Oregon is a state located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is the 9th largest state by area, but has a relatively small population. It is bordered by four other U.S. states (Washington, Idaho, Nevada and California) and by the Pacific Ocean. Oregon has a long history of human habitation that may date back 15,000 years, but European settlement did not occur until relatively recently. Let’s take a brief look at the history of this area and find out how and when it became a state.
A brief history of Oregon
It is known that many Native American tribes inhabited the area now known as Oregon for many thousands of years. In fact, by the first European contact at least 8 tribes were known to live in the region. The first European explorers were a team of Spanish explorers led by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo who visited the region in 1543. Detailed mapping studies were conducted towards the end of the 16th century and many other explorers came to the region after this time. The fur trade led to more interest in this region and this was further highlighted by the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1805-1806) and British explorer David Thompson (1807-1811). The first permanent settlements in the region was Fort Astoria and it was the first American owned settlement on the East Coast. American control didn’t last long due to a threat of being captured by the British during the War of 1812 and the Fort was sold. In the Treaty of 1818 joint occupancy of the region was granted to both Britain and the United States.
A key point in the history of the state came in 1841 when the wealthy fur trader Ewing Young died. He had no family so a government was setup to administer his wealth. This government evolved to become the first public government of Oregon County. Starting in 1842 many American settlers came to the region via the Oregon Trail. However, Britain and the United States both had claims to the region and it was predicted that Britain and the United States would go to war over the territory. Fortunately, the dispute was settled peacefully with the Oregon Treaty in 1846. The Oregon Territory became an official organized territory of the United States in 1848.
The Oregon Territory was split in 1853 and again in 1859 when the territory was granted statehood with the modern borders. It was officially admitted to the Union on February 14, 1859, and became the 33rd state of the United States.