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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/52

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44 W. C. WOODWARD today." 1 Thus was the troublesome question opened up which was soon to stir the whole Territory in most bitter partisan strife. The issue was squarely joined with the meeting of the legis- lature the first of December, 1851. The Democratic members, greatly in the majority, 2 gathered at Salem in accordance with the provision of the location bill. The Whig minority held the latter to be void and four members of the house and one of the council met at Oregon City. Party alignment was defi- nitely made on the issue. The supreme court became involved in the political controversy. The act of Congress organizing the Territory required the court to hold annual sessions at the capital. The time for the session arrived and the two Whig judges, Wm. Strong and Thos. Nelson, constituting a quorum, met at Oregon City; the Democratic judge, O. C. Pratt, who had been appointed by President Polk, at Salem. This fact greatly emphasized the partisan nature of the contest. Bush and the Democratic leaders had played their game cleverly. They had made an issue between the elected representatives of the people on one hand and the disliked, appointed officials on the other. Always quick to resent outside interference in their affairs, the majority of the people rallied to the support of the legislature at Salem which had organized and proceeded with business. The controversy became violent and was by no means allayed at the adjournment of the legislature or even by the act of the next session of Congress which confirmed the location bill and legalized the Salem session of the legis- lature. 3 The capital fight became if possible increasingly bit- ter and more far-reaching in its influences. And the strife seemed to be as heated in naturally neutral localities as in those directly interested, owing to the presence and activity of zeal- ous politicians. 4 i Statesman, September 16, 1851. zlbid., July 4, 1851. 3Statesman, June 29, 1852. 4Personal conversation with Hon. J. C. Nelson on situation in Yamhill County.