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The Dream Realized

The son of a German butcher, John Jacob Astor immigrated to New York City in 1784.  After a few years in the butcher business with a brother, Astor opened a fur goods shop and learned that trade.

Astor was in London in 1794 when Jay’s Treaty was signed.  The Treaty opened trade between the US, Canada and Britain and officially eliminated the British presence in the old Northwest Territory.  Astor immediately made a deal with a Montreal company to buy furs and sell them in Europe.  In 1800 he realized LaSalle’s dream of selling North American furs in China for tea and other valuable commodities that he later sold in Europe and North America.

Astor began his American Fur Company in 1808.  Within a few years it had edged out the British Hudson Bay Company and monopolized the fur trade in the U.S.  His network of trading posts extended into the Illinois Country, the watersheds around the Great Lakes and ultimately from New York City to his trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River on the site of Astoria, Oregon.

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The Time of the French in North America

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John Jacob Astor