Racial Elements

OREGON'S racial background is principally American. The first
white inhabitants—the hunters and trappers, explorers, traders
and farmers of 1800 to 1820, were either American-born or American
in their general outlook, habits and ambitions. The Hudson's Bay Com-
pany, which established Fort Vancouver in 1824-25, though British-
controlled and in part British manned, employed many French-Cana-
dians who, when their terms of service expired, settled on French Prairie
in Marion County, where their descendants can be found today. The
Hudson's Bay Company also prepared the way for the missionary set-
tlers, zealous Americans who endeavored to improve the lot of the Ore-
gon Indians.

In the wake of the Methodist missionaries, beginning about 1840, a
few American settlers began to cross the great plains, the number in-
creasing until the first large immigration arrived in 1843. From then
on, almost every year showed a steady numerical increase, Missouri
being the leading contributor to the population flow. These settlers were
looking for economic opportunities more favorable than could be found
in the older sections of the country and, regardless of their diverse
national origins—German, English, Irish, Dutch, Scotch, Scandinavian,
French and Italian—they were already Americans in their general out-
look, habits and ambitions.

During the 1850's gold hunters, adventurers and settlers drifted into
Oregon from California; merchants and mechanics, laborers and profes-
sional men arrived from New England, the eastern seaboard and the
Mississippi Basin, seeking more favorable economic opportunities than
could be found in those regions.

In 1860 Oregon had a population of 52,465, which increased by
decades—to 90,923; 174,768; 317,704; 413,536; 672,765; and 783,389,
bringing the 1930 population to 953,786. In 1860 the per cent of
foreign born was 9.8, which mounted to 18.0 per cent in 1890 and fell
again to 11.6 per cent in 1930. The increase of aliens corresponds to
the period of railroad construction when swarms of common laborers,