3¢ Washington Territory
Issue Date: March 2, 1953
City: Olympia, WA
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10½
U.S. #1019 commemorates the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Washington Territory. The stamp pictures early pioneers, the state flower – the rhododendron – and several products Washington is known for.
The first American to reach Washington was Captain Robert Gray of the Boston Company. Gray headed a fur-trading expedition that sailed into the harbor that now bears his name. He reached the mouth of the Columbia River in 1792. Gray’s explorations became the source of American claims to the area. In 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition explored Washington by following the route of the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. The Lewis and Clark Expedition gave America another claim to the land of the northwest.
By the early 1800s, fur traders from U.S. and Britain had settled in the region. In 1810, the Canadian North West Company established Spokane House near today’s Spokane. Fur trader John Jacob Astor established the first permanent American settlement with the founding of Fort Okanogan.
The fur trade was interrupted by the War of 1812. After the war, Britain and the U.S. could not agree on how to separate the land west of the Rocky Mountains. In a compromise, it was decided citizens of both nations could settle this vast area, then known as Oregon Country. However, by the 1840s, a large number of Americans had settled the Oregon Country, and boundary dispute became a bitter issue. During the presidential campaign of 1844, James K. Polk based a great deal of his campaign on the idea that any land south of latitude 54º 40' belonged to the U.S. His supporters used the slogan, “Fifty-four forty or fight!” President Polk signed a treaty with Great Britain that set the boundary at the 49th parallel, Washington’s current border, in 1846.
In 1848, the Oregon Territory was created. Washington was part of this vast piece of land. Then, in 1853, President Millard Fillmore created the Washington Territory. The Washington Territory included all of today’s Washington and parts of Idaho and Montana. The territory was expanded to include the southern parts of Idaho and Wyoming in 1859. When the Idaho Territory was established in 1863, Washington received its current boundaries.