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John McLoughlin was one of the most influential figures of the fur trade and settlement periods of Pacific Northwest history Chief Factor of the Columbia District of the British Hudsons Bay Company he reigned as a benevolent autocrat befriended Americans and eventually became an American citizen at Oregon City He was born in Quebec in 1784 and trained as a physician near Montreal He became a physician and traveled to the Northwest region in 1824 as a representative of the Hudson Bay Company Here he occupied the position of Chief Factor from 1825 when the regional headquarters of the company was moved from old Fort Astoria to Fort Vancouver until his retirement in 1845 During his reign as Chief Factor Dr John McLoughlin directed the operations of the fur trade in all the country west of the Rocky Mountains and north of the California line as well as the more localized activities of agriculture livestock raising sawmilling flour milling dairying and salmon fishing From 1825 to 1843 when the provisional government was first established by the settlers in the Willamette Valley he was the undisputed governor of the vast area bounded by the Rocky Mountains on the east Mexican territory California on the south the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Russian settlements on the north Dr John McLoughlin exercised control over the Indians of the region welcomed and provisioned missionaries and settlers encouraged schools and church instruction and for a number of years was the only medical practitioner in the region His contributions to the development of the Northwest region in general and the Oregon country in particular make him truly deserving of the title by which he is often referred to Father of the Oregon In 1857 the man who had ruled an empire two and a half times the size of Texas died broken and bitter He was 75 at the time Five years later in an act of penitence
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