Open main menu

Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/94

This page needs to be proofread.

86 W. C. WOODWARD political heresy to give countenance to a journal of an an- tagonistic party. 1 In the days when reading material was limited, especially in isolated Oregon, the family newspaper was depended upon as the source of general enlightenment, entertainment and instruction. More or less unconsciously its readers assumed for it the standard of infallibility. This fact rendered its political dictums unquestioned and its political authority well-nigh absolute. By befogging the real issues, by denouncing the opposition, by threatening and abusing the recalcitrant, by encouraging the reliable by fulsome praise and with hopes of reward and last by a constant and adroit use of the talisman, "Democracy," the Statesman exerted a degree of political authority which at the present time can scarcely be appreciated. But while it was through the medium of the Statesman that the exercise of so great power was possible, the latter is not fully accounted for until the personality of Bush, which has already been suggested, is taken into consideration. In speak- ing of the autocratic editor, a keen, accurate observer of the political situation of that period says his talent for control was of a high order, as suited to his party and the time. A ready and trenchant writer, with an active and vigorous tempera- ment, a taste and capacity for minute inquiry, a thorough knowledge of the inclinations and idiosyncrasies of his po- litical brethren, possessed of a vinegary sort of wit, and a humor bitter or sweet according to destination, he was the most influential and feared of any man in the Territory. 2 Benevolent despotism in Oregon politics could hardly have been achieved with a mediocre man as editor of the Statesman. But given the latter, managed by a man whose dominant per- sonality, whose constructive and organizing ability were such as to be today the subject of both wonder and admiration, the Democratic regime in Oregon was made possible. i Conversation with Judge Williams and Geo. H. Himes. zDavenport, p. 244.