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November 19th 2012
Published: November 19th 2012
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FORT VANCOUVER



In 1818 the United States and Great Britain entered into a Joint Occupancy Agreement for settlement in the Pacific Northwest. The Brits did not give up easily on their notion of colonization in North America. They were persistent devils when it came to commercial enterprise. They wanted to expand their trade routes and open new markets for their goods. By 1821 the Hudson Bay Company and the Northwest Company had merged resulting in a trade monopoly for the British. The company was run with an iron fist by George Simpson at York in Canada. Fort Vancouver was opened on the north bank of the Columbia River in 1824 with John McLoughlin as Chief Factor. It quickly became the center of commerce and civic authority for a huge portion of the American West. The Oregon Country included the land west of the Continental Divide between the northern boundary of New Spain established in 1821 at the 42nd Parallel, and the southern boundary of Russian America established in 1825 at 54 40 North. The fur trade was lucrative for the company, but the monopoly did not last long. Fierce competition arose with American fur interests that tended to drive profits down. By 1840 the market for beaver pelts had collapsed but the company was still in a strong position at Fort Vancouver. They still controlled all commerce and immigration to the Oregon country and America was in danger of losing it all to the British. A compromise between the Polk Administration and the British Foreign Office was finally reached in 1844 establishing the International Boundary at the 49th Parallel. The Hudson Bay Company reluctantly abandoned Fort Vancouver and a new place called Vancouver was built in British Columbia. The photo shows the resurrected fort grounds. It should serve as a reminder that the British nearly took a big juicy bite out of our country even after we had whipped them in two wars.

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