1. Control of the Oregon Territory was a major political issue
in the 1840’s
a. Oregon Territory included the present states of Oregon, Washington,
Idaho and parts of Montana, Wyoming, and half of British Columbia
2. Both the U.S. and Britain claimed sovereignty in the area.
3. 1818 agree to allow citizens of both countries equal access
to the territory
a. Agreement was known as “joint occupation” continued
for twenty years until it broke down due to increased immigration.
1. James Polk was elected based on a platform that all of Oregon
was possession of the U.S. and there would be no more “joint occupation”.
a. Coined the phrase “fifty-four forty or fight” which
was the proposed border of Oregon Territory
2. Privately he was willing to compromise and set the boundary
at the 49th parallel.
3. The British Government rejected Polk’s compromise outright.
a. Caused loose talk of war on Both sides
4. Neither side really wanted war, finally the British accepted
5. President Polk submitted the proposal to Congress without supporting
it (didn’t want to offend the expansionist that wanted it all).
6. Congress agreed setting the boundary at the 49th
Parallel which is where it remains today.