Joint Occupation

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JOINT OCCUPATION, a term designating the 1818 U.S.-British agreement regarding the joint occupation of the Oregon territory as being "free and open" to subjects of both states for trade and commerce during the next ten years. The joint occupation was one part of the Convention of 1818 with England that Richard Rush and Albert Gallatin negotiated with British delegates Henry Goulburn and Frederick J. Robinson. The delegates signed the treaty on 20 October 1818, and it was unanimously ratified by the U.S. Senate on 30 January 1819. Subsequently, on 6 August 1826, the United States and Great Britain renewed the joint occupation until either party gave one-year notice to terminate it. The agreement remained in effect until December 1845, when President James K. Polk asked Congress to annex all the Oregon territory if Britain refused to divide it at the forty-ninth parallel (see Oregon Treaty of 1846).

The 1818 convention was a first step in moving the two states away from their 1812 controversy toward rapprochement. The convention also dealt with fishing rights near Labrador, agreed to use arbitration to determine indemnity for slaves the British carried away in 1812, and renewed an 1815 trade agreement.


Merk, Frederick. The Oregon Question: Essays in Anglo-American Diplomacy and Politics. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967.

Rakestraw, Donald A. For Honor or Destiny: The Anglo-American Crisis over the Oregon Territory. London: Peter Lang, 1995.

Weeks, William Earl. Building the Continental Empire: American Expansion from the Revolution to the Civil War. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1997.