Oregon Territory, or Columbia District
The Oregon Territory, in northwestern North America, was formed in part as a result of US and British territorial claims and tensions. The Treaty of Ghent of 1814 decreed that the British and US concede territory seized during the War of 1812.1 The port city of Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River, became for a time the focus of these repatriations, wherein both governments postured as sovereigns.2 The Convention of 1818 quelled the stalemate's fury temporarily by decreeing co-occupation, in which the lands westward of the Stony Mountains were made free and open, for the term of ten years to the vessels, citizens, and subjects of the two Powers.3
The British referred to the Oregon Territory as the Columbia District, while the United States referred to it most commonly as Oregon Country—the regions in question were subject to a variety of designations. Britain claimed a border as far south as the 42nd parallel, and the United States claimed as high as 54° 40'. Arguably, the hotly contested regions, largely for reasons of trade, were the lands between the Columbia River and the 49th parallel.4
Eventually, and after much politicking, the 49th marked the territorial divide ratified in the Oregon Treaty of 1846, whereby the British received Vancouver Island and lands equal roughly to half of present-day British Columbia.5 The United States secured the land up to the 49th, which included the region between the Columbia and the 49th, roughly present-day Washington, Oregon, and Idaho States.
  • 1. G. P. V. Akrigg and H. B. Akrigg, British Columbia Chronicle, 1788-1846 (Victoria: Discovery Press, 1975), 169.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid., 170.
  • 4. Arthur S. Morton, A History of the Canadian West to 1870-71 (London: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1939), 748-750.
  • 5. Ibid., 149.
Mentions of this place in the documents