While the English-American
colonies remained dependents of Great Britain
, they derived very little advantage from the extensive fur-trade with the Indians, for the Hudson Bay Company absorbed nearly the whole of the traffic.
It was contention between the French
colonists for the control of this trade that was a powerful element among the causes that brought on the French and Indian War
(q. v.). In 1762 a fur company was organized in New Orleans for carrying on the fur-trade extensively with the Western Indians
It was started by the director-general
A trading expedition was fitted out, and under the direction of Pierre Ligueste Laclede, the principal projector of the enterprise, it went to the Missouri
region, and established its chief depot on the site of the city of St. Louis
, which name was then given to that locality.
There furs were gathered from the regions extending eastward to Mackinaw
, and westward to the Rocky Mountains
Their treasures went in boats down the Mississippi
to New Orleans, and thence to Europe
; or up the Illinois River
, across a portage to Lake Michigan
, and by way of the Great Lakes
and the St. Lawrence
Early in the nineteenth century, furtrading posts had been established on the Columbia River
and other waters that empty into the Pacific Ocean
In 1784 John Jacob Astor
(q. v.), an enterprising young German merchant of New York, embarked in the fur-trade.
He purchased furs in Montreal
and sold them in England
; after the treaty of 1795 he shipped them to different European
In this trade, chiefly, he amassed a fortune of $250,000, when he embarked in a scheme for making a great fur depot on the Pacific coast
He was then competing with the great fur companies of the Northwest
, under a charter in the name of the American Fur Company, for which he furnished the entire capital.
made an earnest effort to carry on the business between the Pacific coast
, founding the town of Astoria
at the mouth of the Columbia River
Through the bad faith of a business partner in 1813, that establishment was sold for a nominal sum and placed under British control.
After that Mr. Astor
carried on his operations in the region of the Rocky Mountains
, with his chief post at Mackinaw
, acquired in 1867 by purchase, opened a new field for the American
The furs from that region are mainly those of the fur-seal; there are also those of the beaver, ermine, fox, otter, marten, and other animals.
From 1870 to 1890 the monopoly of the trade was in the hands of the Alaska Commercial Company of San Francisco, Cal. In the latter year the government granted the right of
taking fur-seals to the North American Commercial Company for a yearly rental of $60,000 and $7.62 1/2 for each seal-skin
sealing-vessels were, for several years, illegally engaged in the indiscriminate slaughter of the seals, threatening their extinction.
In 1889 some of these vessels were seized by United States
revenue cutters, thus giving rise to the Bering Sea
controversy with Great Britain
; Anglo-American commission; fisheries.