Open main menu

Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/93

This page needs to be proofread.


POLITICAL PARTIES IN OREGON 85 man's politics were largely hereditary it is not so strange that the old allegiance was maintained, especially when all the local circumstances are taken into consideration. The fact that it was the majority party further strengthened the Oregon Dem- ocracy. The desire to be on the winning side with a chance in the distribution of the loaves and fishes, caused not a few to "pick up their Democracy on the way over the Rockies." Having a good working majority to begin with, the shrewd Democratic leaders were able by various means, some of which have been indicated, to maintain it. The extreme partisanship of the Democrats made them the more easily manageable. They could be handled more effectively in party organization than could the Whigs, who were more impatient of control. 1 A clarion call for loyalty to the eternal and glorious principles of Democracy was sufficient to obscure real issues and rally the faithful against the "minions of Whiggery." First and last, "Democracy" was the paramount issue. This attitude is illustrated by the declaration of a delegate in a Democratic convention, enthusiastically received by those assembled : "The paramount duty of Democrats now is to stick together, for I never expect to see anything good come outside of the Demo- cratic party." 2 In the last resort, one is forced to return to the conclusion that the controlling force in the situation was found in the coercive influence of the Oregon Statesman and in the person- ality of its editor, Asahel Bush. The paper and the man were supplementary to each other. The result was a political power well-nigh irresistible. As the official Democratic organ of the Territory, the Statesman had a natural prestige to begin with. Its circulation was much greater than that of the Ore- gonian and Argus, which were taken largely by the same peo- ple. It went into the great majority of the Democratic homes of Oregon. And into these homes there rarely came an op- posing paper to challenge its authority, as it was counted almost i Personal conversation with Judge Williams. 2Cited by T. W. Davenport in Oregon Historical Quarterly for September, 1908, p. 229.