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Sir James Douglas
Chapter IV - Fort Vancouver


THE moment of Douglas's arrival at Fort Vancouver was an important one in the history of the company. Up to 1830 little had been accomplished west of the Rocky Mountains beyond the slow and laborious establishment of a single pathway to the sea and the subjection of the country immediately tributary. New Caledonia had been given, for the time, its full measure of development; but the situation of McLoughlin at Fort Vancouver was still, to outward seeming, not unlike that of Fraser twenty years previously. The new fort had, however, what Fraser's posts had not, the illimitable promise which the command of both sea and land and the adaptability of the latter for agriculture held out. With the building of Fort Vancouver in 1824 and the occupation of the Columbia, the way was cleared for a policy of expansion on a scale unprecedented in the previous annals of the company. For this, after six years of preliminary effort, the time was now considered ripe; and Douglas was a part of the material which was placed in the hands of McLoughlin. It was the fortune, therefore, of Douglas to be identified from the first with the movement which brought the whole of the coast and the lower mainland of British Columbia under the subjection of the white man.

The full measure of the company's design at that period may be guessed from the part that was actually realized. McLoughlin was the directing spirit, though Douglas from the first entered fully into the confidence of his chief and assisted in the formation as well as the execution of his plans. That the company had in view a great trade north and south along the coast, with Russians and Mexicans as well as the native tribes; that it set no bounds to the regions it sought to dominate in the interior; that the Sandwich Islands were included in its commercial suzerainty; this much we know from history. That it cast its vision still further, to the Orient and the southern seas, is not improbable. Magnificent as was the dream of an ocean added to a continent for its sole trade, it was no more than the occasion seemed to warrant. Ocean and continent alike were a no-man's domain; not a rival in 1825-30 was in sight. But events moved too rapidly to leave so tremendous a development to private enterprise. The advent of the American colonist in Oregon, the establishment of the United States in California, and the definite partitionment of the north-west coast between Great Britain and the republic in the celebrated treaty of 1846, were destined to dissipate these hopes almost as soon as they were formed. The missionaries were in Oregon within a decade of McLoughlin himself; and they were followed by a population that was to drive the fur trader forever from the land. For the forty years, however, that followed the advent of the white man west of the Rocky Mountains, the history of that territory is the history of the fur trade. Its earlier stages have been already outlined. In the present and in the following chapter will be noted the more important developments that ensued, with Fort Vancouver for centre, during the second quarter of the century, or until the division of Oregon between Great Britain and the United States, and the removal of the company's headquarters north of the 49th parallel. In discussing the period, it will be necessary first to trace the natural process of expansion, northward in the direction of Russian territory, southward towards California, as well as in the interior of New Caledonia and Oregon. Later, the movement contingent upon the settlement of Oregon and the determination of the international boundary, with the political consequences involved therein, will be briefly outlined.

The first step looking to the extension of the company's influence northward was taken almost immediately after the establishment of Fort Vancouver. In 1824, an expedition sent out by McLoughlin made a careful examination of the shoreward territory lying between the Columbia and the Fraser; and its members were the first to enter the latter river from the sea. Before further action was taken, however, the strengthening of communications with New Caledonia, which, as above noted, had already been established through Kamloops and Alexandria, required attention. This was accomplished by the founding of Fort Colville, in 1825-6, on the Upper Columbia, a post which at once attained importance as a de"p6t for the surrounding territory and as final place of call for the brigades which, from this time forward, began to pass regularly eastward from the coast to Edmonton and Norway House.

After this interlude, McLoughlin turned again to the north, and Fort Langley was erected on the Lower Fraser in 1827. Langley therefore represents the earliest occupation of the lower mainland of British Columbia. The schooner Cadboro which carried the crew and supplies for the new post was the first sea-going keel to ruffle the Fraser and the many bays of the neighbouring coast. Langley at once became important, the more so on account of its excellent salmon fishery. For a time, also, the trade of the coast northward was conducted through the Indians alone, with Langley as entrepot.

But competition pressed, that especially of the American traders; and in 1831 a bold resolve was taken. Fort Simpson was tremblingly erected at the mouth of the Naas, some hundreds of miles north of Langley. It arose in the midst of the most treacherous savages known on the coast; and its occupation became in a peculiar degree a test of military endurance. It was the outpost for many years of the company's effort to monopolize the north-west trade.

To occupy the territory between Fort Langley and Fort Simpson now became the concern of McLoughlin. In 1833, Finlayson, Manson and Anderson were sent north in the brig Dryad, John Dunn, known as the author of a history of Oregon, serving as their interpreter. At Millbank Sound, they were joined by McNeill in the Llama. (As throwing light upon conditions at this juncture, it may be explained that McNeill's first appearance on the coast had been as the agent of a Boston company with a shipload of gewgaws for the Indian trade. These completely outbid the company's staple commodities, with the result that McLoughlin, to rid himself of the nuisance, had bought the ship and her cargo outright and enlisted its captain in the company's service.) In the all but impenetrable forest that stretched to the water's edge, a space was cleared and a fort erected, closed in by the usual picket, one hundred and twenty yards square in this instance, with a height of eighteen feet. Such was Fort McLoughlin. From the first it was a scene of conflict with the Indians. Manson and Anderson were left in command, Tolmie succeeding Anderson in 1834 and Manson being replaced by Charles Ross in 1838. The first circulating library on the Pacific slope was founded by Tolmie and Manson for the benefit of these posts. In the same year as Fort McLoughlin, Fort Nis-qually was erected between Langley and Fort Vancouver, and in 1835 Fort Essington was built to serve as intermediate station between Forts Simpson and McLoughlin.

With the completion of these operations, the way was prepared for the inevitable collision with Russia that soon followed. As early as 1825 the need of a partitionment of interests between Great Britain and Russia on the north-west coast had been fully appreciated, and had resulted in the signing of a convention which was destined to affect far distant and strangely altered times and which therefore is among the most important episodes in the period at present in review. Under its terms, the subjects of both governments were free to navigate the Pacific and to trade with the natives of any shore not already occupied by Europeans. The traders might land at the posts of their rivals for shelter or repairs, but for no other reason, unless by express permission. Prince of Wales Island was established as the southern limit of Russian territory, the island to belong wholly to Russia. On the mainland, the boundary, after following the channel of the Portland Canal to the 56th parallel, was to lie along the summits of the coast range of mountains which it should follow parallel to the shore as far as longitude 141. Thence it should run due north to the Arctic Ocean. Where the summits of the mountains, however, from the 56th parallel northward should be more than ten marine leagues from the ocean, the dividing line, it was agreed, should curve with the curving of the shore at that distance. For ten years the British were granted the right to trade throughout the Usiere and to the port of Sitka in all save arms, ammunition, and spirits. To the streams running through the shore-strip to the ocean, the right was granted in perpetuity. Such was the beginning of the Alaska boundary question, a matter that was not finally laid to rest until 1903. The terms were dictated purely by the circumstances of the rival trading companies, the only value of the coast-strip to the Russians being that it excluded the British from the trade of the interior. Intercourse was held at that time by the Russians only with the Indians of the coast, the latter bartering with the inland tribes at the head of the mountains. Furs and furs alone were the cause of contention in 1825 ; the land, which in 1903 was the point at issue, was at that time regarded as worthless.

The navigable rivers, it will have been noted, were left as an avenue by which the British traders might pierce the Russian cordon to the interior. In 1834, the first attempt to utilize this concession was made. The most considerable river crossing the strip of land below the 141st degree was the Stikien. To enter it, traverse the Russian zone, and establish a post in the hinterland, was the object of an expedition sent north under Ogden and Anderson in the year mentioned. The party was well equipped, as befitted one whose mission was the founding of a station able to support itself a thousand miles from any base of supplies, and to fight both savages and rivals. But it had apparently reckoned without its host. At the mouth of the Stikien a Russian blockhouse was encountered, supported by a corvette and two gunboats to forbid the entrance to the river. The Russians well appreciated the danger to their trade that lurked in the designs of the British ; and the alleged sale of firearms and spirits to the natives was now used by Baron Wrangel, the Russian governor at Sitka, as the grounds for a request to the imperial government to rescind the clause of the treaty which gave the British access to the river. Without awaiting a reply, Wrangel had fortified the Stikien as soon as news of the projected move of the Hudson's Bay Company reached Sitka. The coast Indians, jealous of their commerce with the interior tribes, added their refusal to that of the Russian governor. Heated negotiations were conducted on the spot between the rivals; but after a delay of a few days the company's ship was put about and returned to Fort Vancouver, armed with a lengthy protest and bill of losses for reference to the home government. On the way back, that the expedition might not be wholly fruitless, Fort Simpson was removed some forty miles to the south.

The negotiations that followed between Russia and Great Britain took shape finally in a commission which met in London. As a result, the shore-strip reservation was leased to the Hudson's Bay Company by Russia at an annual rental of two thousand land-otter skins. The Stikien post was handed over ; and permission was given to erect another post still further northward on the Taku. It was agreed also that the British should supply the Russians at Sitka with provisions, which the inclemency of northern latitudes prevented the Russians from raising for themselves. So satisfactory in the issue did this arrangement prove that it was three times renewed, while in addition to Fort Taku on the coast, two posts, Mum ford and Glen-ora, were erected on the Upper Stikien, where they remained until the advent of the gold-seeker drove the game from the district.

Douglas played a prominent part in directing the events which ended as above described. Soon after his arrival on the coast he had revised and greatly improved the system of accounting by which the several posts of the department made annual returns to Fort Vancouver. At least once he had been in charge of the York Factory express, a difficult and dangerous service, the route lying by way of Walla Walla, Colville, and the Athabaska Pass, to Edmonton, thence to Hudson Bay and return. This was in 1835, the party consisting of twenty-nine Canadians in three boats, eight months being consumed in the journey. It was Douglas, also, who, in 1840, was in command of the party which raised the British flag above Fort Stikien. The mission was of considerable importance. Rae, Finlayson and the son of McLoughlin, with fifty men, made up the force. By way of Nisqually and Langley, the latter being found in ruins from an Indian attack, and passing forts McLoughlin and Simpson, they steamed in the Beaver to the headquarters of the company in the leased territory, where the formal act of transfer was completed. A brave rescue by Douglas of a member of his crew who had been swept away while fording the icy waters of the Nisqually River was recorded on this journey. Rae, with eighteen men, was left at Stikien, and Douglas with the rest passed on to Sitka. Ten days were spent with Etholin in the final ratification of the agreement. Some words were dropped as to the purchase of Ross in California, but nothing definite resulted. On the return from Sitka, Fort Durham, commonly known as Taku, was erected. In that desolate spot of almost constant rain and snow, and among some of the wildest natives of the coast, it had a life of only three years. Douglas was again in charge of the party which dismantled the post. Fort McLoughlin on Mill-bank Sound was at the same time moved to the head of Vancouver Island and renamed Fort Rupert. Indian turbulence, here as in no other part of the company's dominions, constantly menaced its affairs. McLoughlin the younger, who had followed Rae at Fort Stikien, was shot in 1842, perhaps the most signal victim of the animosity in the teeth of which the company drove its northern trade.

With the movement upon Russian trade by way of the sea, it had been decided to attack from the land as well; and the result was a series of expeditions in the northern interior of British Columbia that recall the days of Mackenzie and Fraser. With a courage not less conspicuous, the company pushed its way into the region of the Upper Liard and Yukon which the white man had never before seen. The incident belongs in part to the development of the Mackenzie River Department, and in part to later history, though it may fitly be mentioned here. On the Liard, the most wild and dangerous of all the great eastern streams that dash down from the Rocky Mountains, the earliest post to be established within the confines of British Columbia was the fort which took its name from the river itself. Fort Nelson on the eastern branch, was built about the same period, or shortly after the beginning of the century. Twenty years later, Fort Liard was pillaged by the Indians and its people murdered. Meanwhile Fort Halkett had been founded on a higher branch, shortly after the amalgamation of the rival companies. In 1834, the Upper Liard was ascended by McLeod to its southern source in Dease Lake. It was not, however, until 1838 that a post was built in this remote country by a Scotsman named Robert Campbell, the most distinguished man which the place and period produced, and the last of the great explorers which the fur trade gave to the western continent. Ordered to the Mackenzie in 1834, Campbell, after his operations at Dease Lake, crossed to the Pacific by the Stikien. Here he was taken prisoner by the Indians. On his escape, after terrible hardships, Fort Dease was burned to the ground. But it was not until 1840 that Campbell, under orders from Sir George Simpson, undertook the journey that was to make him famous. This was the ascent of the northern branch of the Liard through the great gorge that had previously barred all hope of access to its source, Lake Frances. After a desperate struggle, Campbell surmounted the barrier, and on Lake Finlayson, a tributary reservoir, saw the waters divide, part to flow into the Pacific, part to begin the long journey to the Arctic. Beyond the height of land he sighted the cliffs of the Pelly. After descending this river a few miles he turned back. The honour of naming it from himself he refused. In the following year, with a post on Lake Frances and another on Pelly Banks as a basis, he again set forth, but was again compelled, this time by hostile natives, to return, after reaching the point where the junction of the Lewis and the Pelly forms the great river of Alaska. It was not until eight years later that Campbell's efforts were crowned with success. On that occasion, after erecting Fort Selkirk at the mouth of the Lewis, and tracing the latter to its source, he descended the Yukon several hundred miles to the junction of the Porcupine, where Fort Yukon, the most remote of the company's posts, lying one hundred and fifty miles within the Alaska boundary and on the Arctic Circle, had been built some four years earlier by the trader Bell. Here Campbell united his own discoveries with those made by way of the lower and less difficult branches of the Mackenzie. Ascending the Porcupine and crossing to the Peel, he arrived by way of the Mackenzie at his original point of departure, Fort Simpson on the Liard. He had traversed in that great circle over three thousand miles of river and mountain; he had mapped a huge region which before had been wholly unknown; and he had given a lasting impetus to the trade inland in the direction of the Russian competitor; all with a forgetfulness of self that was only equalled by the splendid courage and endurance which the achievement demanded.

In California, the endeavour of the company to secure a foothold, while Fort Vancouver remained the entrepot of the department, was extended over sixteen years. The descendants of the Spaniards, who now held the country after throwing off the yoke of Spain, had neither the enterprise to establish trade nor the inclination to foster it by government. Fish and furs, in small quantities only, found an outlet through Mexico. Nevertheless, the efforts of Russia, England, and the United States, to establish trading-posts in the south, met with fierce opposition. The first attempt of the Hudson's Bay Company to invade California was before 1830, the valleys of the Sacramento and San Joaquin having at an early date attracted the attention of McLoughlin. A party sent to the assistance of the American trader Jedidiah Smith, who, on crossing from Salt Lake in 1827-8, had been roughly handled by the Indians and had lost a convoy of furs, penetrated as far as the Umpqua. A second expedition, under Ogden, reached the Sacramento River, and in 1835 the company established a post at the junction of the Sacramento and Jesus Maria. A few years served to exhaust the furs of these outlying districts, and, with the desire to reach still further southward, a collision with Mexico became inevitable. At this contingency, Douglas was sent in charge of a party to treat with the Mexican governor. Sailing from Fort Vancouver, December 3rd, 1840, on the ship Columbia, with a crew of thirty-six and a cargo of miscellaneous goods, he cast anchor at Monterey on New Year's Day, 1841. The design of the voyage was largely political, but the crew had been increased by stockmen who were to drive northward a supply of cattle. The negotiations with the governor lasted until January 19th. Douglas undertook to check the operations of the company in the Tulare and outlying valleys, and in return obtained a temporary relaxation of the law which confined the coastwise trade to Mexican bottoms, together with the important right for the company to trade in California by express sanction of the government. Fifty cents, it was agreed, should be paid by the company for each beaver skin taken. San Francisco was immediately visited with a view to an establishment, not without friction with rival traders; and Douglas was back in Fort Vancouver by the following May. Rae, the son-in-law of McLoughlin, was recalled from the Stikien and appointed to the new post, which was situated on Yerba Buena Cove, in the Bay of San Francisco. Simpson, then on his famous voyage around the world, and McLoughlin as chief factor, visited the post soon after. For two years the record of the company's transactions was the history of San Francisco, and its servants made up almost the entire population. With the interior a steady trade in supplies sprang up. But the scale of profits from the first was below the expectation of the company. Rae fell ill, and in 1845 committed suicide. Forbes took over the control; but the governor had already decided, against the judgment of McLoughlin, to abandon the post. The end came in 1846, when the company sold the establishment at Yerba Buena and retired forever from San Francisco Bay.

These vigorous efforts of the company in the outlying regions of the department were accompanied by developments in the immediate neighbourhood of Fort Vancouver which were of even greater importance. The agreement with the Russians relative to the supplying of provisions had been fraught with far-reaching consequences. From the first, McLoughlin, in spite of prejudice to the contrary, had recognized the agricultural possibilities of Oregon. The mild and equable climate and the depth and richness of the soil tempted a diversity and luxuriance of growth that invited the most unwilling to husbandry. In the open spaces about Fort Vancouver axe and plough were set to work, and corn and live-stock reared. Sheep were brought from California, hogs from the Sandwich Islands, and cattle from Ross. Soon a flour mill worked by oxen was set up. Grist and sawmills followed on the Willamette. Horse breeding for the brigades became extensive. By 1835, some thirty-five hundred feet of lumber were being sawn daily; while the yield of grain was annually several thousands of bushels, and the number of animals constantly on hand several hundreds. By these activities the company was saved the expense of bringing supplies through the mountains or around Cape Horn. The growing of grain was still a mere auxiliary to the trade in peltries, and while it remained so the inherent incompatibility of the two was not apparent. In a land of abundance, however, the supply soon exceeded the local demand. Flour and lumber from the Columbia began to seek a market in the Pacific Islands. Salmon was shipped to Boston and London. With the Russian treaty, and the stimulus which it immediately gave to farming on the Columbia, this new phase was accentuated. The first intimation had been given, to those who could understand, of the final destiny of the region. Fur-trading and settled industry cannot live together. The company knew this full well. But, as it could not alter the decree of nature, its primary concern in the situation was one of organization merely— the keeping of the two divisions of its activity separate, now that the industrial branch gave promise of attaining large proportions.

To have charge of the important commercial and agricultural interests of the company, a separate body was deemed necessary. The formation of a cattle association by some settlers on the Willamette pointed the way; and in 1838-9, McLoughlin obtained the sanction of the directors to the organization of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company. The new undertaking was brought into being under the immediate auspices of the Hudson's Bay Company, which furnished nearly all the original shareholders. It was officered from the staff of the parent body; and it was expressly forbidden to deal in furs. On the other hand the Hudson's Bay Company handed over all its cattle, sheep, horses and farming implements to it and renounced husbandry forever in Oregon. The rich and level region which lay about Nisqually and between Puget Sound and the headwaters of the Cowlitz, a branch of the Columbia which joins the latter about fifty miles from the ocean, offered a favourable field for the rearing of flocks and herds and the production of wool, hides and tallow. Farms were also opened on the Willamette. McLoughlin was appointed the first manager; skilled farmers and shepherds were brought from Canada and England; and the company was finally inaugurated in 1840, with a capital of 200,000 in 100 shares. Of this capital, however, no more than 16,160 were found to have been paid up at the time the company's affairs were finally settled.

It would seem that the enterprise suffered almost from the start from a variety of opposing circumstances. Into the history of its chequered career it is unnecessary here to enter, lying as the period does some years in advance of the time at present under discussion. The adoption of the 49th parallel as the international boundary, in 1846, under circumstances to be explained further on, was a blow from which the company never attempted to recover. Its men deserted for the free lands of the homesteader; the natives destroyed its stock ; while the technical differences between "possessions" and "possessory rights" under the boundary treaty, were a source of perpetual dispute between the companies and the United States. An offer was finally made to sell all rights and titles to the United States for $1,000,000. This was not accepted, and the friction continued. Again, in 1860, it was intimated, through the British ambassador at Washington, that the sum of $500,000 would be accepted by Great Britain on behalf of the companies, and would release the United States from all engagements under the treaty. The company, however, maintained its position until the year 1867, hoping that by continuing in business, though at a loss, it would make good its case against the United States. In the year mentioned, a commission was appointed by which the various claims were at last determined. Those of the Hudson's Bay Company were settled for $450,000; those of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, for $200,000. It was discovered by the commission that the latter body was indebted to the parent company in the sum of 25,000, and that except at intervals it had not paid a profit to the shareholders. The highest dividend declared was ten per cent., and this was continued for five years only, 1848-53. The last dividend paid was in 1854; it amounted to five per cent. The Hudson's Bay Company had an interest as purchaser in one thousand three hundred and eighty-six shares issued at par. In 1853, the company claimed one hundred and sixty-seven thousand acres at Nisqually, eighty thousand acres of which were prairie land. At Cowlitz, it claimed three thousand six hundred acres. In 1856, according to Tolmie, it had seven hundred and forty acres fenced at Nisqually. Of its operations on Vancouver Island there will be mention later.

McLoughlin, the first manager of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, was succeeded on his retirement by Douglas, who also severed his connection with the company in the year 1859, upon his acceptance of the governorship of the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia.

One incident in connection with the agricultural operations of the company may be noted in passing. In 1829, when the soil about Fort Vancouver was first upturned, a fearful epidemic of fever and ague broke out. The whites suffered severely, but the Indians fell by thousands. Typhoid, whooping-cough and measles soon after made their first appearance. In 1833 a hospital which had been erected on the Columbia had from two to three hundred cases as its usual number.

Over many stirring events that had their centre in Fort Vancouver, during the period in which it dominated the life of the coast, this summary must pass in silence. The narration might be made to include several daring expeditions into forest and wilderness, such, for example, as that which Work led in 1834 far into the wilds of Oregon, past the headwaters of the Willamette, to the buffalo country of the Missouri; or that of Ermatinger in 1841 to the Sacramento; or that which founded in 1832 Fort Umpqua on the route between Fort Vancouver and San Francisco Bay,—almost the only post attempted by the company for purposes of general trade south of the Columbia. Much space, too, might be given to the internal development of the company, and to the life that sprang up on the Columbia, which under McLoughlin was perhaps more striking than that in any other part of the company's domain. But the tree had no sooner achieved vigorous growth than it withered before the changed conditions which came with the advent of the agriculturist from the United States. To the important series of events that ended in the permanent establishment of the United States in Oregon, involving the settlement of the boundary between British and American territory, the extinction of the fur trade between the Columbia and the 49th parallel, and the removal of the company's headquarters from Fort Vancouver to Victoria, the rest of this chapter will be devoted. As before, Douglas was the close spectator, if not the actual director, of almost every move that was taken, having risen to the rank of chief trader in 1832 and of chief factor in 1840, and becoming in later years the forefront of the opposition offered by the English company to what it soon had to acknowledge was the decree of fate.

Prior to 1830, the first to cross the Rockies from the United States to Oregon, since the days of the Astorians, was Jedidiah Smith, who, with a band of fellow trappers, entered the Snake River country in 1825. Since the War of 1812, it should be explained, Astoria had been in the possession of the United States under an arrangement with Great Britain by which the country from the Mexican frontier for an indeterminate distance northward was held in joint sovereignty. More concerning this arrangement will appear later on. From that time forward the possibility of the settlement of Oregon by agriculturists had been debated from time to time in congress; but the awful perils of the journey overland and the conflicting information as to the value of the country itself led to no active result. Meanwhile, as we know, McLoughlin had installed the rule of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver and had taken virtual possession of the territory north and south. Smith was a lieutenant of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, which the enterprise of the trader Ashley had made famous in the great interior of the continent, and which was the first to re-establish commercial communications between the United States and the territories west of the Rocky Mountains. Since the dissolution of the Pacific Fur Company the trade of the Upper Mississippi and the Missouri had been carried on by the North American Fur Company, at the head of which Astor remained, while in 1822 the Columbia Fur Company was formed, for operation in the same field, from recruits from the North-West Company who were dissatisfied with the terms of the amalgamation of 1821. Smith, after crossing twice to the Pacific and ranging throughout Northern California, was killed by Indians in 1829, but not before he had led the first train of waggons from the east to the base of the Rocky Mountains. Sporadic expeditions followed under the command of Pilcher of the North American Company, Pattie of a Missouri concern, and others to whom these operations acted as a spur ; but until Bonneville and Wyeth came, direct collision with the Hudson's Bay Company was avoided. Smith in fact, as has been noted, owed his fortune, almost his life, on one occasion, to the English company, and gratitude may have found a place even in the breasts of warring fur traders. Bonneville, a Frenchman by birth and a captain of the United States army, having obtained in 1831 a furlough of two years, led a band of one hundred men and twenty waggons from the Missouri to the Columbia, where he spent two years in unsuccessful contention with rival enterprises, and returned having lost all. The expeditions of Wyeth of Massachusetts, made about the same time as that of Bonneville, were conceived in more serious vein, but met with scarcely greater success. Two posts were founded but were almost immediately driven out by the competition of the Hudson's Bay Company. Kelly, a Boston school teacher and an enthusiast in religion and politics, had the merit of attracting attention to Oregon by an extravagant scheme of colonization, in attempting to realize which he passed through extreme hardships in California and was rescued in the end from his suffering by the Hudson's Bay Company, against which, however, he continued to entertain to the last an implacable hatred. Unsettled in mind as he was, Kelly was nevertheless the first to declare the feasibility of overland emigration from the United States to the Pacific, and, in writings poured forth for over a quarter of a century, to induce ultimately some trial of the undertaking which was to prove the true solution of the country's future.

By sea, during the year 1829, the ships Convoy and Owyhee, both of Boston, attempted to open trade with the natives of the Columbia. After a year's stay on the coast, the vessels took their departure and were seen in these waters no more. The Owyhee was reputed to have brought the first peach trees planted in Oregon and to have carried thence the first Columbia salmon to reach the Boston markets.

But the most potent factor in the permanent settlement of Oregon was the coming of the missionaries. The period was the third decade of the century. The movement had its origin in an incident, striking as it was touching. About the time of Wyeth's first expedition, there had appeared at St. Louis five Indians of the Nez Perce's tribe who, having heard of the white man's God and His book, had come to ask that men be sent to teach their people concerning them. The story of their quest found its way into the press and was re-echoed throughout the churches of the land. To one Jason Lee, a Methodist preacher, the call came as from Macedonia of old. With his nephew Daniel Lee and three lay brethren, he joined the second expedition of Wyeth which was at the moment embarking on its perilous march. In July 1834, Lee preached his first sermon in Oregon. With McLoughlin's aid, he planted his first mission on the Willamette, where a few retired servants of the company had already, by permission, established themselves and were employed chiefly in herding cattle. The mission soon became the nucleus of a permanent colony drawing recruits continuously from beyond the mountains. It was the first settlement of United States citizens on the Columbia having other than a commercial object in view. Before another year had elapsed, Lee was followed by the Presbyterian missionaries Parker and Whitman, the latter being joined by his wife. Spaulding and Gray came in 1836. The tribes of the Upper Columbia were now evangelized, Whitman settling in the valley of the Walla Walla and Spaulding in the Nez Perce's country, and still further knowledge of the country was distributed in the Eastern States. Whitman, especially, from the moment of his arrival in Oregon, was untiring in his agitation for the inclusion of the country in the United States territory; and his establishment among the Cayuses soon formed a gateway through the mountains for the straggling lines of the settlers, which from this time forward, as a result largely of his efforts, began to flow in ever-increasing numbers from the east to the Columbia. Whitman's famous ride from Oregon to Washington over the snow, in 1843, that he might superintend the immigration of the following year, is the most stirring deed of the whole movement. He returned with a thousand people. Schools for the education of the natives were opened ; and in 1839 a printing press was set up at Walla Walla on which were struck off the first sheets ever printed on the Pacific slope of America north of Mexico. The Jesuit missionaries, who came in 1838 from Canada, penetrated throughout the region, but had little effect on immigration.

To notice in detail the various steps by which the intermittent bands of settlers attracted by the missionaries to Oregon swelled into a great national movement ending in the occupation of the country by the United States, would be beyond the scope of the present chapter. Disconnected and unimportant at first, the different strands were in a measure gathered into a self-conscious whole in 1837, with the formation in the United States of the first societies for the promotion of emigration to Oregon. From that time forward the inflow was continuous, gathering volume with time. Perhaps no better view of the varied nature of the movement and of the manner in which its different constituents were intermingled, is obtainable than that presented by the following extracts from a document prepared by McLoughlin himself: "This year," he writes, with reference to 1836, "the people in the Willamette formed a party and went by sea with Mr. Slacum to California for cattle, and returned in 1837 with two hundred and fifty head. In 1836, the Rev. Mr. Leslie and family, accompanied by the Rev. Mr. Perkins, another single man, and a single woman, came by sea to reinforce the Methodist Mission. In 1837 a bachelor and five single women also came by sea to reinforce the Methodist Mission; and three Presbyterian ministers came across land with their families, while their supplies came by sea. Two of these missionaries settled in the vicinity of Colville, the other in the Nez Perce's country. In 1838, two Roman Catholic missionaries came from Canada. This year the Rev. Mr. Griffin of the Presbyterian Church, with his wife, came across land from the States by way of the Snake country. There came with him also a layman of the name of Munger, and his wife .... In 1839 a party left the state of Illinois, headed by Mr. Farnham, with the intention of exploring the country and reporting to their countrymen who had sent them. Four only reached this place. Three remained, Mr. Farnham returning to the States by sea and publishing an account of his travels. Messrs. Geiger and Johnson came this year, sent, as they said, by people in the States to examine the country and report. Johnson left by sea and never returned. Geiger went as far as California and returned here by land .... In 1840, the Rev. Mr. Clark of the Presbyterian Church with his wife, and two laymen with their wives, came across land on the self-supporting system, but, as their predecessors, they failed, and are now settled on the Willamette. In 1840, the Rev. Mr. Jason Lee, who had gone in 1838 across land to the United States, returned by sea in the Lausanne, Capt. Spaulding, with a reinforcement of fifty-two persons, ministers and laymen, women and children, for the Methodist Mission, and a large supply of goods with which the Methodist Mission opened a sale shop. In 1841, the American exploring squadron, under Captain Wilkes, surveyed the Columbia River from the entrance to the Cascades, and sent a party across land from Puget Sound to Colville and Walla Walla, and another from Vancouver to California. At the same time the Thomas Perkins, Captain Varney, of Boston, entered the Columbia River for the purpose of trade. . . .

"In the spring, the Rev. Father De Smet of the Society of Jesus came to Vancouver from the Flat Head country where the year before he had established a mission from St. Louis. He came for supplies, with which he returned to his mission. In August, the Rev. Messrs. Langlois and Bolduc came by sea. In the month of September, one hundred and thirty-seven men, women, and children arrived from the States. They came with their waggons to Fort Hall, and thence packed their effects on horses and drove their cattle. ... In the fall, eight hundred and seventy-five men, women, and children came from the States by the same route as last year, bringing one thousand three hundred head of cattle. These came to The Dalles, on the Columbia River, with their waggons, drove their cattle over the Cascades by the same route as those of last year to the Willamette, and when the road was blocked by snow proceeded along the north bank of the Columbia to Vancouver, where they crossed the river to the Willamette, bringing down their wives, children, and property, on rafts, in canoes which they hired from the Indians, and in boats belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, lent them by me......The Rev. Father Deros [Demers] of the Society of Jesus, came this year with two other fathers of the same society and three laymen and established a mission in the Colville district. Lieutenant Fremont, of the United States service, came with a party to examine the country. After purchasing supplies from the Hudson's Bay Company, he rejoined his party at The Dalles, and proceeded across land to California. In 1844, the immigrants amounted to one thousand four hundred and seventy-five men, women and children. They came by the same route and were assisted by me with the loan of boats, as their predecessors of last year........The Belgian brig, Indefatigable, also anchored there. She was the only vessel that hitherto came under that flag, and brought the Rev. Father De Smet, with four fathers of the Society of Jesus, and five Belgian nuns of the Society of Sisters of Our Lady. The fathers came to reinforce their mission in the interior in the Flat Head country and to establish others, and the nuns to build a convent and open a school for young females in the Willamette."

Data for ascertaining the numbers that came across the plains to Oregon, from the year 1840 until the fixing of the international boundary, are incomplete and unsatisfactory. It has been estimated that at the close of 1841 there were in the neighbourhood of four hundred citizens of the United States in Oregon. For 1842, the estimates range, on good authority, from one hundred and five to one hundred and thirty-seven immigrants; while in the following year not less than eight hundred and seventy-five to one thousand came into the country. The number fell to seven hundred in 1844, but rose to three thousand in 1845, during the period that immediately preceded the final settlement of the controversy between Great Britain and the United States concerning the boundary. In 1846, the movement again fell off", this time to about one thousand three hundred and fifty.

The climax of the movement, in a political sense, came in 1844. From the time of the missionaries, the influx had taken on the characteristics of a great national propaganda for the annexation of Oregon to the United States. The settler conveyed a clearer title to the soil than the fur trader; the settler, therefore, under the existing conditions was a patriot as well. Of the intricacies of the debate between Great Britain and the United States concerning the division of Oregon, some review will be given later; it is sufficient here to advert to the political significance of the immigration movement and to the fact that this significance was understood by every one who took part in it. By 1844, enough strength had been gathered for a definite declaration of policy on the spot. Political organization of some sort had, moreover, become expedient. A provisional government was accordingly erected on the Willamette, representative entirely of the American element—for the British held aloof— and established on the understanding that it would exist only until the United States extended its jurisdiction to the country. It had an executive of three and a legislature of eight. It passed several laws; but the bowie knife and pistol remained the most effective engines in bringing delinquents to justice. For two years the unique experiment was continued, until the treaty of 1846 erected Oregon into a territory of the American union.

A word may be added with regard to the course observed by the Hudson's Bay Company towards the settlers from the United States. It was indeed a difficult situation; on the one hand, suffering men and women, the terrible passage of the plains having left nearly all the earlier settlers in a state of destitution and defencelessness; on the other, the loss of the country to the trade. Yet there can be no doubt that to missionaries and immigrants alike the attitude of the company was one of kindness and hospitality. How much of this was due to McLoughlin is a question hard to answer. The significance of the influx was never misunderstood; and if upon McLoughlin the bitterness of the losing battle fell, the fact remains that when Douglas succeeded to his place no change in policy followed. Perhaps it was then too late; though in any event the movement was irresistible from the first. To rival traders, of course, no quarter was given; they were fought with every weapon which the wealth and long experience of the company had placed in its hand, and with unvarying success. Ingratitude on the part of those who had received its bounty is hard to account for. Yet it is a fact that the ill-will which McLoughlin incurred from the company for befriending the settlers, excused as it might be by the heavy losses sustained through the policy which he had adopted, was more than equalled by the hatred with which he was pursued by some of those whom he had rescued from death in its most terrible forms, whom he had fed, clothed, and supplied with the means of obtaining a livelihood, and for whom he risked his own future with the company. Political passion alone can account for this perversion. A year before the Oregon boundary had been finally determined, McLoughlin, the picturesque and admirable, the "great white eagle" of the Pacific slope, had been forced from his command; and Douglas, more rigid in his obedience, though no more able, as it proved, to stem the tide, ruled in his stead.

Such, in outline, was the nature of the movement which, by peopling the country south of the Columbia with a race that tilled the soil, drove out the hunter and the trapper, its discoverer and first occupant. In this way was solved the vexed problem of sovereignty in Oregon. Thenceforward the vast hiatus between the Alleghanies and the Rockies was bridged by the tie of a common nationality at either end; and the foot of the republic was planted firmly once and for all on the shores of the Pacific. With the year 1846, the British frontier was moved back to the 49th parallel, except for the portion of Vancouver Island which lay below that line and for the possessory rights which the Hudson's Bay Company and others retained in the Columbia valley, Britain having maintained throughout that the Columbia formed the proper boundary between the countries. Fort Vancouver remained until 1849 as a post of the company; but the glory had departed. Coming events had cast their shadow before; and the removal of the boundary did not find the company unprepared. Three years before the final settlement, a fort had been established within the shelter of the new lines, to inherit the prestige of Vancouver as the company's emporium on the Pacific, and to form the nucleus of the new political and social life that was to spring up with the definite determination of the national frontier. This was Victoria on Vancouver Island, founded by James Douglas in 1843. The event and its immediate results were of such importance, both to the fur trade and the country, as to merit a chapter to themselves. Before approaching this part of the subject, however, it will be of interest to describe more fully that famous controversy between Great Britain and the United States concerning the Oregon boundary, some further reference to which is necessary in immediate connection with the foregoing, and of which the establishment of Victoria, though forestalling it in point of time, was largely in the nature of a result.


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