First Advisor

Gordon Dodds

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History




John Pollard Gaines 1795-1857, Oregon Territory -- Politics and government



Physical Description

1 online resource (209 p.)


In 1846 negotiations between Great Britain and the United States resulted in the end of the Joint Occupancy Agreement and the Pacific Northwest became the property of the United States. Nineteenth Century Oregon represented a new beginning for many citizens of the United States and around the world. The settlers arriving in the Oregon Country consisted of a hardy, self reliant, breed; yet they sought the protection of the United States government from Native Americans living in the region and from Great Britain's Hudson's Bay Company. When Oregon became a territory, in 1848, the pioneers struggled to preserve their independence. They resented federally appointed officials sent to govern them by the United States Government. Governor John Pollard Gaines, the subject of this study, came to Oregon as a federally appointed official. Previous studies of the Oregon Territorial Government have examined in detail the marked conflict between the political parties of the Oregon Territory. Before 1850 Oregon did not have two distinct political parties. Governor Gaines, a Whig, acted as a catalyst for the birth of a strong Democratic party in Oregon. On the federal level the Whig and Democratic parties had been at odds since the time of Andrew Jackson. The Whigs were proponents of economic progress contained within a social and political framework. Whigs promoted individual and national independence; Democrats promoted the dependence cf one class upon another. Whigs believed the pursuit of individual liberty and national prosperity depended upon an active government representative of its citizens' interests. This study examines "home rule" Democrats, their treatment of Governor Gaines, and the ramifications of the Governor's reactions at a local and federal level. As a federally appointed official sent to govern the distant Oregon Territory, Gaines endured abuse from "home rule" citizens. Conclusions drawn from this study demonstrate that Gaines's affiliation with the Whig party is secondary to his being an "outsider." His treatment as governor would not have been much different if he had been a Democrat sent to the Territory by the federal government.


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