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The West End of the Rainbow - An Unorthodox History -
Our 19th Century George W. Bush and the Other Washington

Richard Robison took a serious look at the effect that Tumwater settlers had on the boundary question.  The thesis of his book was "Would Western Washington and Puget Sound be a part of Canada without George W. Bush?"  His book was published in 2002.

Robison states that Bush will come to be known, understood and respected for his importance in American history because of the content of his character.

Recently released records from the Public Records Office and Admiralty in London indicate that the H.M.S. America was anchored on August 28, 1845 at Discovery Bay  (six miles west of Port Townsend) investigating the Oregon Country. This Royal British Navy Frigate was commanded by Captain John Gordon.  Here is part of his report...

Having well examined this part of the country and visited the head of Puget Sound [Tumwater], lately taken possession of by an American party, I returned to Port Discovery [Port Townsend], and there crossed over, in my boat to Fort Victoria, which is a new and extensive establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company. ...My officer [Lt. William Peel] having returned from Fort Vancouver on the 24th [of September], bringing with him Mr. [James] Douglas [one of the commissioners of the new Vancouver County, north of the Columbia River, formed by Applegate and McLoughlin, to extend the Provisional Government northward in July 1845]...

I have had much conversation with Mr. Douglas, and what I have learned from him and others, that the Hudson's Bay Company are anxious for a speedy settlement of the question, as under present circumstances any subjects of the United States pending the question, takes possession of the disputed ground, however contiguous to the company's settlements, trusting to the chance and the difficulty of removing him hereafter.  I fear that some untoward event and collision must soon take place between the disputants for the land. The Hudson's Bay Company, at present, are too strong, but when the emigrants have their petition granted, and a military force at their disposal, they will no doubt employ it in a most unscrupulous manner.

There also was a report by Lt. Peel that was a part of the same exploration.  Peel mentions the new Vancouver County [organized in July 1845 by the American Provisional Government in Oregon], and scattered settlers, "chiefly from the Missouri," and why they are coming, and their marketing problems, etc. (grain, and Hudson's Bay Co. role).  Their spring departure from Independence [Missouri] and difficulties with late fall arrival.  Little money, promissory notes (paid in wheat).

Captain Gordon had traveled with Lt. Peel as far as Cowlitz Landing, but then returned back to his ship
via Fort Nisqually.

Lt. Peel * continued aboard the steamer R.M.S. Trent from southern Mexico in January 1846. He arrived in London on February 10. On February 13, 1846, he submitted reports which included both Captain Gordon's and his own work to several leaders including Lord Aberdeen, Foreign Secretary.(Captain Gordon's brother).  These reports are found under British Foreign Office 5 459 HIS 00509.

Britain soon sent envoys to the USA to handle this matter.

The treaty setting the boundary as the 49th parallel was ratified by U.S. Senate in Washington D.C. on June 18, 1846.

* Coincidentally Lt. William Peel was the son of Sir Robert Peel, former Prime Minister (December 10, 1834 – April 8, 1835 and August 30, 1841 – June 29, 1846)

British investigating
Western  Washington
from HMS America

British in London, England
Lt. William Peel
son of
Sir Robert Peel (Prime Minister)
Lt. Parke


Captain John Gordon
Captain John Gordon
brother to
Lord George Aberdeen (Foreign Secretary)

Others from Britain dipatched overland to secretly examine if military force would be needed arriving late August 25, 1845 at Fort Vancouver:
Lt. Henry J. Warre
Aid de camp to the governor of Canada
Lt. Mervin Vavasour
Royal Army Engineers

Negotiators
Richard Pakenham
UK
Foreign minister to USA
James Buchanan
USA
Secretary of State