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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/217

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RESULTS FROM ASTOR EXPEDITIONS 209 and supplies to the Columbia; thence they would be taken to the interior. These vessels would also furnish supplies to the Russians in Alaska and would trade with the Indians on the Northwest Pacific Coast. These vessels would then return to the Columbia to obtain supplies of furs procured there and transported from the interior. These vessels would then sail to China, sell their cargoes of furs, purchase Chinese teas and merchandise and return to New York. Thus three profits would result on each trip. Of course, there would be great risks, but probably great profits. It would require busi- ness skill and large capital to conduct the enterprises, but Astor was a man who had accumulated his fortune by his ability and by his willingness to dare and to do. Astor obtained from the Russian government the right to trade with the Russian posts on the northwest coast of Amer- ica. He obtained the moral support of President Madison and his administration to Astor's plans. At that time there was friction between the United States and Great Britain, which resulted in the war of 1812. Had President Madison had the foresight and political sagacity and courage of Thomas Jefferson, the present northern boundary line of the United States, west of the Rocky Mountains, would probably be much further north than it now is. The discovery of the Columbia by Gray ; the expedition of Lewis and Clark in 1804- 1806, followed by the occupation by an American Company, as proposed by Astor, and protected by the Government of the United States, would have established its rights to the country and joint-occupancy would probably never have been even thought of. Astor endeavored to interest the Northwest Company in his undertakings, but it declined and began preparation to anticipate Astor and to secure for itself alone what he had planned for his company. As I have stated, the Northwest Company then had trading posts on the Fraser River. David Thompson, one of its partners, had discovered the head- waters of the Columbia in 1807 or 1808, and was the first white man to explore the part of that river which had not been explored by Lewis and Clark.