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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/142

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134 W. C. WOODWARD slavery party, was followed anxiously by Oregonians for whom it had peculiar significance. Sumner had been assaulted by Brooks in the United States Senate chamber on May 22, 1856. Moved by these various events, Dryer made his first de- termined assault on slavery in the Oregonian of July 12, 1856. In strongest terms he arraigned the system which had always been a source of discord and whose present "fearful reckless- ness" now threatened the actual dissolution of the Union. 1 He also attacked Lane for his action in the Sumner-Brooks affair in serving as Brooks' second when the latter challenged Senator Henry Wilson to a duel ; also when Brooks challenged Anson Burlingame. Lane's personal sympathies were thus publicly declared, but the Oregonian objected especially to his thus compromising and crippling the Territory which he rep- resented. 2 It has been shown that in the elections of 1854, 1855 and 1856, the Oregonian strongly opposed statehood. In the last election its opposition had been very pronounced, indeed. In a leader, "Shall Oregon Become a State ?" in the issue of November first of the same year, Dryer turned squarely about and began advocating state organization. He attributed his change of attitude to the policy of the Buchanan Administra- tion in acting as "the handmaid for the extension of slavery over free territory." In his own words, "If we are to have the institution of slavery fastened upon us here, we desire the people resident in Oregon to do it and not the will and power of a few politicians in Washington City. If the power of the regular army is to be used to crush out freedom in the Terri- tories ... we had better throw off our vassalage and become a state at once." This seemed to be the general sentiment of the people of Oregon. Whereas in the election of 1856 the question of statehood had been lost by 249 votes, in the very next year it i "We dislike modern abolitionism as much as we do slavery; and although we shall never go where slavery is already established for the purpose of op- posing it, we shall contend against its introduction here or elsewhere, where freedom now exists." Oregonian, November i, 1856. 2Oregonian, September 20, 1856.