Unique baby name: Oregon Territory

Map of Oregon Territory, 1846

In the mid-1840s, the U.S. and Britain fought over an expanse of land in western North America.

In Canada (which was controlled by Britain at the time), the region was known as the Columbia District. In the U.S., it was known as the Oregon Territory.

Many people in the U.S. wanted the upper boundary of the Oregon Territory set as high as 54º 40′ North. (Today, this is the southernmost boundary between Alaska and British Columbia.)

They were so adamant about the United States’ claim to the land, in fact, that they called for war with Britain. The slogan ‘54º 40′ or fight!‘ became popular around this time, as did the concept of manifest destiny.

In April of 1845 — in the midst of the Oregon boundary dispute — Edmond and Eliza Winters of Ohio welcomed a baby boy.

They named him Oregon Territory.

In most records, his name is written “Oregon Winters” or “Oregon T. Winters.” On his headstone, it’s simply “O. T. Winters.” But it’s written in full (albeit misspelled) on his daughter’s birth certificate:

Oregon Territory Winters (1845-1909)
“Oregon Teritory Winters”

More than a year after his birth, in June of 1846, the two sides finally reached compromise: the U.S. and Great Britain signed the Oregon Treaty, which fixed the boundary at the 49th parallel, excluding Vancouver.

(Several years later, in June of 1854, senator John M. Clayton of Delaware claimed that, during the months that the border debate was raging, the slogan ‘54º 40′ or fight!‘ was so popular that “the canal-boats, and even some babies, it was said, were christened 54º 40’.” So far, though, I haven’t found any proof of this…)


Image: A new map of Texas, Oregon and California (LOC)

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