It is needless to describe the joy of these poor men at once more finding themselves among countrymen and friends, or of the honest and hearty welcome with which they were received by their fellow adventurers. The whole party now continued down the river, passed all the dangerous places without interruption, and arrived safely at Astoria on the 11th of May.
Supply the Russian Fur
Establishment.—An Agent Sent to Russia.—Project of an
Annual Ship.—The Beaver Fitted Out.—Her Equipment and
Crew.—Instructions to the Captain.—The Sandwich
Islands.—Rumors of the Fate of the Tonquin.—Precautions on
Reaching the Mouth of the Columbia.
Having traced the fortunes of the two expeditions by sea and land to the mouth of the Columbia, and presented a view of affairs at Astoria, we will return for a moment to the master spirit of the enterprise, who regulated the springs of Astoria, at his residence in New York.
It will be remembered, that a part of the plan of Mr. Astor was to furnish the Russian fur establishment on the northwest coast with regular supplies, so as to render it independent of those casual vessels which cut up the trade and supplied the natives with arms. This plan had been countenanced by our own government, and likewise by Count Pahlen, the Russian minister at Washington. As its views, however, were important and extensive, and might eventually affect a wide course of commerce, Mr Astor was desirous of establishing a complete arrangement on the subject with the Russian American Fur Company, under the sanction of the Russian government. For this purpose, in March 1811, he despatched a confidential agent to St. Petersburg, full empowered to enter into the requisite negotiations. A passage was given to this gentleman by the government of the United States in the John Adams, an armed vessel, bound for Europe.
The next step of Mr. Astor was, to despatch the annual ship contemplated on his general plan. He had as yet heard nothing of the success of the previous expeditions, and had to proceed upon the presumption that everything had been effected according to his instructions. He accordingly fitted out a fine ship of four hundred and ninety tons, called the Beaver, and freighted her with a valuable cargo destined for the factory at the mouth of the Columbia, the trade along the coast, and the supply of the Russian establishment. In this ship embarked a reinforcement, consisting of a partner, five clerks, fifteen American laborers, and six Canadian voyageurs. In choosing his agents for his first expedition, Mr. Astor had been obliged to have recourse to British subjects experienced in the Canadian fur trade; henceforth it was his intention, as much as possible, to select Americans, so as to secure an ascendency of American influence in the management of the company, and to make it decidedly national.