Digital Maps Archives: Oregon Territory MapsLast updated: February 7, 2011
Political boundaries timelines:
- 1818: The United States and Great Britain agree to joint occupation of the northwest along the 49th
parallel where settlers from both nations would be free to settle in both countries for a period of
- 1819: Spain relinquishes claims to territory in the Pacific northwest when it agrees to recognize
the 42nd parallel as its northen boundary (northern California).
- 1821: The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and the North West Company merge to beocme the Hudson's Bay Company.
HBC quickly moves to the northwest and establishing Fort Vancouver as its headquarters and solidifying
British claims to the region.
- 1824: The United States and Russia sign a treaty where Russian and U.S. claims 54 degrees 40 minutes
north (Alaska panhandle) thus relinquishing Russian claims to the Pacific northwest.
- 1827: The United States and Great Britain agreed to continue the 1818 agreement for
"Joint Occupancy" of the Oregon Country for another ten years. At this time, the Oregon Country
included the present states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and western Montana, and the province
of British Columbia.
- 1841: Washington explored by the U.S. Exploring Expedition under the command of Charles Wilkes.
- 1843: American settlers establish the Oregon Provisional Government.
- 1844: U.S.-British boundary dispute becomes slogan for presidential candidate James K. Polk who
became president "fifty-four forty or Fight." That was the Alaska boundary that he was seeking
for the U.S. Eventually, the British and the U.S. compromised on the current 49th parallel
which gave the U.S. the current states of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.
- 1846: Joint British and American occupancy ends.
- 1848: Oregon Territory established by the U.S. government.
- 1851 - 1853: Settlers living in what is present-day Washington State met to discuss the possibility
of establishing a new territory north of the Columbia River. They complained that the
capital city of Oregon City was too far away to represent their needs. The settlers discuss
the drafting of a constitution. In 1852, settlers met again to draft a memorial to Congress asking
for the creation of a new territory north of the Columbia to be called Columbia Territory. In 1853,
The U.S. Congress draft a bill creating the new territory but renaming it Washington Territory in
honor of George Washington. The bill was known as the Organic Act and it was the basis for law
in Washington until it became a state in 1889. At the time it was established, Washington Territory
extended east to the Rocky Mountains, and included all of present-day Washington, western Idaho and
- 1889: Washington becomes a state.