The Info List - Oregon Treaty

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The OREGON TREATY is a treaty between the United Kingdom and the United States that was signed on June 15, 1846, in Washington, D.C. Signed under the presidency of James K. Polk , the treaty brought an end to the Oregon boundary dispute
Oregon boundary dispute
by settling competing American and British claims to the Oregon Country
Oregon Country
; the area had been jointly occupied by both Britain and the U.S. since the Treaty
of 1818 .


* 1 Background * 2 Negotiations * 3 Treaty
definitions * 4 Issues arising from treaty * 5 See also

* 6 References and footnotes

* 6.1 Bibliography

* 7 External links


Main article: Oregon boundary dispute
Oregon boundary dispute

The Treaty
of 1818 set the boundary between the United States and British North America
British North America
along the 49th parallel of north latitude from Minnesota
to the "Stony Mountains" (now known as the Rocky Mountains ). The region west of those mountains was known to the Americans as the Oregon Country
Oregon Country
and to the British as the Columbia Department
Columbia Department
or Columbia District of the Hudson\'s Bay Company . (Also included in the region was the southern portion of another fur district, New Caledonia .) The treaty provided for joint control of that land for ten years. Both countries could claim land and both were guaranteed free navigation throughout. Original manuscript of the treaty (transcription), as kept by the U.S. National Archives.

Joint control steadily grew less tolerable for both sides. After a British minister rejected U.S. President James K. Polk 's offer to settle the boundary at the 49th parallel north
49th parallel north
, Democratic expansionists called for the annexation of the entire region up to Parallel 54°40′ north
Parallel 54°40′ north
, the southern limit of Russian America
Russian America
as established by parallel treaties between the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
and the United States (1824) and Britain (1825). However, after the outbreak of the Mexican-American War in April 1846 diverted U.S. attention and military resources, a compromise was reached in the ongoing negotiations in Washington, D.C., and the matter was settled by the Polk administration (to the dismay of its own party's hardliners) to avoid a two-war situation and a third war with the formidable military strength of Great Britain in less than 70 years.


The treaty was negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State James Buchanan
James Buchanan
, who later became president, and Richard Pakenham , British envoy to the United States and member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom for Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria
; the Earl of Aberdeen was at the time Foreign Secretary, and it was he who was responsible for it in Parliament. The treaty was signed on June 15, 1846, ending the joint occupation with Great Britain and making most Oregonians below the 49th parallel American citizens.

The Oregon Treaty
set the U.S. and British North American border at the 49th parallel with the exception of Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island
, which was retained in its entirety by the British. Vancouver Island, with all coastal islands, was constituted as the Colony of Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island
in 1849. The U.S. portion of the region was organized as Oregon Territory on August 15, 1848, with Washington Territory
Washington Territory
being formed from it in 1853. The British portion remained unorganized until 1858 when the Colony of British Columbia
Colony of British Columbia
was declared as a result of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush and fears of re-asserted American expansionist intentions. The two British colonies were amalgamated in 1866 as the United Colonies of Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island
and British Columbia . When the Colony of British Columbia
Colony of British Columbia
joined Canada in 1871, the 49th Parallel and marine boundaries established by the Oregon Treaty
became the Canada–US border .


The treaty defined the border in the Strait of Juan de Fuca through the major channel. The "major channel" was not defined, giving rise to further disputes in the San Juan Islands in 1859. Other provisions included:

* Navigation of "channel and straits, south of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, remain free and open to both parties". * The "Puget\'s Sound Agricultural Company " (a subsidiary of the Hudson's Bay Company) retains the right to their property north of the Columbia River
Columbia River
, and shall be compensated for properties surrendered if required by the United States. * The property rights of the Hudson\'s Bay Company and all British subjects south of the new boundary will be respected.


Ambiguities in the wording of the Oregon