Open main menu

Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/153

This page needs to be proofread.

POLITICAL PARTIES IN OREGON 145 tion that now constitutes the politics of the Nation." Feeling became intense. At this distance it may seem almost inconceiv- able that there was any basis for such agitation ; that there was any danger of Oregon's becoming a slave state. Whatever may be the mature conclusions on this point after the lapse of a half century, the fact remains that there was apparently very serious danger at the time. Indeed it has been recently stated by a careful writer who was a participant in Oregon politics in 1857, that the people of Oregon were then in far more danger of the introduction of slavery among them than the people of Kansas were at any time. 1 The state of blind subservience of the masses of Democracy to their leaders has been dwelt upon. This fact was ominous to free state advocates, for while few of the Democratic leaders had thus far come out aggres- sively for slavery, the sympathies of several of them were well known. Lane had shown himself a Southern sympathizer and a pro-slavery man, and his influence upon the rank and file, who felt, in a vague way, that "the king can do no wrong," was sinister. The Statesman had taken no definite position. But it had been free to abuse and berate free state agitators, and this was far from reassuring. Newspapers were started for the advocacy of slavery. The adaptability of the institution to Ore- gon was freely argued. The National Administration had com- mitted itself to the slavery propaganda and its attitude toward federal office holders and politicians made them at least very charitable in their attitude toward the sacred institution of the South. And finally, the Dred Scott decision had rendered that institution national had invested it with the sanction of the final and most sacred tribunal of the Nation. These are some of the general considerations which, appar- ently at least, rendered slavery an actual menace to Oregon. To arrive at a closer understanding of the real situation during this period of the situation as it actually appeared to the people then, not as it appears now in perspective it will be necessary to notice the opinions, the impressions, the apprehensions of the iT. W. Davenport, in Oregon Historical Quarterly for September, 1908, p. 226.