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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/170

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162 W. C. WOODWARD

were recognized by the Supreme Court. Thus, despite the efforts of the leaders to keep the issue down, the coming break in the Oregon Democracy on the slavery question was fore- casted in this debate. In view of his dominant position in Oregon politics, the stand taken by Bush on the Dred Scott decision is important. In a long editorial "The Power of a State over Slave Prop- erty" appearing in the Statesman, December 8, he defended the doctrine of popular sovereignty. Opinions handed down in the decision were quoted to the effect that each state had the power to decide the question for itself. Whereupon Bush adds : "Nor is there any difference in this particular, between the power of the people moving in the formation of a state govern- ment, and the power of those already organized as a state. It is the very gist of the Kansas-Nebraska principle that the people are called upon when they form a state gov- ernment, to act upon the subject of slavery." He then pro- ceeded to attack, on one hand, the abolitionists, who were de- termined to interfere with the rights of those owning slaves ; who contended that the Constitution did not recognize slavery and therefore it could not lawfully exist within the Union. But, more important, on the other hand Bush said : "There is another class who declare that the Constitution does recognize property in slaves and that whatever is recognized by the Con- stitution is constitutional and national. Therefore slavery is constitutional and national." To refute this, the Scott decision is quoted to show that the Constitution recognizes and protects as property within the states whatever the state laws determine to be property. Thus Bush interpreted the Dred Scott decision to harmonize with the doctrine of popular sovereignty. But it is noticeable that his discussion was limited to the immediate conditions in Oregon i.e., to the situation presented in approaching state- hood. As to the place, under the Dred Scott decision, of his favorite doctrine of popular sovereignty in the Territories themselves, he said nothing.