Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/64

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CHAPTER IV

THE PERIOD OF ANTI-DEMOCRATIC ORGANIZATION

In the decisive Democratic victory of 1853 the Whigs finally read their lesson. They realized that party organization was inevitable. The Oregonian, with all the force of Dryer's vitriolic pen, attacked partyism right up to the end of the campaign. In the very next issue following the election, the versatile editor championed the cause of Whig organization and outlined a radical party platform.[1] He declared that the Durham Democrats had succeeded in duping the masses with the shibboleth of "Democracy," forcing those who were honest in their political opinions to take issue with them. "Therefore it becomes us, however much we may doubt that the good of the whole people demands a partisan course, under present circumstances to throw to the breeze the Whig banner." Here was the conception of the Oregon Whig party, "born as one out of due season." It was a posthumous child and was never to arrive at healthy maturity.[2]

The platform outlined by the Oregonian was clear-cut and comprehensive. As regards local conditions, it announced uncompromising opposition to the consolidation of power in the hands of a few political office hunters. It declared for legislation for the benefit of the people rather than of faction; for strict accountability of public officers; free lands for bona fide settlers; free speech and a free press, unawed by the threats of party demagogues; a system of naturalization by which every foreigner should be placed upon an equal footing with those in the Atlantic States. Nationally, the planks of the tentative platform were: A safe, speedy and economical

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  1. Oregonian, June 18, 1853.
  2. "The Sewer man (Dryer) is in favor of organizing the Whig party. Greeley of the New York Tribune says that the Whig party is dead in the states. But, like all animals of the reptile order, it dies in the extremities last; and him of the Sewer (the Oregonian) is the last agonizing knot of the tail." Statesman, July 4, 1853.