Welcome to MOTIFS, where I follow cultural and literary images found in the Bible in an attempt to unearth God's meaning in His pattern of usage.

Gibson`s interpretation reflects a long and pervasive Canadian concern for the power of the United States, as well as a precise reminder of the many threats that the Americans posed to the integrity of Canada`s borders and Canadian national identity. However, I would like to add a limitation to Gibson`s wording. When the Oregon Treaty was signed, the Canadian Confederation did not exist; America`s northern neighbour was not a nation, but several British colonies. When the United States negotiated the Oregon Treaty, it did so with Britain and not with Canada, so it makes sense to keep in mind the United Kingdom`s participation in the treaty (there has not yet been any formal Canadian participation in diplomacy). Canadian views of this British participation suggest several types of weakness in the face of American strength. Gibson, for example, refers to a sense of British appeasement when he brings western Washington back to the United States, while another Canadian scholar (John Saywell, Canada: Paths to the Present [1994]) recalls not only American aggression, but also British neglect by giving “the United States what Washington and Oregon are now.” On the other hand, American interpretations do not portray Britain as weak and therefore do not tend to view the Oregon Treaty as an agreement with a “weaker neighbour”.” Quite the opposite. Robert H. Ferrell, in American Diplomacy: A History (1975), explains President Polk`s decision to accept the 49th parallel as a border, writing that Polk had “ceded to Britain [instead of advocating more territory]. It was one thing to assert land claims against a nation like Mexico, and it was another to oppose the most powerful nation in the world, as Britain was in the 19th century.

In 1846, Britain and the United States signed the Oregon Treaty, which extended the international border between the United States and Canada along the 49th parallel to the Strait of Georgia and then the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This agreement terminated “competition” for the region by dividing it between the British and the Americans. Subsequently, issues such as Indian and agricultural policy on both sides of the border would be determined by different government systems. The HBC remained influential in British Columbia for a long time. The territory, which became the American Northwest, was annexed to the nation in a somewhat unusual way, by comparison. First, it went through a phase where the two main non-native complainants, the United Kingdom and the United States, agreed to share it indefinitely – so-called common occupation. Second, the national ownership of the region was not resolved by war or purchase, but by contract, with both parties negotiating a border dispute. The Dispute on the Pacific Coast, resolved in 1846, was oversted by a dispute on the Atlantic coast that was settled in 1842 between Maine and Canada. These two negotiations are part of the process in which Britain and the United States reached a larger agreement after the conflicts of the American Revolution and the War of 1812. The Arriving American settlers were aware of these differences. Although they did a lot of business with HBC and did benefit from HBC`s help and trade, they were also intrigued by the power of the company.

One way to advance their own interests and try to limit the company`s influence in the region was for them to organize their own government – an action that affirmed their faith in American values of autonomy and re-ed.

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