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Annals of Astoria: The Headquarters Log of the Pacific Fur Company on the Columbia River, 1811-1813

Annals of Astoria: The Headquarters Log of the Pacific Fur Company on the Columbia River, 1811-1813

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When we think of the fur trade in the early days of America's expansion westward, visions of mountain men with untamed beards, shouldering muskets, and braving an unexplored wilderness filled with eminent danger spring to our minds. This "mountain man" was indeed an integral part of the fur trade in America's northwest territory, but equally important, and sorely unremembered, were the merchant and the members of the trading companies whose responsibilty it was to take the raw product and see that it found its way into the hats and coats that graced the inhabitants of the major cities of the world. Annals of Astoria is the story of these men. This is the journal of Duncan McDougall, supervising partner of the Pacific Fur Company at Astoria. It records the daily operations at the post and in the Oregon country from the ship Tonquin's arrival on the Columbia until the sale of the post and the company's assets to the North West Fur Company in November 1813.

Like much of the economic history of the United States during the early republic, this document is closely associated with John Jacob Astor. An emigrant from Germany in 1763, the ambitious youth set out to forge new territory in the fur trade and, with his 1808 charter for the American Fur Company, created a monoply in the fur trade, practically eliminating competeition with Canda and Britain. In 1810, Astor organized the Pacific Fur Company with Duncan McDougall as one of its partners. Later that year, McDougall set out with a crew on the ship Tonquin toward Vancouver Island as part of Astor's three-pronged effort to infiltrate the northwest coast. McDougall was the supervisor of the post during the years 1811-1813 and was solely responsible for what was recorded in it. Thus, his log is themost accurate account of the daily activity of the trading post.