1830 British King William IV is Crowned
The life of John McLoughlin
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1776 The Signing of the American Declaration of Independence from Great Britain
1775-1783 The Revolutionary War between America and Great Britain
(British King George III on Throne)
October 19, 1784 Jean Baptiste (John) McLoughlin was born in Riviere du Loup, Quebec, Canada.
1784 Dr. John McLoughlin’s Birth
Fall, 1798 McLoughlin, not quite fourteen, began his medical apprenticeship with Dr. James Fisher in Quebec City, Canada.
April 26, 1803 McLoughlin joined the North West Company as an apprentice clerk. His uncle, Simon Fraser, had pulled strings to get McLoughlin the job. He immediately left Quebec City for Ft. William, located on the northern shores of Lake Superior. The reason for McLoughlin’s abrupt abandonment of his medical career is unknown. There is the possibility he had offended a British officer, an offense punishable by imprisonment.
May 3, 1803 McLoughlin was issued his license to practice medicine.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition
(Thomas Jefferson, U. S. President)
1807-1808 McLoughlin met and married an unknown Cree Indian woman. They had a son, Joseph. Joseph’s mother is thought to have died soon after his birth.
Summer, 1808 McLoughlin’s apprenticeship with the North West Company had almost ended when he received word his younger brother, David, needed money to continue his medical training at the University of Edinburgh. McLoughlin decided to renew his contract with the North West Company to help finance his brother’s education.
1812 The War of 1812 Between the U. S. and Great Britain
(James Madison, U.S. President)
Summer, 1811 McLoughlin met and married Margueritte Wadin McKay.
Winter, 1814 McLoughlin was made a partner in the North West Company.
August, 1816 After the Battle of Seven Oaks, a major battle between the Hudson Bay Company’s Red River Colony and the Metis Indians associated with the North West Company, McLoughlin was arrested for the murder of Governor Semple, the leader of the Red River Colony. During his journey to Montreal for trial, his party encountered a fierce storm. His boat capsized, and he was nearly drowned. He spent several weeks recovering. When he reached Montreal he posted bail, and was freed until his trial.
October, 1818 McLoughlin was tried and found not guilty of being an accessory after the fact in the death of Governor Semple.
July 27, 1824 McLoughlin, Marguerite, and their two youngest children, Eloisa and David, set off on their journey from York Factory to Fort George. A group of 14 HBC men accompanied them. Governor George Simpson met and joined their party in late September.
November 7, 1824 Mc Loughlin’s party reached Fort George.
1814 Dr. McLoughlin’s Arrival at Ft. George
1820 British King George IV is Crowned
March 26, 1821 The North West Company and Hudson’s Bay Company united under the Hudson’s Bay Company’s name. McLoughlin was appointed as a Chief Factor in the newly formed organization.
July 10, 1824 McLoughlin was put in charge of the Columbia District. McLoughlin’s primary goal was to expand the HBC fur trade in that region. A secondary goal was to establish a strong British presence in the area held in Joint Occupation by Britain and America.
December, 1824 Both McLoughlin and Simpson decided the Fort George site was unsuitable for their needs because of the inclement weather. A new fort location was chosen on the north side of the Columbia River, just east of where the Willamette River flowed into the Columbia. The broad plains and milder weather promised agricultural success. Immediately men went to work constructing the new fort.
1825 The Construction of the First Fort Vancouver
1825 McLoughlin’s administrative duties included supervising four important HBC trading posts within the Columbia District--Fort Vancouver, Fort Nez Perce, Spokane House, and Thompson’s River.
March 19, 1825 Governor Simpson dedicated the new fur-trading factory Fort Vancouver, naming it after the British explorer, George Vancouver. As soon as the ceremony was over, Simpson climbed into a boat and left. McLoughlin remained behind, beginning his career as Chief Factor of Fort Vancouver.
March 16, 1825 McLoughlin’s family and the HBC employees moved from Fort George to the new fort.
1829 McLoughlin planned a series of trading posts to be built northwards towards today’s Alaska.
1829 The Construction of the Second Fort Vancouver
May 11, 1829 The London Horticultural Society awarded McLoughlin a silver medal for the assistance he provided David Douglas, a British botanist. Douglas, a Scotsman, lived at Fort Vancouver from the spring of 1825 to the spring of 1827. He had been sent by the London Horticultural Society to identify and collect plant specimens. The Douglas fir is named in his honor.
Spring, 1829 Due to difficulty in obtaining water at its original site, Fort Vancouver was relocated. A second fort was built nearer the Columbia River, but still close enough to easily tend the original fields and orchards. The old fort was demolished.
March, 1829 McLoughlin and Simpson claimed a piece of land near Willamette Falls for the HBC. They recognized its potential for future economic development. McLoughlin built a lumber mill on the land to strengthen their claim.
1830 James Douglas, McLoughlin’s assistant, arrived at Fort Vancouver. The two men forged a life-long friendship.
February, 1829 – McLoughlin encountered his first trading competition with July, 1830 the Americans with the arrival of two American brigs, the Owhyhee and the Convoy. When McLoughlin realized they were trading with the Indians, he undercut their prices. The Americans left the area.
1830-1832 A malaria epidemic killed numerous Native Americans and Europeans alike. McLoughlin survived his bout with the disease.
1832 HBC ships, under McLoughlin’s orders, traded furs with the Indians along the Pacific Ocean shoreline as far north as today’s Alaska. McLoughlin determined that trading from ships was not as profitable as trading from permanently established trading posts.
October, 1832 Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth arrived at Fort Vancouver with a group of Americans. Their goal was to establish an American business on the west coast. This was the first direct commercial competition McLoughlin faced with the Americans. Wyeth’s attempts failed, and he left the area in February, 1833.
Spring, 1834 By spring, 1834, McLoughlin had established Fort Langley, Fort Simpson, Fort McLoughlin, and Fort Nisqually.
September, 1834 Wyeth returned to the area accompanied by the Reverend Jason Lee, and a group of missionaries. The missionaries eventually settled in the Willamette Valley, in an area known as Mission Bottom. It is located a few miles north of today’s Salem.
1837 British Queen Victoria is Crowned
March, 1836 The Beaver, the first steamboat in the Pacific Northwest, arrived at Ft. Vancouver from England. She conducted trade along the Pacific coastline as far north as Sitka, Alaska.
Summer, 1836 Two American Presbyterian missionary couples, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, and Henry and Eliza Spaulding, arrived at Fort Vancouver. The women remained at Fort Vancouver while their husband’s searched for possible mission sites. The Whitman’s established a mission at Waiilatpu, on the Walla Walla River in today’s eastern Washington. The Spauldings established one at Lapwai, in today’s Idaho.
September, 1836 McLoughlin welcomed the Reverend Herbert Beaver, a Church of England minister, and his wife to Fort Vancouver. Beaver was sent by the HBC to conduct church services for HBC employees and their families. McLoughlin and Beaver enjoyed a rocky relationship until Beaver’s departure in 1838.
February, 1839 McLoughlin made plans to return to Ft. Vancouver, with his son David with him. David had been living near London.
October 17, 1839 McLoughlin arrived at Ft. Vancouver. On his homeward journey he conducted HBC business and visited family members.
June, 1840 McLoughlin extended hospitality to Jason Lee, and 50 other Americans arriving on the Lausanne. It had taken the ship seven months to sail from Massachusettes, around the Horn, to Fort Vancouver. These Americans, eager to settle in the Willamette Valley, signaled the beginning of the great migrations to Oregon.
1840 The Americans living in the Willamette Valley began efforts to diminish McLoughlin and the HBC’s power. Reverend Alvin H. Waller, under the direction of Jason Lee, established a Methodist Mission at Willamette Falls on land previously claimed, in 1829, by Governor Simpson and McLoughlin. McLoughlin agreed to allow the Mission to be built, as long as Lee recognized McLoughlin’s prior claim to the land. Lee agreed. The Mission was built.
Spring, 1841 McLoughlin successfully implemented his plans for expanding business in the Columbia District. Three new trading posts--Fort Stikine, near today’s Wrangal, Alaska, Fort Taku, near today’s Juneau, Alaska, and Yerba Buena, on San Francisco Bay—were added. His agricultural businesses were thriving. Four dairies were up and running.
August, 1841 Governor Sir George Simpson arrived at Ft. Vancouver with two announcements. First, he announced the northern forts would be closed, and all trading would be conducted from ship, to save money. Silk had replaced beaver pelts as the desirable material for men’s hats, negatively impacting the fur trade.
Second, he announced his plan to move the HBC headquarters from Ft. Vancouver to a new fort to be built on Vancouver Island. Simpson cited the uncertainty about the location of the boundary lines yet to be drawn separating Canada from the U. S as the reason behind his decision. McLoughlin strongly opposed both of Simpson’s plans.
April, 1842 John McLoughlin, Jr. was murdered at Fort Stikine. Fort Stikine had a reputation for drunken lawlessness. Undermanned, the HBC fort had little protection from attack. Employees maintained that John, who was head officer of the Alaskan trading post, was a tyrant and a drunk, mistreating his employees. McLoughlin believed otherwise. The HBC failed to follow up on John’s death, and his murderer(s) were never brought to justice. In his grief, McLoughlin focused on clearing his son’s name.
November, 1842 McLoughlin converted to Catholicism, hoping to find some measure of peace and comfort from the death of his son. He took his first communion Christmas, 1842.
McLoughlin’s continued obsession with finding his son’s murderers interfered with his ability to conduct company business.
He reluctantly began the construction of a new fort on Vancouver Island, as ordered. He slowly closed the land-based trading posts. His credibility and power within the HBC deteriorated.
January, 1842 McLoughlin and Simpson visited the post at Yerba Buena.
McLoughlin sailed with Simpson to the Sandwich Isands (Hawaii), hoping to change Simpson’s mind about closing the northern forts, and moving the HBC headquarters to Vancouver Island He was unsuccessful. Simpson ordered McLoughlin to dismantle all the trading posts, except Fort Simpson, and to begin construction of a new fort on Vancouver Island. McLoughlin resisted. The United States government passed a law granting 640 acres of Oregon land to any male who settled and farmed the land for five years.
Fall, 1843 The first great migration, consisting of approximately 875 American pioneers, arrived in Oregon. The last leg of their journey proved to be the most dangerous. There were no good land routes from The Dalles over the Cascade Mountains for everyone. At The Dalles the pioneers faced the Columbia River’s treacherous rapids. Its strong currents battered the rafts carrying their wagons and livestock. When many pioneers finally reached Ft. Vancouver, they were desperate. They had lost everything on their journey west. McLoughlin generously fed, clothed, and saw to their medical needs. He sent men to rescue pioneers stranded on the river. He extended lines of credit to help them get established on their land claims. He viewed the newcomers as a future source of income for the HBC. His bosses, however, disagreed. He was told to encourage them to return to their old homes east of the Rockies. If they would not leave, he was told to send them south of the Columbia River into the Willamette Valley. The British believed the Columbia River would one day be Canada’s southern boundary They did not want the American’s claiming land they thought would one day be British. Most importantly, he was ordered not to give them aid. Following his own heart and mind, McLoughlin ignored his bosses’ orders. He did, however, write to them seeking government protection because the Americans outnumbered the British in the area.
While dealing with the needs of the pioneers, McLoughlin also dealt with an explosive situation among the Indians in the region. Unhappy with the arrival of so many Americans, the Indians planned attacks. McLoughlin intervened, and peace was restored.
Spring, 1843 The Americans held the Wolf Meetings in the northern Willamette Valley. The purpose of these meetings, under the guise of protecting farm animals from wild predators, was to organize a provisional government. A provisional government would give them the authority todefend themselves against aggression, establish law and order, and record land claims. McLoughlin, aware that the Americans were organizing, was initially supportive. An independently organized government created a stable business environment.
Meanwhile, in Missouri, lured by the promise of free land, Americans prepared for their arduous journey to the Willamette Valley across the Oregon Trail.
May 2, 1843 The American settlers in the Willamette Valley met at the HBC grain warehouse at Champoeg. They voted to form a Provisional Government. After the resolution passed 52 to 50, a committee was selected to write a constitution for the new government.
McLoughlin was no longer the sole source of power in the region.
1843 The First Great Migration of Emigrants Across the Oregon Trail
(John Tyler, U. S. President)
Winter, 1844 McLoughlin continued his struggle to keep the land at Willamette Falls out of the hands of the Americans. He asked the HBC if he could claim the land in his own name, rather than the HBC’s name, believing it would strengthen the company’s hold on the land. The HBC replied that land ownership could only be determined after the boundary decision had been agreed upon by Great Britain and the United States.
March, 1844 HBC officials began discussing the need to replace McLoughlin at Ft. Vancouver.
Spring, 1844 The Methodist Mission Board sent the Reverend George Gary to Oregon to liquidate the Mission and its property at Oregon City. He sold it to McLoughlin for $5,400. Even though McLoughlin had originally given the Methodists’ the land, he believed if he paid for it, he would have a stronger claim of ownership.
Spring, 1844 Believing in “Manifest Destiny”, the second wave of American emigrants migrated west.
Fall, 1844 McLoughlin welcomed and provided assistance to the American pioneers. At the same time he acknowledged that his own position was in peril. Americans out numbered the British. He wrote again to his superiors voicing his concern.
The Democratic Party of the United States promoted the belief that the entire Northwest should belong to the United States. “54-40 or Fight” became the rallying cry for that fall’s U. S. Presidential election. The British strengthened their determination to keep the land north of the Columbia River.
1845 Arrival of Dr. McLoughlin and Family to Oregon City
Incorporation of Oregon City
(James K. Polk, U. S. President)
October 17, 1839 McLoughlin arrived at Ft. Vancouver. On his homeward journey he conducted HBC business and visited family members.
February, 1845 McLoughin received word from the HBC that he would not get any British Government protection for the Company business, nor the Fort. Americans greatly outnumbered the British HBC employees.
March, 1845 The American settlers passed the Organic Law of 1845, which guaranteed McLoughlin ownership of his land. He joined the Oregon provisional government, hoping to promote the peace.
March 20, 1845 McLoughlin devised a plan to keep the Willamette Falls land claim for the HBC. He purchased the land claim from the HBC, with the expectation he would be reimbursed by the HBC at a later date. He believed if he followed the laws of the time in Oregon, he would be strengthening the British position when the boundary lines were drawn.
June, 1845 McLoughlin received word that the vast Columbia District was being divided into smaller districts, and that his pay would be reduced accordingly.
He received another lettering telling him the HBC was relinquishing all claim to the land at Willamette Falls. McLoughlin was now the sole holder of its title. The purchase of the property depleted McLoughlin’s savings.
August, 1845 Tension between the U.S. and Britain increased regarding the boundary between the U.S. and Canada. War was discussed on both sides.
Fall, 1845 Almost 3,000 new immigrants arrived from the east. McLoughlin continued to extend them hospitality and aid.
November, 1845 McLoughlin received yet another letter from the HBC announcing Fort Vancouver was no longer under his direct management, but that of a three member board of directors. Even thought he was to be one of the directors, the Company urged him to take a furlough to take care of business at his newly acquired town. He was requested to attend the 1846 Council for the Northern Dept., for a future posting on the east side of the Rockies.
The HBC knew in order for McLoughlin to keep his land at Willamette Falls he had to be living there. If he left the area, the land was up for grabs by the Americans.
McLoughlin tendered his resignation.
Construction of his retirement home beside the Willamette Falls in Oregon City was started.
January 4, 1846 McLoughlin and Marguerite left Ft. Vancouver to live in Oregon City. Newly widowed Eloisa, and her three children, returned to Oregon City to live with her parents.
McLoughlin ran a variety of businesses in Oregon City, from stores to mills to real estate dealings.
June 15, 1846 Great Britain and the United State reached an agreement on the boundary to be drawn between Canada and the United States.
It was ratified by the senate.
Summer, 1847 Father Blanchett delivered a medal to McLoughlin from Pope Gregory XVI. McLoughlin had been admitted to the Order of the Knights of St. Gregory for his support of Catholicism and religion in the Columbia District.
Mid-summer, 1847 Conflict intensified between the Americans and McLoughlin over his land ownership.
November, 1847 The Whitman Massacre occurred.
1848 U. S. Government Recognized Oregon Country and Oregon Territory
January, 1848 Gold was discovered at Sutter’s Millrace near Sacramento, CA. The timber industry boomed.
August, 1848 The Oregon Territory was established by the U. S. Government.
General Joseph Lane was appointed governor.
March 3, 1849 Governor Joseph Lane announced the region, once known as the Oregon Country, was now the Oregon Territory. It was under the jurisdiction of the U. S. government and its laws.
May 13, 1849 Governor Lane appointed territorial judges.
May 30,1849 McLoughlin applied for United States Citizenship. It was two years before it was granted.
September, 1850 The United States passed the Donation Land Law. As part of that Law, ownership of an island in the Willamette River was taken from McLoughlin and given to George Abernethy. The remainder of McLoughlin’s land was to be sold by the Legislative Assembly. The proceeds were to be used to start a university somewhere in the Oregon Territory. Samuel R. Thurston reported misleading information to the U. S. government, which in turn, led to this ruling. McLoughlin could not appeal by claiming rights under prior British claims because he had renounced his British citizenship. He had no way of protecting his ownership of his land.
1850 Eloisa married Daniel Havey, a former HBC employee at Ft. Vancouver. He worked as an assistant to McLoughlin in Oregon City. Eventually he and Eloisa would have three more children.
McLoughlin’s retirement home became the home for 6 children and 4 adults.
April, 1851 McLoughlin was elected mayor of Oregon City. He resigned 6 months later.
September 5, 1851 McLoughlin became a U. S. citizen.
1851-1857 McLoughlin wrote a multitude of letters, trying to reclaim his land. He was unsuccessful.
September 3, 1857 McLoughlin died in his home in Oregon City.
September 7, 1857 Jean Baptiste (John) McLoughlin was buried in the churchyard of the Catholic Church of St. John the Apostle in Oregon City.
1857 Dr. John McLoughlin’s Death
1859 Oregon Statehood
(James Buchanan, U. S, President)
November, 1820 Representing a group of dissatisfied North West Company men, McLoughlin traveled to London, England, to help resolve their bitter dispute with the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). His efforts were fruitless.
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