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The Oregon Trail
The Man Who Saved a Continent
Man who saved a continent. Hudson’s Bay Co had laid claim to most of Washington-Oregon territory by virtue of being somewhere in the area. After was discovered by Gray and explored by Lewis and Clark, extent and value of this distant possession was very slightly understood and no attempt at colonization made save establishment of fur trading station in Astoria. 1811. England too claimed the territory by virtue of rights ceded to it by Russia and by Vancouver’s surveys of 1792. Hudson’s Bay Co. established a number of trading posts and filled country with adventurous fur traders. It was a vast territory as large as New England and state of Indiana combined. But for Marcus Whitman it would have been lost to the union. It was in 1836 that Dr. Whitman and Spaulding came out. He was going to be a missionary, but he saw possibilities of country and saw English were apprized of this and were rapidly pouring into the territory. Under terms of treaty of 1818 and 28, tacit belief tt whichever nationality settled and organized a territory, tt nation would hold it. If fur traders had been successful the three great states would now constitute part of British Columbia. But it was not destined to be. -- Fred Myron Colby
--Coquille City Herald July 18, 1899
[not full quote] Interest history clipa5b CCH 42]
Another View of The Above Theory
Editor Herald: An article signed by a Mr. Colby, in which the writer revives the self-evident romance that Oregon was saved to the United States by a winter horseback ride by Marcus Whitman from here to Washington in l842. The truth is, ,,,that active negotiations were at that time in progress between the United States and the British government looking to the settling of the line which was to separate the Oregon territory from the territory in the extreme northwest claimed by Great 8ritain. As a matter of fact, at the date of Dr. Whitman's visit to the capital, England had abandoned all pretense to any claim to any part of the territory now constituting the State of Oregon. Her commissioners had proposed a line running west along the line of the 49th parallel of north latitude, to the point where the same intersects the headwaters of the Columbia river, thence down the said river to the sea. At that time we were claiming northward to the Russian territory at 54:40. Less than two years after Dr. Whitman’s visit, the national Democratic convention...inserted a plank into its platform demanding all the territory north to 54:40, hence the slogan during the 1844 campaign, “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!”
In 1846 the line of the 49th parallel, through to the Pacific ocean, was settled upon, the United States commissioners recognizing the justice of England’s claim to the territory north of that line by virtue of Sir Alexander McKenzie’s discovery of the coast, traveling west from Canada in 1793.
The Portland Oregonian has repeatedly shown the fallacy of the claim set up in behalf of Dr. Whitman of “Saving Oregon to the Union,” yet it seems that such claim will not wholly down yet awhile [as typed ].
Another historical anachronism which Mr. Colby gives credence to is, that the Oregon territory was a part of the Louisiana purchase, but that is pardonable in view of the fact that it is so stated even in some of our school geographies. The United States acquired its initial claim to said territory by virtue of Captain Gray’s discovery of the mouth of the Columbia river and sailing up said river in 1792; and later through the explorations of Lewis and Clark in 1805. These explorers were sent out by President Jefferson, who is on record as having distinctly disavowed any claim to any territory west of the Rocky Mountains as having come to us through the Louisiana purchase. Later on we acquired any claims Spain had to north Pacific territory north the forty-second parallel. This is the Florida treaty of 1819.
J. H. Upton, Langlois, Or. August, 1899
-- Herald Aug. 15, 1899 [History name loose 15]
[Ed. Note: These 2 items on Marcus Whitman also appear in:
Boundary Dispute: U, S, - Canada section.]
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