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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/219

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RESULTS FROM ASTOR EXPEDITIONS 211 due to some of the men. From the price obtained for the goods, &c., and he having himself become interested in the purchase, and made a partner of the Northwest Company, some idea may be formed as to this man's correctness of dealings. It will be seen, by the agreement, of which I trans- mit a copy, and the inventory, that he sold to the Northwest Company, 18,170 1-4 Ibs. of beaver, at $2, which was at about that time selling at Canton at $5 and $6; 907 otter skins, at 50 cents, or half a dollar, which were selling in Canton at 5 to $6 per skin. I estimate the whole property to be worth nearer $200,000, than $40,000, about the sum I received by bills on Montreal." Thus ended these great enterprises of John Jacob Astor. November 30, 1813, about six weeks after this sale to the Northwest Company, the British sloop-of-war Raccoon, of 26 guns, commanded by Captain Black, entered the Columbia River, to capture Astoria. To the chagrin of its officers and crew, they learned that the rich booty they had intended to make their own had become the property of British subjects. National Possessions of Astoria. December 12, 1813, Capt. Black took formal possession of the establishment and country, in the name of His Britannic Majesty, causing a British Union Jack to be run up to the top of the flag pole, at Astoria, and changing its name to Fort George. Had Capt. Black known what would be the result of his grandiloquent actions he would have hesitated, if he had not wholly refrained from attempting to take pos- session for his sovereign. In consequence of Capt. Black's action the claim of the United States to the Oregon Country was strengthened. It is true that this capture of Astoria was not known to the American plenipotentiaries when the treaty of peace was signed at Ghent, December 24, 1814. But on March 22, 1814, James Monroe, Secretary of State, under President Madison, knowing that Astoria might have been captured, out of excessive caution, gave the following instruc- tions to the American Plenipotentiaries, appointed to nego- tiate the treaty :