Introduction to Fur War
The fur trade played a key role in the development and ultimate ownership of lands and resources on the West Coast of North America. The players in the FUR WAR
included Russia, Great Britain, America, France, Spain, Mexico, Hawaii, and the many First Nations whose lands it had been. At times the fur trade was incredibly profitable and helped make some men and women very rich; but like most “gold rushes” it more often led to suffering, abuse, death, and despair. As you read these books consider the factors that led to so much suffering and environmental destruction—greed, the quest for power, ignorance, and failure to count the costs. Many of these remain to trouble us today.
With just a few minor changes in government response or markets we might speak Spanish or Russian on the West Coast; Hawaii might be an independent nation, or a Russian, French or Spanish colony; and we might have a Tlingit Nation in Alaska. The seventy-five years from
1765-1840 covers the most critical period of the Fur War.