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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/74

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66 W. C. WOODWARD But Bush and the Durhamites were not yet content. With the opening of the legislature a legislative coup was sprung which was to complete the work begun by the sensational ex- posure. With but eight members of the opposition in the As- sembly, the Durham leaders, accustomed to almost implicit obedience, felt able to force through any measure which the political exigency demanded. The famous Viva Voce ballot law was drawn up and presented for enactment. It provided that thereafter the votes at all general elections should be given viva voce, or by ticket handed to the judges, in both cases to be cried in an audible voice in the presence and hear- ing of the voters. The management of the bill was entrusted to Delazon Smith, a future storm center in Oregon politics. Smith was absolutely candid as to the purpose of the measure. 1 By the exercise of such a censorship over the voters of Ore- gon, the Know Nothing movement, which he attacked with venom, was to be killed. With sublime effrontery he argued that the passage of the bill would mean a loss of six to eight hundred votes to the Whigs, whom the Democrats accused of being in alliance with the Know Nothings. In commenting upon the favorable action taken by the lower house, Bush was equally frankĀ : "We hope next week to be able to congratulate the country, the friends of Daylight Deeds, upon the passage of this bill (this Know Nothing antidote) through the upper branch of the assembly." The hope was realized, but not before a fierce struggle. The display of such high-handed arrogance was too much even for a number of the Democratic members. Both the speaker of the house and the president of the council had the temerity to oppose the bill. The vote was 5 to 3 in the council, one Whig being absent, and 14 to 12 in the house. 2 The defense of the Viva Voce law, which the Statesman felt it necessary to make in the weeks which followed, suggests the storm of opposition it aroused. Volatile Dryer of the Ore- gonian became almost hysterical. "Do these political Ishmael- i Statesman, December 19, 1854. 2Oregonian, December 30. Statesman, December 19 and December 26.