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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/168

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160 W. C. WOODWARD to test the validity of the fugitive slave law." 1 Dryer, as far as reported, offered the only contradiction to the statement that slavery existed in Oregon and that was apparently made from the legal standpoint that slavery did not and could not exist because the organic act prohibited it. 2 In reply to him Allen said: "It has been proved upon this floor that slavery does exist in the Territory in several counties. There are some in Benton, Lane, Polk, Yamhill and I know not how many other counties. That matter was fairly proved on this floor on a former occasion and I do not deem it necessary to bring any further proof than the veracity of honorable gentlemen who are representative of their constituents here." 3 In its report of the legislative proceedings the Statesman naturally did not devote as much space to this debate as did the Oregonian. The Allen resolution, involving the interpre- tation of the Dred Scott decision, was the entering wedge by which Oregon Democracy was to be split asunder, and its sig- nificance was pretty fully recognized at the time. 4 Indeed Allen, a "soft" Democrat, was promptly accused by the "hards" of having introduced his resolution merely to create discord in the ranks of Democracy, as he knew there was a difference of opinion among the machine or "hard" Democrats upon the subject. The attitude of the pro-slavery men was well shown in re- marks of Mack, of Lane, a "hard." He expressed surprise at the courage of the member from Yamhill in offering such a resolution at that period of Oregon affairs, 5 but announced that he would vote for it. "We have, under the Constitution as much right to hold our property slaves and have them pro- tected as we have to hold our cattle and have them protected." He admitted, with an injured air, that he did not expect the i Proceedings in Statesman, December 22. ^Proceedings, Oregonian, January 30. 3lbid. 4Dryer, in editorial correspondence to the Oregonian, January 23, 1858: "The Negro bill has kicked up quite a stir among the harmonious Democracy. The pro-slavery wing accuse the free state Democrats of having joined the Black Re- publicans." sThe resolution was introduced in December, following the decisive popular vote against slavery in November.