Open main menu

Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/238

This page needs to be proofread.


230 *W. C. WOODWARD Republican organization which had been started aggressively in 1856, had not been followed up. The Free State Repub- lican convention had been held early in 1857, at which time the principles of the new party had been promulgated, but no Territorial ticket had been nominated and practically no effort had been made to maintain a distinct party organization in the campaign. Dryer's attitude of semi-hostility toward the nascent party had been influential in preventing many Whigs from joining it and it still felt its weakness in numbers. The threats of the Democrats to introduce slavery if the Black Republicans should attempt to abolitionize Oregon led the timid to be conservative as to the expediency of aggres- sive efforts. With some Republicans, the advocacy of nobly conceived principles was the ruling motive. With others, the controlling ambition was to overthrow the Democratic ma- chine in Oregon. The latter saw their opportunity in 1858 and were in favor of going to the assistance of the National Democrats and of further postponing active Republican or- ganization. These conditions are illustrated in the press and in the proceedings of conventions in the spring of 1858. In a leader, "What Has Been and What Is to Be," Adams called attention to the surprisingly large vote against slavery in November, 1857, and attributed it to fearless agitation of the subject. 1 And this, despite the warning of the Democrats, which "so intimidated many weak-backed Republicans that they fairly quailed before the imaginary danger of 'agitation' and some of them strongly recommended us to let the Albany convention go by default, even after the call had been pub- lished throughout the Territory." Adams accordingly exhort- ed Republicans to declare themselves boldly, asserting that there was but one great issue before the peopleĀ ; that "there is a bigger fight on hand than the present squabble between Leland 2 and Bush." He clearly manifested his anxiety to prevent Republicans allying- themselves with the Nationals, whose principles he declared in the main to be "equally black, i Argus, Dec. 19, 1857. sRditor of the Democratic Standard, the organ of the "soft" or National Democrats. He was succeeded about this time by James O'Meara.