Oregon Politics and Government in the 1840s

This 1837 Willamette Cattle Company agreement sent Ewing Young to California to acquire cattle. He died without a will in 1841, leading to calls for formation of a government. The agreement is the oldest document held by the Oregon State Archives. The image below shows the first page of the agreement and is followed by a transcription. (Oregon State Archives image)

This 1837 Willamette Cattle Company agreement sent Ewing Young to California to acquire cattle. He died without a will in 1841, leading to calls for formation of a government. The agreement is the oldest document held by the Oregon State Archives. The image below shows the first page of the agreement and is followed by a transcription. (Oregon State Archives image)

Oregon Territory, Wallamette Settlement
Articles of Agreement made and entered into this 13th day of January in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty Seven

Whereas, we the undersigned settlers upon the Wallamette River, are fully convinced of the Importance and necessity of having neat cattle of our own in order successfully to carry on our farms and gain a comfortable livelihood, and whereas we find it impossible to purchase them here, as all the cattle in the country belong to the Hudsons Bay Company, and they refusing to sell them under any circumstances, and as we believe that the possession of cattle will not only benefit us personally, but will materially benefit the whole settlement, we the undersigned do therefore Agree

1st To avail ourselves of an offer of W Slacum Esq. to take passage in the American Brig Loriot Capt Bancroft, free of charge, to proceed to California to purchase cattle for ourselves and all our neighbors who choose to join us in our Enterprise either by accompanying us themselves or furnishing the means of purchasing cattle in California

2 We agree to furnish funds according to our means making a common stock concern subject to the following conditions. The expenses of all those who go down to California are to be borne by the company calculating the time so employed at the rate of twenty dollars per month provisions likewise to be paid by the company.

3 The wages of the men thus employed to be calculated as so much money, and each one is to be credited accordingly; and each and every member of the company shall have his portion of the cattle which may arrive safely at the Wallamette, there to be divided agreeable to the capital and wages employed in the enterprise.

4 All those who go for the purpose aforesaid to California hereby bind themselves to return to the Wallamette with the cattle and to use their best endeavors to protect the same.

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An exhibit by the Oregon State Archives - Copyright © 2009