Benton brought up 
at this session, and again in the next, was for a National Cen- 
tral Highway ; he opposed the grants of land to railroads, but 
he would set apart a strip of territory a mile wide from the 
Missouri frontier to San Francisco, with a 1000-foot branch 
to the Columbia, whereon all kinds of roads might be con- 
structed : railroads, plank roads, macadamized roads, and even 
one with "magnetic power, according to the idea started by 
Professor Henry," when that should have ripened into prac- 
ticability. Here everyone might travel without payment in the 
way he preferred. 41 

By 1850 the railroad notion had progressed to the point 
where the House Committee on Roads and Canals brought in 

41 Globe, XIX, 470-4. 


a report on the Whitney project and a bill in furtherance of 
it. The House would not print the report and the matter 
rested so far as the Pacific railroad was concerned, although 
this was the year in which Congress began making land grants 
in aid of railroad construction. The Senate had before it a 
bill for a preliminary survey of a route to some point on the 
Pacific Coast. This bill showed the effect of agitation for a 
southern route, as opposed to Whitney's Northern Pacific 
route, and also inaugurated the struggle over the location of 
the eastern terminus of the proposed road, a struggle which 
did not end until during the Civil War. 

In 1852 the House Committee on Public Lands condemned 
the Whitney plan as presenting obstacles, both as regards the 
route and the method of financing, which could not be over- 
come. 42 In the Senate in the next session Senator Gwin of 
California brought in a bill which substituted San Francisco 
for some point on the Columbia as the western terminal, and 
which would carry the route from Memphis, via Fulton, to the 
Coast. There was still one voice, however, raised for Oregon. 
Salmon P. Chase of Ohio proposed that the road start at some 
point between Independence, Missouri, and Kanesville, Iowa, 
on the Missouri River. 

"We have," he said, "a population in Oregon. The day is 
not remote when we shall have a State in Oregon. We have 
already a great .... State south of Oregon. It is to 
connect Oregon and California with the Eastern States, that 
we want this road . . . Point out to me the shortest route, 
the cheapest route, and the route which will accommodate the 
greatest number of people, and that route shall have my sup- 
port, my earnest and persevering support." Such a route, he 
maintained, would be northwest through South Pass, that is, 
over the Oregon Trail, then one branch would go to California 
and another north to Oregon. 

Although continued agitation, mostly over an eastern 
terminus, kept the Pacific railroad project before Congress 

42 Globe, XXV, 1274. 

43/btd., XXVII, 127, 280-7; 3I4-43; 469 seq. 


until, during the Civil War, a land grant was finally made, it 
was no longer the road to Oregon but the road to California. 
Eventually, after the War, a line was extended north to the 
Columbia and Puget Sound, but it was many years before 
the first direct route, Whitney's route, was threaded with 
rails. Railroad or no railroad, however, Oregon's population 
continued to increase although not with the rapidity with 
which California's grew. The Oregonians were beginning to 
think not only that it was time to shufflq off the territorial 
shell for the dignity of a State, but that a State would receive 
much more consideration from Congress; ills would be rem- 
edied and rights acknowledged with greater readiness if a real 
Representative sat in one house of Congress and two Senators 
in the other. 


The old Oregon Territory is divided into four roughly equal 
parts by the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River; the 
mountain range forms the upright of a cross while the river 
is the transverse. Today Oregon and Washington are very 
distinctly divided into Eastern and Western parts; the "East 
Side" and the "West Side" are understood by all, just as "Up 
State" is in New York. In the Fifties it was all "West Side." 
The Columbia, however, was a sufficiently well defined bound- 
ary line between the two sections into which the bulk of the 
migration had poured the Willamette valley, and the Puget 
Sound Country where later emigrants had sought the fertile 
valleys marked at one time by the Hudson's Bay Company as 
its legitimate field of activity. Squatters had encamped upon 
the farms and claims of the Puget's Sound Agricultural Com- 
pany ; some pioneers, either more scrupulous or later in arriv- 
ing, had gone to other portions of the land west of the Cas- 
cades about the indentations of the Sound, some even going 
to the islands which dot its waters. From 1845, when the first 
American took up his abode in what is now Western Wash- 
ington, to 1853, the stream of immigration grew in volume, 
excepting only in 1849 when the gold rush to California 
temporarily checked its flood. 1 

When the distances and lack of roads are considered it is 
not necessary to search farther for reasons why people of 
the region north of the Columbia soon began to cast about 
for means by which they could bring the machinery of govern- 
ment nearer to them. If one also takes into consideration the 
universal desire of Americans to have a finger in governmental 
affairs, and to lift a voice which may be heard, then the agita- 
tion for separate organization is wholly explained. South of 
the Columbia the population was increasing more rapidly than 

i See Bancroft, Washington, Idaho and Montana, Ch. i. 


north, to say nothing of the fact that a goodly population was 
found there before even a handful lived north of the river. 
This meant that to the disadvantage of distant location was 
added the fatal defect of comparative paucity of representation. 
Consequently at a Fourth of July celebration in 1851, after 
the set program of the day, the first step was taken to secure 
a separate organization for the "Territory of Columbia." A 
committee selected there called a meeting of representatives 
from the counties north of the Columbia, to be held in August 
on the Cowlitz. Here twenty-six delegates, all from Lewis 
County, met, discussed the situation, and drew up a memorial 
to be presented to Congress by the Oregon Delegate. This 
document represented the necessity for a division of the terri- 
tory of Oregon, prayed Congress to extend the provisions of 
the donation land act to the northern district, and asked ap- 
propriations for divers objects. Another meeting was set for 
the following May, when, if Congress should not have acted in 
accordance with the memorial, steps were to be taken for 
State organization, and immediate admission to the Union 
would be sought. 

The congressional session of 1851-2 ended with no attention 
to the requests of the would-be territory of Columbia. Neither 
was the new State organized in May. But in September, 1852, 
there was held at Monticello a convention to consider the sub- 
ject. During the past year a little newspaper, the Columbian, 
had been established at Olympia in order to agitate for sep- 
aration. So successful had its campaign been, in connection 
with the other motives urging separation, that the Monticello 
convention drew delegates even from the region bordering 
the Columbia River where it had been feared there would be 
opposition to the movement, since those people were not so 
seriously inconvenienced in their relations with the govern- 
ment on the Willamette as were the inhabitants of the Sound 
district. A committee drew up a memorial which Lane pre- 
sented to the House of Representatives when the bill for terri- 
torial organization was brought up in Committee of the Whole. 
The memorial represented that Oregon Territory was too 


large for a single government; that the region north of the 
Columbia was large enough for another territory since it con- 
tained some 32,000 square miles; that the northern region 
was at a disadvantage on account of its distance from the seat 
of government and the preponderance of population in the 
Willamette valley ; and that the local nature of the laws enacted 
by the Territorial Legislature was against the interests north 
of the Columbia. 

While the question was raised in the House as to whether 
there was sufficient population north of the Columbia to 
warrant the creation of a new unit, no real opposition ap- 
peared. With "Columbia" changed to "Washington" the 
House passed the bill. 2 In the Senate there was even less 
discussion than in the House. "It is one of the old-fashioned 
territorial bills," said some one, and the measure was passed 
without further comment. 3 

Oregon territory was thus bisected by a line which followed 
the middle of the Columbia River to a point, near Walla 
Walla, where the forty-sixth parallel cuts the stream; this 
parallel formed the line to the summit of the Rocky Moun- 
tains. Washington territory comprised what is now the State 
of Washington together with northern Idaho and the strip of 
Montana which lies between the main ridge of the Rockies and 
the Bitter Root Mountains. 

With the division of Oregon came the question of Statehood. 
While desultory discussion had raised the question from time 
to time, it was not until after Washington had been set off 
that the issue was seriously debated. During the latter part 
of 1853 and in 1854 interest grew. Answering this agitation, 
which was fostered by the Democratic party in Oregon, Lane 
introduced in the House a bill for an enabling act in April of 
1854, at a time when the Kansas-Nebraska controversy was 
uppermost. When the measure came up in Committee of the 
Whole it was not seriously considered; the population of 
Oregon had been less than 15,000 at the time of the 1850 census 

2 The memorial is in the Globe, XXVI, 541. Passage of the bill, 555. 

3 Ibid., 1020. 


and it was thought impossible for it to have increased suffi- 
ciently in four years to warrant statehood. Lane, however, 
was sure that the population was at least 60,000, certainly 
20,000 greater than Illinois' when that State had been ad- 
mitted, and people were pouring into the territory at the rate 
of five thousand a year. Besides, he said, the people of Ore- 
gon were tired of being dependent. 

A remark from Millson of Virginia showed the relation of 
all question of state admission to the slavery issue; he said it 
might be inferred, from the quarter whence proceeded all op- 
position to the measure (it had been only southerners who 
had raised the population question), that it was due "to the 
peculiar relations existing between certain members of the 
Confederacy." As for himself he should view the question 
on its merits, and if Oregon should be found entitled to ad- 
mission, his vote was for it ; nevertheless, he could not disguise 
the alarm with which he looked upon the multiplication of 
Free States, and he was mortified at the apathy with which 
the House was allowing this measure to proceed without any 
sufficient knowledge upon which to base action. Seward of 
New York gave notice that he would move an additional sec- 
tion whereby all restriction as to slavery should be removed, 
leaving the question to be decided by the people in the ter- 
ritory. Before any conclusion had been reached the com- 
mittee rose and the measure did not come up again that ses- 
sion. In the 1 following session it was taken up, amended in 
some details, although Seward's proposal was not adopted, 
reported by the Committee of the Whole and passed by the 
House. 4 

The Senate Committee on Territories, when asking consid- 
eration of the House bill, called attention to the amendment 
which it had added; namely, that Oregon should not be ad- 
mitted until it had a population of at least 60,000. Owing to 
the raising of objection to its immediate consideration the bill 
lay over until the third of March. At that time only Douglas 

?, XXVIII, 936, i it 7 seq.; XXX, 455. 


and Seward would take an active part favoring the bill. 
Seward pointed out that already there were indications that if 
the bill did not become law Oregon would come in as Cali- 
fornia had, uninvited. But the Senate showed little disposi- 
tion to act, and even Douglas would move to table the meas- 
ure, although 1 he said he was willing to sit it out as long as 
there was any hope (it was then eleven o'clock on the morning 
of Sunday, March 4th). Douglas said there was evidently 
a combination of Senators of the extreme North and the South 
to defeat the bill. The vote to table, (27 to 11) however, did 
not reveal any ground for sustaining this accusation. 5 Of the 
eleven who voted against tabling, five were from New Eng- 
land, two from Ohio, and one each from New York, Texas, 
Michigan and California. 

Thus the Thirty-third Congress came to an end with Oregon 
still in its territorial swaddling clothes. In spite of occasional 
echoes of the slavery contest over Kansas, that issue did not 
appear in any degree worthy of note in the Oregon discus- 
sion. Many Senators were inclined to wait until it was 
affirmatively shown that the territory had a population equal 
to the ratio for one congressman; they were suspicious that 
the assurances of Joseph Lane were tempered by his hopes. 
This was, indeed, the case. Even in 1859, when the State was 
admitted, the population fell short by many thousands of the 
number Lane confidently stated in 1854. 

The Thirty-fourth Congress found Oregon before it with a 
new bill for statehood. 6 Late in the first session (June, 1856) 
the measure came up in the House and again met with opposi- 
tion on the population question. In all the preliminary dis- 
cussion of the bill there were references to the pending legis- 
lation on Kansas. Galusha Grow of Pennsylvania, a Repub- 
lican, said very bluntly, when controverting the proposition 
that it depended on Congress whether or not the people of 
Oregon should form a constitution, that there was no power 
to prevent the people of a territory, although that organization 

. .: .IB.' % :',Vd ol^ 

6 Globe, XXXII, 1443. The debate occurred 23 and 24 June.; Ibid., 1443-58. 


was a creature of Congress, from framing a constitution when- 
ever they wished. Later he said, after several other Repre- 
sentatives had discussed the population topic, "This debate 
seems to have been anticipating that which will take place on 
the Kansas bill. Let us dispose of this bill today." Those 
who desired to see Kansas a slave state, however, were trying 
to establish a point on the population issue in the Oregon bill. 
Smith of Virginia said that the Ordinance of 1787, "to which 
some gentlemen look as an impersonation of inspired wisdom," 
required 60,000 as the population before the territory could be 
made a State, consequently by what right could Oregon ask to 
be represented in the House with less than the legal ratio for a 
Congressman. Giddings took issue with that and said the 
right depended on the ability to support a State government; 
all this objection about the population ratio was a new one 
and not based upon the Constitution. The rule of propriety 
alone, he maintained, should determine admission, and it was 
proper to admit Oregon. When pressed to state definitely 
whether he would vote to admit Oregon with or without slavery 
Giddings practically announced that he would only favor ad- 
mission as a free State, for he said he would not vote to trans- 
gress the laws of God and of nature. 

Proposed amendments, confining the proposed State to the 
territory west of the Cascades, extending the suffrage to non- 
citizens (the territorial bill ha'd given the franchise to those 
who had declared intention to become citizens), restricting the 
right to vote for delegates to the constitutional convention to 
free white males over twenty-one years of age, were all re- 
jected. Bowie of Maryland discovered a possible opening for 
woman suffrage, and moved to insert the word "male" in the 
clause where the vote was given to "the people of Oregon, 
being citizens of the United States." All the discussion and 
modification, however, did not get Oregon into the sisterhood 
of States. Congress adjourned with the bill still in Commit- 
tee of the Whole, and Mr. Lane was obliged to return to Ore- 
gon disappointed both as to statehood and the money for the 
Indian war expenses which his constituents had trusted him to 


In the following January the matter was up again. An 
enabling act for the territory of Minnesota had passed the 
House (31 January, 1857), and Grow, chairman of the Com- 
mittee on Territories, said, "The Committee .... have 
agreed upon a bill similar to this, authorizing the people of 
Oregon to form a State constitution and State Government; 
but as gentlemen seem to be so much averse to giving this 
authority, which is a mere form, (as the people of the Territory 
can meet in their Assemblies and form a Constitution, and 
send it here, as well without this authority as with it), I will 
not therefore press this bill now." 7 The bill was, however, 
called up later in the day, agreed to by the Committee of the 
Whole and reported to the House. Like its predecessor this 
bill had not confined the right of voting to citizens of the 
United States only, and an attempt to insert that restriction 
was narrowly defeated (61 to 60) after Lane spoke against 
it. Lane, indeed, did not wish any change in the bill, unless 
it should be in the part fixing the eastern boundary line at 
120 W. Long., whereas, according to the Oregon Delegate, 
it should have been at 118 W. Long. Two amendments were 
adopted; one restricted to citizens of the United States the 
privilege of voting for delegates to the constitution conven- 
tion ; the other eliminated a clause by which delegates to the 
convention were to have voted on the question whether the 
people of the territory desired to form a State government 
before proceeding with their constitution making. An amend- 
ment to require the population to equal the ratio for one repre- 
sentative (93,420) was rejected, and also one to strike out the 
provision which allowed the proposed State to have ten sec- 
tions of public land for public buildings. Letcher (Virginia) 
pointed out that Congress had been appropriating money for 
Oregon public buildings for years, but his protest fell on 
unheeding ears. In its modified form, the bill was passed by 
the House. 7 

The senate was more accommodating in the matter of a 

7 Globe, XXXVI, 519-23. 


boundary line, for the Committee on Territories amended that 
clause to accord with the desires of Lane, and fixed the line 
as it exists today for the State of Oregon. Another amend- 
ment by the Committee put the region south of 46 N. Lat. 
and east of the Oregon line under the territorial jurisdiction 
of Washington. The Senate, however, went no farther, and 
the Thirty-fourth Congress, like its predecessor, came to an 
end with Oregon still a territory. 8 

Dissatisfaction over the delay of Congress resulted in inde- 
pendent action by the Oregohians. 9 Since 1854 the statehood 
sentiment had been growing although it had been opposed at 
the beginning by the Whigs who pointed out the additional 
expense which would result. But the Whigs were few in 
number and not politically influential so their opposition had 
little significance. The dominant party had, by legislative 
resolutions, directed Lane to work for the enabling act, and 
at the same time had made provision (1856-7) for taking the 
sense of the people as to whether a convention should be held 
and for electing delegates to it. Meanwhile a little of the 
white-hot conflict over slavery extension had crossed over the 
mountains so that anti- and pro-slavery movements had gained 
enough headway to make this question the dominant one 
before the people during the months preceding the election of 
delegates to the convention. A large majority of the people 
were descendants of those who had lived in slave States; 
many of them had themselves been slave-owners. Their four- 
times elected Delegate to Congress, Joseph Lane, was not op- 
posed to slavery as he demonstrated, in 1860, by accepting 
the nomination as candidate for vice-president from the 
Breckinridge wing of the Democratic party. Newspapers and 
public men took up the question and advanced arguments as to 
why Oregon would benefit or receive injury from the pres- 
ence of slaves. The anti-slavery agitation found a rallying 
point in a little group of men who organized as Free-State 
Republicans, and who gained sufficient strength to have rep- 

8 Ibid., 821, 878. 

9 Bancroft, History of Oregon, II, chapter 17. 


resentation, although little weight, in the Legislature in 
1856-7. The Democrats were divided over the issue, especially 
after a convention, in the spring of 1857 to nominate a candi- 
date for Delegate to Congress, had proclaimed that "We deny 
the right of any state to interfere with such domestic institu- 
tions of other states as are recognized by the constitution." 
The disruptive tendencies of this declaration were added to by 
an attempt of the dominant faction to gag all independent 
action within the party. 

In August, 1859, the constitutional convention was held. 
From the first it was decided that there should be no discus- 
sion of the slavery issue in the convention, but that the question 
should be submitted to the people with the constitution which 
should be framed. Accordingly two propositions went before 
the electorate in addition to the constitution : Should there be 
slavery in Oregon ? Should free negroes be permitted to live in 
Oregon? The constitution itself provided that no negro, mulatto, 
or Chinaman should be allowed to vote, neither could Chinese, 
immigrating to Oregon after the adoption of the constitution, 
hold land or mining claims, or work the latter, and the Leg- 
islature was to enact suitable laws to enforce these prohibi- 
tions. The constitution fixed the boundaries of the State as 
the Senate Committee on Territories had, except that for the 
46th parallel eastward from the Columbia the line was placed 
farther north in order to bring the Walla Walla valley within 
the limits of Oregon. A qualifying clause allowed the line to 
be moved back to 46 if Congress should so will; and Con- 
gress did. In its general features the constitution was not 
materially different from most State constitutions framed in 
that period ; one provision, however, is worthy of note, for it 
forbade making the property and pecuniary rights of women 
liable for the debts or contracts of their husbands. Half of 
each donation claim taken by a married man, then, was the 
absolute property of the wife. 

In November the people voted on the propositions and the 
constitution. In a poll of slightly over 10,000, slavery was 
rejected by a majority of 5,082; free negroes were debarred 


by a majority of 7,559; and the constitution itself was adopted 
by a majority of 4,000. 

In February, 1858, Lane presented an official copy of the 
constitution to the House of Representatives and it was ordered 
printed and referred to the Committee on Territories. Mr. 
Lane, however, did not press for action. Moreover, when 
Senator Gwin of California asked Douglas why the Oregon 
bill could not be made an amendment of the Minnesota bill 
then before Jthe Senate, the latter replied that he had no offi- 
cial information of the facts of the case ; Lane had told him it 
would be better to let the matter rest until after the contest 
over Minnesota and Kansas had been ended. Thus prodded, 
Mr. Lane transmitted to Senator Douglas a copy of the con- 
stitution, and the Senator, when he presented it to the Senate, 
remarked that he did not desire to have the impression go 
forth that Mr. Lane had failed in his duty. 

With the constitution in its possession the Senate was in a 
position to proceed with the Oregon bill, and in May, when 
the slavery controversy was in one of its quiescent stages, 
the debate was resumed. The Dred Scott decision of the 
previous year had been a score for those who desired the 
extension of slavery; Kansas' attitude on the Lecompton con- 
stitution had caused Congress to act. While the manner in 
which the constitution had been referred back to the people of 
Kansas had not been just that desired by the majority, it had 
been such that Kansas must become a State where slavery 
was legal or remain inj the status of a territory. In either 
case the Southern wing of the Democratic party had scored 
at least a technical point. There had never been any real ques- 
tion about the admission of Minnesota because it was in the old 
Northwest Territory, in part. Congress could, then, proceed 
with Oregon. Such, at any rate, was the opinion of those 
who advocated the doctrine of popular sovereignty, for Ore- 
gon had, in the adoption of the constitution, exemplified that 
doctrine, untrammelled by such chicanery as had characterized 
the Kansas situation. 


Nevertheless the Senate still found objections to the Oregon 
bill. 10 Some of the Republicans thought that debarring free 
negroes nearly nullified the rejection of slavery, although 
Douglas pointed out that if the clause should be stricken out 
Oregon could insert it again the day after her admission. Some 
felt that the same spirit which debarred negroes caused the 
prohibition of land owning by negroes, mulattoes and Chinese. 
Moreover, according to Wade, an Ohio Republican, the 
Chinese feature brought out a new question and might cause 
international complications by placing the Chinaman on a level 
with the negro. Some Republicans and many Southern Dem- 
ocrats opposed admission on the old ground of too small pop- 
ulation. Brown of Mississippi very frankly said that he should 
vote against the bill for if the Republicans wished to exclude 
a free State it was not for him to interest himself particularly 
in getting it in. If the admission, said he, would be put on 
the ground that Kansas had come in as a slave State (the 
constitution had not yet been rejected under the terms of the 
congressional act of 1858) and a balancing free State was de- 
sired, then he would vote "for it ; as for the talk about debar- 
ring free negroes, it appeared to him that Massachusetts, New 
York and other Northern States desired to see an increase in 
free negroes but wanted to send them all to Oregon. 

On the nineteenth day of May a test vote was taken on a 
motion to postpone the bill until the following December. The 
motion was lost and the passage of the bill followed, by a vote 
of 35 to 17. An analysis of the vote shows the following 
results : 

For Admission Against Admission 
Democrats 22 8 

Republicans 12 6 

Native Americans 1 3 

Free State 21 6 

Slave State 14 11 

~ XXXVI, 2203-9. 


Neither party nor sectional lines offer any adequate ex- 
planation so far as the Senate is concerned. The explanation 
of the opposition so far as the Republican vote is concerned, 
however, may be derived from the action of the House at 
this and the following session. There were two grounds; 
the less important was that of population, the more important 
was connected with the all-powerful slavery issue in its 
relation to party politics. By allowing the Lecompton consti- 
tution bill to go before the people of Kansas again the Repub- 
licans had deviated somewhat from a consistent course, a 
course they probably would not have taken had they not be- 
lieved the free State population was strong enough to defeat 
the slavery provisions of the constitution. In the case of Ore- 
gon, even though slavery was not to be allowed, the free- 
negro clause was in conflict with their constitutional views 
on the power of any State to exclude citizens of the United 
States. Besides all this, and most potent of all, was the belief 
that Oregon was overwhelmingly Democratic, and her admis- 
sion would mean a Democratic delegation in both houses. 
While one Democratic Representative in the lower house would 
not make much difference, two Democrats added to the small 
number of the Senate would be maintaining too well the pre- 
ponderance of Democracy in the upper house. Consequently 
the Thirty- fifth Congress adjourned its first session without 
final action on Oregon. 

The people of Oregon felt sure that the next session would 
see the fulfillment of their hopes, hence, since the con- 
stitutional convention had provided for an election of State and 
National officers in July of 1858, they proceeded to make 
ready their governmental machinery against the day of suc- 
cess. The Republicans of the United States could see in the 
result of the elections what they had feared, for three Demo- 
crats were to represent Oregon in Congress. La Fayette 
Grover was elected Representative, and the Democratic Legis- 
lature elected Joseph Lane and Delazon Smith to the Senate. 
Lane, therefore, went to Washington as a Delegate of the ter- 
ritory and as a Senator from the prospective State. It was 


perhaps fortunate for him that it was the Legislature to which 
he presented himself as a candidate rather than to the elector-, 
ate, for his inactivity in the last session of Congress had 
stirred up much feeling; some said that he purposely put off 
acting in order that he might draw the mileage of both Dele- 
gate and Senator at the next session. It appears that few 
people in Oregon realized the bitterness of the contest which 
was being waged over Kansas, or recognized the bearing of 
that contest upon their own interests. 

Kansas had, however, voluntarily deferred the time of her 
admission to the Union by rejecting the Lecompton constitution 
and had to wait until her population should be numerous 
enough to equal the number required as a ratio for one rep- 
resentative. Commenting on this Buchanan, in his Annual 
Message, said, "Of course it would be unjust to give this rule 
a retrospective application and exclude a State, which, acting 
upon the past practice of the Government, had already formed 
its constitution, elected its legislature and other officers and is 
now prepared to enter the Union. " n 

The President's opinion, obviously prompted if not dictated 
by party considerations, found a response in the House where 
the Senate bill was waiting. Alexander Stephens, chairman 
of the Committee on Territories, stated (7 January) in answer 
to inquiries both in and out of Congress, that he was prepared 
to report the Oregon bill whenever his committee was called. 
A month later (9 February) he announced that the Committee 
on Territories had been reached, saying that he gave notice in 
order that there might be a full attendance on the next day. 
The bill was reported (10 February) 12 with a recommendation 
for passage from the majority of the committee. There had 
been no census since 1855, when the population was 43,474, 
but there was $18,000,000 worth of personal property to tax, 
which, allowing for a legitimate increase, and using the ratio 
in Ohio, would indicate a population of 250,000. Either Oregon 

11 Richardson, Messages, V, 502. 

12 Globe, 1858-9, Pt. i, 
on February 10, u, 12, an 

12 Globe, 1858-9, Pt. i, 943 seq. Crow's report, page 946. The debate occurred 
d the bill was passed February 12. 


was very wealthy or the population had increased very rapidly ; 
at any rate there was no question that it was at least some 
90,000 or the ratio for a Representative. It was the solemn 
obligation of Congress to admit the State since the territorial 
act of 1848 had included the guarantees of the Ordinance of 
1787, among which was the provision for admission whenever 
a population of 60,000 should have been attained. 

This appeal to the Ordinance of 1787 brought Grow to his 
feet with a protest that a rule had been laid down in the case 
of Kansas requiring it to double its population before it could 
be a State ; furthermore, the Ordinance had imposed no obliga- 
tion to admit a State, no matter what its population. He then 
presented a report from a minority of the Committee, signed 
by himself, Amos P. Granger of New York and Chancey L. 
Knapp of Massachusetts, all Republicans. Up to that time, 
ran the report, Congress had followed no uniform rule for 
the admission of States, but Kansas, with a population large 
enough to be a slave State, must wait until it had 93,420 people 
before it could come in as a free State. The President had 
declared in his Message that any attempt on the part of that 
territory to form a constitution before it had secured that 
population would be a distinct violation of the law, and should 
it be attempted he would use Federal power to prevent it. In 
1855 the population of Oregon was 43,473, and the largest 
vote ever cast there was 10,121, while Kansas had polled 
13,089 in rejecting the Lecompton constitution. The minority 
were unable to perceive any fairness in one rule for Kansas 
and another for Oregon; both were alike in having no en- 
abling act, and the only real difference was that Oregon had 
a territorial government which was disliked, while Kansas had 
an organization in which political power was wielded by 
usurpers and despots. Therefore without expressing an 
opinion as to the propriety of a numerical ratio, the minority 
recommended a repeal of that portion of the act for the ad- 
mission of Kansas which provides "Whenever, and not before, 
it is ascertained by a census duly and legally taken, that the 
population of said territory exceeds or equals the ratio of rep- 


resentation required for a member of the House of Representa- 
tives . . . ." 

Felix K. Zollikoffer of Tennessee, one of the small number 
of Know-Nothings in the House, presented a second minority 
report, reflecting the tenets of his political organization. This 
report solemnly protested against the provision in the Oregon 
constitution which allowed others than citizens of the United 
States to vote; such a provision was unconstitutional accord- 
ing to the interpretation of the courts and the testimony of 
the framers of the United States Constitution. The report 
also protested against the admission of Oregon with its small 

Practically all the opposition on the floor of the House 
came from Republicans, although Millson opposed the bill as 
he had done before, on the population question. Hughes, an 
Indiana Democrat, definitely charged that there was a Repub- 
lican plot to keep Oregon out, for, in addition to their stated 
reasons, there was the stronger one that there must be no new 
Democratic State before the presidential election in 1860. 
Turning to the Republican side of the House he said : 

"Go, then, f reedom-shrieker ! Vote against Oregon. But re- 
member, you vote against the compact of the ordinance of 
1787, expressly extended to that Territory by act of Con- 
gress. You vote against 'popular sovereignty,' and deny to 
the people of Oregon the 'right to regulate their, domestic in- 
stitutions in their own way/ You vote for negro equality, 
and plant yourself in opposition to the Constitution of your 
country, which you have sworn to support. You vote to deny 
to the white foreigner what your enlarged philanthropy claims 
for the negro who happens to be born in the United States. 
You vote to keep a free State out of this Union a State which 
comes on our own invitation, and comes in the most orderly, 
regular, and appropriate way. There are some of you that will 
not do this thing and some that dare not. Upon those who do 
I invoke the condemnation of an intelligent and patriotic 

The charge brought by Mr. Hughes was essentially sup- 
ported by the facts of the case. The Republicans had deter- 


mined to use Oregon as a lever to bring Kansas in ; if Kansas 
was kept out, Oregon must stay out. All the strength of the 
Republican organization was to be used to prevent the passage 
of the Oregon bill; Thurlow Weed and Horace Greeley went 
to Washington to use their influence to prevent any Repub- 
lican from getting out of line. 13 It was, nevertheless, a Repub- 
lican who was responsible for the passage of the bill. Eli 
Thayer, who had been a member of the New England Emi- 
grant Aid Company and who was chiefly responsible for the 
Kansas Crusade, took the stand that it was unfair to make 
Oregon suffer for the sins of others. As Mr. Thayer, writing 
many years later, 14 says : 

"I protested against this policy (of the Republican caucus), 
saying that Oregon had been a territory for ten years, that 
the House had passed an enabling act with which she had 
complied, and that the Senate had voted to admit her with 
the aid of Republican votes ; that she now asks admission into 
the Union as a State, presenting for our acceptance a free- 
State Constitution. That I would not be bound by the deci- 
sion of the caucus ; that I was strongly in favor of the admis- 
sion of the new State, and that I should work for it, and induce 
other members of the party to vote for it, but that I should 
vote in favor of it even if no other Republican could be 
found to do so. 

"As soon as the caucus was over I went to Mr. Stephens 
and told him that I would work night and day in favor of his 
report . . . . 

"I began at once to urge upon Republicans the duty and 
good policy of admitting Oregon. By persistent effort I se- 
cured sixteen who promised to vote for admission, and should 
have had others, but Greeley and Weed frightened some of 
these away and weakened my support. But on the day of the 
vote we retained fifteen who, with the Democrats, were able 
to admit the State by a majority of eleven. 15 

"On the day of the passage of the bill I gave my reasons 

13 See "Eli Thayer and the Admission of Oregon," by Franklin P. Rice, 
in Proceedings of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Admission of the State of 
Oregon Into the Union (Salem, 1909), from the Worcester Magazine of Feb. and 
Mar., 1906. 

14 In a letter to Rice. 

15 Either Mr. Thayer's memory was treacherous or he counted as Republicans 
some who were not so considered, for the roll call of the vote shows but thirteen 
Republican votes and one Whig vote for the bill. 


very fully for the course I had pursued. It was well known at 
that time that it was due to my work that Oregon became a 
State, and for a few days I was roundly abused by some of the 
inferior Republican journals and the Tribune. Soon, how- 
ever, under the lead of the New York Evening Post and the 
National Era, nearly all the Republican papers defended my 

"Among those whose confidence in their own judgment 
Greeley had seriously impaired was Schuyler Colfax, who re- 
mained undecided to the day of voting. That morning I 
walked to the Capitol with him. On the way he said : 'I was 
never in such perplexity about my duty as I am in this Oregon 
matter.' We were just then passing the office of the National 
Era, and I suggested that he get Dr. Bailey's opinion. Ac- 
cordingly we went in, and he said: 'Dr. Bailey, I do not 
know what to do about Oregon. Thayer wants me to vote 
for admission, while Greeley is just as earnest the other way. 
Now I have come to you for a decision. I shall vote upon this 
question as you advise.' Bailey at once replied: 'Vote with 
Thayer, for he is right.' We proceeded to the Capitol, and Mr. 
Colfax cast his vote in favor of the bill. 

"I had felt sure of John Sherman's vote, but he did not 
appear in the House at all that day . . . ." 

Whether intentional or not, it proved fortunate for the Re- 
publicans that Oregon was admitted for otherwise her vote 
would have been lost in the Chicago Convention of 1860, and 
the Senate in the Thirty-seventh Congress would have had less 
Republican strength. Contrary to Republican fears in 1859, 
Oregon did not remain in the Democratic ranks. 

The bill was fought to the very last ditch; a roll-call was 
demanded upon all amendments which were offered (the chief 
of which were to require a larger population and to prevent 
non-citizen suffrage), and upon motions to table. There were 
six divisions by roll-call and one by tellers. On its passage 
the bill secured 114 affirmative votes and 103 were cast against 
it. Thirteen Republicans and one Whig saved the day for 
Oregon. In the Democratic ranks there was no such unanim- 
ity as among the Republicans, nor did the division within the 
party follow sectional lines. Seven of the ten Virginia votes 
(one was paired), four of the eight from North Carolina (one 


Native American voted against the bill), five of the seven 
from Georgia, and all from Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennes- 
see, Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Florida, were cast 
for the measure. Two of the three Texas votes were for it. 
The South Carolina and Alabama vote was solid against the 
bill. Practically the whole of the northern Democracy was for 
the bill, although two from New York and one each from 
Pennsylvania and Illinois were against it. Party succeeded 
in overcoming western zeal for a new western State in most 
cases, for seven of Ohio's ten Republicans, one of the five 
from Indiana, all four from Illinois, two of Wisconsin's three, 
four from Michigan, and one from Missouri were against ad- 
mission. The Republicans who saved the day were scattered ; 
five were from New England, four from Indiana, three from 
Ohio, and one from Wisconsin. The solitary Whig who 
flocked with the majority on this occasion was J. C. Kunkell 
of Pennsylvania, who both for the Thirty- fourth and Thirty- 
fifth Congresses ran as a Whig and defeated the Democratic 
candidate in his district. 

The feeling of Greeley at the passage of the bill was indi- 
cated by an editorial in the Tribune, in February, I860: 16 

"We hold that the great body of Republicans voted just 
right on this question, and of the course of the fifteen who 
separated from, opposed and defeated them, did a grievous 
wrong .... If Oregon in 1860, unbalanced by Kansas, 
shall elect a pro-slavery President, then woe to those Repub- 
licans whose votes shall have enabled her to do so. It is said 
that Oregon is a free State, but it would vote for pro-slavery 
interests. By the express terms of the Constitution, any of 
Mr. Eli Thayer's constituents and supporters guilty of having 
African blood in his veins who should visit Oregon with intent 
to settle therein, is guilty of a grave offense against the 
majesty of that State, and will be treated like an outlaw and a 
felon .... That border ruffian Democrats should 
sanction and give effect to such cruel injustice is but natural; 
that a few Republicans should be induced, no matter on what 
specious grounds, to aid them, is deplorable." 

1 6 Quoted by Rice. Only thirteen Republicans and one Whig are recorded 
oting for the bill. See Poore, Political Register; Note 15 above. 

as voting 


The fight for admission was over and Oregon's Senators 
and Representatives immediately entered upon their duties in 
Congress. Lane drew for the class the term of which expired 
in 1861, while Smith found himself in the class which would 
end his term in a few days, on the third of March, 1859. 

Before the close of the session there was one further echo 
of the Kansas-Oregon population controversy. Hale (New 
Hampshire), in moving as an amendment to the appropria- 
tion bill a clause removing the restrictive proviso from the 
Kansas act called upon the Senators from Oregon to state 
whether they would do unto others as they had been done by ; 
according to the argument which had been much used in 
urging the passage of the Oregon bill the public faith was 
pledged to admit a territory when the population reached 
60,000. Would they vote to let Kansas in ? Both Lane and 
Smith refused to commit themselves, showing that they could 
work in harmony with their Democratic brethren of the Sen- 
ate, and both asserted that . Oregon's population far exceeded 
that of Kansas ; in fact, Smith declared it was a third greater, 
despite the misleading statements of the Republican party. 
Oregon was in the Union, and all questions of population were 
relegated to the realm of theoretical speculation. Nevertheless 
the returns of the census of 1860 are interesting, for it appeared 
that Oregon had a population of 52,465 while that of Kansas 
was 107,206. 

With statehood Oregon felt herself in a position to remedy 
some of the evils which had beset her ; no longer was it nec- 
essary to tolerate a governor and other administrative officers 
who were not elected by Oregonians ; the long-standing griev- 
ance against the Federal Government over Indian war ex- 
penses might stand a chance of redress. There were hopes 
that the postal service, against the inadequacy of which they 
had complained long and bitterly, would be improved. They 
felt that such public lands as fell to the State could be much 
more satisfactorily managed than had been the case before. In 
short the people of Oregon felt that their time of tutelage had 
lasted long enough, yes, far too long, and recognition of their 


ability to manage their own affairs was no more than their 
just due. 

Of international problems connected with Oregon, besides 
that arising from the possessory rights of the British Com- 
panies, there still remained in 1859 the matter of marking 
the boundary. Although President Polk had refrained from 
pressing this matter, events soon demonstrated that it would 
have been a wise act on the part of Congress to have imme- 
diately made appropriations and given authority whereby a 
commission for the United States could act with a similar 
body for Great Britain to settle definitively the line indicated 
by the treaty. In his first Annual Message (December, 1851) 
President Fillmore called to the attention of Congress the 
desire of the British Government to take this step, and he 
recommended an appropriation. 17 Nothing was done, how- 
ever; and subsequent reminders proved as fruitless. 

President Pierce, in his second Annual Message, 18 said, 
"There is a difference of opinion between the United States 
and Great Britain as to the boundary line of the Territory of 
Washington adjoining the British possessions on the Pacific, 
which has already led to difficulties on the part of the citizens 
and local authorities of the two governments." This difficulty 
arose over the question of the San Juan Islands; the British 
government contended that the main channel of the Strait of 
Juan de Fuca was east of the islands, while the United States 
insisted that it was west. Local disturbances took place both 
over possession and jurisdiction. 19 No action was taken to 
end the controversy, which was allowed to become more acute 
until it required, in 1871-2, a court of arbitration to decide 
that the disputed land was American and not British. Had 
the line been run before 1850 it is probable that no contest 
would have arisen and great expense as well as considerable 
international friction would have been avoided. 

1 7 Richardson, Messages, V, 119. 

i q See report of Secretary of the Interior, Sen. Ex. Doc. No. i, 33d Cong., 
2d (1854); Sen. Rep. No. 251 34th ist; H. Ex. Doc. No. 77, 36th ist. The whole 
matter is discussed in all its phases in the papers presented to the Emperor William, 
1872, H. Ex. Doc. No. i, 4d 3d. 


A study of the Federal relations of Oregon reveals the fact 
that, while the Oregon Question in one form or another, occu- 
pied the attention of the authorities of the United States for 
nearly half a century, there was no episode connected with it 
which stood alone as a paramount issue. Such a fact is the 
more interesting when one takes account of the high degree 
of excitement which accompanied each episode. Three periods 
stand out as the most spectacular and probably the most 
important; the division of the Oregon Country with Great 
Britain, the formation of the territory, and the admission of the 
State. In each of these the Oregon Question was linked with 
some other national issue which lent a fictitious importance. 
In the boundary controversy Oregon was really subordinated 
to Texas which was a national issue in and of itself. Texas, 
with all the agitation attending its entrance into the Union, 
was a vital factor in the history of the development of the 
nation ; Texas figured as a decisive issue in the great struggle 
which centered about the question of the nature of the Federal 
Government. One is forced to believe with the legislators 
who, after 1818, were willing to let the Oregon Question rest 
and allow time to determine the outcome that all the furor of 
1845 and 1846 did not vitally affect the outcome. To be sure, 
Great Britain has always been willing to accept additions to 
her Empire and has not been averse from making the most of 
favoring circumstances, so there may have been something 
in Richard Rush's belief that the commotion of 1846 brought 
England to a desire to end the controversy and to yield some- 
thing more than had been her previous intention. Neverthe- 
less, down to the time the hue and cry of 54-40 was raised, 
and that as a campaign issue and a blind, both the United 
States and Great Britain agreed that the other had rights in 
the Oregon Country, and each had shown a disposition to 
make an adjustment on equitable lines. 

The struggle over territorial organization came at a time 
when territories in general and their actual and potential 
meaning for the issues between North and South were upper- 
most. The heatedly argued points which were brought out 


in connection with Oregon were not primarily about Oregon; 
any other territory, as the discussions of 1848 and 1850 demon- 
strated, would have and did serve the purpose as well; but 
Oregon was held up on account of the effect action would 
have on other questions. So it was in the statehood question. 
Oregon interested most legislators on account of its bearing 
on the rapidly approaching crisis over the disputed nature of 
the Union; for the Democrats as a whole its admission 
seemed to mean political strength and they worked for its 
admission on that ground. For those who thought that "pop- 
ular sovereignty" was the solution not only of the controversy 
about Federal and States' Rights but of its by-product and 
its cause slavery and its extension Oregon was an illustra- 
tion of the way the doctrine worked. Those who were fight- 
ing the extension of slavery saw in the admission of Oregon 
an obstacle in the path they meant to follow. 

Even in the West where Oregon found from the beginning 
its champions, it must be confessed that Oregon's significance 
for the West as such played a greater part than did Oregon 
as an entity. The westerners, those of the Mississippi valley, 
saw in the action of their brothers on the Atlantic seaboard a 
disposition to subordinate to their own interests the functions 
of the government. Each additional territory, then, was a 
potential State, and each State meant votes in both houses of 

Obviously this conclusion that the Oregon Question was for 
the most part a subordinate phase of some other national issue 
does not in any way affect one's opinions of the territory itself, 
its history and its development. As a matter of fact Oregon 
gained immensely by being thus brought into prominence; no 
territory had been so liberally advertised for so long a period; 
no territory was more bountifully treated in the disposal of the 
public domain, so that emigration thereto was vastly stimulated 
and the disadvantage of its distance from the old settled por- 
tions of the Union to a large degree overcome. And in the 
end Oregon became a State much more easily than had been 
the case with most territories. 



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Calhoun, J. C., Correspondence of John C. Calhoun. (Ed. Jame- 
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Gallatin, J., A great peace maker; the diary of James Gallatin, 
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Letter, Jesse Applegate to W . H. Rees, Secretary Oregon 
Pioneer Association. 

Yoncalla, Oregon, Dec. 25th, 1874. 
W. H. Rees, Esq., 

Sec. O. P. A. 

Dear Sir: 

Your letter informing me that I had been named as a speaker 
to your association at the fair ground on the 15th June next 
has been received. I will not be present. 

Did my circumstances permit, it would afford me great 
pleasure to meet my old friends and neighbors on that happy 

Many of them crossed the plains when I did, and we have 
shared the toils and dangers of the journey, and the privations 
and hardships of settling a new country together. May they 
long enjoy in honor the just fruits of their enterprise. 

It would be a great enjoyment once more to meet them and 
present them with an address. There are many pleasant and 
flattering things I could truthfully say to them, and some 
scraps of history in which some of the early settlers of Oregon 
deserve honorable mention yet untold, which I should like to 
see go on the record. 

The pioneers of the U. S. are of illustrious descent. Their 
forefathers were that band of heroes who shed their blood for 
the rights of conscience in Europe three centuries ago. And 
rightly appreciating the blessings of civil and religious liberty, 
they ran all risks and endured all hardships to plant these 
precious seeds in a virgin soil. They have taken deep root, 
and, watered with the blood of patriotism, they have borne 
abundant fruit. 

From Plymouth Rock to Cape Disappointment, from Mexico 
to the Pole, all is sacred to liberty. Multitudes of men of all 


races, colors and languages live together in peace and unity, 
each seeking happiness in his own manner, all free and equal 
each worshipping God as seemeth best to himself. 

It seems to the purpose of the Deity that the human race 
should increase in knowledge, virtue and happiness, and men, 
as the physical forces of nature, are but the instruments in His 
hands to effect His purposes. When the world is ready for 
a physical advance, the agent is found to carry it into effect. 
So in moral reform, the nation, race or individual is always 
found prepared to meet the crisis; and though the physical 
forces have existed through all time precisely as they exist 
today, they remain hidden in the womb of nature until a knowl- 
edge of them is a necessity. So of moral progress the occa- 
sion calls forth the man. 

In this view of the case there is little honor due the human 
more than the physical agent ; he executes the purpose assigned 
him and passes off the stage of action, just as the old machine is 
superseded by a superior or later invention. 

So it is with the race of pioneers. We were in our day 
precisely adapted mentally and physically to perform the part 
assigned us in the march of civilization, and no matter what 
our individual motives as individuals, as a class we have well 
executed the purposes of our creation. But like the scythe, 
the sickle and the shovel plow, the best of tools among the 
roots and stumps of a new land, we will be thrown aside and 
forgotten now our work is done. 

Descended from the old Puritans of England, the love of 
liberty is as natural to us as the color of our skins. A life of 
many generations on the border between the civilized and the 
savage has not only trained us to such a life of hardship and 
adventure, but fits us for its enjoyment. The pioneer does 
not settle down to stay, he only halts he can no more bear to 
be crowded into cities than his half-brother, the savage; while 
the range is good, firewood convenient and game plenty he 
may remain until the near approach of the pursuing multitude. 
When these arrive, with the din of machinery and the snort of 


the engine, the pioneer follows the beaver to a more quiet 

True, there are some among us who differ from the rest, 
who came to preach the gospel to the heathen. They are enti- 
tled to honor for their motive, however small their success. 

But for myself and those of my class I claim no higher 
motive for coming here than the inherent restlessness of our 
nature, and if we have done any praiseworthy thing it has only 
been incidental to aims purely selfish, and so far from being 
proud of the years I have been in this country, I am ashamed 
to confess the insufficient motives upon which I acted. 

Most of us were well-to-do farmers or, rather, graziers, in 
the valley of the Mississippi, had young and growing families 
and the means to educate them up to the requirements of civ- 
ilization, which must overtake us in the end. We fled these 
advantages to a land almost unknown, and to be reached only 
by a journey so long and exhaustive that there was no more 
retrieving it than to return from the grave. 

Yet we started with slow moving ox teams, encumbered with 
our wives and children and all our worldly wealth, to cross 
a continent intersected by great rivers and high mountain 
ranges and the way beset by fierce and treacherous enemies. 

Those who came to Oregon in 1843 can never forget the 
toils, the dangers, the sufferings of that journey, nor the years 
of want and struggle that followed after ! 

True, our coming incidentally established or at least has- 
tened the establishment of the Republic on the shores of the 
Pacific. But is even this much of honor our due? Is it not 
rather the due of Senator Benton, whose far-seeing statesman- 
ship comprehended at that early day the great value of our 
Pacific possessions, and whose sagacity directed him to the 
choice of the proper instruments to secure them? 

Decree a statue to the Hon. Thos. H. Benton, if you choose, 
but let his humble and almost blind instruments slip away to 
their unknown graves. Very respectfully, 


From the Report of the Oregon Conservation Commission, 


"In 1909 Mr. C. B. Watson, one of the members of the Com- 
mission, called the attention of the Commission to the beauty 
and grandeur of the Josephine County caves and asked that 
steps be taken to preserve and keep them in their original 
beauty as a national monument. The Commission took up 
the matter with Mr. Gifford Pinchot, then Forester of the 
United States, and on July 12, 1909, the caves were by procla- 
mation of President Taft duly set apart as a national monu- 
ment under an act approved June 8, 1906, under the name 
'Oregon Caves/ These caves are under the immediate care 
of the Forest Service, being in a national forest. They are of 
great beauty and will be preserved as a public monument 



Airplane and Stage Coach, 224. 

Applegate, Jesse, views the race of pio- 
neers as but instrumentalities for 
Deity in His purpose to increase 
knowledge, virtue and happiness of 
human race, 397-9. 

RESTORATION OF, 243-260; 305-330; 
new documentary sources prepare for 
a true verdict on the procedures of 
the participants in the restoration of 
Astoria, 243; opportunities given 
writer by British Foreign Office for 
research on this problem, 243-4; 
characteristic aggressiveness common 
to British and Americans cause of 
much of the difficulty in their rela- 
tions, 244-5; parallel plans of North 
West Company and John Jacob 
Astor, 245-6; sources of confusion 
as to relative priorities of explora- 
tions of British and Americans as 
bases of their respective claims, 246-7; 
the English point of view and William 
Pitt's plan for colonization of this re- 
gion based on it, 247-9; the conflict- 
ing views of the Americans and their 
different projects based on them, 250; 
correspondence through which the 
movement and procedure for restora- 
tion develops, 250-60; uncertainty of 
the Nor'westers as to the protection 
that the British government would af- 
ford them in trade ventures in the 
Oregon Country, 305-7; the course of 
events touching the foreign relations 
of the U. S. from 1815-17 of which 
the dispatching of the Ontario was a 
part, 307-9; the report that the On- 
tario was proceeding to the Columbia 
River "to seize and destroy the es- 
tablishment and trade of the North 
West Company on that coast" caused 
Simon McGillivray of that concern to 
institute inquiries, 309-11; this de- 
velops a line of correspondence which 
provides that the British government 
shall not contest the point of pos- 
session of the Columbia River at the 
outbreak of the war but does not 
admit the validity of the title of the 
U. S. government to the settlement 
atad in which its irregular mode of 
procedure to secure restoration is 
deprecated, 311-20; report on the es- 
tablishment constituting Fort George, 
and the proceedings of restoration, 
320-5; British commissioners negoti- 

ating treaty of 1818 express amaze- 
ment at claim of priority of discovery 
and occupation by U. S., 325-6; 
Adams' response to their views re- 
garded as contentious, 326-30. 


Battleship Oregon, The, 224. 

Blue Bucket Mine, where was it? 219-20. 

25-34; the more or less consistent 
positions of the United States and 
Great Britain in their conflicting 
claims to the Oregon Country, 25; 
course of events that led to the dis- 
closure of the document containing 
the request that the Hudson's Bay 
Company remove its principal trading 
post to the north side of the Columbia, 
25-6; George Canning's attention di- 
rected to the British interests in Ore- 
gon, 26; primacy of economic motive 
in impelling to interest in Oregon, 26; 
current error as to who initiated 
movement to select site of Fort Van- 
couver, 27; Governor J. H. Pelly out- 
lines basis for British claim to Oregon 
Country, 27-33. 

Sir George Simpson answers Henry 
Addington's queries relating to re- 
sources and history of the Pacnic 
Northwest, 333-95 J- H. Pelly answers 
queries of William Huskisson relating 
to resources and history of the Pacific 
Northwest, 339-44. 

Canning, George, political service of, 26. 

GON, 159-72; religious influence of 
early trappers and traders, 160; Iro- 
quois deserters from the Hunt party 
start movement culminating in dele- 
gation going to St. Louis on religious 
mission, 160-1; Dr. McLoughlin con- 
ducts services at Fort Vancouver, 162; 
planting of Roman Catholic work in 
Oregon, 162; knowledge of Indian 
trip to St. Louis rouses Dr. Wilbur 
Fisk and the Jason Lee party is or- 
ganized, 163; first sermon preached in 
the Willamette Valley, 163; the great 
reinforcement, 1840, 166; first pro- 
testant church, 167; American Board 
commissions Dr. Parker, who selects 
Dr. Marcus Whitman as companion, 
1 68; the Whitman, Spalding, Gray 



party and mission establishments, 168- 
9; Reverend Harvey Clark and John 
S. Griffin begin activities on Tualatin 
plain, 169; Dr. George H. Atkinson 
represents Congregationalism, 1 70 ; 
Baptists, Presbyterians and Episco- 
palians lay foundations, 170-2. 
Corvallis in 1855, 107. 

Earthquakes, the frequency of slight, 


ENCE OF, 95-137; strength of different 
denominations in Salem in 1854, 97; 
beginning of organized activity of 
Baptist church in Portland, 99; size 
and prospects of Portland in 1854, 99. 

Gaston, Joseph, participates in promo- 
tion of Dayton-Sheridan railroad, 145. 

Gold diggings excitement near Fort Col- 
ville, 121-123. 


Hembree, Captain, monument for, 224. 

Indian war terror, 127-8. 

Indian fighters, encampment of, 223. 




Miscellany notes, 225-8. 

Nachess Trail, examination of, 225. 

Oregon Caves, the naming and reserva- 
tion of, 400. 

35-93J 173-218; 261-295; 345-3955 Sir 
George Simpson gives British govern- 
ment information as to situation in 
Oregon, 35-6; emphasizes attitude of 
H. B. Co. as to British interests ^n 
the Oregon Country, 36-7; British 
government presses overture American 
delays acceptance, 37-9; the tripartite 
project including California, Texas 
and Oregon, 39-41 ; progress with the 
Oregon issue in hands of Pakenham 
and his rejection of the American 
offer, 41-50; British attempt to re- 
open negotiations, 51-4; the Oregon 
question uppermost in Congress on 

the phase of giving notice of termina- 
tion of joint occupation, 55-82; Ore- 
gon legislative measures before Con- 
gress, 83-93 ! opening of negotiations 
that consummated treaty of 1846, 173- 
4; arbitration of issues proposed but 
not accepted, 17.4-8; proposition for 
renewal of negotiations and Folk's at- 
titude towards it, 178; progress 
towards agreement on terms of treaty, 
178-86; Secretary Buchanan refuses to 
draft message submitting it to Sen- 
ate, 186-7; Senate advises Polk to 
accept and ratifies but not without 
strenuous opposition, 187-91; who was 
the "instrument preserving the peace 
of the world?" 191-2; consideration of 
possible explanations of Folk's course 
on the Oregon issue, 193-218; steps 
to provide territorial organization and 
other legislative needs for Oregon 
balked in Congress through injection 
of slavery issue, 261-9; the Ben ton 
letter to the people of Oregon, 269-71 ; 
Folk's attitude on the issue called 
out, 269-71; Oregon issue swal- 
lowed up in greater issue of 
slavery and its extension, 272-4; 
Oregon issues with slavery exten- 
sion uppermost in the Senate, 274- 
84; compromise committee provided 
and its bill passed, 384-8; House 
promptly defeats Senate measure and 
passes bill of its own, 288-90; Oregon 
territorial organization act passed and 
signed by President, 290-95; increas- 
ing annual migrations to Oregon, 340- 
6; gradual modifications of its organic 
law, 346-8; advent of territorial offi- 
cials in Oregon, 348-9; failure of fed- 
eral aid in Cayuse war, 349-51; 
astounding ideas of President Taylor 
as to advisable policy towards Oregon 
and California, 352-3; land legislation 
for Oregon, 3S3-* 7 : relation of Dr. 
McLoughlin to land question, 357-60; 
Thurston's manipulations to deprive 
Dr. McLoughlin of his rights, 360-3; ad- 
justment of Hudson's Bay Company's 
claims, 363-4; Indian war claims, 364- 
6; protection of emigrants, 367; pro- 
jects for transcontinental railway, 
367-70; growth of population and ex- 
tension of settlements and carving of 
hew territories out of old Oregon ter- 
ritory, 370-3; pressure for admission 
as a state, 373-9; issues in constitu- 
tional convention, 379-80; the Oregon 
constitution and question of admission 
of Oregon before Congress becomes 
involved with issue of slavery exten- 
sion and general party politics, 380-9; 
marking of the boundary, 390; a 
summary of varying fortunes of the 
Oregon question, 391-2; bibliography, 

Oregon pioneers, annual meeting of, 222. 

Oregon Spectator, tablet marking site 
of its first issue, 297-300. 



Pacific Railway dates, 221. 

Pelly, Governor J. H., outlines to 
George Canning basis of British claim 
to Oregon Country, 27-33. 

PIONEER, THE, 231-3; letter to Board of 
Regents of University of Oregon re- 
questing designation of spot for erec- 
tion of monument as memorial to 
Oregon pioneers, 231-2; expression of 
admiration of genius of Sculptor A. 
Phimister Proctor, 232-3. 

Pioneer, The, Mr. Teal's, 224. 

Pioneers, Oregon, death lists of, 139, 
229, 303-4- 

235-242; experience and training of 
type of people who became founders 
of Oregon, 235-8; occasions on which 
their qualities have been demonstrated, 
238-41; the statue as symbolizing and 
immortalizing these qualities, 241-2. 

LETTER, 301-2; expression of the views 
of the "49 men" and of "54-4o' 
men" and the relative strength of 
these in Congress, 301-2. 

Portland and prospects in 1854, 99. 

141-58; transportation situation in the 
Willamette Valley in the latter 705, 
141 ; plans for the extensions of the 
system, 142; its transportation effects, 
fate under Villard and the final dis- 
position of it, 142; its initial financ- 
ing, bankruptcy, reorganization and 
later finances, 143; conditions leading 
to promotion of the Dayton-Sheridan 
line, 144; details of its early finances, 
145; becomes property of Scotch buy- 
ers organized as Willamette Valley 
Railroad Company, 145; equipment of 
the road, 146; a progressive period of 
railroad construction in the Pacific 
Northwest, 146; extensions of narrow 
gauge mileage on east and west sides 
in early '8os, 148; lines of traffic 
operated, 149; great scheme of junc- 
tion at Winnemucca with Central Pa- 
cific line, 149-50; Villard wins con- 
trol to protect the Oregon and Cali- 
fornia from competition, 150-1; insti- 
tutes policy to make leased lines feed- 
ers to Oregon and California railroad, 
151; ruined road finally taken over by 
Southern Pacific Railroad, 151-2; law 
suits over repudiated lease, 152; 
restoration of road and Dundee and 
Portland extension, 153-4; gravitation 
to Southern Pacific, 154; Ray's Land- 
ing bridge project, 155; public levee 
of Portland seized for terminal, 155; 
Huntington's large projects in the 
early '905, 156-7; financial transac- 

tions involved in the acquisition of the 
narrow gauge system by him, 157. 

Rainier, the name of Mount, 221. 

Reid, William, heads company of 
Scotch buyers of "Yamhill" railroad, 
145; large financial and promotion 
activities of, in Oregon, 147. 


School enterprises in Oregon in 1855, 

portrayal of conditions incident to its 
discovery by Meriwether Lewis, 1-2; 
William Clark names it Lewis River, 
3; the name "Snake," that of the 
Indians inhabiting its basin, supplants 
the name Lewis, 3; versions as to why 
the tribe was so named, 3; Jefferson's 
statement of loss suffered in Lewis' 
death, 4; the prehistoric roads of the 
region, 4-5; David Thompson erects 
first building in what is now the state 
of Idaho, 6; Andrew Henry estab- 
lished Fort Henry on the Snake, 6-7; 
adventures of three hunters in Henry's 
company, Edward Robinson, John Ho- 
back and Jacob Rizner, 7-8; they lead 
the Wilson Price Hunt party through 
to Fort Henry, 8-9; Donald McKenzie 
sent out to establish post among Nez 
Perces, 9; John Reed returns to 
cache at Caldron Linn, 10; Reed's 
second visit to Snake River country 
and first Indian masacre in the 
Snake River valley, 10-11; scenes of 
tragedy on the Oregon trail along the 
Snake, 11-14; complications from dif- 
fering marriage customs of white and 
red race, 14-15; history of Fort Boise, 
15-16; the massacre of the Vanorman 
train, 16-17; the acquisition of the 
horse, the recession of the buffalo and 
the Oregon trail, 17; pioneers and 
gold seekers as state makers, 18; the 
new factor making history in the 
Snake River valley, 19-23. 

The Cascades, 102, 104, 127. 

The Dalles, 1854, 103; mines on the 

upper Columbia cause importance of, 



University, Territorial, removed from 
Corvallis to Jacksonville, 107. 

Villard, Henry, large activity of, in 
railway construction and operation in 
the Pacific Northwest, 146. 

Yreka as large as Portland in 1855, 



F Oregon historical quarterly