Treaty of Oregon 1846

What was the Treaty of Oregon?

The Treaty of Oregon was an agreement between United States of America and Great Britain over the control of the Oregon area. This area was located at the border between USA and the British-controlled Canada.

Background of the Treaty

The Oregon area was very important to both USA and Great Britain. That was because this area was rich in fur-bearing animals and fur trade was a profitable business. The Hudson Bay Company of Great Britain was based in Canada and generated large profits from the furs acquired in the Oregon region.

At the same time, American settlers started arriving in the area and hunting for fur. Both sides became competitors and to avoid a conflict, both sides had agreed on a treaty in 1818 which said that the Oregon area should be jointly controlled by USA and Great Britain. This temporarily made things peaceful between the two sides but before soon, both sides were again fiercely competing against each other. It was because of this that a new treaty was needed and that led to the Treaty of Oregon.

The Dispute between USA and Great Britain

In 1844, the dispute between USA and Britain over the control of the Oregon area became so intense that a war was deemed possible. Americans especially wanted to seize the area and make it a part of the USA. On the other hand, Britain was not ready to give up all of the Oregon area. This was the time when USA was already fighting a war with Mexico and so, was not ready to fight a war with Britain at the same time. So both sides decided to negotiate and decide the matter peacefully.

The Compromise and the Treaty

Initially, the USA demanded complete control of the Oregon area. But Britain would not agree to such a demand. After the negotiations, both sides agreed to a compromise. The 49th parallel was established a as a permanent boundary between USA and British-controlled Canada. However, this boundary was implemented only as far as the Strait of Georgia in the West.

This meant that although USA got control of most of the Oregon area, the British retained control of the Vancouver Island. At the same time, USA agreed that the property rights of the British citizens and the Hudson Bay Company would be protected inside the Oregon area. In this way, the matter was peacefully resolved and the threat of a third war between USA and Great Britain was successfully averted.

When and where was the Treaty signed?

The Treaty of Oregon was signed in Washington D.C., United States. It was signed on June 15, 1846.


It’s hard to define an entire border and this was the case with the border definitions in the Oregon Treaty as well. Due to ambiguity in the wording of the Treaty, a new dispute later arose between USA and Great Britain. This time, it was over the control of the San Juan Islands. So although the Oregon Treaty resolved major border disputes between both sides, it didn’t resolve all of them.

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