What was the Timeline? • 1670 – The Hudson’s Bay Company is founded. • 1778 – Capt. James Cook recognizes the value of Pacific Northwest furs
1784 – The Northwest Fur Company splits from the HBCo. • 1786 to 1789 – John Meares (British naval officer and trader) conducts fur trade with the Orient. • 1804 to 1806 – Lewis & Clark recognize the beaver as a resource.
1810 – John Jacob Astor, founder of the Pacific Fur Company, sends two expeditions to the Pacific Northwest. • 1813 – The Pacific Fur Company sells out to the Northwest Fur Co. • 1821 – Northwest Fur C. and HBCo. Merge (and become one company again).
Where were the Fur Markets? • The three main markets for furs were: • The Eastern United States • Europe • Northern China
How did this effect the Pacific Northwest? • From 1800 to 1840 became known as the “Great American Fur Rush” • From 1780 to 1840 Beaver pelts were in great demand • The interior commerce in the Pacific Northwest thrived on the fur trade.
Who benefited from the Fur Trade? • Native Americans • Fur Trappers • Fur Traders • Merchant men • Organizers • Financiers
What Fur Companies were there? • The Pacific Fur Company • The Northwest Fur Company • The Hudson’s Bay Company • The Rocky Mountain Fur Company
The Pacific Fur Company • Founded by a German immigrant (John Jacob Astor) • Sent two expeditions to the Pacific Northwest to open a fur trading business • The first traveled by ship (Tonquin) under the command of Duncan McDonald to the mouth of the Columbia River
The second traveled overland under the command of Wilson Price Hund and Donald MacKenzie • They departed St. Louis in September 1810, and arrive in January 1812 • Both expeditions are a disaster, and Astor finally sells out to the Pacific Fur Company (late during the war of 1812)
The Northwest Fur Company • A newly formed British Company that controlled the fur trade “west” of the Canadian Rockies • Was formed by merging several smaller independent fur trading groups in 1784 • Mainly consisted of men who had split (left) the HBCo.
The Rocky Mountain Fur Company • Formed in 1823 by Maj. Andrew Henry and Gen. William Ashley • Both Henry and Ashley sell out their interests in 1826 to Jedediah Smith, William Sublette and David Jackson • The members of this new company in 1826 consists of mountain men who are hardy and very independent
Some of the members are: • Jim Bridger • Benjamin Bonneville • Jeremiah Johnson • The Sublette brothers • The mountain men were responsible for the establishment of the Oregon Trail • They also discovered and named physical features (and mountain passes) on the trails
These men are credited with finding, exploring and mapping the future wagon and trade routes west. • Their contribution, while not the most successful financial business, was priceless when you count the contributions to the development and opening of the western frontier.
So, How did the Fur Trade work? • There was an annual “rendezvous” where the fur trapper and the trader met • This event was usually moved from site to site each year • Most were held in what is today the Green River valley of Wyoming.
Traders brought trade items like • Blankets • Coffee • Sugar • Guns • Gunpowder • Lead • Trinkets • Cloth
Trappers would bring their years’ accumulation of beaver and other animal pelts. • The trapper and the trader would bargain and ultimately arrive at an agreed price for the furs. • The price could be money (credit), or goods, or a combination of both
Many trappers also brought their wives (Native American) to the rendezvous • Some trappers were known to have spent their entire years earnings on clothing and trinkets for their wife • The rendezvous was also the mountain man’s social event of the year
There was: • Horse racing • Dances • Drinking • Fighting • Some trappers survived a year in the wilderness, but did not survive the rendezvous
The last fur trade rendezvous was held in 1840 • By this time the fur trade had collapsed • Why do you think it collapsed? • The fur trappers trade made have been finished, but their trails became the roads that thousands of emigrants would use to come West.