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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/160

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152 W. C. WOODWARD Democrats of more or less prominence, doubtless felt as he did upon the subject, he was the only Democrat of standing in the Territory 1 who jeopardized political ambitions by entering the contest on the side of "nigger-worshippers, Union-hating abolitionists and dis-union black Republicans." But Judge Williams differed from the latter in that he ignored the moral issue altogether, attacking the question entirely from its prac- tical, financial aspect. It was from arguments presented from this viewpoint that slavery sentiment was growing and the Judge recognized that nothing but a complete refutation of these arguments would be effective in turning the tide. 2 "What was needed at this juncture was just what happened an earn- est, thoughtful communication from one who could not be ac- cused of having any designs on the unity and harmony of the Democratic party." 3 To review very briefly the Free State Letter the writer, in a concise, historical introduction showed that before the slave question was dragged into the political arena, the judgment of all parts of the country was against the advantages of slavery ; that even in those districts whose climate and agricultural re- sources specially favored the institution, its ultimate benefits were doubtful. How much less expedient then would be its introduction in Oregon, whose conditions could easily be shown to be anything but favorable to a system of slave labor. In the first place, there is no ambition, no enterprise, no energy in such labor. One white man is worth more than two Negro slaves slave labor is "demonstrably the dearest of any." 4 Second, Negro slaves other than house servants would be per- fect leeches upon the farmers during the long, rainy winters. lAddress before the Legislative Assembly of Oregon, delivered February 14, 1899. Quoted in Oregon Historical Quarterly for September, 1908, p. 232. aPersonal conversation with Judge Williams, July 28, 1909, in effect as fol- lows: The letter has been criticized as written on too low a plane. I knew what I was doing. It was the only argument I could make to the people I wanted to influence. I had my own views as to the morals of the question, having always been an opponent of slavery, but generally speaking the morals of slavery were not called in question by the people. To have hinted that side of the ques- tion would have roused opposition to me as a "d d abolitionist" and Black Republican and my letter would have gone for naught. 3Davenport, in Oregon Historical Quarterly for September, 1908, p. 236. 4john Randolph.