Open main menu

Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/359

This page needs to be proofread.

AN ECHO OF THE CAMPAIGN OF SIXTY &y Lester Burrell Shippee When, in July of 1861, the first and special session of the Thirty-seventh Congress assembled, pursuant to the call of President Lincoln, an eddy in the tumultuous current of na- tional affairs formed about a contested seat in the lower House. Altho this episode was one of the minor incidents of that exciting period, the ripple in Washington, D. C, marked a raging whirlpool in political events on the Pacific Coast, and gave rise to an interesting constitutional question for the National House of Representatives to solve. When the name of the Honorable A. J. Thayer was called, 1 as the Representative of Oregon, John A. McClernand, of Illinois stated that the name of Mr. Thayer had been improp- erly inserted in the roll, and that the name of the Honorable Geo. K. Sheil ought to be in its place. It appeared that Mr. Thayer had been elected in November of 1860, and that Mr. Sheil had been chosen in June of the same year ; moreover, each appeared to be armed with a proper certificate. A resolution, denying to each of the contestants the right to the seat until the matter should have been passed on by the Committee on Elections, about to be appointed, was tabled and Mr. Thayer was seated. The story, or at least the chapter immediately concerning the, issue, has its location in Oregon, partly, and, in addition, is closely bound up with pregnant Presidential campaign of the year '60. Local politics and bossism, national aspira- tions and secessionism were elements of the situation that lay before the House for decision. In the young Commonwealth across the Rockies, party politics had been one of the first prod- ucts of the fertile soil of the Willamette Valley. In fact, the political game as played here reminds one strongly of the bit- ter strife that marked the campaigns east of the Alleghanies i Cong. Globe, ist. Sess., 37th. Cong., 9-10.