George Washington Bush was a married father of five sons who owned a successful Missouri farm. He was also African-American. In 1844, fed up with racial prejudice, he set out on the Oregon Trail in hopes of making a better life for his family.
Upon arrival, however, he found the awful Lash Law, passed by Oregon’s Provisional Government, which banned blacks from living in Oregon. Violators of this obnoxious law could be subjected to 20-39 lashes with a whip every six months until they left the territory.
So George Washington Bush settled north of the Columbia, ultimately staking out a 640 acre farm in frontier land near Tumwater, far from the population center of the Willamette Valley where the racist laws originated.
But then in 1846 the 49th parallel, where the U.S. – Canada border is now, was declared the northern boundary of the Oregon Territory. The racist laws of the Oregon Territory pursued George Washington Bush once again. For nearly a decade Bush’s neighbors and friends lent support and finally, on January 30, 1855 the US Congress passed a special act allowing Bush to retain his land and property.