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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/92

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84 W. C. WOODWARD From certain points of view, the absolute dominance of Democracy in Territorial Oregon is little short of amazing. It is true that Oregon looked upon such illustrious Democrats as Jefferson, Benton, Linn and Polk as having been the true friends of the great Northwest. The long hoped for territorial organization had come at the hands of a Democratic admin- istration. But the fact remained that National Democracy was unalterably opposed in theory and practice to the one great principle, to the support of which Oregon was necessarily com- mitted. And that was the principle of internal improvements by the Federal government. The new and distant Territory was practically dependent upon national aid for the further- ance of various projects which were linked inseparably with her development. Standing out above all of these, the de- mand for a Pacific railroad furnishes an excellent example. There was unanimity in the demand. With fatuous incon- sistency Oregon Democrats declared it to be the duty of the General Government to support the great project, using all means "not inconsistent with the Constitution." 1 Dryer very pertinently asked how men could oppose that which they were in favor of and support that which they opposed and be con- sistent and honest. 2 But the dilemma offered no appreciable difficulties to Oregon Democrats. They continued to swell the majorities of the party whose great distinguishing mark from the Whigs was its opposition to the policy which its Oregon members demanded. A more striking illustration could scarce- ly be found in all American politics of obdurate adherence to, and the blind infatuation of, party allegiance. In the first place, the majority of the people of Oregon had come from those western strongholds of the new, aggressive Democracy, embodied by Jackson, and when party alignment was made in Oregon this fact was emphasized. To these westerners, Democracy was one and the same, whether found in Missouri, Illinois or Oregon. And in the days when a i Report of Democratic Territorial Convention in Statesman, April 21, 1857. 2Oregonian, October 7, 1854.