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Oregon Territory


Oregon Territory

Territory of Oregon
The United States


Seal of the Oregon Territory of Oregon Territory

Seal of the Oregon Territory

Capital Oregon City (1848–1851)
Salem (1851–1855)
Corvallis (1855)
Salem (1855–1859)
Government Organized incorporated territory
 •  1848–1850; 1853 Joseph Lane
 •  1850 Kintzing Prichette
 •  1850–1853 John P. Gaines
 •  1853–1854 John W. Davis
 •  1854–1859 George L. Curry
 •  Oregon Treaty June 14, 1846
 •  Organized August 14, 1848
 •  Washington Territory split off March 2, 1853
 •  Statehood February 14, 1859

The Territory of Oregon was an Union as the State of Oregon. Originally claimed by several countries (See Oregon Country), the region was divided between the U.S. and Great Britain in 1846. When established, the territory encompassed an area that included the current states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, as well as parts of Wyoming and Montana. The capital of the territory was first Oregon City, then Salem, followed briefly by Corvallis, then back to Salem, which became the state capital upon Oregon's admission to the Union.


  • Background 1
  • Formation 2
  • Government 3
  • Gaining Statehood 4
  • Territorial evolution of Oregon 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7


Originally inhabited by Native Americans, the region that became the Oregon Territory was explored by Europeans first by sea. The first documented exploration came in 1777 by the Spanish, with British and American vessels visiting the region within a few years.[1][2] Later, land based exploration by Alexander Mackenzie and the Lewis and Clark Expedition along with the establishment of the fur trade in the region set up a variety of conflicting territorial claims by European powers and the United States.[3]

These conflicts led to several treaties, including the Treaty of 1818 that set up a "joint occupation" between the United States and the British over the region that included parts of the current U.S. states of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, and Montana as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia.[4]


Oregon Territory, as originally organized, in 1848
Oregon Territory (blue) with Washington Territory (green) in 1853
State of Oregon (blue) with Washington Territory (green) in 1859

During the period of joint occupation, most activity in the region outside of the activities of the indigenous people came from the fur trade, which was dominated by the British Hudson's Bay Company.[5] Over time, some trappers began to settle down in the area and began farming, and missionaries started to arrive in the 1830s.[5] Some settlers also began arriving in the late 1830s, and covered wagons crossed the Oregon Trail beginning in 1841.[6] At that time, no government existed in the Oregon Country, as no one nation held dominion over the territory.

A group of settlers in the

  1. ^ Howard M. Corning, ed. (1989). Dictionary of Oregon History.  
  2. ^ Horner, John B. (1919). Oregon: Her History, Her Great Men, Her Literature. The J.K. Gill Co.: Portland. pp. 28–29.
  3. ^ Horner, pp. 53–59.
  4. ^ a b Corning, p. 129.
  5. ^ a b Horner, pp. 60–64.
  6. ^ Corning, p. 186.
  7. ^ a b c Corning, p. 206.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Corning, p. 240.
  9. ^  
  10. ^ a b c Hubert Howe Bancroft, The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft: Volume 29: History of Oregon: Volume 1, 1834-1848. San Francisco, CA: The History Company, 1886; pg. 540.
  11. ^ Horner, p. 162.
  12. ^ Horner, p. 153.
  13. ^ a b Horner, p. 166.


See also

Territorial evolution of Oregon

On February 14, 1859, the territory entered the Union as the U.S. state of Oregon within its current boundaries.[13] The remaining eastern portion of the territory (the portions in present-day southern Idaho and western Wyoming) was added to the Washington Territory.

Oregon City served as the seat of government from 1848 to 1851, followed by Washington Territory.[12] The Oregon Constitutional Convention was held in 1857 to draft a constitution in preparation for becoming a state, with the convention delegates approving the document in September, and then general populace approving the document in November.[13]

Gaining Statehood

Taxation took the form of an annual property tax of 0.25% for territorial purposes with an additional county tax not to exceed this amount.[10] This tax was to be paid on all town lots and improvements, mills, carriages, clocks and watches, and livestock; farmland and farm products were not taxed.[10] In addition, a poll tax of 50 cents for every qualified voter under age 60 was assessed and a graduated schedule of merchants' licenses established, ranging from the peddlar's rate of $10 per year to a $60 annual fee on firms with more than $20,000 of capital.[10]

The territorial government consisted of a governor, a marshal, a secretary, an attorney, and a three-judge supreme court.[8] Judges on the court also sat as trial level judges as they rode circuit across the territory.[8] All of these offices were filled by appointment by the President of the United States.[8] The two-chamber Oregon Territorial Legislature was responsible for passing laws, with seats in both the upper-chamber council and lower-chamber house of representatives filled by local elections held each year.[8]


[9], was designated as the first capital.Oregon City, Oregon of 1819), and it extended north to the 49th parallel. Adams-Onis Treaty (the boundary of the 42nd parallel north Its southern border was the [8].Continental Divide west of the Wyoming and Montana, as well as those parts of present-day Washington and Oregon, Idaho The Territory of Oregon originally encompassed all of the present-day states of [8], which created what was officially the Territory of Oregon.Act to Establish the Territorial Government of Oregon On August 14, 1848, Congress passed the [8] The United States federal government left their part of the region unorganized for two years until news of the

, with the United States receiving the territory south of that line. Vancouver Island and all of 49th parallel The British gained sole possession of the land north of the [4].Oregon Treaty between the U.S. and Britain was settled with the signing of the Oregon boundary dispute In 1846, the [7].Provisional Government of Oregon eventually led to further discussions, and in 1843 the creation of the Champoeg Meetings These first [7].Champoeg, Oregon These earliest documented discussions, mostly concerning forming a government, were held in an early pioneer and Native American encampment and later town known as [7]

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