James K. Polk's Presidency

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How was the Oregon dispute settled during James K. Polk's presidency?

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The Oregon boundary dispute between Britain and the United States was resolved after the signing of the Oregon Treaty under James Polk’s term as president. The dispute emanated from a controversy surrounding the border along the 49th parallel up to the Rocky Mountains. Englishmen, Scots, and French Canadians settled around the Pacific, and they mostly comprised of employees of the Hudson Bay Company. Americans also settled around the same area known as the Oregon Country. During the 1844 elections in America, James Polk used the dispute as a tool for his campaign. The Democrats wanted the border to be extended to the 54 40 parallel. He succeeded in winning the elections, however, his administration decided not to pursue the border issue in the Pacific region, and they settled for the 49th parallel. James Polk abandoned the Oregon plan because there was growing tension between Mexico and the United States, and he was not ready for war on both fronts.

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The dispute over the control of Oregon was one that pitted the Americans against the British.  The two countries had jointly occupied what was then called the Oregon Country since the Treaty of 1818.  That treaty had set boundaries between the US and what is now Canada, but had not settled the issue of who would control Oregon. 

By the 1840s, more Americans were coming into the territory and the US wanted the area for itself.  While there was some degree of desire to fight the British on the part of some Americans, neither the British nor the American governments had any real desire to fight.  Therefore, the two countries entered negotiations on the issue.  What they finally agreed upon was that the border should follow the 49th parallel with the exception of Vancouver Island.  All of that island was to belong to Britain.

So, the dispute over the Oregon Country was settled in 1846 by the peaceful negotiation of a treaty between the US and Britain.

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