Having made all these arrangements, the four partners, on the first of July, signed a formal manifesto, stating the alarming state of their affairs, from the non-arrival of the annual ship, and the absence and apprehended loss of the Beaver, their want of goods, their despair of receiving any further supply, their ignorance of the coast, and their disappointment as to the interior trade, which they pronounced unequal to the expenses incurred, and incompetent to stand against the powerful opposition of the Northwest Company. And as by the 16th article of the company’s agreement, they were authorized to abandon this undertaking, and dissolve the concern, if before the period of five years it should be found unprofitable, they now formally announced their intention to do so on the 1st day of June, of the ensuing year, unless in the interim they should receive the necessary support and supplies from Mr. Astor, or the stockholders, with orders to continue.
This instrument, accompanied by private letters of similar import, was delivered to Mr. M’Tavish, who departed on the 5th of July. He engaged to forward the despatches to Mr. Astor, by the usual winter express sent overland by the Northwest Company.
The manifesto was signed with great reluctance by Messrs. Clarke and D. Stuart, whose experience by no means justified the discouraging account given in it of the internal trade, and who considered the main difficulties of exploring an unknown and savage country, and of ascertaining the best trading and trapping grounds, in a great measure overcome. They were overruled, however, by the urgent instances of M’Dougal and M’Kenzie, who, having resolved upon abandoning the enterprise, were desirous of making as strong a case as possible to excuse their conduct to Mr. Astor and to the world.
Anxieties of Mr. Astor.—Memorial
of the Northwest Company—
Tidings of a British Naval Expedition Against Astoria.—Mr.
Astor Applies to Government for Protection.—The Frigate
Adams Ordered to be Fitted Out.—Bright News From Astoria.—
Sunshine Suddenly Overclouded.
While difficulties and disasters had been gathering about the infant settlement of Astoria, the mind of its projector at New York was a prey to great anxiety. The ship Lark, despatched by him with supplies for the establishment, sailed on the 6th of March, 1813. Within a fortnight afterwards, he received intelligence which justified all his apprehensions of hostility on the part of the British. The Northwest Company had made a second memorial to that government, representing Astoria as an American establishment, stating the vast scope of its contemplated operations, magnifying the strength of its fortifications, and expressing their fears that, unless crushed in the bud, it would effect the downfall of their trade.
Influenced by these representations, the British government ordered the frigate Phoebe to be detached as a convoy for the armed ship, Isaac Todd, which was ready to sail with men and munitions for forming a new establishment. They were to proceed together to the mouth of the Columbia, capture or destroy whatever American fortress they should find there, and plant the British flag on its ruins.