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Map of the lands in dispute

The Oregon Treaty,[1] is a treaty between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the United States that was signed on June 15, 1846, in Washington, D.C. The treaty brought an end to the Oregon boundary dispute by settling competing American and British claims to the Oregon Country, which had been jointly occupied by both Britain and the U.S. since the Treaty of 1818.

Contents

Background

The Treaty of 1818 set the boundary between the United States and British North America along the 49th parallel of north latitude from Minnesota to the "Stony Mountains"[2 ] (now known as the Rocky Mountains). West of those mountains was known to the Americans as the Oregon Country and to the British as the 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.

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, Democratic expansionists called for the annexation of the entire region up to 54°40′, the southern limit of Russian America as established by parallel treaties between the Russian Empire and the US (1824) and Britain (1825). However, after the outbreak of the Mexican-American War diverted U.S. attention and resources, a compromise was reached.

Negotiations

The treaty was negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State 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. The treaty was signed on June 15, 1846.

The Oregon Treaty set the U.S. and British North American border at the 49th parallel with the exception of 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 in 1849. The U.S. portion of the region was organized as Oregon Territory on August 14, 1848, with Washington Territory being formed from it in 1853. The British portion remained unorganized until 1858 when the 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 and British Columbia. When the Colony of British Columbia joined Canada in 1871, the 49th Parallel and marine boundaries established by the Oregon Treaty became the U.S.-Canadian border.

Treaty definitions

The treaty defined the border in the Strait of Juan de Fuca through the major channel. Unfortunately, the "major channel" was not defined.

  • Navigation of "channel[s] and straits, south of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, remain free and open to both parties."
  • The "Puget's Sound Agricultural Company" retains the right to their property north of the Columbia River, and shall be compensated for properties surrendered if required by the United States.[3] (The Puget's Sound Agricultural Company was a subsidiary of the Hudson's Bay Company)
  • The property rights of the Hudson's Bay Company and all British subjects south of the new boundary will be respected.

Aftermath

In 1859, an unclear description of the maritime border in the treaty led to the bloodless war known as the Pig War over the ownership of the San Juan Islands.

See also

References and footnotes

  1. ^ officially titled the Treaty between Her Majesty and the United States of America, for the Settlement of the Oregon Boundary and styled in the United States as the Treaty with Great Britain, in Regard to Limits Westward of the Rocky Mountains, and also known as the Buchanan-Pakenham (or Packenham) Treaty or (sharing the name with several other unrelated treaties) the Treaty of Washington
  2. ^ LexUM (2000). "Convention of Commerce between His Majesty and the United States of America.—Signed at London, 20th October 1818". Canado-American Treaties. Université de Montréal. http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/ca_us/en/cus.1818.15.en.html. Retrieved 2006-03-27.  
  3. ^ LexUM (1999). "Treaty between Her Majesty and the United States of America, for the Settlement of the Oregon Boundary". Canado-American Treaties. Université de Montréal. http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/ca_us/cgi-bin/disp.pl/en/cus.1846.28.en.html?query=annee(1846)&langue=en&selection=&database=en&method=all&retour=/ca_us/cgi-bin/srch.pl?numhits=25~~language=en~~database=en~~method=all~~sujet=~~titre=~~query=~~nomsign=~~annee=1846. Retrieved 2007-01-12.  
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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

←Indexes: Historical documents
Oregon Treaty
Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom
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Oregon Treaty.

TREATY WITH GREAT BRITAIN, IN REGARD TO LIMITS WESTWARD OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.

The United States of America and her Majesty the Queen [Victoria] of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, deeming it to be desirable for the future welfare of both countries that the state of doubt and uncertainty which has hitherto prevailed respecting the sovereignty and government of the territory on the northwest coast of America [Oregon Country], lying westward of the Rocky or Stony Mountains, should be finally terminated by an amicable compromise of the rights mutually asserted by the two parties over the said territory, have respectively named plenipotentiaries to treat and agree concerning the terms of such settlement—that is to say: the President of the United States of America [James K. Polk] has, on his part, furnished with full powers James Buchanan, Secretary of State of the United States, and her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland has, on her part, appointed the Right Honorable Richard Pakenham, a member of her Majesty's Most Honorable Privy Council, and her Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States; who, after having communicated to each other their respective full powers, found in good and due form, have agreed upon and concluded the following articles:—

Contents

Article I

Article I.
From the point on the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, where the boundary laid down in existing treaties and conventions [the Treaty of 1818] between the United States and Great Britain terminates, the line of boundary between the territories of the United States and those of her Britannic Majesty shall be continued westward along the said forty-ninth parallel of north latitude to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island, and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca's Straits, to the Pacific Ocean: Provided, however, that the navigation of the whole of the said channel and straits, south of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, remain free and open to both parties.

Article II

Article II.
From the point at which the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude shall be found to intersect the great northern branch of the Columbia River, the navigation of the said branch shall be free and open to the Hudson's Bay Company, and to all British subjects trading with the same, to the point where the said branch meets the main stream of the Columbia, and thence down the said main stream to the ocean, with free access into and through the said river or rivers, it being understood that all the usual portages along the line thus described shall, in like manner, be free and open. In navigating the said river or rivers, British subjects, with their goods and produce, shall be treated on the same footing as citizens of the United States; it being, however, always understood that nothing in this article shall he construed as preventing, or intended to prevent, the government of the United States from making any regulations respecting the navigation of the said river or rivers not inconsistent with the present treaty.

Article III

Article III.
In the future appropriation of the territory south of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, as provided in the first article of this treaty, the possessory rights of the Hudson's Bay Company, and of all British subjects who may be already in the occupation of land or other property lawfully acquired within the said territory, shall be respected.

Article IV

Article IV.
The farms, lands, and other property of every description, belonging to the Puget's Sound Agricultural Company, on the north side of the Columbia River, shall be confirmed to the said company. In case, however, the situation of those farms and lands should be considered by the United States to be of public and political importance, and the United States government should signify a desire to obtain possession of the whole, or of any part thereof, the property so required shall be transferred to the said government, at a proper valuation, to be agreed upon between the parties.

Article V

Article V.
The present treaty shall be ratified by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof, and by her Britannic Majesty; and the ratifications shall he exchanged at London, at the expiration of six months from the date hereof, or sooner, if possible.

In witness whereof, the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed the same, and have affixed thereto the seals of their arms.

Done at Washington [D.C.], the fifteenth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-six.

JAMES BUCHANAN. [l.s.]
RICHARD PAKENHAM. [l.s.]


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