Summary Of The Oregon Questions By Frederick Merk

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In his book The Oregon Question, author Frederick Merk traces the origin of the Oregon Question to the spring of 1792. Merk argues that it was Captain Gray’s discovery of the mouth of the Columbia River in the May of 1792 that gave the America a claim to the Northwest. Following Gray’s discovery, the Americans solidified territorial claim through occupation and settlement. By 1803, America began to extend its boundaries to the crest of the Rocky Mountains. By 1812, the American Pacific Fur Company set up its Astoria trade post at the mouth of the Columbia River. The British also secured territorial interests. In 1805, the British established interior trading posts around present day British Columbia for the North West Company. By 1808, …show more content…

The expiration date of the joint occupation agreement was also approaching. The Hudson Bay Company decided to apply to the Foreign Office for guidance in the Oregon Country. Communications were conducted with George Canning who was the secretary for Foreign Affairs. Canning suggested for a new round of negotiations that would be based on the consent of the company regarding its commercial activity in the Oregon Country. The revenue reported from trade fur on the Columbia was an estimated £30-40,000. This was less than the gross of many textile establishments in England. The trade of the Columbia was meek but had the potential to expand and overtake the losses of the trade of the East India Company once British monopoly in China ended. Therefor, the Liverpool government wanted to know whether the American proposal of 49th would leave them with adequate outlets to the sea by Nookta and other ports and how far such communications would be less advantageous than those through the Columbia. The end of the negotiations resulted in a renewal of joint occupation by President Adams. Adams knew that the Americans would never obtain a satisfactory boundary line until the people had a respectable footing in the country. He put diplomacy over emotions. Adams never thought of war as a liable option even given the growing British sphere of influence in the Oregon country. In relation to the hold that the Hudson Bay Company had over …show more content…

Both the US and Great Britain acknowledged the claims of the other party. There was a reoccurring pattern of diplomatic offers and rejections. The British had the upper hand from 1821-1840s due to their sphere of influence over the Oregon Country under the monopoly of the Hudson Bay Company. What really changed the course of the Oregon Question was the influx of American settlers. This increase in settlement changed the severity of the Oregon Question on both sides. Both sides needed each other to initiate peace through diplomacy especially given the implications both sides had in 1846. America was implicated with the Mexican War while Great Britain was under food shortage. It was precisely this urgency that lead to rapid closing of the negotiations of 1846 which lead to the Treaty of 1846 and gave the United States a boundary which it has lived in harmony with for nearly two

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