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Conflicting Claims to the Oregon Country

During the 19th century, several powers had claims of varying legitimacy to the Pacific Northwest. These included:

  • Spain. The Spanish had long been active in California, but had not established missions north of Sonoma—a long distance from Oregon. Despite that fact, the Spanish continued to claim a share of Oregon until the conclusion of the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819, when Spain surrendered its claims north of 42? north latitude (the southern border of present day Oregon).
  • Russia. The Russians maintained a long string of fur trading stations from Alaska to near San Francisco, but there existed barely a hint of actual Russian occupation and settlement. By the mid-1820s, the sea otter population was decimated and in 1825 the Russians withdrew north of 54?40’ north latitude (the southern boundary of present-day Alaska).
  • Britain and the United States. Both of these countries were distracted by other matters in the early 19th century and, in effect, put the matter on hold by agreeing to a policy of “joint occupation” in the Anglo-American Convention of 1818.
The Oregon territory became that land between 42? and 54?40’ north latitude, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. Final resolution of the boundary between the United States and British Columbia would be achieved in 1846.