Western Expansion, Manifest Destiny, and the Mexican-American War

Start Free Trial

What motivated settlers to migrate to Oregon Country?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Oregon Country, roughly composed of the present-day states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, was jointly occupied from 1818 by the United States and Britain. This settlement of the legal status of the region led to an influx of settlers into the area. Though settlers were motivated by different purposes, one principal aspect for migration was access to farmland.

Fertile and free farmland in the Willamette Valley drew a large number of American settlers who had previously subsisted on marginal lands in Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana. Settlement by farmers was promoted, in part, by the U.S. government which hoped to legitimize its claims to the territory through the influx of a large number of American citizens, and by the 1840s, Americans outnumbered Britons in the Oregon Country.

Other motivations for settlement were the rich fur trade and missionary evangelism.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There were several reasons why settlers went to the Oregon Country. One reason people went was for a spirit of adventure. Some people enjoyed exploring new lands and facing the challenges of settling in an area that was undeveloped. This experience gave them a sense of accomplishment and excitement, especially if they were successful in moving to a new place where few people had gone in the past.

In the early 1800s, people went to the Oregon Country to try to make money. People reported that there was a lucrative fur trade in the area. They wanted to get involved in the trading of furs, hopefully profiting from it.

Other people went to the Oregon Country to claim land. They wanted to own land, and there was land was available in the Oregon Country. They also wanted to farm the land. The Willamette Valley was a fertile area for farming.

Some people went to this area for religious reasons. They wanted to convert people to Christianity.

There were many reasons why people went to the Oregon Country in the first half of the 1800s.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial