Talk:Oregon boundary dispute

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Fort Wayne[edit]

This sentence cannot be right: Fortifications like Fort Wayne were built along the U.S.-British Columbian border in anticipation of combat. It can't be right because B.C. was not formed until after the dispute was settled. The only relevant boundaries at the time were the U.S.-Oregon Country boundary and the BNA-Oregon Country boundary. Without knowing more about this Fort Wayne, I don't know how to fix this section.--Indefatigable 18:03, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The Fort Wayne here is in present-day Detroit. It was probably originally written as U.S-Canadian border, and someone probably mistook the extent of the dispute and tried to localize it to the U.S.-B.C. border. olderwiser 18:37, Jan 25, 2005 (UTC)
No, what you guys are forgetting is that Canadian foreign affairs remained in the hands of the British Empire until the Statutes of Westminster in 1927 (or was it 1931?). If Britain had decided to go to war to keep at least Puget Sound if not the right bank of the Columbia (as it almost did, in fact) all British colonies and possessions would have been involved. Although naval battles were expected to resolve the issue in the Pacific Northwest (since there were no US troops at all west of the Mississippi at this time, except those busy on the other side of the Great Western Desert invading Mexico....), the main theatre of an "Oregon War" would have been along the Great Lakes-Maine "shatterbelt"; and so Fort Wayne and others. There were no American military installations in the Pacific Northwest until after the Oregon Treaty; but more than a few in place by the time of the Pig War and even more were built during the Alaska Boundary Dispute in anticipation of a war with Britain at that time (Canada still being a proxy, as mentioned, of Britain at the time).Skookum1 23:10, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

Polk and 54-40[edit]

Article on James K. Polk says that fifty-four forty or fight was his slogan and then the page on that very slogan says that it was in fact NOT a campaign slogan.

This article is correct. The Polk page has some errors, including that one. I'll get around to correcting all references to 54'50 soon. --Kevin Myers | (complaint dept.) 03:34, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
In any case, this article needs a source for the claim that 54°40' was not Polk's slogan during the presidential campaign. Or at least sources showing that the slogan appeared later. Lupo 13:57, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
Both sources listed in the "References" section support those claims; the specific pages numbers are already there, but hidden and visible only in edit mode. I wasn't quite finished revising this one yet, to add the needed footnotes and such. --Kevin Myers | (complaint dept.) 15:50, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
Oops, I missed that! James K. Polk's bio at states
The 1844 Democratic platform claimed the entire Oregon area, from the California boundary northward to a latitude of 54'40', the southern boundary of Russian Alaska. Extremists proclaimed "Fifty-four forty or fight," ...
One would think that such a highly official site would get its facts right. While they don't claim it had been Polk's campaign slogan, they do imply that the slogan appeared during the campaign. The Grolier Encyclopedia agrees with this. The question is thus basically whether the slogan appeared in 1844 or only after Polk's election. This paper confirms our article's claim of it having originated after the election. [1] is also interesting, attributing the slogan to one Senator Allen (search for "fifty-four"). (Interesting: according to the Google cache, even the Britannica thinks it was Polks campaign slogan! :-) Since it is so widely reported, I would suggest including more than just one reference for this statement of our article, especially since print references are not readily accessible to many of our readers. (Mind you, they're perfectly fine! But if we can also provide on-line refs for it, all the better.) Lupo 11:10, 13 December 2005 (UTC)
All good points; thanks for the links. I'll include more inline citations to improve this article's "trustability" (an odd word I find myself using often with regards to Wikipedia). Finding good online references is more difficult; I have a low opinion about the trustability of most historical information on the Internet.
That being said, both the Grolier and the White House articles are technically correct, I think, but worded in such a way that could easily lead to one thinking the slogan appeared during the campaign. I suspect that's why the myth of the phrase as a campaign slogan was born: in a brief summary of the Oregon crisis, the election of '44 and the famous slogan get mentioned in such close proximity that they become conflated. And that error in turn creates another false impression: that the slogan was Polk's slogan. It was instead a slogan of his Democratic rivals like Lewis Cass of Michigan and Senator William Allen of Ohio. Ironically, "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!" was not Polk threatening Great Britain (as is usually reported), it was really Northern Democrats threatening Southern Democrats...and Great Britain. Ain't history wacky. --Kevin Myers | (complaint dept.) 16:02, 13 December 2005 (UTC)


I am not sure what other information should be included in the map? as has been said on my user page. Is any of it in the already existing maps [2], [3], [4], [5] -- Astrokey44|talk 21:40, 2 February 2006 (UTC) looks to be the best of the group; but in showing the American settlement in the Williamette Valley but nothing else it looks like there was nothing else going on; but there was HBC settlement on the north bank of the Columbia AND in the Williamette, as well as around Puyallup and Nisqually and of course at Victoria and Fort Langley. Worth noting that the American settlement was not significant until the few years immediately prior to the treaty; all American claims prior to that had been advanced in the complete absence of actual Americans on the ground, other than stray preachers and the occasional freebooting marine trader. Also, British subjects - usually French Canadians brought in from the area of present-day Manitoba, as well as other - Metis-native and Hawaiian-native families - that were in the area annexed by the US were denied rights. Still, in the end, many former HBC employees chose to settle "south of the line" following the partition, those that could rapidly Americanizing themselves to fit in to the new social equation. Skookum1 22:56, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

I've been compiling date/figure details on dispute-era settlements; just came across mention that it wasn't until the arrival of the Whitman Party that the 3:1 ratio of British subjects/HBC settlers to settlers arrived via the Oregon Trail was reversed; well, not reversed, more like the Americans now had a plurality, IIRC about 70%-80% of the Williamette (but only the Williamette) until the treaty was signed; and there was no American in the Puget Sound area or anywhere else north of the Columbia until the era of whatsisface homesteading on declared British territory (San Juan Island) to push the envelope (why a group of islands closer to the British regional capital than to the US mainland should be given to the latter is best explained by the latter's insatiable appetite for acquisition/appropriation......).

I remain hot on this idea that the article as it stands is non-POV. The Oregon debate also figured in British hansard and British press at the same time; yet there's no reportage of that, or as already mentioned of the views of the HBC and its staff, who actually lived and worked in the area. It's thorny stuff all over because it involves the murky waters of imperial claims - the three parameters of which, BTW, included "economic use" after "prior discovery" (which includes both discovery and the "staking of claim", raising the flag, claiming the land for the king etc), after which was "active settlement". Until 1843, the only active settlement was by the British, and also economic use (on the inland portion of the territory; the marine trade was British, American and "other"). The technicalities of the treaties with Russia and Spain are interesting too, and tend to get glossed over (there were treaties between Britain and its imperial rivals concerning the area, remember, not just ones between Russia/Spain and the Americans).

That's all for today; just feeding stuff into the mill for consideration. Other Canadian historians aren't generally interested in this because they regard BC as "Canadian manifest destiny" and aren't interested in the early history of the place, or even aware of the imperial politics of which it was a fairly important football; the assumption in mainstream Canadian history is that the 49th Parallel was a foregone conclusion, which it wasn't; easy enough for a flatlander to assume by looking at the map, but a totally different story when you look at the 49th Parallel as it runs east from Blaine/Sumas....Skookum1 18:45, 9 February 2006 (UTC)


The maps cited are all missing important pre-Treaty landmarks; the one from even shows Walla Walla and Boise, and has Fort Vancouver on the wrong side of the Columbia; Forts Kamloops, Colville and Shuswap are missing, among others - most importantly Puyallup and Nisqually, whose presence on the map gives substance to why the British were trying so hard to keep Puget Sound (and why, during the American Civil War, there were plans afoot in BC to seize it back). The name "Columbia District", which was the British/HBC name for the Oregon Country, should also be given equal prominence to the American name, which was dubbed long after the HBC's Columbia District established.

I took the Marianpolis map and drew a series of lines indicating the British compromise boundaries, which were all rejected by the US, which nominally filed the 50th Parallel and 49th-Parallel-to-the-Ocean lines (bisecting Vancouver Island) but which were obvious affronts to the Royal Navy, given the importance of the Esquimalt naval base. Here's the series of boundary proposals, although I can't date them for you as yet:

These maps are only for a Wiki mapbuilder's reference; some way to incorporate them all into the same map would be nice; AFAIK the basemap is copyrighted. I'll make some maps later showing the division between the Columbia District and the New Caledonia districts, and the locations of Forts Puyallup, Nisqually, Colville etc. Also the route of the HBC Brigades and other important pre-Oregon Trail routes.

Questions please ask Skookum1 22:50, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

Could you verify/provide source for these proposals? -- Astrokey44|talk 23:14, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
Derek Hayes, Historical Atlas of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest, among many others. Should be in Akrigg or Bancroft or Scholefield, which are the main 19th Century historians for details like this. Hayes has some of the actual proposal maps and also the dates of some of the British efforts at compromise. The 54-40 line was always unrealistic and a deliberate provocation due to the continued British economic presence in the region - and the complete absence, as noted, of actual Americans, esp. north of the Columbia River.
I can see, looking at the text, that the currently-written version of the article is entirely based around the American perspective and the various myths associated with it (as with the settlement in the Williamette Valley, which was vastly outnumbered and predated by various HBC employee settlements). So at some point I'm going to have to write up the OTHER side of this story, and how the British in the Northwest felt that they had been robbed by the Americans and their feeling that London had no idea what it was giving up. And as Governor Douglas and various writers have noted since, the drawing of the boundary precipitated a massive kill-off of natives south of the new boundary, a fact not lost on those to the north of it nor to the horrified HBC staff who had traded with the Cayuse, Yakima and others for years. I'd like to write all that up, but not today......Skookum1 23:19, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

A few of the maps above I can now assign dates to, in terms of British bargaining positions/proposals, from the Derek Hayes Atlas; not tonight but I'll get to it soon; wondering about some kind of ToC arrangement within the article on the "British" perspective (as if London ultimately cared, which it barely did in the long run, to its great loss IMO). There are dates on the Columbia River boundary (from the 49th Parallel at Trail/Pend'oreille downstream) and the line-of-the-Cascades boundary (to the gorge, I think). Not sure of the copyright status on some of the maps in Hayes (which include details of the old Russo-Spanish versions of the area's geography/claims as well as following the mutation of OR-WA-ID-MT etc boundaries; if some are public domain I'll scan them in; but at least I can point to/verify some of the maps cited above; the Snake River boundary was only putative, like the first bid, the opening round, so I'm not sure it would have a date unless it's buried in some diplomatic history somewhere (as my story about Aberdeen was, in AJP Taylor's 1848-1918 somewhere). The US proposal for a bisection of Vancouver Island was, by the way, regarded from the British perspective on things as provocative and, in fact, an overt threat; an unreasonable proposal meant to be provoke; and it was for this reason that Victoria worked so hard to get the Royal Navy drydock built at Esquimalt in the 1860s; to underline the reason for the Island's inclusion in the Empire (which then was a coaling, water and timber station, and the main British naval base in the North Pacific); plus Fort Rupert on northern Vancouver Island, and Nanaimo; both important coal mines, FR especially earlier on before the Nanaimo diggings.

Locations of important HBC posts and routes should also be on the maps; those are fairly easy to source so I'll try to take the time to make a new rough map with those on them, and on the boundary maps the important posts/trails only; Colville, Puyallup and Nisqually were important "British" strategic losses (as were the San Juans, later on) and Forts Douglas, Langley, Hope and Yale were directly the product of the geopoliticking over the boundary, and imported links in the remaining British infrastructure (i.e. the Fraser Canyon-Coldwater HBC Brigade Trail and Douglas/Lillooet Road, then the Dewdney Trail and other Cascade passes, replacing the old Columbia-Okanagan route to the Cariboo and beyond to Rupert's Land and Hudson Bay (also lost to the British/HBC were the easier travel routes to the passes through the southern Rockies via the Columbia and Kootenay/Kootenai/Clark Fork etc.).Skookum1 09:27, 19 March 2006 (UTC) Skookum1 09:27, 19 March 2006 (UTC)


I should add that I don't mean to be confrontational, or anti-American. It's just that from the British historical perspective the entire story looks quite different, never mind the map. It's not only American historians that gloss over the story of this region; Canadian historians are far worse in general, other than the internal politics of the HBC and McLoughlin's relations, perhaps, with the incoming Americans. Other than that it's fait accompli as far as they're concerned, and they have every bit as much an attitude of manifest destiny towards BC as the US did towards its West (and, uh, including BC in that, even after 1846). So I don't mean to sound pompously anti-American propaganda or anything like that; it's just that Wiki is supposed to be non-POV, and/or hopefully to represent both sides of a dispute. There's also a lot of Canadians in webspace, and in Wikispace; so same as I have to dig around in your Polk and Jackson stuff to see, over time, if there's anything that could be tidied, there's material from our side that you can poke in around to explore the British and colonist positions (not the same thing) on the various boundary disputes, and the comparative and radically different positions on the influx of Americans during the Fraser gold rush, which mysteriously enough didn't result in statehood as it might have; diplomatic and fly-the-flag bluffing by Douglas and his officials and the risk evaporated like a puff of smoke (and soon after most Americans drifted off to the Colville rush, which began two years later). There's a lot about the early Northwest that most Canadians don't know, and even fewer Americans (per capita). I'll try and provide more detailed cites on the boundaries thing, and if you guys are seriously interested I'll dig up some bibliographical resources; not that I agree with many of the pronouncements on the Oregon dispute in most major histories; it's been the side-references to it in books on other subjects that have helped clue me in over the years. More a risk of war than people today on either side now realize; and the change in would have meant in the British Northwest is tremendous - no need to integrate with the Canadas, for instance, if the colony had included the more settle-able lands around Puget Sound and the banks of the Columbia; ten to fifteen million now, or more, instead of four. Whatever. I gotta go but I'll dig up some refs for you later this week (busy next few days).Skookum1 02:11, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

1826 British Boundary Proposal Map[edit]

OK, here's the first dated map I've come up with, alongside the others whose dates I have to establish; the proposal here is the preferred British one which was proposed in 1826 (Hayes, Historical Atlas p.117. American proposals from 1824 and 1825 are on the same map and I'll try and get those done later today for comparison. NB the existing map is not acceptable, which is why I'm fielding these; BTW the lands east of the Rockies were not "British North America" but "Rupert's Land"; similarly the whole area was disputed, not just the area labelled as such; the the name Columbia District has to be added. The original Fort Simpson, BTW, was not north of 54-40 but offshore from Bella Coola (right around the area where the BC Ferry sank last night, in Wright Sound). Also, Boise should NOT be on the map (Boise didn't exist yet, duh); and if Fort Walla Walla is, then so should be Forts Colville, Okanagan, Kamloops, Nisqually and Puyallup....Skookum1 22:42, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

United States proposal[edit] This line, from Boundary Bay/Point Roberts SSW across the Olympic Peninsula and Gray's Harbour to the mouth of the Columbia, was proposed by the US in 1824 and 1825, and it was because of this proposal that the British/HBC were "on notice" that the US intended to obtain exclusive control of Puget Sound (even though there were NO American settlers there, virtually until 1844 or so); and as a partial result of this proposal Fort Langley was founded in 1826 as a surety in case the Americans got their projected territorial aims (which they ultimately did). The boundary is notable for a couple of reasons, in that the US clearly shows its disregard for the presence on the Sound of established "factories" and farms at Nisqually and Puyallup, then going concerns of the HBC and its subsidiary the Puget Sound Agricultural Company; Port Townsend, then only a harbour with no commercial existence, also appears to have been included in the US territorial proposal, although its value as a deepwater port and railhead was not yet realized (railways not yet being invented).Skookum1 22:56, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

Also proposed by the US in the same time period) was, which ran the 49th Parallel through to the Pacific Ocean, bisecting Vancouver Island. This "offer" was meant as a provocation relative to the other one from the same year, which would leave Vancouver Island intact as a British possession as well as command the entry to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and so also to Puget Sound. It is not incidental that it was around this time that Fort Camosun was revamped into Fort Douglas aka Victoria, which was the British/HBC way of asserting their intent to retain Vancouver Island to its southern tip; so this proposal, in combination with the one cited in the paragraph above, was meant from the US side to say "give us Nisqually and Puyallup or we'll take Vancouver Island, too". Pretty bold words for a country that didn't even have a fleet or troops in the area at the time, never mind settlers. Further corollary is that there would inevitably be a quarrel over control of the STrait of Juan de Fuca, otherwise any Puget Sound holdings of the US would be cut off from trade, except overland, and so what's the point? The 2nd American "compromise" map in the list farther above is the 50th Parallel; I'm not sure when it was "proposed" but it, like the 49th-through-the-Island boundary here, was meant as a provocation/threat, a reminder of how much the British stood to lose (deep water harbours, coaling stations) if they didn't yield to the expansionist demands of the still-distant Americans.Skookum1 18:41, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

New Oregon/Columbia Map[edit]

I've uploaded a new map that incorporates most of your requests. I added some forts, I don't think there's space for all of them, I tried to get the most important ones. I also didn't try to portray all the different proposed boundaries - I think that should go into a second map, keeping the relatively clean one for reference. I went ahead and renamed British North America to Rupert's Land - though that's a bit of a fudge, as part of that is North-Western Territory rather than Rupert's Land, but I didn't have room to show that and I'm not sure it's relevant to the article anyway Kmusser 18:56, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

No, it's not really; but terminology is important. The Historical Atlas contains maps which show the unsettled-dispute Oregon/Columbia as part of British North America (in part, anyway), even though there was no formal title as there was in the case of Rupert's Land. Also, the term Northwest Territory did not come into parlance until the purchase/handover of Rupert's Land to Canada in 1867. I've never been sure about the northwest boundary of Rupert's Land, i.e. if the Mackenzie-Peace-Athabasca drainage was part of the dedicated HBC lands which is what the name Rupert's Land refers to (the HBC had title, as opposed to merely a trading monopoly as was the case west of the Continental Divide); I have a friend who's up on HBC history and she may know...what I'm getting at is the northeast sector of BC might have been formally part of Rupert's Land, including much of the northern part of the province tributary to the Peace River (implicitly including the northern part of New Caledonia, which was drained by the Parnsip, Nation, Omineca, Finlay and Fox Rivers (all tribs of the Peace). The area east of the Rockies is the only one in BC covered by the system of treaties which covers the rest of Prairies; but that doesn't necessarily mean it was part of Rupert's Land; in any case, Rupert's Land is the proper designation; you could put "Rupert's Land (HBC)", perhaps.

Of the routes I put on the update map, only the Express really counts; and the Brigade Trail; the Grease Trail is historically important but not so much relevant to the Oregon Dispute; same with the route up the Columbia to the Yellowhead Pass, which I also marked.Skookum1 22:34, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

I added the additional HBC forts, and several more besides the ones you mentioned. Also added in the Thompson River. I left Rupert's Land as is - maps of the time all seem to use the more generic "British Possessions", but I think it's more informative as is. Also left "Disputed Area" as is, I didn't want to get more wordy than it already was and I think that's better explained in the text of the article rather than the map. I took out Ft. Clatsop as it didn't exist at the time the map. I did not add the Express because I couldn't find a good source to copy the route from (and ideally I'd want more than one source) - I think I'd need scans from your Atlas (or go book shopping - but that's not going to happen anytime soon). Kmusser 17:20, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

I'll have to get to a scanner somewhere this weekend, then; the Express route, at least its portion in BC, is very well known and (if you knew the topography) so obvious as to be unavoidable (BC's topography tends to do that to routes of any kind); there's a more formal name for it, perhaps; and mayb I can find something on the online HBC archive, too.Skookum1 17:55, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
Gave this a new section-heading to make it easier to edit...just looked up Forts Umpqua, Hall and Walla Walla. Ft Umpqua I can't find anything on in wiki, other than a redlink in List of Oregon state parks - was it HBC or American-founded? - and according to the Wikistub on it Fort Walla Walla wasn't founded until 1858. Fort Hall is a different matter (q.v.); to augment that article I have to dig out a cite about the HBC's "fur desert" policy, by which was a strategy to strip the Oregon Country towards the United States of all its fur in order to make it unprofitable/inviable for Americans to penetrate a region the HBC considered rightfully theirs (blood had been spilled over it, if you didn't know, in the vicious feud with the Northwest Company much earlier in the Century than Ft Hall's founding in 1834; it appears the HBC's "fur desert" policy worked like a charm, as the fort couldn't make a go of it (as a trade outpost, that is) and it was sold to the HBC only three years later.
Insofar as "Fort Thompson" goes, that was the HBC's name until that fort's amalgamation with the former Northwest Company's Fort Kamloops; in all period records it's referred to as Fort Kamloops. Other name switches abound; Victoria started out as Fort Camosun, then Fort Douglas, ultimately Fort Victoria until the "Fort" was dropped in 1849 (when the Colony of Vancouver Island was founded).
I see you can't fit Fort Puyallup in underneath "Disputed Area", which is understandable. That term I still have issues with, and we should find a better one, as theoretically the whole area from 42N to 54.40N was under dispute, as the various counter-proposals over the boundary show; it was the Cascades/Puget Sound/Lower Columbia that was of most interest to local HBC management (excepting McLoughlin, much to Douglas' chagrin); Britain was largely oblivious to the area's resources and various advantages. What the "Disputed Area" represents is the last British redoubt in face of American desires to take the whole region; but they gave up even this.....I'll try and think of a term for the status of this area, which was the focus of the Venerable Company's activities in the Columbia District; Fts Langley and Victoria were founded expressly as retreat positions.
The route of the Express is fairly obvious, as alluded to before; up the Columbia to Ft Okanagan, up the Okanagan valley to some jumping-off point towards Ft Kamloops (probably the route of today's Hwy 97c via Monte Creek; although a more marine/lake route via Shuswap Lake existed; only it was longer. From Kamloops, down the Thompson to Cache Creek (near where the Bonaparte River meets the Thompson), then up that river and onto the Cariboo plateau to Fort Alexandria. The exact route from Ft Alexandria to Ft St James I'm not sure of; I don't think it was via Ft George (today's Prince George), and again from there I'm not sure. I'll see what I can find in the way of specifics for that end of the route, and some "proof" for you of the route's importance and existence (it's a well-known part of regional history on our side of the line, which can make finding a source-cite hard).Skookum1 19:51, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
The extra forts I added because they were marked clearly on period maps (Library of Congress had several nice ones on-line), Fort Umpqua was HBC. Fort Walla Walla is confusing because there were two of them, the one shown is an HBC fort which existed from. An American fort with the same name was founded in 1856. I found useful for determining if a fort was active during the time period (though it's definitely not complete). For Fort Thompson/Kamloops all period maps I found used Ft. Thompson, but since literature widely uses Kamloops I thought it worth using both names, for other places I tried to use whatever name was most common. For the Express - I don't doubt it's importance, I found plenty of references to it, just no actual maps showing the route that I could copy from - I probably could do the southern portion following the topography like you describe, but I do need more after it leaves the Fraser. Kmusser 03:00, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
On Fort Walla Walla: there were two of them, and the one shown on the map is the probably the one you don't want (namely Fort Walla Walla, located at Walla Walla, Washington). The one on the HBC trade route down the Columbia river was founded in 1818 as "Fort Nez Percé" by the North West Company at the mouth of the Walla Walla River, where it meets the Columbia river on the area of today's Wallula, Washington. [6] Paul Kane referred to it as "Fort Walla Walla" in 1847. You could also add Boat Encampment (see the Footnote in the Kane article). And finally, I think you should also show the main HBC trade route across the continental divide from Ft. Vancouver up the Columbia River to Boat Encampment, over Athabasca Pass to Jasper's House and then down the Athabasca River to Ft. Assiniboine and then to Edmonton, where we're about to leave the area of that map. Lupo 08:31, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
Checked, you're right, will fix the Ft. Walla Walla location, but probably won't get to it till Monday - I pulled the name off a 1841 map, but if it was Ft. Nez Perce during most of the time period I'll use that. I would like to show more HBC routes, but like the Express talked about above I have not found maps showing the routes to copy from.Kmusser 12:43, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
That's a really beautiful map, Kmusser. You're the expert, but my eyes would be happier if the "dots" marking the forts and the "Oregon Trail" text were a little darker. These are a little hard to see on the reduced map. --Kevin Myers | (complaint dept.) 14:26, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
The Express went via Boat Encampment, huh? Had the impression it went via New Caledonia, but it does make more sense distance-wise; was that straight up the Columbia to the Big Bend, then? Looks like I'll have to dig out that history textbook (I think a buddy still has one, or his notes anyway). In which case the main Express route (via Boat Encampment/Athabasca Pass) as well as the Kamloops-Alexandria-Ft St James connection should be shown; also, British-claim-wise, it would be nice to show David Thompson's wanderings in the Kootenay and Flathead, but I realize that would clutter the map.
Ft Nez Percé I recognize, which is I guess why Ft Walla Walla threw me; seems to me the pre-1846 names are the ones that should hold for the map. Which 1841 map was that you found Ft Walla Walla on? Skookum1 15:17, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
You're talking to me? Let's take that slowly. First, I have no idea what "Express" route you're talking about. But I know that Paul Kane travelled with an HBC brigade from Toronto to Ft. Vancouver in 1846/47 and back again in 1847/48. They travelled the way I have indicated. From Fort Edmonton eastwards, the followed the Saskatchewan River via Fort Carlton, The Pas, Grand Rapids to Norway House, then to Fort Alexander, then by the Lake of the Woods to Fort Frances, across Rainy Lake, and then on the Kaministiquia River to Fort William (Thunder Bay). In other words, the canoe brigades followed the large water bodies and rivers except for overland crossings between Edmonton and Ft. Assiniboine and across the Athabasca Pass. A small and not very detailed map is also available online.
I also have a much larger and much more detailed 1844 map drawn by John Arrowsmith that I could basically upload, but its a 20MB JPEG or a 13MB MSID file. I could try to produce a crop showing just the area we're interested in, but it would still be several MB. The Arrowsmith map does show Boat Encampment, by the way, a sure sign that it was considered important, even though it wasn't even a settlement but just a place where the Columbia canoes and the horse trecks that went over Athabasca Pass met. But then, Arrowsmith was even commissioned by the HBC to draw that map, so of course it would show places important to the HBC. Boat Encampment is basically at the western foot of Athabasca Pass, so yes, they went up the Columbia as far as they could.
Interesting side note: the HBC brigade Kane travelled with in 1846/47 on his way westward carried the documents informing the HBC people at Fort Vancouver about the conclusion of the Oregon Treaty. Ft. Victoria had already been constructed as the new designated main HBC post west of the Rockies, and the papers Kane's brigade brought with them instructed the factors at Ft. Vancouver to wind down operations and to relocate to Ft. Victoria.
As for the name of Fort Nez Percé: I don't know when it became known as Fort Walla Walla, but I guess it has something to do with the takeover/merger of the North West Company by the HBC in 1821. I'll have to clean up this Fort Walla Walla article one of these days. Probably will turn it into a disambiguation page for the two locations. Lupo 16:10, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
The map I mentioned is at [7], definitely one of the nicest period maps I found. To Kevin, the map is really designed so that you have to look at the full size version to get the detail - I would have to take a lot out to make it legible at the reduced size.Kmusser 05:19, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
The link's non-functional because it invokes a temp file within a CGI query; what did you search for at the LoC? Oregon Treaty? and under which collection? Better with those kind of things to "save image as" and cite the online source; surprised the LoC works that way: will always generated linkable pages, even though it's a CGI search (hmm, never thought of looking there for Oregon Treaty stuff). I'll have to check over the respective maps in the Hayes Atlas, and will get their cites; e.g. Ft Thompson vs Ft Kamloops, also known as Ft Shuswap (Ft Kamloops was originally the NWC one of a rival pair); possibly also Ft Walla Walla/Nez Percé; At some point I'd like to do a map of "gold trails" in the region - actually of the migrations between the goldfields; up out of Cali to the Fraser (the largest single movement of miners to date at the time), over to Rock Creek, Wild Horse Creek, Big Bend, Colville, up to the Cariboo, down to Colorado and so on; route of the Okanagan Trail, the Whatcom Trail, others connected with the Fraser Canyon, Cariboo and Colville gold rushes (the three biggest).Skookum1 07:45, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
The LoC gives for each of its digitized holdings a "digital ID", typically even in the form of a URL, which is a short and persistent URL to the item. An example is e.g. at commons:Image:Harriet Quimby 2.jpg, which points to at the LoC. "cph 3a17324" is the digital ID in this case. Lupo 08:37, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Lupo, link fixed.Kmusser 16:01, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
That's some guy sitting in an old glider or biplane, leather flightcap and all.Skookum1 16:41, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
First, it's a woman, second, it's a Moisant monoplane, and third, it was an example of a permanent link to a LoC asset, not an example of a map of the Oregon country... Kmusser fixed his link to the map given above to point now to instead of some temporary URL only. Lupo 18:57, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
Found an 1846 map and it's kinda cute: For 1846 it interestingly omits Ft Victoria entirely, and shows the 49th Parallel drawn right through Vancouver Island as the boundary; Forts Hall, Boise and Walla Walla are there; didn't look for Colville; interesting that Cowlitz Farm, an HBC installation, is shown, but none of the HBC Williamette settlements are in those days was a propagandistic activity, as the Hayes Atlas explores.Skookum1 17:28, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
Found your 1841 map - by Wilkes, right? It ALSO ignores Fort Victoria (but takes lots of room to write Point Gonzales where the city/fort-name could be) and specifies the "dry at low water" on the tidal flats around Point Roberts (indicating an early awareness of the issues around that mini-boundary dispute). I see the Ft Thompson you're talking about; on both these maps; and I just browsed Hayes quickly and usually it's Ft Thompson; I think the reason may be that histories of early BC - populist and histiographical - often simply refer to it as Kamloops, or use the NWC moniker Ft Kamloops; maps tended to be more official and would reflect HBC interests/names; apparently this was also Ft Shuswap, although my earlier impression about that name was that it had been at Chase or Salmon Arm; it has an interesting story about an attack by white wolves I intend on adding to my Talk:Skookum1/Bestiary page (but not yet). It also had a rep for hard-ass chief traders; John Tod, Donald MacLean, and the surrounding village was the seat of an important chief named Nicola (Hwxemqexstin or something like that in his own language)Skookum1 17:37, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
I managed to produce a 1.6MB JPG cutout of that huge Arrowsmith map I mentioned above. Uploaded as commons:Image:Arrowsmith Oregon Country.jpg. The full 13MB SID file is at the David Rumsey Map Collection. A nice complement to Wilkes' 1841 map, as it shows a couple of places such as Boat Encampment, Jasper's House, Ft. Assiniboine, and Ft. Edmonton, that Wilkes doesn't show. Committee's Punch Bowl is on Athabasca Pass, between Mt. Browne and Mt. Hooker. (Both maps.) Arrowsmith shows Ft. Nez Percé, whereas Wilkes gives Ft. Walla Walla, so maybe that naming issue is a Canadian vs. U.S. thing, with the U.S. name "Walla Walla" becoming prevalent with the increasing influx of U.S. settlers? Lupo 10:07, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
Settlers, no, political influence on mapmakers, yes; same as on our side of the line. You have to remember with nearly ALL maps of that era, and also photos - even apparently bland street scenes - were all commissioned by people with money, and in the case of maps, power. What's on the maps is highly politically charged - necessarily so concerning a region under dispute. Hence my tart comments about the Wilkes' map (or the other one, whichever) showing the boundary bisecting Vancouver Island, and omitting Victoria altogether (or the route of the Brigade/Express, for that matter, the HBC equivalent to the Oregon Trail, more or less). The Hayes Atlas dissects a lot of this political stuff; comparing Russian maps with Spanish ones, comparing colorations of the frontier and markings on American maps with British/HBC ones.

The Nez Percé/Walla Walla thing is pretty much as you say, I'd think; there's another bunch of switched names relating to the US takeover (but I just got up and haven't had enough coffee yet...). Generally the HBC would change names if taking over another fort (starting with Nootka, which originally had a nice big long Spanish name that's slipped my mind at the moment); ditto with Fort George; anything with "George" on it in those days smacked of being British ("King George" in the Chinook Jargon simply meant "British"), so of course it was a name that had to be changed once the US took it over. Skookum1 15:16, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

Archival Maps issues[edit]

Tried to look at your Arrowsmith map; got this:

There is currently no text in this page. You can search for this page title in other pages or edit this page. It is possible it once existed but was deleted. Check for Arrowsmith Oregon Country.jpg in the deletion log.

It isn't in the Deletion Log, so not sure what happened there. Did you have a suitable copyright/licence status? My own photos have sometimes been deleted on some pages, not sure why; thought I had the copryight thing understood, but apparently not....

Both the Wilkes and Arrowsmith are US-side maps; I've been intending on scanning some of the ones in the Hayes Atlas but I'm not sure of the copyright status to use; and I can't tell from the plate directory of bibliography if maps in private or public collections are copyrighted; or because it's in Hayes' book is it copyrighted?Skookum1 15:16, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

It should have been :commons:Image:Arrowsmith_Oregon_Country.jpg, of course. Sorry 'bout that. And note that the Arrowsmith map is a British map, not a U.S. map :-) Lupo 15:29, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

Shared sovereignty vs. joint occupancy[edit]

In 1818 the United Kingdom and the United States agreed to share sovereignty in the region in a "condominium of interests", demurring on any resolution of the territorial and treaty issues until a later time.

It might have been me that adjusted whatever was there before to read like that, but as I read it today it struck me as a bit awkward/uncomfortable. Part of the reason is that I remember the term "joint occupancy" as opposed to "condominium of interests" (which was the term used for the Anglo-French Sudan). The other reason is that under British imperial law "sovereignty" was not yet established as that requires treaties with the indigenous governments cf the Royal Proclamation of 1763; technically the Crown is to this day not sovereign in most of British Columbia because of the unresolved sovereignty issues built into the land claims problems. I'll read the 1818 treaty and see what the language used in that is, as it should be mirrored here; diplomatic language is very precise, and each has a different set of connotations ("joint occupancy", "shared sovereignty", "condominium of interests").Skookum1 17:38, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

I've seen both "joint occupancy" or "shared sovereignty" used, and yes I believe it was better before you adjusted it. ;-) And the Proclamation of 1763 did not recognize native sovereignty, just the right of occupancy. About unceded native lands, the Proclamation said, "to reserve under our Sovereignty, Protection, and Dominion, for the use of the said Indians...." --Kevin Myers | (complaint dept.) 01:49, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
Okay, then shouldn't that be included somewhere in the article? mathwhiz29 01:20, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
The quagmire of defining what the Royal Proclamation means is the basis for a whole subschool of legal studies in Canada, and remains unresolved, although in the case of British Columbia courts have come whackingly down on the side of "no, this doesn't mean native sovereignty was overwritten by the Crown" and that, in the absence of treaties, the word "sovereignty" is a very dicey legal proposition, whatever it meant to George III's ministers at the time; the whole point of treaties was to secure the legality of colonial/imperial land transactions in the local context; this was never done in BC except on southernmost Vancouver Island and in the Peace River Block. All that aside, the term "sovereignty" makes me blanch; that's not at all the context of the Anglo-American Convention; here's Article III which puts it plain:
Article III - It is agreed, that any Country that may be claimed by either Party on the north-west coast of America, westward of the Stony Mountains, shall, together with its Harbours, Bays and Creeks, and the navigation of all rivers within the same, be free and open for the term of 10 years from the date of the signature of the Present Convention, to the Vessels, Citizens and Subjects, of the 2 powers: it being well understood, that this Agreement is not to be construed to the prejudice of any claim which either of the 2 High Contracting Parties may have to any part of the said Country, nor shall it be taken to affect the claims of any other Power or State to any part of the said Country, the only object of the High Contracting Parties, in that respect, being to prevent disputes and differences amongst themselves...
and note the footnote on that section - here, just for research ref; the same link is where I copied the above text from, sans #NOTE_2 that is. There's no way "sovereignty" could have been the context of the above statement, which clearly makes it feasible for yet another country to also press claims in the area (Russia, Spain, whomever, which is the same context as the Third Nootka Convention. There was no "shared sovereignty" at all, in legal terms or in claim, by either party; sovereignty remained an open issue from that treaty; it is after-the-fact backpedalling that seeks to justify the 1818 treaty as establishment of a US claim; no, it's just the right to assert that claim alongside all others. British Columbians do the same backwardly incorrect view on the Nootka Conventions; Spain signed nothing away; she signed others in, but historical retrospect yields up the various misperceptions about the region's history. I'll say it again, nobody had sovereignty until 1846; and in terms of the British half of the area, which became mainland British Columbia, it was terrus nullius within the British Empire and had no legal status until 1858; and even then the way the Colony got established, and the Province shortly afterwards, still never resolve the unresolved sovereignty issues. And so we have Land claims. For more on where all this is going look for "Xeni Decision" on (talk) 04:48, 31 March 2008 (UTC)


British negotiators still pressed for the Columbia River boundary, which the Americans would not accept since it would deny the U.S. a port on the Pacific Ocean, and so no adjustment to the existing agreement was made.

Really? Never heard that one before, and it's damned silly when you consider Astoria, Newport, Tillamook and Coos Bay. And, not least of all, Portland, which while it's not on the Pacific is one of the busiest ports "on" the Pacific Coast. The quoted line sounds like political wheedling to me, i.e. to cover for American expansionism-for-expansionism's sake; the only non-native activity until just before the treaty north/west of the Columbia was British - Forts Vancouver, Nisqually and Puyallup; not sure which side of the river Ft Okanagan was on, or Colville for that matter (the second-to-last-ditch boundary proposal from the British, other than the Cascades line, was the line of the Okanagan River anyway, not the Columbia proper.Skookum1 18:15, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

First, the title given to this post is blatantly not from a neutral point of view, which as stated before defeats any claim about bias the editor who posted this makes.
Secondly, and far more importantly, is that the claim made in the actual article about the US demands due to a lack of deep water ports is accurate. Some simple research bears this out:
“He [Albert Gallatin] pointed out also that on the whole Northwest Coast, from the northern boundary of California to Juan de Fuca Strait, not a single port deep enough for an American naval station was to be found; that the port at the mouth of the Columbia was unusable, because of the bar, except for light vessels of commerce; that north of the 49th parallel the coast abounded in harbors suitable for naval stations; that if all deep-water harbors inside the straits were to pass to England, the exclusive naval command of the Northwest Coast would pass to England with them.”
This is an excerpt from: Albert Gallatin and the Oregon Problem: A Study in Anglo-American Diplomacy, by Frederick Merk, Harvard University Press, 1950. Page 70. Please note, that this author is paraphrasing from a letter from Gallatin to Henry Clay dated November 25, 1826. If you would like to read more about this from Merk and have JSTOR access you can look here: The American Historical Review, Vol. 37, No. 4. (Jul., 1932), pp. 653-677.
As to the Columbia as the line, in the document titled British Statement of 1826 in The History of Oregon by George Wilkes, William H. Colyer, 1845, page 125, I quote:
“Great Britain, on her part, offers to make the river the boundary...navigation of it remaining forever free...”
The river they are discussing is the Columbia, as the paragraph preceeding it only mentions the Columbia River. This “statement” is a re-print of: Statement of the British Plenipotentiaries relative to the Territory West of the Rocky Mountains (1826) at App. tab 7. Up in Canada you may have a better time finding the document here: J. White, "Boundary Disputes and Treaties", in Shortt & Doughty, eds., Canada and its Provinces, 1914, Vol. 8 at p. 852.
Not only did they propose the Columbia boundary, but they also then proposed a rather odd solution to the US demands for ports. They proposed a detached tract of land amounting to basically the Olympic Peninsula for the US to have the harbors they demanded. This is covered on page 71 of the Merk book and I have seen it numerous other places, including on the back cover of A General History of Oregon, by Charles Henry Carey (1936), where there is a map showing this proposed triangle of detached land.
As hopefully the above information pointed out, Astoria and Portland were not feasible as ports, at least not until modern improvements, due to the treacherous bar. The jetty at the mouth being the most important improvement, but also there were coast guard ships stationed there until more modern technology was able to provide the same service in the form of buoys. As to the other ports you listed, have you ever been to those places? I know I have and they are rather small ports for big ships to safely get in and out. That’s why those ports are not major shipping ports, just small fishing boats. You see it is rather difficult to sail boats through small openings against the river or tide. Now Coos Bay is a good sized port, but they have to dredge in order to maintain the channel, and that would have been difficult in the mid 1800s.
So, as I hope you can see, this was not purely some expansionism excuse. There is historical facts outlining the demand for deep water ports, and most importantly from well before the Oregon Treaty was signed. And this is not just my opinion, someone at Harvard already covered this. Aboutmovies 00:28, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

BC & Pacific Northwest History Forum[edit]

Please see RE BC & Pacific Northwest History Forum re: Talk:List of United States military history events#Border Commission troops in the Pacific Northwest. If you think maybe I should also move some or copy some of my other stuff from NW history and BC history pages let me know; I never mean to blog, but I'm voluble and to me everything's interconnected; never meaning to dominate a page so have made this area to post my historical rambles on. Thoughts?Skookum1 05:12, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

Citation issues re American settlement[edit]

IP user put in a {{fact}}</nowik> template after the passage where it says American settlement was negligible until the 1840s, putting the edit-history comment "(citation and numbers needed for this statement)". Actually, the onus is on Americans to prove the opposite, as had been written in previous version of this page, that there was a "flood" of American settlers into the so-called Oregon Country, as if that took place in the 1820s and 1830s, which was anything but the case. There was no such flood, only a trickle of settlers; there was no "flood" until almost the eve of the Oregon Treaty, and the bulk of it ''afterwards''. Yet over and over I see American-written pages, here and at [[Oregon Country]] and elsewhere, where it's presumed that American claims over the region were based on American settlement; no, it was the other way around; there had been a few, very few, Americans entering the territory before 1840, most of them taken care of by the nice HBC folks who were already there but are only referred to as "French fur traders" rather than "British settlers" which, in a political context, is what they were. So back to the citation - I'll try and compile some numbers and dates of settlement to ''demonstrate'' how few Americans there were; but next time someone says stupid things about the Oregon Country being overrun by American settlers, long before nearly anyone had come west of Fort Hall, don't be surprised if a <nowiki>{{fact}} template gets plonked right down after it.Skookum1 18:58, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

Increasing APOV....[edit]

Well, while the additions by Aboutmovies are valid (sort of) they increase the "APOV" of this article considerably, especially since they come in the introductory section, and the "BPOV" that's in that same section seems to be being downplayed, and not just because it comes at the end of the section. I'm one step short of transcribing the whole of one of the main sources I have - the British Columbia Chronicle by the Akriggs - into my sandbox/resources pages, as they spell out the extent of British economic activity and settlement, specifically contrasting it with US claims. The Akriggs' tone is highly POV - they devote a whole final chapter of Vol. 1 to criticisms of the Oregon Treaty and the decision-making that led to it, focussing on the shallow American claim and the comparatively marginal "economic activity" and "active use" by American settlers vs. those of the long-standing HBC presence - but I'll see what I can condense out of their two chapters (or more?) on the dispute, as the non-APOV presence in this page is more and more disheartening to see side-lined by rationalizations for the American takeover. Focussing on US activites, and US political debates, while largely ignoring the British side of things is a BIG issue on this page; I'm at present the only Canadian editor who's taken an interest in it, and I have my hands full elsewhere, but I'll try and make "positive changes" here, but the "bandwagon" flavour on this page is becoming a bit too loud and clear; no doubt it's hard to see one's own POV when it's all you know; I've always been exposed to both sides, and that's why my concern. Maybe if I get some spare time (???!@!!) I'll transcribe the Akriggs' chapters, and whatever else I can find; but if I do take the time I'd like to know that someone else involved with this page is going to read it, instead of continuing to ignore the POV issues I've raised previously.Skookum1 02:30, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Very interesting claim. Just so we have all the facts out there, I added the recent addition you object to. Do you know why? It’s because of the anti-US POV that you added here [8] where you include the value judgment “marginal” to describe US economic activity. As you will note I did not add a value judgment such as the “American’s had robust and extensive” economic activity in the region (nor did I remove or reword any Canadian/British info). It was left to the reader to decide what this means, as is what part of the WP:NPOV policy is about. The other main tenant of the NPOV is that both sides get to express their sides. It’s not the US POV’s fault there are not more Canadians involved in this article. All we can do is try to add well sourced facts to the article. I avoid marginalizing BC/Canadian/British items, but myself I am appalled by some of the items you add, such as the above mentioned item that also includes the qualifier “Actual American” settlers. What, as apposed to the fake plastic ones that the US government flew in and set up around Oregon City? The way the sentence should have been written to avoid the POV issue would have been something along the lines of: American settlers numbered around 100 in 1840, or something based on a fact and not a value judgment. If you want to make it look marginal, then write the population of the area was approximately 10,000 natives, 200 British/Canadians, 100 Americans in 1840, 100 Russians, and 50 Spaniards. These are all guesses as to population and I don’t know if Russia/Spain still had any people in the area in 1840, but I’m sure there are sources out there that might have better guesses. Then to top things off you talk about American mythology. Would you take offence if I wrote, according the Canadian mythology the US and Britain almost went to war over the Northwest Coast in the 1840s. Of course you would find it offensive and counter to your beliefs, yet you wrote basically the same thing about American claims. So, do you see the hypocrisy in your complaint about American POV? Of course American POV is going to be in all the articles about the Pacific Northwest, and it is allowed to be there, but so is the Canadian POV. We don’t get to marginalize or remove the other POV, it all goes into the pot. There are obviously more people on this side of the border, so yes things will be skewed in the US view, but only at first. As time progresses the Wiki will begin to fill up and fewer new articles will be made. At that point the existing ones will be better edited by people with time on their hands and slowly transform the articles into ones that are fairly presented on all sides. But till then we on this side of the border are not going to stop adding content to reflect our side of the story. Now if someone adds unsourced statements, flag them as such and remove them if nobody adds a cite. But ultimately, focus on being NPOV yourself first, then and only then do you have an actual gripe. Aboutmovies 19:26, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
Well, y'see, Canadian mythology is that the 49th Parallel was a foregone conclusion, and BC was wound up to be a colony of Ontario and Quebec (which is what it is) by something very much like Manifest Destiny stateside. I've been trying to recruit, actually, British imperial historians to take part in this, as the equivalent debates on the territory to those in Washington DC that are given in so much detail here happened in London/Westminster, rather than having anything to do with "Canadian history"; Canadian historians, other than the Akriggs and certain others from BC, ignored British Columbian history pretty much altogether except when it concerns them (Central Canada and its mythology); this applies to the provincial era (even the modern one) and also the colonial era, and especially what came before the colonial era (1846 and back) even more. As a result even people who are otherwise well-read in Canadian history can spout off all kinds of stuff about the War of 1812, the Acadian expulsions, and the UEL heritage but know next to zip about early BC; and about the Oregon Treaty even less - and here I'm talking about people who live in BC. What they hear in and about BC these days is largely four things, all built around the theme of racism: the treatment of the Chinese, the Komagata Maru, the Japanese internments/relocations, an the abuse of the First Nations; it's so bad that if you ask someone about BC history, one or all of those four things is all they will know. I'm the bull in the woods on all of this, which is one reason I write in Wikipedia - Canadian publishers either don't have dough, or are in Eastern Canada and don't have a clue about anything west of Lake Superior...more like Lake Huron....
So, that being said...(having laid some of the cards on the table), my basic point about APOV here is that American-written histories make a lot of assumptions in the same way that Canadian ones do; and you have to admit the myth of the Oregon Trail is a powerful one, as is that of Lewis & Clark; we mythologize Fraser and Thompson and Vancouver to a certain degree, but not quite in the same way; and jingoist politicians like Jackson and Polk would more likely to be treated cynically in our own history, i.e. if they had been Canadian politicians, than the way Americans put their Presidents, even the nasty ones, up on pedestals. We hate our politicians; Americans somehow find a way to love yeah, thing is I wasn't able to get some of the specifics I needed to "BPOV"/"BCPOV" this and related articles, but in the time I've monitored it the US content has grown topsy-turvy, as if nothing else was happening on the other side of the line; it even sounds like the British were cowering in their boots, which was anything but the case; and yes, there were elements in Britain just as ready for war over Oregon as there were in the US; I finally got my copies of the BC Chronicle back from a friend I'd loaned them to so can dig up proper cites for certain things now (I had it backwards in one of my posts; the treaty arrived in London the day the pacifist Aberdeen retired; another day later and the new foreign minister - Palmerston I think - would have rejected the treaty and all hell might have broken loose); among them this "marginal" thing. Fine, OK, there were 100 Americans in the Oregon Country in 1840, and your missionaries were "buildling economic infrastructure". With the help of the HBC, who had had an economic infrastructure all along...but the "marginal" thing is best highlighted, in terms of the dispute over the "Triangle", in that there were at the time of the signing of the treaty no more than eight American settlers north of the Columbia, vs a few hundred British subjects; and one of those eight was an "Americanized Briton", i.e. a Briton who was now an American citizen. This article had originally said "a flood of American settlers", which is common enough and easy enough to "cite" from American-written histories; but since when is EIGHT a flood? So, well, I've been wary of using the Akriggs as a source because they're very BCPOV/BPOV and somewhat anti-American; but I'm beginning to realize that the sources American contributors here and on similar pages are also POV, and more than somewhat anti-British, and also caught up with the Manifest Destiny thing, in the same way Canadian historians are always looking for ways to justify why BC is just a province like any other and its destiny was to be run by the Toronto banks and Montreal railways...I think what I'm going to have to do is transcribe the relevant materials from the Akriggs into my sandbox, and ask for your help in picking through it; as obviously I'm too prolix to write anything concise for the article; the point here is to come up with, eventually, an article that comprehends BOTH Sides of the story; right now it's largely only the American one, other than certain bits that are mine (and which I can now at least cite, or rewrite so they're citable, like this "marginal" vs "flood" thing....).Skookum1 19:53, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Now that we have a bit of a common understanding, I'd love to work with you and all the other BC people and those on this side of the border to expand all the history articles in this corner of the world. For instance I made a quick Pugets Sound Agricultural Company article the other day, and until the last few months I had never heard of this entity, yet its a great story that is really a more of a BC item. This is a great item to expand, and being a student I have access to lots of libraries and online primary sources for free (well actually I guess it is costing me $24k a year) that can be mined for information. And most of it will have a POV, but that does not mean it is automatically wrong. We just have to be careful to recognize it ourselves and see if it can be verified somewhere else or present it for what it is. For instance with my work on Champoeg Meetings most of the materials are very lauditory towards the American actions, so I went to the archives to look at the originals to try and temper the mood to something more believable and then present the facts to let them speak for themselves. But utlimaetly the documents bare out that a working government was in existence and that people were respecting their authority. For instance in a rather ironic instance the provisional legislature was given a gift of several copies of a book concerning Oregon history in the late summer of 1847 from someone in I think California, to which the legislature then distributed out to places such as the Multnomah Circulating Library and even one for their good friend Marcus Whitman (I don't think he got his copy). Anyway I hope we are over the POV arguements and we can, to quote the great American orator Mr. Rodney King, just get along.Aboutmovies 20:37, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Add by the way, nobody here complained when the dominating WikiBC template was added to the top here, even though the Oregon one was here first. Aboutmovies 19:33, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

I never asked for it to be that big, and would prefer if the BC Wikians who made it had made it similar-sized to the AK and OR ones (and the new WA one). The Canadian one's even splashier, and twice as ugly with its big splash of the red-and-white, but I didn't put it here just because of that.
Also you should note that it was ME who conscientously placed the WikiProject Washington template here, as I had also done with the Idaho and Montana templates before I took them out after it turned out their destinations were redlinked/deleted).Skookum1 20:03, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
I don't care about the size or the location. Its fine where/how it is, but can you see how the location could be construed as BC ownership of the article and be an arguement about some pervasive BC POV based on your similar POV arguement concerning the placement of the American stuff? There is no proper place to put any of those templates in relation to each other, and I don't care that the BC one is first.Aboutmovies 20:37, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

I've added some information here regarding the Royal Navy and British government's perspective on this issue which I hope may help balance the 'POV' as you put it here. Can I recommend Gough's book as an excellent scholarly resource; attempting to understand the Crisis without due attention to the naval/diplomatic background is somewhat problematical, to say the least. Jonathanrtodd (talk) 17:44, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

German Emperor and the US[edit]

I'm gone again after tonight, but noted the recent move of the phrase: when the arbitrator (the German Emperor) chose the American-preferred marine boundary via Haro Strait, to the west of the islands, rather than the British preference for Rosario Strait which lay to their east. and though to add that in the public mythology as taught by my anti-Yank high school teacher(s) long ago, the Emperor (Wilhelm I? or II?) was a cousin of some kind to the American President or is it that the prez was a second ousin of Bismarck?); . Not that he wasn't also to Queen Victoria (Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was only a cadet house of the Hohenzollerns, though, not the main line as with Wilhelm), but the connection between the White House and the German throne was implied/contended to be part of the bias Much the same is said about the Alaska boundary decision, but then the ties between the German and British royal houses were even closer (the contention re the Oregon dispute is that the Germans were determined to screw with the Brits for whatever reason, dynastic/family or otherwise; i.e. the contention may be citable, even if not relevant. One thing, though, I do remember from the account in the Akriggs' book (I think it was the a lot last year, so...) is that at the time of the original treaty Haro Strait was little known and it was assumed (by the Brits) that Rosario Strait, which though narrower is more sheltered and more easily navigable (fewer complex tides and reefs, and not a zig-zag), was the obvious meaning of the treaty. IIRC the text says the deepest channel and interestingly enough that, when it was finally sounded, turns out be Active Pass, between Galiano and Mayne Islands and which if designated would have lopped off even more of the Gulf Islands into the US. Anyway, point in the Akriggs (or in JB Kerr, perhaps) is that it was only by the onset of the Pig War that anyone really knew much about Haro Strait, and of course the Americans pressed the advantage, even though San Juan Island is closer to Victoria than the US Mainland (in practical sailing terms anyway).Skookum1 04:55, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Trivia section moved from main page for discussion[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • 54-40, a Canadian rock band, takes its name from the slogan "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight".
  • 54-40 or Fight by Emerson Hough was a 1909 bestselling American novel about the Oregon crisis.
  • 54-40 is a song by Portland, Oregon rock band Dead Moon.
  • In The Twilight Zone episode "A Kind of a Stopwatch" the man in the bar who gives the main character a stop watch that can freeze time is first asked "What do you say, old man?" and replies with "What do I say, well I say fifty-four forty or fight."
  • Episode 1.15 of The Brady Bunch is entitled "54-40 and Fight".

  • Delete The pop culture section is pretty much trivia. If any of this is encyclopedic or notable, then it should be worked into the prose of the main article. I don't think any of these items qualify. Opinions? Katr67 (talk) 02:17, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Seems like maybe a best-selling novel on the issue ought to be mentioned somehow. Other than that, I'm fine with deleting. -Pete (talk) 05:04, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Except....shouldn't 54-40 (disambiguation) exist? Given the entries above, that is; there are other slogans which have pages I think e.g. Kilroy was here.Skookum1 (talk) 04:34, 31 March 2008 (UTC)


There's an image here that might be good, if you can figure out what it says. - TheMightyQuill (talk) 22:12, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Something to the effect of "they say the 49th, [xxx] ...settle it amicably" and the guy on the right says: "I agree (argue?; could be meant as a dialect usage) for the hull (also dialect usage;"whole") of Oregon or more. I do or don't do nothing else." Clearly hickisms I'd think, meant to sound that way though maybe not in ridicule, probably the opposite. Sentiments typical of US aggressive attitudes over the Oregon Country, especially when you consider that there were, like, three US settlers north of the Columbia, and one of them was a naturalized Briton (a George Bush....) who wasn't sympathetic (he had a native wife IIRC). But it's the "or more" that gets me; people advocating taking the whole or Oregon or more had no idea what lay within it, or anything about it....that what makes the expansionism all the more remarkable...unless you're raised with Manifest Destiny as a "given".....Skookum1 (talk) 22:40, 21 February 2008 (UTC)
And for the record I have much the same opinion about institutions like the BC govt and its pretense of owning everything to the 60th Parallel, using the populationsd of the Lower Mainland and other southern parts of the province to lay claim to barely inhabited, or totally uninhabited, lands hundreds of miles away, impenetrable to all but the most persistent suburbanite in an SUV (and even with persistence, a winch and extra fuel and food are recommended...) areas where the majority population, by the way, remains aboriginal.....Skookum1 (talk) 22:42, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Pig War[edit]

The Pig War seems too significant for the See Also section. Should be mentioned in the body somewhere. -Pete (talk) 22:03, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

Ongoing a-factual USPOV content[edit]

This article is still heavily USPOV and seems to get moreso every time I look at it; the comeback "well, you can add anything you want" is nice pat dismissal of this problem, but when +I+ write an article I try to source all sides of the question, not just the national tub-thump going on here. The diplomatic and political history here remains heavily US-weighted, and is more about US domestic pollitics than about the boundary dispute as such. Teh various British positions are either glossed over or ignored, and various wildly false claims from the US side are preset5ned as if factual; one such is the usual saw about Astoria being "the first permanent American settlement in the region" when it was only Ameriacn for two years, and even then was near-entirely Scots-Canadian/French-Canadian staffed, and was not American again until 1846; similarly discussion of so-called US economic acticvity (the Whitman Mission was economic?) was placed first, ahead of the tidbit of HBC history here, which predates actual US presence by decades. I know that these myths are common in US histories, and so citable - but that doesn't make them factual, or those sources "reliable", as their content can easily shown to be false. Someone could cite Mein Kampf too, that doesn't make it reliable. The latest grating-the-teeth-bit I've found is:

Both the United Kingdom and the United States had territorial and commercial interests in the Oregon country as well as residual claims from treaties with Russia and Spain.

Exactly what US commercial interests were there, exactly, i.e., prior to 1840/1843? Zilch, other than Jacob Astor's failed operation, and Bob Gray's short-lived Fort Defiance (British Columbia) at Clayoquot Sound. Also it should be understood that the territorial legalities that were residual from the treaties with Russia and Spain were not claims, but the abdication of claims by the Russians and Spanish; not t he sale of any claims. I'll be back with various cites/passages from Howay&Scholefield and JB kerr, which are online; maybe HH Bancroft is, too, i.e. about the actual status of the territoruy; like the Nootka Conventions the Anglo-Ameican Convention put aside any active claims, and also left teh territory open to claims by other powers; there was no ownership of any kind, rather a "recess" on the making of any claims, though citizens of both powers were allowed to udnertake commercial and settlement enterprises in the region, pending eventual resolution. As for "first permanent settlement", various locations on the Coast and in the Columbia and Fraser basins have been shown to be continuously occupied for 5-10,000 years......and Fort McLeod was established in 1805, just inside (or just outside) the putative US-claimed boundary at 54-40 i.e. "in the region". Fort Astoria/George was the first Canadian settlement on the Coast; the first American settlement was Fort Defiance, albeit not permanent. I know many WPWash and WPOreg contributors are conscientious and do their best to avoid USPOV overburden so I hope the page refs I'll be providing from Howay and Kerr will find their content reflected here, and I'm asking that no more US dopemstic politics/proapganda be added, or I'll have to place the POV template again (it was removed without valid reason IMO).Skookum1 (talk) 13:45, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

While you're right about the Russian claims, you're wrong about the Spanish. The Spanish did not merely abdicate claims to the territory; all Spanish claims north of 42° were explicitly transferred to the United States. To quote the text of the Adams-Onís Treaty directly, "His Catholic Majesty cedes to the said United States, all his rights, claims, and pretensions to any Territories, East and North of the said Line." Text of the Adams-Onís Treaty Ehrbar (talk) 08:46, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Writing "was virtually nil" is POV. Declaring the missionaries as non-economic is POV. Failing to recognize the marine trade of US folks in the region is a bit POV. Changing a sentence to no longer reflect what the citations say (i.e you made it appear the activities listed occurred after 1840) violates WP:A. The Methodist Mission was largely secular and economic in its activities. That's why they shut it down, all the Natives were pretty much dead in the lower Columbia after 1830 (estimates were a 90% mortality rate due to a likely malaria outbreak) so there were not very many people to convert. The Methodist Mission operated storehouses, stores, mills, and such and spent far more time with secular activities, which is also why they needed reinforcements, since obviously it wasn't due to demand for religious services. The Whitman Mission was less economic in nature, but still had secular activities such as agriculture (also they likely bought some supplies from the HBC, which I believe would be economic in nature). All of the pre-1840 economic activities were added in direct response to non-neutral POV term of "marginal" that was attached to US economic activities pre-1840. Some of the documented US economic activities in the region were added so the reader could make their own decision on the level of economic activity. Aboutmovies (talk) 18:02, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

Oop, I just provided a reference for the claim mentioned here: "Both the United Kingdom and the United States had territorial and commercial interests in the Oregon country as well as residual claims from treaties with Russia and Spain." I wasn't going to write more until I saw Skookum's question here: Exactly what US commercial interests were there, exactly, i.e., prior to 1840/1843? I could get into the topic in some depth, but don't have time. But there were at least two US commercial interests prior to 1840. One, there was the repeated attempts to break into the fur trade business, most notably the efforts of Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth, but also a period of contest between the HBC and American fur companies in the Snake River Country. Wyeth managed to build some posts and alarm the HBC, but his venture failed fairly quickly. The Snake Country was eventually made fairly secure for the HBC after a decade, 1825-1835 or so, but was never fully closed to American fur traders in small numbers. So even though the fur interests failed, they were still "commercial interests". That is to say, American fur companies were interested in doing business in Oregon Country, and tried repeatedly to break in. Second, the maritime fur trade of the North West Coast, mainly what is today the coast of British Columbia, was essentially monopolized by American ships for most of the period, 1810 to the late 1830s. In the 1830s the HBC decided to fight for control of the sea coast fur trade. They did eventually win, with American ships ceasing to come to the coast for furs in the late 1830s. Still, this alone is a good example of an American commercial interest in the region that spanned most of the "joint occupancy" period. And since the American ships traded far north, it even gives a bit of credence to the 54-40 claim, though not that much. Nevertheless, Americans were commercially active in Oregon Country that far north, dominating, in fact, the coastal trade. Anyway, the Mackie cite's page numbers also have info on the treaties mentioned in the sentenced that had been tagged "citation needed". There is more on this topic too, but I must run. Pfly (talk) 21:32, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Admittedly I was taking that as "estabslihed commercial interests" ratehr than the more abstract meaning of "commercial interests" in re teh stated convention allowing for joint economic use; but it was indeed the kind of specifics you've mentioned that I was asking for; to me the case for American economic use during hte early period has semed overstated, but the various failed ventures ou mention do qualify as actual corporate interests; and tehre's a difference beween fur companies and the individual trappers; such trappers would be in the cash economy, and were untaxed, i.e. not in a national/Crown mandate as were the British fur companies. Also worth noting, though somewhat speculative but also I think citable somewhere noting that Britain's lack of engagement int he area following Vancouver's report is one of hte imperial shortcomings on the outer frontier that presages the fall of ht Empire; a more committed Empire would have settled and exploited the area in teh way the Americans were soon after to do (with zeal). But re the marine fur trade, there's a passage in one of Begg's discussions of the backghround to the Alaska boundary dispute about Norfolk Sound being a gatehring place for "ships of all nations"- the comparison to Nootka Sound of hte 1780s-early1790s s tehre to be made, but Begg doesn't make it - and it's because of the importance of Norfolk Sound (Sitka's offshore waters) that he says that Bagot and Canning were ntent on getting the marine boundary to the 56th Parallel via Clarence Strati (not as later interepreted as starting at the head of the Portland Canala). It's also worth noting that British commercial interests were exteneded into ostensiblyt Russian territory by the lease of 1837 (1838?) and so were outside the boundaries of the Oregon Country (so-called) but inside the operatoins of the Columbia Department, though maybe not of the Columbia District; Simpson's decision to close Taku and Stikine was a result of the British success in shutting out Americazn traders by 1841, but the decisions was also a lack of vision as to the territorial import of the closures. But still, otehr than the marine fur traders and Fort Definance (which existed and died before the Oregon Country was defined...) and the failed fur ventures farther south/southeast, the text shouldn't imply that there were American commerical interests throughout the territory, or that they had any kind of established success as did the HBC.Skookum1 (talk) 17:06, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
residual claims is also part of the wording that didn't sound quite right; it's more complicated than that; I'll find Begtg's passage about this, and also I think Howay & Scholefield's.Skookum1 (talk) 17:28, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Also re the marine fur tarde, "commercial interests in the territory" is not a reference to offshore waters, and ships from other nations continued to trade in the area and were not shut out by the 1818 agreement (Spain's "residual" terms inherited by the US also inclucded keeping the area open to all nations....). The marine fur trade in the post-Napoleonic period was also conc entrated, AFAIk, more on the North Coast/Russian America i.e. Norfolk Sound. Just noting this because in the US Supreme Court's decision on Cook Inlet, which I found in refe the Ukase of 1821, the Russian claims/ukases had no bearing on offshore waters, which were not "in the territory" (although they were talking about Russian America, the same principle applies further south); unless you can show me the Anglo-American Convention of 1818 made specific reference to offshore waters I'm not sure they're a "commercial interest in the territory" - especialy ge3cause, as noted, that trading was far to the north of the actual disputed area and not really in therterritory, i.e. on land..Skookum1 (talk) 17:37, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree there are some issues with the wording, but a couple replies anyway: The sea otter trade had declined fast and the American trading ships were deliberately tapping the beaver furs of the interior, mainly New Caledonia, via the indigenous trade networks. While it's true that the Americans were not themselves entering the interior, they were drawing out resources from the interior. It isn't that different from the way the HBC often did not themselves go into the field trapping, but had indigenous people come to them with furs. Also, Mackie's describes three main ports of call where the American ships traded for furs-- one was Neah Bay, another was "Newitty" at the north end of Vancouver Island, and the third was Skidegate on the Queen Charlottes. I think Kaigani on Dall Island was a lesser such trading site. In any case, whether or not the trading sites were "in the territory" (although at least Neah Bay and Newitty look to be), the "commercial interest" extended far inland. And yes, the scale did not approach that of the HBC, but it was large enough to cause a notable drain on New Caledonia and spurned the HBC to spend much money and work to fight off. ..."Residual claims" sounds a bit odd to me too, but I assume it mainly refers to Spain's absence and the claims and rights "left over" from conventions and treaties with Spain (Nootka, Adams-Onis). ...and yes, the HBC's commercial interests extended north (and south!) of the Oregon Country as defined by the "joint occupancy" thing. But their actual activity was mostly limited and short-lived, which seems to support the idea that "commercial interests" need not involve an entrenched dominance in a region, no? Even today, doesn't Canada have "commercial interests" in the Arctic Ocean, but not much actual occupation? Ok, must to bed. Pfly (talk) 05:50, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

genesis of "Manifest Destiny"[edit]

Re this:

Meanwhile, many newspaper editors in the United States clamoured for Polk to claim the entire region as the Democrats had proposed in the 1844 campaign. Headlines like "The Whole of Oregon or None" appeared in the press by November 1845. In a column in the New York Morning News on December 27, 1845, editor John L. O'Sullivan argued that the United States should claim all of Oregon "by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent". Soon afterwards, the term "Manifest Destiny" became a standard phrase for expansionists, and a permanent part of the American lexicon. O'Sullivan's version of "Manifest Destiny" was not a call for war, but such calls were soon forthcoming.

Lately I've been researching the Ukase of 1821 in relation to background for Alaska boundary dispute and the Bering Sea Arbitration, and in the course of google results it's come out that the American response to the Ukase was the foundation of the Manifest Destiny policy (along with the Florida dispute); from waht was in the sources I found the term Manifest Destiny was around quite a while before 1844-1845.Skookum1 (talk) 17:40, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Er, maybe I mean the Monroe Doctrine......, I'll check whta I read but it could be that both terms are mentioned in the context of the negotiatory environment of the 1820s in the wake of the Ukase).Skookum1 (talk) 19:47, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

From Gough huh?[edit]

Although the Royal Navy’s presence locally may not have been superior, vast overall superiority to the U.S. Navy enabled Britain’s politicians to secure their central objective of defeating the wild assertions of American politicians, retaining Vancouver island and avoiding a potentially costly, distracting war with a major trading partner at little cost at a time when France under a new Bonaparte and the European continental balance was a far more pressing issue

I haven't read Barry Gough's book....I tend to read the "period" histories more - but I'm a bit surprsed by that opening statement that the RN's presence "locally" many not have been superior. Yet there were few or no US Navy vessels in the Pacific - California was still Mexican remember - so what's he mean there? Surely the Oregon Provisional Government hadn't built a navy. Howay/Scholefield give a wide range of other reasons why the British settled, and the threat of losing Fort Victoria was never seen as enforceable by the US; it was, ultimately, more pressing matters in Europe and also a change in administrations in England that led to the deal asi=is being signed. I'fe been lookgin and looking for the historian I read who said that if the treaty had been a day late arriving in London, the new...or outgoin?....foreign minister would have rejected it, and war for the Columbia and Puget Sound had gone to war; hawks vs doves. I thought it was AJP Taylor, thinking now it might be Colin McEvedy, it's been years since I read the passage. Anyway I'm very curious about Gough's logic here - what lack of local superiority is he talking about? The dominant "naval" force in the region in the 1840s, by the way, were the massed war canoes of the tribes of teh North Coast; even in the 1860s the Royal Navy was caught up in something known as the Lamalcha War in the Gulf of Georgia that was effectively a rout of their forces; "marine guerilla warfare" basically (they lost; it was courts who ended the "war")'s also worth remembering, though few historians "go there", that in a war for control of the region, particularly the Columbia, between the "King George Men" and the "Boston Men", the then still-very-populous native people of the region would have swung solidly alongside the King George Men (somewhere I recall Douglas was even making preliminary plans to arm them...)....I'm gonna go find Jan Morris' chapter in Pax Brittannica later today at the uni library around the corner; it may be her that has the shift-of-power thing vis a vis the Briitsh foreign minister...I remember Aberdeen was involved...I also wouldn't consider Gough, whose most memorable work is the questionable America, B.C. as any kind of authoritative history of analysis of these events; nowhere near it....Skookum1 (talk) 14:10, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

Clean up tag[edit]

Placed the clean-up tag as the WP:LEAD is far too big and has too many details. Most of the info needs to be moved into the body and what's left should be about three paragraphs. And unless David Thompson's explorations were used for British claims (article doesn't seem to say so), then would the Thompson promoter in the house please keep most of his detailed exploits to more appropriate articles like Oregon Country, Columbia District, and the company I think the NWC. Having sentence here about him is fine in the body, but unless his explorations were used by the British there should not be a map in the article or a mention of him in the lead. If his explorations were used, then please add that part with a proper citation. Aboutmovies (talk) 06:12, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

There's a lot of British-side history/politics that's not yet put into this article, and yes Thompson was one of the key bases for the British claim (as were Cook, Drake, Broughton, Vancouver....). he's not inconsequential; that he's treated that way in US histories is merely incidental; as with the Alaska boundary dispute article the British POV/position is scarcely represented in the article; Thompson is every bit as much significant as Gray, for instance....I haven't worked on this article for a long time because of distractions elsewhere and like the Alaska boundary dispute article I've been meaning to augment it for quite a while. And yes, the lede is very long and bulky and full of extraneous detail that belongs in the text; but that goes as much for hte American perspective/politics in the lede every bit as much if not moreso than Thompson.Skookum1 (talk) 01:49, 20 June 2009 (UTC)


Oregon Country map-fr.svg

Look at this excellent map -- it's in French, but it's really well done. Maybe we can make a version in English? -Pete (talk) 10:40, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

It's SVG, so should be pretty easy to translate the text. BTW, it is clearly based on Kmusser's map--the French have been making some really nice looking topographic style maps like this recently. Pfly (talk) 15:29, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Revision proposal[edit]

There's been previous discussions on how to better make this article less US-centric. As little apparently has been made towards that, I am going to attempt to rectify the issue. Personally I feel the sections could use a little reordering, and will be working towards the following:

  • Early British and American activities is basically rehash of the Oregon pioneer history. This covers a lot of information not pertinent to the diplomatic exchanges between the UK and the US (like Ewing Young's saw mill.) Because of this needless repetition of information (with barely any citations), the critical components of the section could be saved and merged with the Joint occupation section.
  • American section. I don't know what to call it, but an overarching division for the US side of things. The first subsection would be about the political agitation prior to the '44 election, led by Floyd and later Senators Linn and Benton. Next would be Polk's Presidency, which would cover only the American public and diplomatic stances prior to the war scare. This would focus on the minority who supported 54'40, and the various politicians against said stance.
  • British/Canadian section. Almost all of the British agitation was by the HBC, but there a few in political office like Palmerston would are worth mentioning their opinions.
  • War scare. Perhaps using passages from contemporary newspapers from the US/UK a few popular journalistic views of the rising tensions. Pressure by political parties in either nation for not standing down mentioned as well.
  • Resolution and Treaty. The most glaring problem is complete absence of how the Treaty effected the Indigenous nations of the PNW.

Any input is welcome, as my goal is to make this article both more concise and more academic than its current USPOV allows. Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 07:56, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

I've started the aforementioned editing, with the soon to be made British and American sections simply titled "British political developments" and "American political developments." These are only placeholders, if better names are thought of please edit the titles! Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 08:40, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Re American & British interests section[edit]

This edit caused me to scan this section and was taken aback that David Thompson is not mentioned at all; things jump right from L&C to the Oregon Mission; I guess that bit about individuals staking claim is in reference to marine fur trade captains up-coast...I guess; could be taken to be dismissive of the planting-flags system of imperial claim-making altogether (weird though it was, when you think about it); though I guess Capt. Grey's abortive Ft Defiance would qualify. Anyways, yeah that paragraph needs considerably more depth and detail; also the context of the Oregon Country in terms of active claim went up to Sitka Sound and beyond because of the fur trade; that was the main resource of the time and the boundary dispute was as much about that as about the more-unmapped Interior, if not more; the dispute was as much marine as it was terrestrial, in other words; and British "exploration" activity was more like Fraser and Thompson looking for trade routes, not concerned with a race to the Coast (nor was Mackenzie); just doing their job; Thompson puttered around a while in the Kootenays, so the story goes, more interested in his surveys than in getting to the mouth of the Columbia....; the nature of the Spanish claim needs a bit of light too, cf Nootka Crisis.Skookum1 (talk) 10:37, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

  • If you wish to expand the content related to the Spanish and Russians, along with the Nootka Convention, that would be grand. I'll will eventually get to this but these topics aren't as pertinent for me as expanding the political developments in the US/UK post 1818. Making this update more than a solo effort would be nice. Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 19:08, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
    • As you know, my time is limited, my access to sources even moreso, but I'll do what I can...without adding too much (there's tons). "political developments" as far as the British side of the equation would also mean not just politics in the UK, or Gov. Simpson's politics with the HBC Board, but would also include actions and strategies of the HBC in the Columbia Department itself. The British position in response to various American proposals is to be found in Howay & Scholefield, the Akriggs, and Ormsby et al.; H&S I can at least get at online, but the others I had in hardcover, now sold off since my departure from North America; not sure how Bancroft covers the British aspect; latter-day histories of BC like Bowering and Barman gloss over all this far too much.Skookum1 (talk) 05:11, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

British section[edit]

You can ditch the "Canadian" part in terms of the dispute; other than the Laws of Canada which governed employees of the HBC, Canada was not anywhere near here at the time; the context is British only; I know the American perspective exists that "Canada" describes anything north of the US but it didn't apply in this area yet; and the HBC spoken of are those working in the region like McLoughlin and Douglas, not (so far as I know) company intrigues in Whitehall, though there were certainly many of those; or you could be meaning them; Simpson, of course, as far as having a hand in certain matters and also in his reports to London (meaning the HBC brass not the govt). As far as on-site British they were all HBC of course, there were no government officials of the British crown in the region until Blanshard, then Douglas were appointed governor of VI in 1849. Other than Royal Navy captains and admirals, I mean, of course.Skookum1 (talk) 10:58, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Status update[edit]

Just a check in for anyone interested about the progress of my editing based on the above proposal.

  • The initial section related about local Brit/American trading/missionaries is mostly done. Perhaps a mention of the Catholic priests is in order...
  • The American section is just about beat to death, despite not wanting to add to them I gave a fairly thorough picture of Congressional interest in the PNW
  • The negotiations up to the 1820s are complete.
  • The negotiations during the 1840s prior to the war scare are complete.
  • The British section, my original intent of these revisions, has yet to be started. I plan on beginning the process this morning, giving it a place holder name of "British interest". If a better title is thought of, please use it!
  • The War scare section is still quite gumbled and I feel currently gives too much attention to the British military.
  • The Oregon Treaty section is mostly cleaned up.

Skookum1 raises a valid point that the article currently is pretty much only about the two Anglo nations. This is despite the early interest by both the Russians and Spanish in the region. If the article were to contain the experiences and aims of both of these nations, it raises questions about the current name of the article. It's an American term, derived from Oregon Country, a term not even used by the US Government in the 1820s. A more neutral title is needed in my opinion. All I can think of is using the geographical term, so something like "Pacific Northwest territorial dispute". If used however, it'd perhaps be warranted to include the border of Russian America. My reasoning is that with the border being confirmed in 1824/1825 with the US/UK, Russia formally left the arena for claiming additional areas in the PNW. This would make the article less Anglo-focused during the initial period. Thoughts? Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 09:03, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

Your proposed title would also include northernmost Spanish/Mexican California and is kinda OR, also..."Oregon boundary dispute" is MOSTCOMMON for the dispute between the US and Britain; the other disputes are not the same.... for some background that could be transferred here see Pacific_Northwest#History and the Alaska boundary dispute article, which I expanded to include the Russo-British/Russo-American dispute(s) and more could go there, as that dispute did not begin in the 1890s or even in 1867, but with the Ukase of 1799, and though largely oblivious to Ottawa or London, there's post-Purchase disputes like the seizure of various islands by the US and also the STikine-access conflict at the time of the Cassiar Gold Rush.... I have to go to bed, it's late in my timezone, I'll make other comments tomorrow.Skookum1 (talk) 16:53, 8 November 2014 (UTC)
To be blunt I'm quite aware the "Oregon Question" and the "Oregon Boundary dispute" are the most frequently used terms in scholarly works. I don't see why this must define the content or flow of this article. All I am saying is that the Russian interests in the middle to upper portion of the Pacific Coast of North America outside what became Russian America may as well be in here, the same with the Spanish. At least sections leading to more relevant articles. It however makes one wonder if a term that wasn't even used historically during the length of the Russian interests in this expansive region should be used. If no one else really has interest in this, so be it. Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 03:17, 9 November 2014 (UTC)
Well, certainly the Spanish and Russian claims and the border dispute with Russia are part of the background, but "Oregon Question" and "Oregon dispute"/"Oregon boundary dispute" are MOSTCOMMON in diplomatic history and also in regional history. "Pacific Northwest boundary dispute" is too vague, and if anything would be in the plural Pacific Northwest boundary disputes as an index, sort of, of the various disputes in the region (the San Juans, the Dixon Entrance, the Alaska dispute, and also the marine boundaries offshore (i.e. the continental shelf boundaries); even the Strait of Juan de Fuca has issues still though so far there has been no focussed contretemps, partly because of the moratorium on offshore oil drilling). "Oregon Question" seem to have a larger geopolitical/diplomatic usage, while the term "Oregon boundary dispute" seems to refer more to the particulars of the actual boundary proposals, as opposed to the potential impact if it had gone to war, which is where "Oregon Question" comes in....Skookum1 (talk) 04:01, 9 November 2014 (UTC)
Finally bothering to begin the British section. To the nonexistent crowd of interested folk, apologies for my delay. I have a few articles to begin it and it should be semi-presentable within 24 hours. Sadly I highly doubt it will be nearly as lengthly as the expansion I've given to the American domestic politics. Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 01:29, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
sorry I've been preoccupied with other stuff; I'll try and find some material today.Skookum1 (talk) 01:46, 12 November 2014 (UTC)

Further plans[edit]

I get the feeling I'm talking to myself, but I still think its important to note my plans for anyone interested. After stewing on the content added I've come to the conclusion that the current article design is somewhat broken. It's partially chronological, with the British and American sections kinda blotting the focus. Mostly just moving around some content needs to happen. Slowly I have been fiddling with the top section, but it still is far too US-centric. I think I got the first paragraph workable, the second could be about the European exploration and fur trade, along with a mention of Astoria, the third can be the Polk content already up there and finally the fourth can be about the Oregon Treaty.

Right, on to the main article. The US section at this point should have the Polk Presidency changed to covering the '44 Presidential election and giving more space to the seldom mentioned views of Henry Clay and the Whigs. Additionally I feel the few US sponsored expeditions to the region, like Bonneville, Slacum, the USS Shark and the Wilkes Expedition would be perfect for an additional American section. The British section needs more domestic views (more newspapers?) and perhaps political views of the HBC, which is likely the closest we can get to British political figures commenting on the PNW in a context outside responding to Americans. The majority of the Naval work, while fun to add, only is relevant to the war scare and needs to be included there. Let's see how things progress. Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 05:40, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

Those "domestic" views from the British side are in various general histories of BC e.g. the Akriggs, Ormsby, Howay & Scholefield. There were no newspapers in British Columbia at the time so the "local view" is that of HBC officials like Douglas and some Royal Navy officers; McLaughlin took the American side, after a while that is, and Simpson made some comments at a distance. It's the UK papers of the day (such as they were...) and politicians' statements that are needed re the purely-British view of things; one of the main comments in Howay & Scholefield and others mentioned is how virulent American rhetoric was about how evil they were, when they were being polite and conciliatory. In the later disputes e.g. the San Juan War, the Bering Sea Crisis and the Alaska boundary dispute, there's also a distinction between BC newpapers, Canadian/Ontario newspapers and those in the UK. I have access via the Wikipedia Library to some of the British newspaper sources, though there's been technical barriers of some kind re free access there...and have not been able to notice/comment on the work you've been putting in here since you talked me into coming back into Wikipedia......due to certain "other issues" that have more than preoccupied my energy and goodwill here.Skookum1 (talk) 06:30, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
Douglas' concerns about what would happen to his native customers/friends in what would become the US after the dispute should be covered, as well as the impact of what did happen with natives on either side of the border; which is why the NPA template is here; the story cannot be completely told without the native point of view.Skookum1 (talk) 06:32, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

"local interests" meaning what?[edit]

In the War plans section, re ". Local interests were protected by the 80-gun ship-of-the-line HMS Collingwood under the CinC Rear Admiral Sir George Seymour. " I'm guessing that "local interests" referred to the Atlantic side of British North America...I don't recall the Collingwood, or any RN ship after the Vancouver expedition, being in the area....also, please note, referring to the Columbia Department as part of British North America isn't correct; the latter term is indeed used as a catch-all in Wikipedia, but the Columbia Department wasn't construed as British territory, only "active/pending claim" and though a British flag flew over Fort Vancouver, it wasn't part of British North America. Also in other spots "Oregon" seems to be being used mostly/only in reference to the southern part of the region, i.e. what Canadian historians the Akriggs dubbed "American Columbia" as apposite to "British Columbia". HBC activities in "Oregon" did not decline if the whole of the so-called Oregon Country up to 54-40 is concerned; rather they were thriving north of "Oregon" proper, especially once Forts Victoria, Langley, McLoughlin and Rupert were set up, likewise Thompson's River Post (Fort Kamloops). The terminology gets confusing, partly because American editors and authors use "Oregon" for the Oregon Country, also the Oregon Territory, and for the modern state, rather interchangeably, but get "lost in the map" and ignore most of the rest of the claimed territory to 54-40.Skookum1 (talk) 08:06, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Gough again (see section farther up)[edit]

Just scanning and noted this:

"Whilst the Hudson’s Bay Company gradually lost commercial dominance over Oregon, the company’s interests were increasingly turning towards shipping which rendered the Columbia River less important than Vancouver Island. Shipping and trade interests could be protected by the development of the Esquimalt naval base and RN squadron based there. Although the Royal Navy’s presence locally may not have been superior...."

Whatever is Gough talking about? The Pandora only surveyed Esquimalt Harbour in 1843, no other Royal Navy ships were in the area (not that I can remember) until 1848; the Pacific Station wasn't moved there until after the establishment of the Colony of VI in 1849. Gough may be in print but that doesn't make him a reliable source; especially when he's wrong. I haven't seen or read his book about this, but by what I see here I doubt it's any more reliable than his America BC. I'll try and find some better sources/analysis than this, which is inaccurate and has the timeline totally wrong.Skookum1 (talk) 06:21, 10 November 2014 (UTC)

I was meaning to edit that eventually but make no mistake, in 1846 there five British ships based in the region. Rather than discussing it here I'll just make the needed edits with citations (content being found through JSTOR). Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 00:21, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
Apologies, I was referring to a British presence in the PNW in general, not the Esquimalt base. I know zilch about said naval station beyond what is found on Wikipedia. Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 02:31, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
ships there were, I'll review my sources, but Pacific Station was not moved from Valparaiso until 1849; Esquimalt Harbour only became developed at that point; I remember something about Douglas re calling in ships from Callao and there being some issue with Admiral Baynes but that may be from later time. Distinction also between the naval base and the later Graving Dock, but that's unrelated to this story.Skookum1 (talk) 02:43, 12 November 2014 (UTC)

re bit from Canning[edit]

Noticed this. Not sure if he's it here, but the NWC/HBC fort was itself not surrendered as private property, and remained officially Fort George; a new American-owned Fort Astoria was built next to it, as I remember.Skookum1 (talk) 07:25, 12 November 2014 (UTC)

Fort Astoria, the one founded by the PFC, was "seceded" to the Americans. It had no significance in terms of the actual property, merely just another card for Americans in the game of claims in the PNW. The US Fort Astoria wasn't founded until later. Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 17:38, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
Hm thought I'd read something different; maybe it was teh HBC that built a new "Fort George" adjacent to the "seceded" fort....I'll see what I can find, isn't something like on the Fort Astoria page or its talkpage. I remember it being wiki-discussed at some point.Skookum1 (talk) 08:14, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
Astoria was "seceded" to Americans in the sense that their right to it was recognised. The Federal government besides dispatching a ship to have recognised made no effort at actually occupying the compound. If I'm not mistaken the HBC rebuilt Astoria at a different location later on. Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 09:22, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

42nd parallel - there before 1818[edit]

I know that it's presumed that the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1818 is when, in American history, the southern boundary of the Oregon Country, so-called (it wasn't yet then), was established. but I'm pretty sure that it was the Nootka Conventions that established it as the northward limit of confirmed Spanish possessions (1793). Hard to reword the following; might be best to leave off the "established in 1818" bit altogether; and for what it's worth, the Spanish used the term "California" to refer to the whole coast north to Mt St Elias, which was their northward/westward limit via agreements with the Russians.

The broadest definition of the disputed region was defined by the following: west of the Continental Divide of the Americas, north of the 42nd parallel north (the northern border of Alta California established in 1818), and south of the parallel 54°40′ north (the southern limit of Russian America after 1825).

The 1818 thing isn't so much USPOV as it is the US perspective and ignores the history British-Spanish relations in the region.Skookum1 (talk) 05:16, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

Somewhere in Derek Pethick's various books, maybe The Nootka Conventions (hm or The Nootka Crisis), there's a bit about a Spanish-Russian agreement that set the northward/westward limit of Spanish claims at the meridian of Mt St Elias - 148 west longitude I think. It was this that set the precedent for the inland Russo-British border.Skookum1 (talk) 03:30, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

Removed a particular claim[edit]

While I don't think my gutting of previously written material in the article is controversial, this one in particular I'd like to explain. "By this time, American colonists were increasing traveling along the Oregon Trail to the disputed area, a development that some observers—both British and American—realized would eventually decide the outcome." Frederick Merk, a historian whose works presented in several books and many scholarly articles forms the basis of historical works even today, dispelled this claim very thoroughly. His article found in the Oregon Historical Quarterly 28, No. 4, The Oregon Pioneers and the Boundary, demonstrates that American colonists had ZERO influence on the Oregon Treaty. I've seen some contemporary observers, mostly HBC traders, fear the rising American numbers, but again, they had nothing to do with the treaty process. Surely if the treaty was delayed, such pioneers may have had a minor role, but as they didn't historically, I find this statement vague and inaccurate. Additionally as this statement has had a cit needed tag for close to three years, I feel I am warranted in this action. Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 12:16, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

Aberdeen re Palmerston[edit]

In some brief account of the dispute, I'd thought in AJP Taylor's The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848-1918 I'd thought it was there I read something to the effect that Aberdeen was a survivor of Austerlitz and had very negative memories of the reality of war (rightly so), and the comment went along the lines of the delay in the American proposal getting to London was in the context of "had Palmerston been Foreign Minister rather than Aberdeen" then the British response would have been war rather than the half-hearted "oh, well, alright, if you insist" compromise. Bad weather, I seem to recall, was why the delay..... but when I last looked at Taylor I couldn't find that passage again; it may have been in something by Colin McEvedy, or in Ormsby's or Akriggs' general histories of British Columbia; I'm pretty sure it's not in Howay & Scholefield or Bancroft....Skookum1 (talk) 10:25, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

The passage in question is a quotation from Jesse S. Reeves' American Diplomacy under Tyler and Polk. Every work I've read on Aberdeen highlights his disinterest in fighting over the PNW. Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 15:57, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
the bit about Austerlitz is probably in a British-published source, perhaps his biography? The three possibilities I can remember having read, including the AJP Taylor one just mentioned, are James (Jan) Morris' Pax Brittanica series and perhaps something by Colin McEvedy.Skookum1 (talk) 03:26, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

Re the Vancouver expedition[edit]

in the opening somewhere it says that the Pacific Northwest was low priority for the British and then mentions Cook and Vancouver....well, low priority after the Napoleonic Wars to be sure, but given that the Nootka Crisis almost threw Britain and Spain into global war, and though kinda vague and inconclusive the Nootka Conventions were key matters for British tenure in the region...and Vancouver had envisioned the Puget Sound/Columbia region as the transportation colony that later on created Australia; all that got shelved and his suggestions gathered dust once the Napoleonic Wars were underway....Skookum1 (talk) 10:25, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

Feel free to modify my wording then, I'm a bit too busy with other projects at the moment to make a suitable alteration I feel.Voltaire's Vaquero (talk)

the HBC's "fur desert" policy[edit]

This might be in the Oregon Country article I think.....the HBC's stated intention of a "fur desert" where American traders/trappers would be shut out of. I'll watch in Howay & Scholefield while I read it later today...... it's in many sources however.Skookum1 (talk) 04:36, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

It was authorised in the late 20s early 30s if I'm not mistaken, thus the annual "Snake Brigades."Voltaire's Vaquero (talk) 20:44, 5 December 2014 (UTC)