American Fur Company

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American Fur Company,

chartered by John Jacob AstorAstor, John Jacob
, 1763–1848, American merchant, b. Walldorf, near Heidelberg, Germany. At the age of 16 he went to England, and five years later, in 1784, he arrived in Baltimore, penniless.
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 (1763–1848) in 1808 to compete with the great fur-trading companies in Canada—the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company. Astor's most ambitious venture, establishment of a post at AstoriaAstoria
. 1 Commercial, industrial, and residential section of NW Queens borough of New York City, SE N.Y.; settled in the 17th cent. as Hallet's Cove. It was renamed for John Jacob Astor in 1839.
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, Oreg., to control the Columbia River valley fur trade, was made under a subsidiary, the Pacific Fur Company. His early operations around the Great Lakes were under another subsidiary, the South West Company, in which Canadian merchants had a part. The War of 1812 destroyed both companies. In 1817, after an act of Congress excluded foreign traders from U.S. territory, the American Fur Company commanded the trade in the Lakes region. An alliance made in 1821 with the Chouteau interests of St. Louis gave the company a monopoly of the trade in the Missouri River region and later in the Rocky Mts. (see mountain menmountain men,
fur trappers and traders in the Rocky Mts. during the 1820s and 30s. Their activities opened that region of the United States to general knowledge. Since the days of French domination there had been expeditions to the upper Missouri River, and in the early 19th
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). The company was one of the first great American trusts. It maintained its monopoly by the customary early practice of buying out or crushing any small company that threatened opposition. When Astor withdrew in 1834, the company split and the name became the property of the former northern branch under Ramsey Crooks, but popular usage still applied it to succeeding companies. The American Fur Company strongly influenced the history of the frontier, not only by preparing the way for permanent settlement but by opening Great Lakes commercial fishing, steamboat transportation, and trade in lead.


See G. L. Nute, Calendar of the American Fur Company's Papers (1945); B. DeVoto, Across the Wide Missouri (1948); H. M. Chittenden, The American Fur Trade of the Far West (3 vol.; 1902, repr. 1954); J. U. Terrell, Furs by Astor (1963); D. S. Lavender, The Fist in the Wilderness (1964); P. C. Phillips, The Fur Trade (1961, repr. 1967); P. Stark, Astoria (2014).

References in classic literature ?
In the meantime, the success of this company attracted the attention and excited the emulation of the American Fur Company, and brought them once more into the field of their ancient enterprise.
By such means most of the independents were squeezed out of business and forced to become vassals of the American Fur Company.
The unusual favors granted to Astor's company by Cass as governor of Michigan Territory and later as secretary of war led many traders to assume that the American Fur Company was actually a quasi-official institution.
This claim is based on two newspaper accounts describing items in the account books of the American Fur Company.
Although the enormous Astor fortune was ultimately derived largely from real estate investments, it is estimated that during the seventeen years he was head of the American Fur Company, he cleared between one and two million dollars.
At the height of its success, the American Fur Company employed between two and three thousand boatmen and trappers and more than four hundred clerks on the island.
In 1818, when he was sixteen years old, Hubbard came to Mackinac Island to work as a clerk for the American Fur Company.
The American Fur Company was a relative latecomer to the Upper Missouri fur trade, but it was backed by the extensive financial assets of John Jacob Astor.
Tactfully, he never did mention to his benefactors in the American Fur Company and United States government his application for employment with the HBC.
Declining market demands for beaver also impacted American Fur Company and Pilcher lived long enough to see that mighty company declare bankruptcy in 1842.
In 1859, the American Fur Company embarked on what was then the longest paddle-wheel steamboat expedition in North American history: 6,200 miles round trip on the Missouri River from St.
Steamboats West: The 1859 American Fur Company Missouri River Expedition is a historical chronicle based on the journals of Dr.

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