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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/86

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78 W. C. WOODWARD man as a nucleus, Salem at once became the recognized head- quarters and rendezvous of a little coterie of Democratic politicians which held Oregon in the palm of its hand. The popular, or often unpopular, designation of this junto was the "Salem Clique", or Cli-que, as called by an illiterate though pugnacious rural politician. In 1855 Judge Pratt aspired to succeed General Lane as Oregon's delegate to Congress, and made an active campaign for the nomination. A sharp struggle ensued, short, but very decisive. Behind Lane were the Salem Clique and the popular adulation; behind Pratt, a few non-machine Democrats and the Standard. The rivalry became bitter, the Standard oppos- ing Lane and the Statesman attacking Pratt with malevolence, and all to the edification of the Whigs. In the convention Lane received 53 votes, Pratt but 6. 1 The Durham leader had been effectually dethroned. The supremacy of Lane with the people was signally manifested. But behind it all was Bush, absolutely master of the situation. Lane, with the bonhomie the smooth- tongued and affable stood before the people as the successful, idolized leader. But the real dictator of the Oregon Democ- racy was the man behind the Statesman wary, inflexible, ruthless. From this time the sobriquet, "Durhamites", as de- noting the Democratic ring, gave way to that of "Salem Clique" or merely "the Clique." A complete story of the capricious, arrogant rule in Oregon under the regime of the Salem Clique would form one of the most picturesque chapters in the political history of the West. A few instances will suffice to indicate the nature of that re- gime. Governor Davis was made plainly to feel by his captious fellow Democrats, soon after his arrival in Oregon, that he was persona non grata. There was no cordiality between them. He was made the butt of ridicule by certain of the Clique noted for coarse wit and sharp tongue. 2 Though a life-long Demo- i"Pratt's sun of Austerlitz has gone down amid the gloom of Waterloo No man was ever let down so fast." Nesmith to Deady, April, 1855. ^Conversation with Hon. Geo. H. Williams.