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In 1845 President Polk attempted to garner votes by claiming the land west of the Rockies belonged to the United States. Considering HBC employees had settled there first, Britain had the better claim to the land and they did not want to be prevented from having free access to the Pacific Ocean.
With the possibility of war hanging over the dominion, two British military operatives were sent on a secret mission. They travelled across Canada to see how easy it would be to deploy military troops to the west coast if they had to fight against the Americans.
Sir George Simpson, of the Hudson's Bay Company, acted as their guide and offered various assurances of HBC's loyalty and support should a war erupt.