The Oregon statesman. (Salem, Or.) 1916-1980, March 28, 1931, Page 42, Image 42

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    Page Eight
80th Anniversary EbmoNrrTHE1 Oregon Statesman'
State J Constitutional jConvention in Session a'Month at Old Courthouse Here;
Prior to Convention Statehood Plan Thrice Rejected by People Peady President
, ...
By Charles H. Carey ?
President Oregon Historical Society
AT the old county court bouse in Salem, between August
17 and September 18,"l857i sat the great convention ihat
framed .Oregon's state constitution. We have had some ex
citing political battles in Oregon, but it may j be safely said
that no issue of politics that ever was raised here excited
more bitter debate, or excited! such general interest,. as did
the question of statehood or no statehood, a question that
was continually before the people in one "form or another
throughout, the entire period from 1848, when the. territory
was organized, until statehood was achieved,: February, 14,
1859. The Territorial legislature O
met annually, as provided by the
Organic Act adopted by Congress;
and at every session, the question
came up, generally, when urged by
the democrats. Three times the
statehood bill passed the Legisla
ture and was submitted to vote of
the people, and three times it was
voted down by a narrow margin.
But, finally, by a remarkable re
versal of the opinion of those op
posed, the plan to have a constitu
tion and a state was carried by a
great majority.
How this change of heart was
brought about will be explained be
low. The vote was taken on the
first Monday of June, 1857, the
final count showing 7617 in favor
of holding a Convention to adopt a
Constitution, as against 1679 op
posed, or a majority of 5938 in
favor. Delegates to the Conven
tion were elected at this election.
7195 Ayes, 3215 Nays
On Ratification Issue
Although the Convention was
spirited in debate at times, it was
conducted with decorum, and the
work was done with scrupulous
fidelity, as well as with remark
able success. The Constitution thus
framed was approved by popular
rote at a special: election, held No
vember 9, 1857, the vote being
7195 for, as against 3215 op
posed, showing an affirmative
majority of .",980. Congress cre
ated the- state under this Consti
tution and the bill was signed by
President Buchanan, February
14. 18 5'!). a date that marks Ore
gon's admission into the Union.
For forty-five years this Con
stitution remained in force without
change or amendment. ,In fact, it
was not until the adoption of the
Initiative and Referendum Amend
ment of 1902, that the habit of
amending was acquired. Since that,
over one hundred amendments
have been voted upon by the voters,
and approximately one-half of
these have been adopted.
ine convention itseix was re
markable' for the ability of its dele
gates. It sat at a period when
every man was interested in pol
a -
uics, ana was weu lniormea on
the principles of representative
government. Most of the delegates
would have been recognized as
leaders in any assembly of able
mien, and many of them were af
terward called upon by . their fel
low citizens for service under the
new. government. The debates of
the Convention were notable for
the ability and breadth of the ar
gument, 'and some of the speeches
were masterpieces of forensic ora
Representative men
Took Part in Conclave
Among the most conspicuous of
the members there may be men
tioned Judge Matthew P. Deady,
who served as president of the Con.
vention, and who presided with dig
nity and fairness. At $he close of
the labors of the body, he made a
brief speech in support of the
Constitution as drafted. At times,
during the sessions, he vacated the
chair and participated in the de
bates. Others who took active part
in the debates included Cyrus Ol-
ney, of Clatsop County, E. D. Shat
tuck, ' of Washington County,
Thomas J. Dryer, of Multnomah
County, J. K. Kelly and A. L. Love-
joy, of Clackamas County, J. R.
McBnde, of Yamhill County, Reu
ben P. Boise, of Polk County, John
H. Reed and P. P. Prim, of Jack
son County, Jesse Applegate, of
Umpqua County, Stephen F. Chad
wick, of Douglas County, Delazon
Smith, of Linn County, L. F. G ro
ver and George H. Williams, of
Marion County. These and many
others served on important committees.
The Convention consisted of six
ty delegates, two-thirds of whom
were democrats, the remainder be
ing whigs and free state republi
cans. It was promptly oreanized.
Statesman Old, Bat Wide Awake
. ' ' hi I By C. H. Brock hagen .
publisher. The Portland Telegram
"TF it is 'by reason of strength' that a man attains
A the age1 of fourscore years It is no less evidence of
exceptional Vitality when that composite personality
which we call a newspaper successfully endures the'
vicissitudes pf a long lifetime, renewing its strength
and maintaining always the spirit and ambitious pur
pose of indomitable youth.
j "Such im unworn veteran is The Statesman,
which is one of the oldest newspapers in Oregon. In its
unprejudiced reporting of current events and its well
. considered pmment upon them, The 1 Statesman has
justified its fcame as it has helped to make as well as
to relate the'history of its period a period coinciding
very nearlyjwith the lifetime of the state.
I "On its 80th birthday, The Statesman is to be con
gratulated'on its worthy record of public service and
its rich inheritance of honorable tradition, but age, in
itself,- meanil little in the active life of a daily news
paper. The Statesman is fortunate that its 80
years has grounded it deep in the respect and regard
of Oregon. but it is more fortunate in its conception of
the past a$fnothing more than a stout foundation, oh
which to buijd the future. :
"The Statesman assumes ho prosy pose of ven-
erable age.vt aspires to be no chimney corner oracle, ,
but takes its' place briskly in the busy procession of to
day, pushing forward with a lively step rejoicing as
a strong man to run a race.
l"As editor and publisher of The Portland Tele
gram, whichi ir its 64th year ranks among the elder
papers of the state, I speak for myself and for all the
members of pie Telegram family when I wish The
Statesman rfiany happy returns of this anniversary,
counting off- years of growing influence and useful
ness and of! increasing prosperity for- this pioneer
newspaper and the community it serves."
l! - i . I' :r yf:.--X i ::hM I
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' '"""1 ' -" '; ''" ' V;V': ':- ' ' ' - j
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and the usual standing "cofnmittees
were appointed: By common -consent
the burning, question "of slav
ery was avoided,. happy; expedient
being found in a; plan for. submit
ting to - popular- vote in separate
schedules that issue, and also ' the
kindred question of permitting free
colored people to- -reside in the
state. -The debates developed considerable-
difference of. opinion on
many subjects, but most . of ,the
real work, as usual in such assem
blies, was done by the committees,
and finally jn the last few lays'of
the session, the instrument took
shape s with speed and general ap
proval. Statesman was Po werf ul
Influence in Conclave. v
, The '.Oregon Statesman at that
period was the most influential of
the newspapers published in the
Territory, with the possible excep
tion -of the -Weekly Oregonian: The
first - mentioned, under" the c vigor
ous and able editorship of.Asahel
Bush, led the democrats, while. the
Oregonian, with Thomas J.? Dryer
as editor, was at that time a whig
journal, although soon . after . the I
organization of the Republican par-1
ty it espoused . the new party's I
policies and candidates. Both of I
these papers had reports of the
day tt day proceedings. Dryer,
himself a delegate, had engaged
Patrick Malone, an able reporter
from San Francisco. Mr. Bush was
not a 1 delegate, but attended the j
sessions in person, and there is a I
tradition that he also used the ser- f
vices of a young lawyer named W. I
W. Paee. afterward a nrominent I
judge. The reports in. these two Bome were derived from slavery,- including a large part of
papers were full and comprehen- constitutions of Iora, Maine, Mass- the democrats as well as the whigs,
sive, and without them'the details cl8ett. Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, became' apprehensive lest the Bu
of the daily debates and 'proceed- Connecticut, Wisconsin and Texas, chanan administration at Wash
ings would have been lost. For The jcUry article was original ington, backed by Congress, would
although an official journal was wxm ine ix)nvenuen. force slavery on Oregon, and they
accurately kept, this was a formal Mention has been made of the feared that the local courts and
report, and merely gave a skeleton sudden change of (sentiment among Iaws would be ineffective to pre-
of the essential transactions.. The the voters of Oreefen Territorv that VCTlt tne flooding of the Territory
Convention, did, : indeed," consider resulted in a strong vote for state- Wltn slaves The remedy, the only
the advisability of having a short- hood, j notwithstanding repeated remedJr seemed to lie in the prompt
hand reporter to take down the I previous reiectionaf. Perhan noth. noting for statehood, and the pro-
debates, but gave it up on account ling shows more clearly the import- J nibiton of slavery by popular vote.
a. . 1 . I ... . ? . . Ttin.. 1 A. - 1 1-
01 cosi,. as matters siana, . me i ance oi the slavery question in the I fi'wu iu slavery Deuevea
State owes to the enterprise and minds of the voters of 1857. The tnat the maJority of the voters
diligence of Mr. Bush and r Mr. change was in rrtgat measure due I would vote for such prohibition, but
Dryer the valuable detailed record to a decision of the United Stato they feared that if action were lone
published in their newspapers, a Supreme Court lnthi Dred Rrntt delayed the influx of immigrants
great feat considering the time and case, which overthrew the so-called ft"om slave 'holding states might
circumstances. Missouri Compromise, by which Verse the situation and fasten
Sources of Constitution Congress bad fctteppted to estab- fty' on the tate.- The immed-
From Other States Ii,n Permanent lne between free tefas therefore favored by
The original constitution was de- "d slave territory. the anti-slavery element that had
rived in great part from the In- The decision indirectly affected oppsed statehood in the earlier
diana Constitution of 1851,, but such a Territory as Oregon, and by e,ectionsv
implication changed what was lo- xae -nvention hall heard very .
cally believed to b its fundamental little about prohibition of slavery,
Uw on the subjecf of slavery. In but it resounded with oratory on
brief, the situation may be thus every other political subject. Cor-
described: While Oregon was north porations were attecked, the state
of the Missouri ompromise line, university was opposed, and a num
and, moreover, wile Congress in ber of anti-Jiquor petitions were
creating, the Territory had con- presented. One delegate, hailing
firmed tht. laws that the Provision- from Wasco County, wanted the
al Government had-taken over from part of the Territory lying east of
Iowa, including th prohibition of the Cascader left out of the State,
slavery as set ou in these laws, and another delegate from Coos
all this was now t count as rioth- County proposed the right of
Inz. Congress had no power to secession by the southern counties,
pass such laws, an hereafter when in case t new state should be
states are erected y popular vote, carved out of these arid some coun- '
the people will havjp the sole power ties in northern California. On
to decide whether tje new state will the whole, however, the Convention
be slave or free. This overruled, in was disinclined to wander into by
effect, earlier decidons of the Ore- paths, and it kept to the middle of
gon Supreme Courf, which had ex- the road. The Constitution it
pressly decided that the institution created was a model for a small
of slavery waa illegal in that Ter- rural state in the far west. bSng
j o ' especiaUy restricted as to expense,
Dred Scott Cas Force 1 and making legislative sessions bi-
rLfHZSi i : v ennial lMUad oS under'
The Dred Scott decision became tfc T..i j
th. .ubjec. .f h..&d politicl dU- the S!rm jJde. t aTViI
-Coprrirtt .rtMy -.i st.dio, cussion everywhere throughout the duty, and the County Judges' to act
uv n aj
tion more impoi
Oregon region. ..
SALEM TOOK JPRIDR IW ITS FIRR TEAMS. Btin.DISO AT LEFT. S. W CORVPR (yyuti.M'.,. .v Union, but noWi V, . ' -UK to ac
?ld FIRST national BANK. BUiLDiNo in rear, jttatr Nsnitl Itinn .T. 77 . . . I '-oanty commissioners. Econ
AS. .1 . a
we omy was the watchword. But f f i.
use opposed to 'citMy wal by rp means neglected.