British or Americas in Pacific Trading Business

By , Seattle, WA
Both the Americans and British competed on all aspects in the trade business; however in my opinion it would seem that the British were much more successful. The British were much more successful in the trading business for two reasons, one they dominated the booming fur trading business, and because the Americans had no means to compete with the Hudson Bay Company. Fur was the most valuable costal/ inland trading item, and at the time whoever was most successful in selling and trading fur would have the best trading business period.

The Hudson Bay Company was the largest and most successful trading company, and was the main reason for Brittan’s success in the pacific North West. In fact, the Hudson Bay Company was thriving so much that it is actually still operating today (Lambert 115). This company was founded by Groseiliers and Radisson in 1670. The Hudson’s bay men made huge profits by trapping and trading goods with the Native Americans (Lambert 117). They produced huge earnings for their London share holders and ended up merging with the northwest fur company which owned the Americans fur trading company (ibid.). The Hudson Bay Company ended up moving from Fort George which was the old Fort Astoria, to Fort Vancouver. The fact that the Americans had no way to compete with the British trading companies made a big difference in each countries success.

The Americans only chance of competing with the British in the fur trading business was the pacific fur company. John Jacob Astor was the wealthiest man in the Pacific Northwest. Astor sent Duncan MacDougall on a sea expedition with Captain Jonathan thorn to the mouth of the Columbia River to build a trading post (pelz 62). At the same time he sent an overland party to build a chain of trading posts in the Oregon country. The Tonquin set sail on august 2, 1810 and reached its destination on March 22, 1811. Thanks to the ships brutal and eager captain, Thorn, along with his 26 man crew were killed after they sailed north to the Nootka Sound where they were all killed by the local Native Americans (pelz 68). Luckily Duncan MacDougall and a few men stayed behind to build Fort Astoria on the southern shore of the Columbia River. Meanwhile Astor’s overland party was led by Wilson price and a few others, the overland expedition split up into smaller groups and struggled to find Fort Astoria. However after a few months they found fort Astoria and established themselves as the Pacific Fur company in the Pacific Northwest. This company began to grow and established trading posts at Fort Astoria, Fort Okanogan, and Fort Spokane. Unfortunately in 1813 they received word that great Brittan and the United States were at war. Soon representatives of great Brittan offered to purchase the holdings of the pacific fur company before a British warship could confiscate them. On December 12, 1813 they had no choice but to agree to their terms (ibid.). The Pacific Fur Company had now belonged to the British’s Northwest Fur Company, and Fort Astoria had been renamed to Fort George. Now the Americans truly had no way to compete with the British.
The British were more successful than their American counter parts in the trade business because they were very successful in the number one trade business at the time which was fur trading, and because of the especially poor management of Pacific Northwest fur company, which was the only competition to the British. The Americans simply had no means to compete with the Hudson Bay Company, john Jacob Astor and the Pacific Northwest Company truly couldn’t keep up with the booming British companies and ended up falling apart.




The treaty of Ghent, the Spanish- American agreement and the Russian- American convention all played very important roles in which country would end up controlling the Oregon country. However the most important international treaty that I believe contributed most to the United States’ eventual exclusive control of the lower two-thirds of the Oregon country would be the Spanish- American agreement. The treaty of Ghent ended the war between the U.s and Britain, in the treaty the 2 countries decided to settle borders between their territories. Representatives met several times in 1818 and finally decided that the 49th parallel of north latitude should form the U.S –Canadian border from the great lakes to the continental divide. However the down side to this good treaty was that the two countries couldn’t decide about who would own the Pacific Northwest which included most of the Oregon country (Lambert 101). So even though this treaty helped stop the war and formed a U.S- Canadian border it still didn’t really contribute to who would exclusively control the lower two thirds of the Oregon country? In 1821, Tsar Alexander of Russia claimed all land north of the 51st parallel of attitude, and prohibited all foreign ships from this part of the pacific coast. On the other hand the U.S wouldn’t allow this and sent U.S secretary john Quincy Adams and other secretaries to interview. In 1824 the U.S and Russia made an agreement to set the Russian border at the 54th 40th degree of north latitude (Pelz 71). This agreement was called the Russian-American convention. This agreement helps settle the north border of the pacific country but left the lower two thirds of the Oregon country untouched. This next treaty would truly decide which country would control the Lowe two-thirds of the American country. In 1819 U.S secretary john Quincy Adams and Spanish minister Luis de Onis met in order to discuss their countries land claims. The United States purchased the Spanish land of east and west Florida and agreed that the 42nd parallel of north latitude would serve as the boundary of the Spanish territory and the Oregon country (ibid.). This treaty was the most important because it truly settled that the U.S would control everything north of the 42nd parallel which included more than two thirds of the Oregon country. With this treaty the Oregon country had three borders and decided which country owned which part of the Pacific Northwest.





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