Executive Committee Administration

Legislative Message Two, 1844

Source: Oregon State Archives, Oregon Provisional and Territorial Records, 1844, Calendar No. 12220.


Messages – Governor (Executive Committee)

Year 1844

To the Honorable the Legislative Assembly of Oregon


As the expectation of receiving information from the United States, relative to the adjustment to the claims of that government and Great Britain, upon this country was the principal cause of the adjournment of this assembly from June last unto the present day; we feel it our duty to communicate to you such information as we have been able to collect upon the subject, likewise to recommend the adoption of further measures for the promotion and security of the interests of Oregon.

The lines defining the limits of the separate claims of the United States and Great Britain to the portion off Country had not been agreed upon when our latest advisor left the United States. And as far as we can [tell] the question now stands in the same position as it did before the convention at London in 1818. At that time the United States government, proposed to draw the dividing line at the 49th parallel of North latitude from the Lake of the woods to the Pacific Ocean; to this Great Britain would only consent that in part that the line should occur on the 49th parallel, from the Lake of the woods, to the dividing ridge of the Rocky Mountains; and it was finally agreed upon between the parties that all of the Country lying west of the Rocky Mountains, and on the Pacific Ocean, should, with their harbors, bays, and Rivers, remain open for ten years, to the vessels, subjects, and citizens, of both nations; but it was at the same time, expressly understood that the said agreement was not to be understood to affect or prejudice the Claims of either parties or any other Power to any portion of said Country. Before this agreement expired another convention was held in London in 1827, by the two contracting Powers, by which the former treaty was extended with the provisions, that when either of the parties thought fit, after the 20th of October 1828 to abrogate the convention; they were at liberty to do so, by giving twelve months notice to the other contracting party; but nothing contained in the convention of 1827, was to be construed to affect in any manner the Claims which either of the contracting parties or Power or State might have to any part of the Country, west of the Rocky Mountains.

The subject has again been called up for investigation by the two Powers; and a negotiation was begun at Washington, in the early part of the present year; but was for the time being suspended in consequence of a disagreement between the parties; and Notice of the abrogation of the convention of 1827, had not been __ by either party, when our latest information left the United States. And we find, that after all the negotiations, that have been carried on between the United States and Great Britain, relative to settling their Claims upon this Country, from October 1818; until May 1844, a period of nearly 60 years, the question still remains in the following unsettled position.

Neither of the two Powers in question claim exclusive right to the Country lying west of the Rocky Mountains, between the parallels of 42 degrees and 54,45 Degrees N latitude and bordering on the Pacific Ocean. But one claims as much right as the other; and both claim the right of joint occupancy of the whole, without prejudice to the Claims of any other State or Power, to any part of Said Country.

We have submitted to you this information Gentlemen of the assembly for two particular reasons.

1st – To correct an error, that existed in our last communication to this body, relative to the Claims of the United States and Great Britain to this Country.

2nd – That you may bear in mind whilst legislating for the people of Oregon, the positions in which this country stands with regard to those Claims.

We would advise that provisions be made by this body, for framing and adopting a Constitution for Oregon, previous to the next annual election, which may serve as a more thorough guide to her officers, and a more firm basis for her laws. It should be constructed in such a manner, as would best suit the local situation of the Country, and promote the general interest of its Citizens, without interfering with the real or pretended rights, of the United States and Great Britain; excepting when the protection of life and property actually requires it.

We would suggest for your information that this government has now in possession notes given by different individuals residing in this Country, amounting to 3734 and 26/100 Dollars most of which is already due. These notes are a balance in favor of the Estate of Erwin Young, of Oregon deceased intestate, a. d. 1840. after all legal debts, dues, and demands have been paid, that have come to the knowledge of the Administrator or Probate Court of Oregon, as to this date. We would therefore advise that those demands should be collected, and appropriated to the benefit of the Country; the government being at all times responsible for the payment of it, to those who may hereafter appear to have a legal right to the same.

We would again call your attention to a measure recommended in our former Communication; namely the expediency of making provisions for erecting a public Jail in this Country.

Although the Community has suffered very little as yet for the want of such a building; and perhaps another year might pass without its being occupied, which it is hoped may be the case; but we are assured that it is better policy, to have the building standing without a tenant, than to have a tenant without the building. And in order to encourage industry, and promote the peace and welfare of the citizens of Oregon, this government must be prepared to discountenance indolence and check vice in the bud.

We would recommend to your consideration the propriety, of making provision for filling public offices, which now and, or hereafter may be rendered vacant, by resignation or otherwise; previous to the next annual election.

We would recommend that the act passed by this assembly in June last relative to Blacks and Mulattos, be so amended as to exclude corporal punishment, and require bonds for good behavior in its stead.

We consider it a highly important subject, that the Executive of this government should have laws, which may direct them in settling matters relative to lands reserved by Indians; which have been, or may hereafter, be settled upon by the Whites.

We would also recommend that provisions be made for the support of Lunatics, and insane persons, in Oregon.

With regard to the State of the Treasury we refer you to the treasurers report to this Assembly.

We are informed that the number of emigrants who have come from the United States to this Country, during the present year amounts to upwards of 750 persons.

We would advise that the act past in June last, defining the Northern boundaries of Twalatine and Clatsop Counties, be so explained as not to conflict with the act passed in this Legislative assembly in July/June 1843, extending the limits of Oregon to 54, 45 degrees N latitude.

And we would suggest in conclusion, that to preserve the peace, good order, and kind feelings, which have hitherto prevailed among the inhabitants in this Country, depends much upon the calm and deliberate judgment of this Assembly. And we sincerely hope that Oregon by the special aid of Divine Providence may set an unprecedented example to the world of industry, morality, and virtue.

And although we may now be unknown as a State or Power, yet we have the advantages by the united efforts of our increasing population in a diligent attention to Agriculture, Arts, and Literature of attaining at no distant period, as conspicuous in elevation, as any State, or Power, on the Continent of America.

But in order to carry this important measure, and raise to that distinguished station, it becomes the duty of every citizen of this country, to take a deep interest in its present and future welfare.

As descendants of the United States and Great Britain, we should honor and respect the Communities which gave us birth; and as citizens of Oregon we should by uniform course of proceeding and a strict adherence to the rules of justice, quality, and republican principles, without party distinction, use our utmost endeavors to cultivate the kind feelings, not only of our native countries, but all the Powers, or States, with whom we may have intercourse.

Osborn Russell

P. G. Grant ?

Executive Committee of Oregon

Willamette Falls, Dec 16, 1844

State Archives • 800 Summer St. NE • Salem, OR 97310

Phone: 503-373-0701 • Fax: 503-378-4118 • reference.archives@state.or.us