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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/151

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POLITICAL PARTIES IN OREGON 143 ing party lines in the selection of delegates to the convention and deprecated such action. 1 The anxiety of the Democrats to avoid disaster on the slavery question is reflected in the pro- ceedings of various of their county conventions held in the spring of 1857. Stoutly denying that theirs was a pro-slavery party, they revolted at the idea of making slavery a party issue and followed the lead of the Salem convention in demanding a separate vote of the people on the question, when the constitu- tion should be submitted. 2 But while granting that members of the party should vote for a free state if they saw fit, the latter were urgently recommended to guard against "in any way coun- tenancing that contention-loving, union-hating party called the Black Republican party." 3 The campaign of 1857 was peculiar in the history of Ore- gon politics. The success of the state constitutional convention issue was practically assured and for the first time in years there was no struggle over this question. Slavery was begin- ning to cast its shadow over the Territory and presented the only real issue before the people. But the determined and effec- tive efforts of the Democrats had succeeded largely in obscur- ing or at least waiving that issue. It was not a clear-cut party campaign. Both the candidates for delegate were Democrats, which was expressive of the discord and division in Demo- cratic ranks. The opposition was inchoate and unorganized. In the absence of a candidate to support and issues to defend, Editor Dryer of The Oregonian took little interest in the con- test, which certainly bespeaks the abnormal nature of the cam- paign. Adams of The Argus, however, entered the lists for Lawson against the Salem "caucus sovereignty" platform. 4 The rather chaotic nature of the situation may be indicated by not- ing the different kinds of county tickets which were supported. Washington county had the only avowed Know Nothing ticket in the field, 5 and it was successful over the Democratic. Mult- i Oregonian editorial on "State Constitution," April 4. 2"The Democratic party is not a pro-slavery party, but contends that slave holders have equal rights in the Territories with their Northern brethren and wishes to maintain them in peaceable enjoyment of those rights." From Lane County convention proceedings in Statesman, April 14. 3lbid. 4"We hear of some who refuse to vote for either candidate. We think this is foolish very. There are many good reasons why every freeman who has a soul ought to vote at this election." Argus, May 23. 5 Supra, page 68.