Open main menu

Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/144

This page needs to be proofread.

CHAPTER VII THE NATIONAL ISSUE IN OREGON IN 1857 The session of the legislature which met December 2, 1856, passed what had become a customary act, calling for a vote at the ensuing election on the question of holding a constitutional convention. Considering the narrow margin by which the measure had been defeated the preceding June, and in view of the fact that the Oregonian had changed front on the issue, the result of the coming election was almost a foregone con- clusion ; so nearly so that it was provided that at the same time at which the vote should be taken, delegates should be elected to the convention. As far as the people of Oregon could bring it about, statehood was imminent. In the erection of the framework of the new government vital issues were involved. How those issues were met and settled, the following pages will endeavor to show. To the Republicans the one paramount issue was that of freedom or slavery for the new state. To meet this great issue successfully they were zealous in extending their party organi- zation. On February 11, 1857, a convention was held at Al- bany, at which delegates were present from eight counties Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Yamhill, Linn, Umpqua, Polk and Benton. 1 W. T. Matlock, of Clackamas, was chair- man, and Leander Holmes, of the same county, secretary. Other prominent men in attendance were Stephen Coffin, J. R. McBride, W. L. Adams, E. L. Applegate, T. S. Kendall, S. M. Gilmore and W. B. Daniels. The platform of principles adopted declared strongly against the extension of slavery over "any Territory of the United States now free." It held that there was no real difference as to the "true interests of Ore- gon" dividing honest Whigs, Democrats, Republicans, and Americans, who had had the manly independence to resist the usurpation and abuse of power on the part of "the present ruling faction." 2 It bespoke the necessity of the Union of all i Proceedings, in Oregonian, February 21, 1857. 2*'The gentlemen who composed the convention seem to have imagined them- selves the first advance guard who have ever had the courage to assault the citadel of the Salem dynasty, or who dare strike for freedom." Oregonian, February 21. "The Nigger-worshipping convention at Albany came off last week and waa a slim affair." Statesman, February 17.