McLoughlin, John

McLoughlin, John

(məglŏkh`lĭn, –glôf`lĭn), 1784–1857, Canadian-American fur trader in Oregon, b. Rivière du Loup, near Quebec. A physician and then a trader, he was (1824–46) chief agent and administrator of the Hudson's Bay Company in the Columbia River country, when it was hotly disputed by British and Americans. McLoughlin used his power to monopolize and expand trade and to maintain peace with Native Americans. Recognizing the rich farming potential of the Willamette valley, he helped French Canadians to settle there and urged a land colonization scheme on the Hudson's Bay Company. At Fort Vancouver (now Vancouver, Wash.), his headquarters after 1825, aid and shelter were given to American adventurers, missionaries, and settlers. In 1849 he became a U.S. citizen.

Bibliography

See his letters to the Hudson's Bay Company governor and committee (3 vol., 1941–45); biographies by R. C. Johnson (new ed. 1958) and R. G. Montgomery (1934, repr. 1971).

McLoughlin, John

(1784–1857) fur merchant; born in Rivière du Loup, Quebec, Canada. Of Scotch-Irish descent, he studied medicine in Scotland and then came back to join the Canadian North West Fur Company, becoming a partner in 1814. When this company merged with the Hudson's Bay Company (1821), he was placed in charge (1825–46) of the far western region (including the present-day states of Washington and Oregon), whose capital was Fort Vancouver. He effectively monopolized the fur trade for the British, but he was also extremely helpful to the first American settlers in the territory, providing both the material aid and financial support that allowed many to survive, and gaining the reputation of a benevolent despot. After the treaty of 1846 that established the boundary between the U.S.A. and Canada at the 49th parallel (farther north than he and the Hudson's Bay Company had hoped), he retired from the company and began to develop a large tract of land in Oregon that he now claimed as his own. He was engaged in legal controversy with the American authorities to his death, but he became a U.S. citizen and was honored as "the father of Oregon" when that state placed his statue in the U.S. Capitol. (The land was assigned to his heirs in 1862.)
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