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China fell almost completely into the hands of Boston merchants, and it so remained till the end of the War of 1812. * Even thereafter these merchants continued in the field and did a thriving business for many years; but before the controversy over the possession of Oregon was finally settled the trade had become relatively unimportant.2

The contest between the United States and Great Britain for the possession of Oregon was forecast in negotiations between them immediately subsequent to the purchase of Louisiana. In the treaty signed by the commissioners of the two powers, December 31, 1806, but rejected by President Jefferson, there was added after the signing a provision that the line of the forty-ninth parallel, which was to be accepted as dividing their territories east of the "Stony" Mountains, should not extend to "territories belonging to or claimed by either party" to the west thereof.3 A similar provision was rejected in the negotiations for the treaty of Ghent because the British commissioners coupled with it a stipulation that the subjects of Great Britain should enjoy free navigation of the Mississippi and free access to the river through the territory of the United States.4 The convention signed and ratified in 1818, while accepting the line of 490 as the northern limit of the Louisiana purchase, provided that "any country that may be claimed by either party on the northwest coast of America, westward of the Stony Mountains," should be "free and open" to the subjects of both. The agreement was to last ten years, and was not to prejudice the claims of either party to any part of the country, nor to affect those of any other power.1

1 Greenhow, Oregon and Cal., 266; Bancroft, Northwest Coast, I., 359. 1 Bancroft, Northwest Coast, I., 376.

* U. S. Treaties and Conventions, 1324; Am. State Paps., Foreign, III., 165. * Am. State Paps., Foreign, IV., 377.

The authorities at Washington now began to turn attention to Oregon. In 1821 John Floyd, a member of Congress from Virginia, became interested in the subject, and procured the appointment of a committee, with himself as chairman, to consider and report on the expediency of occupying the Columbia valley.2 After a series of failures, he finally received the support of President Monroe, and succeeded, on December 23, 1824, in getting a bill for such occupation through the House by a vote of 113 to 57; but it did not pass the Senate.3 During the session of 1828-1829 another bill for the purpose, though urged by the petitions of a large number of would-be emigrants, was defeated in the House by a vote of 99 to 75.*

In 1824, after the conclusion of the treaty with Russia, by which it agreed to withdraw from the country south of 54° 40', the United States government at once began negotiations with that of Great Britain to adjust their conflicting claims. Great Britain offered as a dividing - line the forty-ninth parallel westward from the Rockies to its intersection with the northeasternmost branch of the Columbia, and the course of the river itself thence to the Pacific, free navigation of the Columbia to be allowed the subjects of both powers. The United States offered the forty-ninth parallel the entire distance from the mountains to the ocean. In 1826 this offer was renewed, with the concession that, if the Columbia should be navigable up to where the line crossed it, its navigation thence to the sea should be free to British subjects. Great Britain adhered to her offer of 1824, with only the addition of a detached bit of territory containing a port in Fuca Strait. The negotiations ended with the renewal, in 1827, for an indefinite period, of the convention of 1818, with the understanding that either party should have the right to terminate the agreement on twelve months' notice;l and thus the matter rested until the beginning of popular agitation concerning it in the United States. The disappointment over the failure of «the Ashburton treaty to deal with the northwest boundary was one cause of the excitement, but it had been thought best not to complicate the negotiations for that treaty further by introducing the subject.1

1 U. S. Treaties and Conventions, 416; cf. Babcock, Am. Nationality (Am. Nation, XIII.), 266-268. 'Benton, Thirty Years' View, I., 13.

* Richardson, Messages and Papers, II., 262; Debates of Cong., 18 Cong., 2 Sess., 59; cf. Turner, New West (Am. Nation, XIV.), 128-133; McMaster, United States, V., 23-27.

* Debates of Cong., 20 Cong., 2 Sess., 192.

VOL. XVII. II

* For the whole series of these negotiations, see Am. State Paps., Foreign, V., 553-564, VI., 641-706.

Meanwhile American overland explorers and furtraders, led by such men as William H. Ashley of the American Fur Company and Jedediah Smith of the Rocky Mountain Company, were pushing forward the path-breaking work that had begun with Lewis and Clark.2 The mountain passes were discovered and the trails marked out. Of the settlers that followed and the beginning of their work, brief mention has been made already.3 The colonizing movement gave a new impulse to the agitation of the Oregon question in Congress. In 1838 Senator Lewis F. Linn of Missouri began work similar to that which Floyd had been doing in the House. During the course of it, on December 16, 1841, he introduced a bill providing, among other things, for a line of forts from Missouri to Oregon, and one to guard the mouth of the Columbia; and for the grant of a section of land to each male immigrant eighteen years of age or over. On February 3, 1843, the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 24 to 22, but it did not get through the House.4 The expectation, however, of its passage greatly stimulated immigration to Oregon.

The debates on the various bills for the occupation of Oregon within the two houses of Congress are interesting as a reflection of contemporaneous opinion in regard to the country itself and to the measures for assuring its occupation. Those who spoke in favor of it emphasized the considerations of commercial advantage and resistance to British aggression; while the opposition stressed the fear of developing a separate western interest and of draining the population of the existing states and territories, the incompatibility of a colonial system with American political principles, and the small value of Oregon itself. Polk of Tennessee argued in 1828 that to erect a territorial government, enforce revenue laws, and grant lands to settlers was a violation of the treaty with Great Britain then in force.1 The popular clamor which practically dismissed the argument altogether and would be satisfied with nothing but the whole of Oregon had not yet arisen.

1 Niles' Register, LXIII., 185.

'Turner, New West (Am. Nation, XIV.), 119-193.

'See p. 38, above.

* Debates of Cong., 27 Cong., 3 Sess., 240.

The growth of the American population in Oregon, in fact, constituted the most serious aspect of the question and furnished the best reason for insisting on some final adjustment of the adverse claims. So long as the country was occupied only by fur-traders, and those practically all British, it might be possible to avoid serious friction, either local or international; but the entry of settlers from the United States made it certain that, unless the

1 Debates of Cong., 20 Cong., 2 Sess., 130; Greenhow, Oregon and Col., 355.

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