Chronology of Events 1543-1859

1543: Spanish explorers sight the Oregon Coast north of the 42nd parallel near the Rogue River.

1765:  British Major Robert Rogers uses the name "Ouragon" in a proposal to explore the country west of the Mississippi.

1778: British Captain James Cook trades along the Oregon Coast. Publication of his journals about these voyages spurs great interest in future trade.

1792: American sea captain Robert Gray and British explorer George Vancouver arrive at the mouth of the Columbia River on separate voyages of discovery. Gray names the river after his ship, "Columbia Rediviva."
Mural drawing of Robert Gray in colonial British attier and his sailors meeting Native Americans on a beach.
Captain Robert Gray at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1792 (Oregon State Capitol mural).

1793: Alexander McKenzie leads an expedition over the Canadian Rockies to the Pacific.

1805: Sent by President Thomas Jefferson, the Lewis and Clark Expedition reaches the mouth of the Columbia River.

1811: British trader and explorer David Thompson completes a survey of the Columbia River. The Pacific Fur Company, founded by American financier John Jacob Astor, establishes a string of trading posts along the lower Columbia.

1813: British interests take control of Fort Astoria and rename it Fort George. 1814 Jane Barnes becomes the first woman to land in Oregon.

1818: The United States and Great Britain agree on "joint occupancy" for the Oregon Country.

1819: The Adams-Onis Treaty establishes the 42nd parallel as the southern boundary of the Oregon Country.

1821: The Hudson's Bay Company acquires a fur monopoly for all of British North America after merging with the North West Company.

1822: Dr. John Floyd urges Congress to look into settling the "Origon" territory, marking the first American use of the name.

1825: John McLoughlin, Chief Factor of the Columbia District for the Hudson's Bay Company, constructs Fort Vancouver on the north bank of the Columbia and uses it as his headquarters.

1827:  The United States and Great Britain renew the terms of the 1818 "joint occupancy" agreement for the Oregon Country.

1829:  Hall Jackson Kelley organizes the "American Society for Encouraging the Settlement of the Oregon Territory."

1830: Epidemics strike the Oregon Indians, killing thousands along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

1831: Three Nez Perce and one Flathead Indian travel to St. Louis reportedly seeking knowledge of Christianity.

1832: Nathaniel Wyeth leads an American colonizing expedition overland to the Columbia but the venture fails.

1834:  Separate expeditions, led by Wyeth and Kelley, arrive at Fort Vancouver. Methodist missionaries Jason and Daniel Lee accompany Wyeth to Fort Vancover and establish a mission ten miles north of present day Salem.

1836: Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and other missionaries establish missions among the Indians. Mrs. Whitman and other missionary wives are the first white women to cross the Continental Divide. On orders from President Andrew Jackson, Lieutenant William Slacum arrives to report on conditions in Oregon.

1837: The Willamette Cattle Company is formed marking the first cooperative venture among Oregon settlers.

1838: Jason Lee delivers a petition to Congress asking for legislation securing title to lands that settlers occupy and for the extension of the laws of the United States over the Oregon Country. Fathers Francois Blanchet and Modeste Demers, Catholic missionaries, arrive in Oregon.

1840: Parties of Americans from California and Illinois, and reinforcements to the Methodist mission, arrive in the Willamette Valley.

1841: Ewing Young's death and the need to probate his estate prompt some American settlers to attempt to establish a provisional government. Three meetings are held at Champoeg but because French Canadians refuse to participate, no government is established.

1842: John McLoughlin plats his land claim and names it Oregon City.

1843: Settlers meet to deal with the menace of wild animals. The "Wolf Meetings" lead to the drafting of a constitution and formation of Oregon's first government.

1844: Acts to prohibit slavery and to exclude blacks and mulattoes from Oregon are passed.

1845: The Hudson's Bay Company officially recognizes the provisional government. The executive committee is reorganized and changes are made to allow British participation in the government. 2000 settlers now reside in the Willamette Valley.

1846:  The United States and Great Britain agree to divide the Oregon country at the 49th parallel. Hudson's Bay Company headquarters move from Fort Vancouver to Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island. John McLoughlin resigns his position as Chief Factor and moves to Oregon City. The Applegate Trail is established off of the Oregon Trail. The "Oregon Spectator" begins publication.

1847: The Whitmans and 12 others are killed by the Cayuse Indians at the Waiilatpu Mission.

1848: The Oregon Country is made a United States territory.

1849: The territorial government convenes in Oregon City.

1850:  More settlers move to Oregon Territory and Indian-white hostilities increase as results of the passage of the "Donation Land Law." Congress provides for the renegotiation of treaties with the Indians of the territory. Gold is discovered in the Rogue River Valley leading to the establishment of cities and towns in Southern Oregon. Five Indians are sentenced to hang for the "Whitman Massacre."

1853: Washington Territory is created from land north of the Columbia River. Willamette University is chartered. A treaty is made creating the Oregon Territory's first Indian Reservation at Table Rock.

1854:  Congress authorizes making treaties, whenever necessary, with the Indians in the Oregon Territory.

1857:  A convention is held in Salem to write a state constitution. Voters overwhelmingly approve the document that fall.

1859: Congress admits Oregon as the 33rd state on February 14.