Oregon Statehood Day in the United States Date in the current year: February 14, 2024

Oregon Statehood Day in the United States Oregon was officially admitted into the Union on February 14, 1859. Although Oregon Statehood Day isn’t an official holiday in the state, it has been celebrated with various events, activities, and cultural programs for years.

Oregon is located on the West Coast of the United States between two other Pacific Northwest states, Washington and California. Before the arrival of the first Europeans, the territory of what is now Oregon was inhabited by numerous Native American tribes, including the Bannock, Chasta, Chinook, Kalapuya, Klamath, Molalla, Nez Perce, Takelma, and Umpqua.

Spanish explorers found their way to the West Coast of North America as only as the 16th century, but most ships sailed straight to Cape Mendocino in California without landing in what is now Oregon. Among the first Europeans to explore the Oregon Coast were Juan José Pérez Hernández in 1774 and Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra and Bruno de Heceta in 1775.

British explorer James Cook explored the coast in 1778, while searching for the Northwest Passage between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. About a decade later, many ships from various countries sailed to the Pacific Northwest region to engage in fur trade. In 1792, British captain George Vancouver discovered Puget Sound and claimed it for Great Britain (the sound is in Washington now, but back in the day it was part of the Oregon Territory). In 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition built a winter fort near the mouth of the Columbia River.

In the first half of the 19th century, the United States and Britain both claimed ownership of the area, ignoring all indigenous peoples’ claims to their land. According to the terms of the Anglo-American Convention of 1818, the region was “jointly occupied” by the two countries. The boundary was drawn along the 49th parallel north.

In 1845, James K. Polk was inaugurated as the 11th president of the United States. He was a proponent of expansionism and at one point supported the partition along parallel 54°40′ north when the joint occupation was over. Some expansionists even called for war with Great Britain if this condition weren’t met, but Polk realized perfectly well that the United States couldn’t afford a war with Britain.

Britain had no interest in war either, so the parties returned to negotiating the boundary at the 49th parallel north. On June 15, 1846, the United Kingdom and the United States signed the Oregon Treaty that brought an end to the boundary dispute. The United States got the southern portion of the region, which was organized as the Territory of Oregon in 1848.

The territory encompassed the present-day states of Idaho, Oregon and Washington, as well as western portions of Montana and Wyoming. In 1853, part of these lands was organized as the Territory of Washington. In November 1857, the Oregon Constitution was approved by voters, which was a prerequisite for statehood. On February 14, 1859, Oregon was admitted into the Union as the 33rd state, though the official news about it only reached the state on March 15.

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Oregon Statehood Day in the United States, observances in the United States, observances in Oregon, admission to the Union