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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/146

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138 W. C. WOODWARD the dominant issue was presented squarely to the people of Oregon. In conclusion, local affairs were treated and the Democratic administration in Oregon was attacked along the following lines: the "frittering away" of public funds and appropria- tions; keeping the state capital question inflamed; making the Indian war a party war; enactment of the Viva Voce law; tardiness in completing land surveys. For a thorough understanding of the situation in Oregon at this time, it will be necessary here to give attention to what was taking place in the ranks of Democracy. As has been suggested, the yoke of Bush and the Salem Clique was galling to many Democrats. In the first place such abject obedience as was demanded was humiliating, and a reproach to men of strong individualism. In the second place, there was a protest against monopolizing the perquisites of Democratic Adminis- tration by a small, self-constituted ring. 1 The spirit of mutiny was rising. It was felt in the session of the legislature of '56-'57 and began to be manifested early in 1857. The Demo- cratic Standard had come to be looked upon as an anti-machine paper. At a Democratic caucus held January 20 while the legislature was in session it was formally discarded from the party and denounced as an organ of the opposition. The vote declaring such action, however, was close 15 to 12. 2 The issue was thus joined. On the one side was the organization or machine, standing for unquestioning obedience to party rule and declaring for the binding authority of regular party con- ventions, or for "caucus sovereignty." On the other, were the independent Democrats who denied the absolute authority of party or caucus action. The former were called "the hards" ; the latter, "the softs." Bush at once took up the fight against the mutinous, begin- ning with an attack on the twelve who formed the minority in i As popularly conceived, the Salem Clique was composed of Asahel Bush, L. F. Grover, B. F. Harding, J. W. Nesmith and R. P. Boise. ^Statesman, January 27, 1857.