In 1775, Britain lost all of its colonies on the eastern coast of North America. These colonies had rebelled and come together as the United States of America.
Although this was a huge setback for Britain, it continued to have important colonies in North America, specifically in the regions of Canada. But the problem was that the newly-born USA was expanding rapidly towards the West and the border between Canada and USA was not fixed. So both sides agreed to resolves their border issues peacefully.
The main point of contention between British Canada and USA was the Oregon Territory. This Territory stretched over the modern-day states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. And this land was rich with fur-bearing animals. So both the Americans and the British from Canada wanted to hunt these animals, get their furs and sell them.
This often brought them into conflict with each other and it was possible that both sides could have started fighting over this issue. But thankfully, they decided to take a more sane way of dealing with this problem. Representatives from the American and British governments sat down and agreed to a treaty which was called the ‘Treaty of 1818’.
The Treaty of 1818 decided many important things between Canada and USA. One of the most important of them was that the 49th parallel north would be the permanent border between America and Canada. This was a straight horizontal line on the map and it made sense to have a straight border rather than a zigzag border.
With the fixing of this border, Britain had to give up some land to U.S. and U.S. gave up a small portion of land to the British Canada. The treaty also said that the Oregon Territory, which was important to both America and Canada, would be jointly occupied by both nations.
The Treaty of 1818 was signed in London on October 20, 1818. United States of America was represented by American ambassador to France, Albert Gallatin, and American minister to U.K., Richard Rush. Britain was represented by Treasurer of the Royal Navy, Frederick John Robinson and Henry Goulburn. Once the treaty had been signed, it was sent to the British and American governments for approval. Both sides ratified the treaty in January, 1819.
Although both sides agreed to jointly occupy the Oregon Territory, this proved impractical. The Hudson’s Bay Company which operated in British Canada tried to hunt as many fur-bearing animals as possible in order to leave nothing for American hunters and settlers. This was an attempt to discourage American settlers from coming into the Oregon region.
The policy didn’t exactly work. Instead, Americans started demanding from the government of USA that Oregon Territory should be made a part of the United States. In 1846, Britain and America again came to the negotiation table. This time, Oregon Territory finally came under American control and 49th Parallel north became the permanent border between USA and Canada.