Identify how the U.S. gained ownership of much of the Oregon country and describe the lives of pioneers who traveled on the Oregon Trail.

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Four countries at one point claimed the Oregon Territory. These countries were Spain, Russia, Great Britain, and the United States. Eventually, only Great Britain and the United States claimed this territory.

There were Americans who wanted the United States to own the entire territory. This land extended from the northern border of present-day California to the southern border of present-day Alaska. However, the British weren’t willing to give up their claim to this area. Thus, a compromise was reached that established the 49th parallel as the dividing line of this territory between British land and American land. The 49th parallel had been declared the boundary between the United States and British-controlled Canada in the Convention of 1818. Thus, it was agreed to extend this border to the Oregon Territory.

The lives of the pioneers who traveled this territory were not easy ones. Some of the original mountain men wandered through this area and hunted for a living. They would trade fur for needed supplies. When other people went to settle in the Oregon Territory, they followed maps and routes that had been established. However, this was a very difficult journey. They had to deal with food issues, poor weather, the breakdown of equipment, disease, and conflict with unfriendly Native American tribes. Life was very rough for these pioneers.

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