3¢ Oregon Territory
Issue Date: August 14, 1948
City: Oregon City, OR
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10 1/2
Color: Brown red
U.S. #964 commemorates the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Oregon territorial government. The stamp pictures a wagon on the Oregon Trail and portraits of John McLoughlin and Jason Lee.
John McLoughlin (1784-1857) and
Rev. Jason Lee (1803-45)
John McLoughlin was director of the Hudson Bay Company (a British Trading firm) in the Oregon region from 1824-46. During that time, he effectively governed the region and did a great deal to encourage and aid settlers. Remembered as the father of Oregon, he eventually became a U.S. citizen.
Rev. Jason Lee played a key role in organizing the settlement of Oregon and establishing its territorial government. Lee presided over Oregon’s first territorial organization meeting in 1841. Later, he helped to form the territory’s provisional government. Unfortunately, Rev. Lee died before the Oregon Territory was formed. Lee represents Oregon in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
The Oregon Territory
American fur trader John Jacob Astor began white settlement of Oregon when he established a fur trading company at Astoria. After the War of 1812, Great Britain took control of Astoria. In 1825, the British Hudson Bay Company established Fort Vancouver at the site of today’s Vancouver, Washington. John McLoughlin served as head of the firm for 20 years – which basically meant he ruled the region. McLoughlin later became a U.S. citizen. He played a key role in the settlement of the state and is today remembered as the “father of Oregon.”
Methodist missionaries at Williamette Valley created the first permanent American settlement in Oregon in 1834. After this settlement was established, hundreds of Americans began pouring into the area every year. This put pressure on the U.S. and Britain to settle their boundary dispute. In 1844, James K. Polk ran for the U.S. presidency, based on a campaign stating that land south of 54º 40’ belonged to the U.S. The slogan “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight” became a big part of his campaign. Polk was elected President, and in 1846, he signed a treaty with Great Britain fixing the 49th parallel as the main dividing line between the territories of the two nations.
The Oregon Territory
Oregon settlers organized a provisional government in 1843. They adopted a set of laws patterned after those of Iowa. In 1848, Oregon became a territory. Oregon City served as the capital until 1850, when it was moved to Salem. In 1853, the Washington Territory was created, and Oregon received the same boundaries it has today.
The territory grew fast after the attractive Donation Land Law of 1850 was passed. This law gave 320 acres of land to any U.S. citizen over 18. A settler’s wife could also receive 320 acres. The settler had to cultivate the land for a minimum of four years to qualify for ownership. Starting December 1850, and until December 1855, settlers received 160 acres of land and had to be over 21 years old.