Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/44

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W. C. Woodward

ditions were reshaping themselves in preparation for new and national alignments. First to emerge in organization from this political interregnum was the Oregon Democratic party.

Elected in a close campaign for which Oregon had furnished the slogan, President Polk was anxious that the new Territory should be organized during his term of office. To this end he urged his appointee for governor, General Joseph Lane of Indiana, to make all haste on his long journey in order to assume control before March 4, 1849. Arriving at Oregon City March 2nd, on the following day he issued a proclamation extending the laws of the United States over the Territory of Oregon.[1] Oregon was thus started on her territorial career under the auspices of the Democratic party and by a man whose future was to be linked inseparably with that of the new territory. The history of the next decade was to show how thoroughly fitting and significant was such a beginning.

One of the first matters of importance incident to the new relationship which Oregon had assumed was the election of a delegate to Congress. In this election no national party lines were drawn. The factors governing it were found in the old local conditions, affected by the new territorial government. What the attitude of the Government would be toward recognizing property rights of the British interests as represented by the Hudson's Bay Company, was the vital question. The American settlers were quick to suspect the latter of designs on large parts of the domain north of the Columbia and were as quick to resent them. This attitude furnished the issue of the campaign. It resulted in the election, June 6, 1849, of Samuel R. Thurston, the most vigorous opponent of the foreign interests, among the five candidates, and supported by the Mission party. Though recognized as a strong Democrat, as were some of his competitors, it was as a partisan in local affairs that he made his campaign for election.[2] The policy

  1. Joseph Lane, "Autobiography," Ms., pp. 4, 5.
  2. Mrs. W. H. Odell, "Autobiography of Thurston.," Ms, pp. 4, 5.