Report on the Fur Trade, 1831
In 1831, Joshua Pilcher filed an extensive report on the western
fur trade. A veteran trader who had done business in St. Louis for decades,
Pilcher (1790-1843) traveled to the Rockies and Oregon in the 1820s in search
of new opportunities. He saw Oregon as the place where great opportunities beckoned.
Frustrated by the Hudson's Bay Company agents who dominated the territory,
Pilcher urged the national government to expel the British from the Northwest.
He predicted that whoever controlled the Columbia River trade "will also command
the navigation and commerce of the Pacific." By stating the issue in global
terms, Pilcher underscored the national interests at stake in a continental
Pilcher divided his report, titled "Letter to Secretary of War Regarding Fur Trade," into seven sections. Beginning with a clarification of overlapping American and British land rights west of the Rocky Mountains, he goes on to describe the easy accessibility and rich resources of the region. His cheerful, enthusiastic commentary blends commerce and poetry, and omits all references to anything that might be perceived as less than perfect. Below are links to the seven individual sections of his report.
AS TO THE RECIPROCITY OF THE TREATY OF 1818
THE PRESENT STATE OF THE FUR TRADE
FACE OF THE COUNTRY
PASSES THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS
EXTENT AND CONFIGURATION OF THE COUNTRY
NUMBER AND STATE OF THE INDIANS