Rare late edition of the Jeramiah Greenleaf's map of Oregon Territory, which appeared in his Universal Atlas.
The present example shows the Oregon Territory after completion of the Treaty which resolved the Oregon Question and set the boundary between Oregon and British Columbia at 49 degrees.
Rich with Indian information and details of the earliest settlements in Oregon Territory. At the time it was first printed, this map was the only commercial atlas map to depict Oregon Territory on a separate map, extending to 54 degrees 40 minutes, it reflected the then active dispute between the US and British interests over the region which would become the southern part of British Columbia, which were not resolved until a decade later. The discoveries of Lewis & Clark, the Hudson's Bay Company and John Jacob Astor's Company are in evidence, along with some of the fascinating early water routes from the Pacific to Salt Lake (Timpanogos) and other mythical pre-Fremont Cartography.
This rare late edition shows the final resolution of the issue, with the conclusion of the Oregon Treaty in 1846.
The Oregon Question
Over the course of approximately 50 years beginning in the last decades of the 18th Century, the Americans, Russians, Spanish and British, each conducted explorations into the region, with an eye toward colonization and for the purpose of bolstering Ancient Title claims based upon discovery and/or occupation. From 1818 onward, the British and Americans each occupied the region under an agreement of Joint Occupation, while Diplomats from each country tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a boundary treaty. While the parties had agreed to the 49th Parallel as the division between the United States and Canada for the lands east of the Rocky Mountains, no fixed agreement could be reached for the stretch to the west.
Following the Adams Onis Treaty of 1819, the result was in Spain relinquishing their claims to the region and the fading interests of the Russians, and it was left to the inertia of the two competing English language powers. The Americans had the benefit of proximity, with an increasing number of missionaries and settlers traveling overland to the region, while the British Fur Trading interests, as consolidated in the Hudson's Bay Company following its merger with the North West Company in 1821, pressed their possessory claims from north of the Columbia River, with the HBC establishing its headquarters in Vancouver, Washington.
The issue built to crescendo in America in 1844. With the annexation of Texas, the focal point of American expansionism turned to Oregon. While the expression Fifty-Four Forty or Fight would not be coined until the election of 1846, aggressive expansion in the Columbia Basin became a centerpiece of American Politics. The British also stepped up their efforts to secure a maximum foothold in the region. In the 1830s and 1840s, a regular British Naval presence accompanied the HBC presence.
By 1845 and 1846, the British and American interests nearly resulted in War. At least 5 British Naval Vessels were operating in the North Pacific and the British went so far as to formulate a war plan. However, diplomacy won out, as the British commercial interests in the region were increasingly trumped by the importance of maintaining a trade partnership with the United States. The Oregon Treaty was ratified in June 1846, whereby the 49th Parallel became the primary boundary between the regions, with the British retaining all of Vancouver Island. While the treaty resolved the longstanding dispute, a final boundary between the two nations would remain at some level of modest controversy until 1871, when the San Juan Islands were awarded to the Americans in an arbitration headed by Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany.