February: statehood



At the 1843 meeting in Champoeg, where Oregon’s first provisional government was formed, the influence of Joe Meek, A.T. Smith, and David Hill created East Tualatin Plains, the seat of the Tuality District, which was later divided into four Oregon and ten Washington counties. Hill and Isaiah Kelsey sold or gave portions of their Donation Land Claims to create the first town plat in 1850.


Oregon's small white population votes to prohibit slavery by incorporating into Oregon's 1843 Organic laws a provision of the 1787 Northwest Ordinance. The provisional government amended the law in 1844 to give slaveholders a time limit to “remove” their slaves “out of the country,” essentially legalizing slavery. The state would go on to incorporate black exclusion laws into territorial law in 1849 and into the state constitution (the only constitution in the U.S. to do so) in 1857.

champoeg minutes   pacific republic   letter to judson

Public Meeting at Champoeg, 1843

On May 2, 1843, Willamette Valley settlers met at Champoeg to vote on the formation of a provisional government. The minutes recorded by George Le Breton recount both the close vote in favor of the provisional government (52-50) and the subsequent appointments of settlers to fill the positions created at the meeting. OHS PTD R76I12186


A Pacific Republic, 1839

This document is an excerpt from an 1839 article that appeared in The Oregonian and Indian’s Advocate, a short-lived journal published by the Boston-based Oregon Provisional Emigration Society. In this piece an author identified only as “W” argues that California and the Oregon Country were destined to become an independent republic.


Voting Rules, 1845 Letter to L.H. Judson

This document is a transcription of a May 12, 1845, letter sent to Lewis Hubble Judson, who was serving as a judge of elections that spring. Judson was a member of Oregon's provisional government, which was formed on May 2, 1843.



Asa Lovejoy of Boston, Massachusetts, and William Pettygrove of Portland, Maine, flipped a coin—now known as the Portland Penny—to determine the name of the new city fourteen miles up the Willamette







George Abernethy became the state's first and only provisional governor.



The Applegate Trail, a southern alternative to the westernmost segment of the Oregon Trail, is first laid out and used.


The Oregon Spectator, located in Oregon City, was the first newspaper in the Oregon Territory. The paper, which was published from 1846 to 1855, was owned by prominent leaders of the new Oregon Territory.


Iowan Henderson Luelling brought two large boxes of fruit-tree sprouts—apples, pears, cherries, and more—to Oregon in 1847, the beginning of Oregon’s pear industry.

1848: Oregon Territory

Founded in 1848, the Oregon Territorial Library was the first public library in Oregon.


thurston   willamette valley  

Samuel Thurston

In Congress, Thurston was able to exploit Oregon’s strategic importance to get a favorable land claim bill passed. Before the Oregon Donation Act was superseded in 1862, the federal government conveyed 2,500,000 acres to settlers under the law.


Sketch of the Willamette Valley, 1851

Oregon became a United States territory in 1848, and the rapid growth of Euro American settlement in the Willamette Valley increased tension between the immigrants and the valley’s original settlers, the Kalapuyan Indians. 




Joseph Lane becomes the first territorial governor of Oregon, appointed by President Polk.


Asahel Bush (1824-1913) was one of the publishers of the Oregon Spectator. The cofounder of the first bank in Salem, he was an influential force in shaping Oregon Territory and the move toward statehood.

Early 1850s


Monmouth, the last town in Oregon to prohibit the sale of alcohol, was settled in the early 1850s by more than a dozen families of Disciples of Christ churches from Monmouth, Illinois.

John Beeson, incensed by whites who threatened Indian families and destroyed their property, was a strident advocate for Indian rights in the 1850s.


survey map   

Congress passed the Oregon Donation Land Law in 1850, which set in motion procedures for disposing of public lands in the Oregon Territory.

Map: Surveyed portions of the Oregon Territory, 1852. OrHi, 105418



City of Port Orford is the oldest town on the Oregon coast, dating to 1851.


From 1851 to 1855, the federal government conducted the Oregon Land Survey, which marked out the townships and sections of Oregon’s western interior valley.


Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) was stationed in Oregon Territory in 1852-1853 as the regimental quartermaster for the Fourth U.S. Infantry at Columbia Barracks in present-day Vancouver.


The Council of Table Rock in September negotiated a peace treaty between representatives of the American government and the Takelma, Shasta, and Dakubetede peoples of the Rogue River valley.


Charity Lamb is the first woman convicted of murder in Oregon Territory.

On April 8, 1854, the boilers on the steamboat Gazelle exploded just above Willamette Falls, near Oregon City, killing twenty-four of the people aboard and thirty others.


daniel christiansen house   

Daniel Christian, a carpenter, and his wife Catherine built a house for their family in Eugene in about 1855. It is the oldest remaining residence in the city and one of the region’s last tangible links to Oregon's territorial period. 



The treaty council held at Waiilatpu (Place of the Rye Grass) in the Walla Walla Valley in May and June of 1855 forever changed the lives of Native Americans living in north-central and eastern Oregon. The fate of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Indians who lived in that part of Oregon became closely tied to that of the Nez Perce, Palouse, and Yakama, who also participated in the treaty council.


wasco minutes   wasco reservation  

Proceeedings of the Wasco Council 1855

This version of the proceedings of the treaty-making Wasco Council is a reprinted typed transcript of the original report sent to George Maypenny, United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs, from Joel Palmer, Oregon Territory’s Superintendent of Indian Affairs.  The council was held near The Dalles, Oregon, in June of 1855. OHS, Mss 616


Wasco (Warm Springs) Reservation Map, 1855

In 1855, the Wasco and Warm Springs Indians agreed to cede to the U.S. government roughly ten million acres of land south of the Columbia River and between the Cascade and Blue Mountain ranges. They received in exchange $200,000 and a variety of government services, including a school, a hospital, and flour and saw mills.





The officer’s home at Fort Dalles, which was built on a bluff near present-day The Dalles in 1856, was the headquarters for the U.S. 9th Infantry Regiment.


Wilhelm Keil (1812-1877) and his followers founded Aurora, a utopian communical town on the Pudding River in the Willamette Valley.

Corvallis Academy (now Oregon State University) was founded as the first community school in the Corvallis area.

1859: Statehood

Oregon state debate   deady   camp day

Debate over Oregon Constitution

This document is an excerpt from a speech by Missouri congressman John B. Clarke in the U.S. House of Representatives supporting the admission of Oregon. He outlines the main objections to Oregon’s admission as a state and refutes them point by point. The document ends with a description of Oregon’s population by territorial delegate Joseph Lane.


Judge Matthew Deady

Matthew Deady was a founder of the Multnomah County Library, President of the Board of Regents of the University of Oregon, and presided over Oregon’s Constitutional Convention in 1857.


Camp Day, 1860

This photograph by U.S. Army Lt. Lorenzo Lorain provides a striking view of Camp Day, a temporary encampment in the Klamath Basin used by the military over the summer and fall of 1860. It features members of Lorain’s Company L, Third Artillery division then attached to Fort Umpqua on the Oregon Coast.



The Brother Jonathan, a sidewheel steamer, carried the news about statehood from San Francisco to Oregon.

In September 1859, Oregon Supervisor of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer established the Alsea Subagency on the Coast Reservation.

Congregation Beth Israel began building its first synagogue at Fifth and Oak Streets in Portland.


centennial Centennial Exposition and International Trade Fair of 1959 took place on the Columbia, north of Portland, to commemorate one hundred years of statehood.