President Tyler to carry out these features of Democratic policy, busied itself with both questions and actually settled that relating to Texas.
The President had recommended the passage of a law calculated to encourage emigration into the Oregon territory, and for extending to American settlers there the benefit of legal protection to person and property; but he was careful to limit the contemplated jurisdiction in such a way that it would not involve the assumption of sovereignty over the territory. The Congress was in no mood to discriminate with nicety between the powers actually possessed under the treaty of joint-occupation and those which it was felt by the western members ought to be exerted for the protection and encouragement of the pioneers who had crossed the continent in order to settle the Oregon country. Accordingly, the House of Representatives on February 3, 1845, by a great majority passed a "Bill to organize a Territorial Government in the Oregon Territory." This measure looked to the eventual assumption by the United States of sovereignty over the whole region west of the Rockies and between the parallels of 42 degrees and 54 degrees and 40 minutes. It provided for the assignment of land to settlers, the erection of a fort at the mouth of the Columbia, and other acts which manifested a design to disregard the British claims in the country. Forts were likewise to be erected along the route leading through South Pass in order to facilitate emigration into Oregon.
Even before this bill was known to have passed the House, the British cabinet, who were fully informed of the temper of Congress, had become alarmed over the situation of affairs on the Columbia. They feared an infraction of the treaty of joint occupation by the United States and were concerned lest the posture of affairs in the Oregon country might favor what they considered the sinister plans of the American government. It was important to know precisely how strong the Americans in Oregon were in comparison with the British
- One hundred and forty to fifty-nine.