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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/67

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POLITICAL PARTIES IN OREGON 59 While Whig organization was in progress another political movement had been making headway. It was to give rise to the Maine Law party. From the very first settlement there had been a strong sentiment in Oregon in favor of the prohibi- tion of the sale of liquor. The Provisional legislature of 1844 enacted a law prohibiting the introduction of ardent spirits into Oregon, 1 the first prohibitory liquor law on the Pacific Coast. 2 The organic law as amended in the summer of 1845 gave the legislature the power to regulate the intro- duction and sale of intoxicants instead of the power to pro- hibit, and to this fact has been attributed, partly, the smallness of the majority of votes (203) cast for the amended law on July 26, 1845. 3 At the December session of the legislature a stringent prohibitory law was passed. 4 But it was generally asserted that the Hudson's Bay Company continued to import liquor for purposes of trade, while vigorous action was taken toward enforcing the law among the Americans. This caused dissatisfaction, and the result was that at the next annual ses- sion a license law was substituted, passed only over the em- phatic veto of Governor Abernethy. The passage of the prohibitory liquor law in the state of Maine in 1851 was reflected across the continent in Oregon with- in a few months. Considering the vast distances separating the coast from the East the obstructive mountain ranges, the intervening deserts or the long sea route it is a matter of surprise to note how quickly eastern movements or events be- came factors in the life and thought of Oregon in these early days. This is a good instance in point. In May, 1852, a temperance convention was held at Salem, attended by dele- gates from several counties. 5 The Convention declared for a Maine law for Oregon and a committee was appointed to con- fer with legislative candidates to get their attitude on the i Oregon Archives, p. 44. 2Thornton, "History of the Provisional Government," p. 69. 3lbid., p. 72. 4Oregon Archives, pp. 131, 132; Spectator, February 5, 1846. sStatesman, May 18, 1852.