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Notable Oregonians: John McLoughlin - Father of Oregon

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John McLoughlin

John McLoughlin, 1784-1857

John McLoughlin originally came to the Northwest region in 1824 as a representative of the Hudson's Bay Company. He served from 1825 to 1846 as chief factor for the Hudson's Bay Company's Columbia District based at Fort Vancouver where he played a key role in the development of the Oregon Country.

 

His instructions were to monopolize the fur trade, keep peace with Indian tribes, and discourage agricultural settlement in the region. He succeeded for a time and earned the name "White Headed Eagle" from Indians. Over time, however, fur trading declined and missionaries and pioneers moved into the region from the United States beginning in the 1830s. Faced with this reality, McLoughlin provided assistance, advice, and supplies to settlers and in the process sealed the fate of the Hudson's Bay Company in the region.

 

In 1846 Great Britain and the United States signed a treaty setting the boundary at the 49th parallel (the current border with Canada). McLoughlin retired from the company and settled in Oregon City. He remained a prominent figure while operating a milling and merchandising business and he became a U.S. citizen in 1849. Despite the status earned by his years of humanitarian aid to settlers, McLoughlin was forced to forfeit most of his land claim in Oregon City after opponents managed to include a clause to that effect in the Donation Land Act of 1850. The forfeited land was not returned until after his death in 1857.

 

The 1957 Legislature bestowed upon Dr. John McLoughlin the honorary title of "Father of Oregon" in recognition of his great contributions to the early development of the Oregon Country.

 

For more information, refer to the Web exhibit entitled John McLoughlin: Father of Oregon." Also see a learning resource related to John McLoughlin.

 

(Sources: Dictionary of Oregon History | Oregon State Archives) Revised 1/2013

 

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