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Three times between the years 1786 and 1820 the French tried to enter the maritime fur trade of the Northwest Coast. Each time events interfered and the French were unable to follow up their efforts. Also conditions on the coast were different each time and found the French unprepared for them. In 1786 Jean François Galaup de La Pérouse arrived on the Northwest Coast during the course of a four year scientific expedition around the world. During his stay on the Northwest Coast he was to investigate the potentials of the trade in sea otter skins and to seek a satisfactory place for a French post in case the government decided to use the information provided by the voyage. However there was a delay in the publication of the journals of the expedition due to the French Revolution and the next French effort was backed by a private firm. In 1792 Etienne Marchand, backed by the Baux firm of Marseilles, attempted to enter the lucrative trade with the Indians of the Northwest Coast. Because of a poor selection of trade goods he was not very successful and in China he was not able to sell his furs since the Chinese had, in the fall of 1792, closed Canton to the importation of furs. Therefore Marchand had to return to France with the furs still in the hold. In the years 1816-1819 Camille de Roquefeuil conducted a fairly successful trading voyage to the Northwest Coast. However his success was due to the fact that he did not rely only on the fur trade but also engaged in the sandalwood trade and contracted to carry a load of supplies from California to the Russian establishments in Alaska. It was well that this voyage was diversified as the sea otter was rapidly being decimated and profits in the trade were falling.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Donald Colgett Cutter

Second Committee Member

Richard Nathaniel Ellis

Third Committee Member

Gunther Eric Rothenberg



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