What was the Oregon Treaty?

Question:

What was the Oregon Treaty?

Oregon Country:

The Oregon Country was a region of the Pacific Northwest in North America often disputed in the nineteenth century. Prior to American settler arrival by the 1830s, the Oregon Country was sparsely populated with French and British fur traders.

Answer and Explanation:

The Oregon Treaty of 1846 brought an end to a boundary dispute between the United States and Great Britain concerning the region. It addressed and settled a previous treaty in 1818 which had allowed for joint occupation of the area by both nations. The 1818 agreement had set the boundary of the territory between the 42 degrees north latitude and north to 54 degrees 40 minutes north latitude. Between the 1820s and the mid-1840s, American settlement into Oregon had grew by the thousands. Most of these settlers had lived in the Willamette Valley south of the Columbia River. The Americans had also devised a constitution and formed a legislature by 1843. With the decline of the beaver fur trade, Britain moved its attention away from Oregon to its holdings in New Zealand, Australia, India and other portions of Asia. Neither the British or the Americans wanted to go to war over the Oregon territory or its boundaries. In his Democratic campaign for president in 1844, James Polk made the slogan "Fifty-Four forty or fight" a call to action concerning the territory. As President Polk was inaugurated in 1845, he continued to stress the necessity of the U.S. possessing Oregon exclusively. By the end of the same year, Polk was even claiming that the US already owned the Oregon country. Such a proclamation upset the British sensibilities concerning its overseas holdings. A Oregon treaty was negotiated between British representative Richard Pakenham and US Secretary of State James Buchanan. The treaty made all settlers south of the 49th parallel line American citizens. Vancouver Island was retained by the British. Lands north of the 49th parallel line and Vancouver Island eventually became part of British Columbia after mid-century.


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Westward U.S. Expansion (1820-1860)

from High School US History: Homework Help Resource

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