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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/161

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POLITICAL PARTIES IN OREGON 153 Third, the risk and expense in transporting slaves to distant Oregon, and the ease of escape in the sparsely settled, wooded and mountainous country, would render investment in slave property altogether too hazardous. Fourth, the escaped Ne- groes would find refuge and consort with Oregon's Indian enemies and become an added menace to the people. Fifth, slavery can no more stand as a paying institution with one- half of public sentiment arrayed against it than a house can stand with one corner stone. Sixth, introduce slavery, and free white labor will become degraded, if not impossible to secure alto- gether. To mix slave labor and free labor aggravates the evils of each and subtracts from the benefits of each. Finally, can Oregon afford to throw away the friendship of the North the overruling power of the nation for the sake of slavery ? These and other points were supported by such close, logical reasoning, and backed up by an array of facts and figures which made them irrefutable and convincing. The effects of the letter were soon evident. First, in the changed attitude manifested toward Judge Williams by his party. 1 In his own words, his hopes for the United States senatorship, 2 "vanished like the pictures of a morning dream. I was unsound on the slavery question." 3 But the influence of the letter upon public opinion was soon manifest throughout the Territory. Through the medium of the Statesman, it reached practically all the Democratic voters. It came bring- ing words of warning, of calm reasoning and of practical ad- vice and from a well-known fellow Democrat whose word was that of authority. His presentation of the situation was convincing. As pro-slavery sentiment had up to this time been steadily rising, from the publication of the Free State Letter on to the election in November, it seemed steadily to recede. 4 i Letter: Williams to Himes "The pro-slavery men claimed that though I pretended to be a Democrat, I was an abolitionist in disguise, and to be called an abolitionist then, especially in Oregon, was to be classed among outlaws and enemies to the peace of th country." aPersonal conversation: Had it not been for that letter I would have been one of Oregon's first senators. 3Address before the legislature, 1907. 4Davenport, "The Slavery Question in Oregon," in Oregon Historical Quar- terly for September, 1908, pp. 234, 235. "After the circulation of this address, any observing person could notice that a change was taking place; any sensitive person could feel it."