Open main menu

Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/46

This page needs to be proofread.


38 *W. C. WOODWARD how clever politicians, working upon the popular prejudice, used such a condition to force political organization. At the session of the territorial legislature which met at Oregon City December 2nd, 1850, that apple of discord in Oregon politics the capital location question made its ap- pearance. The two contestants were Oregon City and Salem. The latter had the advantage of location and naturally, also, the support of the Mission element which had already made Salem its center. The location bill, giving Salem the capital, Portland the penitentiary and Corvallis the university, passed both houses by a total vote of 16 to II. 1 While the bill was before the legislature, Gov. Gaines sent in a special message criticizing it. He showed that inasmuch as it contained more than one provision it was in violation of that section of the act of Congress organizing the territory which provided that a law must embrace but one object and that object expressed in its title. Unsolicited advice was also given in regard to the manner of expending appropriations. This gratuitous in- terference with the legislative part of the government was bitterly resented by those legislators who were naturally sus- picious of executive authority. Their sense of freedom in self-government was outraged. Their dislike of the man, as well as the dislike of his politics by the majority of the mem- bers, 2 added to the dissatisfaction. In a defiant mood the bill was passed without the changes suggested. The Whig gover- nor was thus associated with the Oregon City side of the con- tention his Democratic opponents with that of Salem. The line of cleavage had been found. On March 28th, following the adjournment of the legislature in February, appeared the first number of the Oregon States- man. Through its editor, Asahel Bush, cold, calculating, re- lentless, it was to dominate Oregon politics for a decade, mak- ing and breaking politicians at will. It announced that in politics it would be Democratic and pledged its efforts in be- i Bancroft, Vol. II., p. 146. aOregon Statesman, March 26, 1851.