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4
Joseph Schafer

traders and settlers. "You seem confident," wrote Sir Robert Peel on the 23d of February, 1845, to Lord Aberdeen, "that we have the upper hand on the banks of the Columbia—that the settlers connected with the Hudson's Bay Company are actually stronger than the settlers, the subjects of the United States, are at present. Have you carefully ascertained this fact? If our subjects are the stronger at this present time, may not their superiority be speedily weakened or destroyed by the accession of fresh strength to the Americans?" He desired Lord Aberdeen to prepare a circular memorandum on American relations, especially the Oregon question, for tTie information of members of the cabinet. He suggested, likewise, the advisability of sending a frigate to the Columbia and the placing of a small artillery force on shore.[1] The Foreign Office at once applied to Sir John Pelly, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company in London, for information relative to the settlements in Oregon, and received in answer an extract from Sir George Simpson's report, dated Red River, 20th June, 1844. In this Sir George notices the large influx of American settlers, "from 700 to 800 souls," in the fall of 1843, the progress of the movement for the establishment of a provisional government in Oregon, and concludes: "American influence, I am sorry to find, predominates very much, as, out of a population of about 3,000 souls, not more than one-third are British subjects."[2]

A few days after this the news was received from Mr. Pakenham that the House of Representatives had passed the Oregon bill, and that the Senate was more likely to pass it than not to pass it should time permit. Thereupon Lord Aberdeen notified the Admiralty of the necessity of increased vigilance on the part of Great Britain, and suggested that "Rear Admiral Sir George Seymour should himself visit the


  1. The letter is found in the manuscript correspondence of Lord Aberdeen. The writer is indebted to Lord Stanmore, son of Lord Aberdeen and custodian of bis papers, for the privilege of examining this correspondence and taking extracts therefrom.
  2. This correspondence, dated the 25th and 26th of February, 1845, is found in F. O. America 439.