On August 14, 1848, Congress establishes the Territorial Government of Oregon. The United States had enjoyed sovereignty over the region, which included present-day Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, since 1846. In 1843, local residents had declared their own "provisional government."
The federal government was spurred to formalize a territorial government by the deaths of Presbyterian missionary Dr. Marcus Whitman (1802-1847), his wife, and 11 male settlers, killed by members of the Cayuse tribe in an attack on the Whitman Mission near Walla Walla on November 29, 1847. (Another man is believed to have drowned after escaping the initial attack.)
Edmond S. Meany, History of the State of Washington (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1909); Dictionary of Oregon History ed. by Howard McKinley Corning (Portland, OR: Binfords & Mort, 1956).
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