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OHSQ Vol. 3 No.2 (Jun 1902)

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POLITICAL HISTORY OF OREGON FROM 1876 TO 1895, INCLUSIVE.

by M. C. George.

At the commencement of this period the officers of the state were: Governor, L. F. Grover; secretary of state, S. F. Chad wick; treasurer, A. H. Brown; state printer, Mart. V. Brown; superintendent of public instruction, L. L. Rowland. All democrats save L. L. Rowland, republican .

Judges E. D. Shattuck, B. F. Bonham, John Burnett, L. L. McArthur, and P.P. Prim constituted the supreme court of the state, the members of which also performed circuit court duty in the several judicial districts of the state.

The district attorneys serving as state officers were H. Y. Thompson, J. J. Whitney, W. B. Laswell, C. W. Fitch, and H. K. Hanna.

Our United States senators were James K. Kelly, democrat, and John H. Mitchell, republican; and our representative in congress was Lafayette Lane, democrat.

In the state election of 1876 H. K. Hanna, democrat, S. H. Hazard, democrat, George H. Burnett, republican, Raleigh Stott, republican, and L. B. Ison, democrat, were elected district attorneys. J. F. Watson, republican, R. P. Boise, republican, and L. L. McArthur, democrat, were elected supreme judges.

The republican state platform made the protective tariff a special feature, while the democratic state platform protested against it and denounced the evils of Chinese immigration, of monopolies, and of national banks, and demanded that all currency be issued directly by the general government; and called for the regulation and control of corporations, and asked for aid from the government to certain railroads. Both parties demanded a return to specie payments.

A democratic legislature was elected in 1876, which organized in September with John Whiteaker as president of the senate, and J. K. Weatherford as speaker of the house. At this session L. F. Grover, democrat, was elected United States senator for six years, from March 4, 1877, to succeed James K. Kelly. Mr. Grover received forty-eight votes, Jesse Applegate, republican, thirty-three, J. W. Nesmith, democrat, five, and T. F. Campbell, four.

Through an erroneous impression no congressman was voted for in June the fact being overlooked that the new congressional law, regulating such elections and prescribing November as the time, had really excepted Oregon by excepting such states as had to change their state constitutions in order to change their state general elections.

At the presidential election in the fall, Richard Williams, republican, was elected by a vote of fifteen thousand three hundred and forty-seven over Lafayette Lane, democrat, who was a candidate for re-election, receiving only fourteen thousand two hundred and thirty-nine votes.

Hayes and Wheeler carried the state over Tilden and Hendricks, and W. H. Odell, John C. Cartwright, and J. W. Watts, republicans, were chosen presidential electors. A question, however, was raised as to the eligibility of Mr. Watts, and Governor Grover awarded the certificate to Eugene Cronin, democrat, who had received nearly one thousand two hundred less votes. The after events are a part of the history of the nation.

On February 1, 1877, Governor Grover resigned to accept a seat in the United States senate, and Secretary of State S. F. Chadwick became acting governor of Oregon. .

In 1878 the republicans nominated H. K. Hines for congress and adopted as a state platform resolutions opposing the repeal of the resumption act, and favoring a uniform currency, founded upon a coin basis, interchangeable and convertible at par at the pleasure of the holder. Also denouncing the democratic state administration as reckless and corrupt, and the leaders of the party as attempting to defraud Oregon out of an electoral vote. Also favoring the restriction of the treaty with China to commercial purposes only. At the election, John Whiteaker, democrat, was chosen representative in congress, defeating H. K. Hines, republican. The democratic state platform approved heartily the action of congress remonetizing silver (referring evidently to the Bland-Allison act). It also resolved “That money made or issued by the government should be of equal value, and that we are in favor of paying all the obligations of the government in greenbacks, so called, when the pecuniary interests of the people are promoted thereby, except when otherwise expressly provided.” It favored the repeal of the resumption act, and also the repeal of the national bank act, and the direct issue by the government of currency, receivable for all public dues, sufficient to supply the place of the present bank note circulation. Also favored reducing the tariff to a strictly revenue standard, and declared “that the interests of the great mass of people of the United States lie in the paths of unrestricted commerce.” Also favored restriction of Mongolian immigration, and a subsidy for the Portland, Salt Lake and South Pass Railroad and the railroad to California, and an extension of time to the Northern Pacific Railroad to build under reasonable conditions.

At the election in 1878 the following state officers were elected:

Governor, W. W. Thayer, democrat; secretary of state, R. P. Earhart, republican; state treasurer, Edward Hirsch, republican; state printer, William B. Carter, republican; superintendent of public instruction, L. J. Powell, republican; judge of supreme court, James K. Kelly, democrat; circuit judge, P. P. Prim, democrat; district attorneys, J. R. Neil, democrat; S. H. Hazard, democrat; J. J. Whitney, democrat; J. F. Caples, republican; L. B. Ison, democrat.

The legislature chosen was democratic, and organized with John Whiteaker as president of the senate and John M. Thompson as speaker of the house, and by a vote of forty-eight to forty, scattering, elected James H. Slater United States Senator for six years from March 4, 1879, to succeed John H. Mitchell.

In 1879 W. B. Carter, State Printer, died and W. P. Ready was appointed by the governor to fill the vacancy until the next general election.

In 1880 the republican state platform resolved in favor of a protective tariff. On the money question its declaration was somewhat notable, reading as follows:

“That to the republican party is due the credit of successful resumption and restored prosperity and business revival, and we insist that the paper and coin circulation of the country shall at all times be maintained at par with the gold standard of the commercial world.”

That was probably the first public platform utterance favoring the maintenance of parity of all coin and currency on a gold standard of valuation.

On this platform M. C. George was elected Oregon’s representative in congress, defeating, by a majority of one thousand three hundred and ninety-seven, ex-Governor Whiteaker for re-election.

The democratic state platform that year opposed any and all protective tariff and on the money question it “Resolved, that while we recognize gold and silver as the constitutional currency and regard it as the real money, we deem any further contractions of the paper issues of the government unwise in the present financial condition.”

Whatever had heretofore been the platforms concerning tariff, the congressional campaign for that year (1880) was the first time in the history of the state when the canvass was mainly upon a protective tariff issue.

At that election, E. B. Watson, William P. Lord, and John B. Waldo, all republicans, were elected to constitute the new supreme court, whose members were no longer to do circuit court duty. This new supreme court was in fulfillment of that clause in our state constitution providing that “When the white population of the state shall amount to two hundred thousand the legislative assembly may provide for the election of supreme and circuit judges in distinct classes.”

W. H. Odell was also elected at this time state printer to fill the vacancy caused by the death of W. B. Carter.

The legislature elected in June, 1880, being republican, organized in September by electing Sol Hirsch as president of the senate and Z. F. Moody as speaker of the house.

The following were elected circuit judges: First district, H. K. Hanna; second district, J. F. Watson; third district, R. P. Boise; fourth district, Raleigh Stott; fifth district, L. L. Me Arthur.

Also the following district attorneys: First district, T. B. Kent; second district, J. W. Hamilton; third district, W. G. Piper; fourth district, John F. Caples; fifth district, D. W. Bailey.

At the fall election the Garfield and Arthur presidential electors, to wit, George B. Currey, C. B. Watson, and E. L. Applegate, beat the Hancock and English electors about six hundred and seventy-one votes in the state.

In 1882 neither of the state political platforms had any especially notable features.

At the June election M. C. George, republican, was re-elected representative in congress, receiving a majority of three thousand three hundred and sixty-five votes over William D. Fenton, democrat. The state officers elected were: Governor, Z. F. Moody, republican; secretary of state, R. P. Earhart, republican (re-elected); state treasurer, Edward Hirsch, republican (re-elected); state printer, W. H. Byars, republican; superintendent of public instruction, E. B. McElroy; supreme judge, William P. Lord (re-elected). R. S. Bean was elected circuit judge in the second district, and the district attorneys were as follows: First district, T. B. Kent; second district, E. G. Hursh; third district, W. H. Holmes; fourth district, John F. Caples; fifth district, T. C . Hyde. The legislature chosen in 1882 was republican, and organized by electing W. J. McConnell President of the Senate, and George W. McBride Speaker of the House. J. N. Dolph was elected United States senator to succeed Hon. L. F. Grover.

At the close of the year 1883 Judge Raleigh Stott resigned, and Governor Moody appointed Seneca Smith his successor.

In 1884 the political platforms in Oregon generally followed the national platforms respectively, and both favored forfeiture of all unearned land grants.

Binger Hermann, republican, was elected member of congress over John Myers, democrat, and W. W. Thayer, democrat, was elected judge of the supreme court. The following were the circuit judges elected: First district; L. R. Webster; fourth district, Seneca Smith; fifth district, F. J. Taylor; sixth district, M. L. Olmstead. The following were the district attorneys: First district, T. B. Kent; second district, J. W. Hamilton; third district, George E. Chamberlain; fourth district, John M. Gearin; fifth district, T. A. McBride; sixth district, M. D. Clifford. At the fall election Blaine and Logan carried the state over Cleveland and Hendricks by a plurality of about two thousand two hundred and sixty-five votes, and D. P. Thompson, Warren Truitt, and John C. Leasure were chosen as presidential electors.

The legislature chosen in June, 1884, was republican, but owing to a change in the time of meeting, organized in January, 1885, with William Waldo as president of the senate, and W. P. Keady as speaker of the house. After fruitlessly balloting sixty-nine times, during the entire session, for United States senator, during which time Sol. Hirsch received generally about thirty-three votes, the legislature adjourned with no election. At a special session in the following November, John H. Mitchell was elected United States senator to succeed James H. Slater.

In 1886 Binger Hermann was re-elected to congress over N. H. Butler on a republican platform saying, among other things, “We believe that the coin of the country should be gold and silver, and that our paper currency should be maintained and convertible thereto at par, and we favor such legislation as shall in the future maintain the use of both metals as a circulating medium, and we favor international arbitration with a view to determine and establish a uniform ratio between gold and silver.”

The democratic state platform was silent on the money question, and otherwise both platforms followed the usual national lines.

Sylvester Pennoyer, democrat, was chosen governor over Thomas Cornelius, republican, and George W. McBride, republican, was elected secretary of state; G. W. Webb, democrat, state treasurer; R. S. Strahan, democrat, supreme judge; E. B. McElroy, republican, superintendent of public instruction, and Frank C. Baker, republican, state printer.

The following were our circuit judges: First district, L. R. Webster; second district, R. S. Bean; third district, R. P. Boise; fourth district, E. D. Shattuck and L. B. Stearns; fifth district, F. J. Taylor; sixth district, L. B. Ison; seventh district, J. H. Bird. District Attorneys: First district, William M. Colvig; second district, J. W. Hamilton; third district, G. W. Belt; fourth district, Henry E. McGinn; fifth district, T. A. McBride; sixth district, M. D. Clifford; seventh district, W. R. Ellis.

The legislature was republican and organized in January, 1887, by choosing J. C. Carson president of the senate and J. T. Gregg speaker of the house.

In 1888 Binger Hermann was re-elected to congress. The democratic candidate was John M. Geariu. The republican platform dealt largely in criticism of the tariff policy of the national democratic administration, favored protection, opposed Chinese immigration and found fault generally with President Cleveland’s administration.

The democratic platform, on the contrary, indorsed Cleveland and his policy, and in other matters demanded forfeiture of railroad grants and opposed Mongolian immigration. In these state platforms in this as well as in nearly all the years, each party protested its special fealty to its own time honored principles, and denounced those of the opposite party, and both claimed special devotion to the welfare of the tax payers and the people generally. As to whether either has ever fallen short in practice might require a historical sketch more extended than this.

In June, 1888, James A. Fee was elected circuit judge in district No. 6, and the following were elected district attorneys: First district, William M. Colvig; second district, J. W. Hamilton; third district, H. H. Hewitt; fourth district, H. E. McGinn; fifth district, T. A. McBride; sixth district, J. L. Rand, and seventh district, W. R. Ellis.

In the fall election of 1888 Benjamin Harrison carried the state for the presidency by a plurality of over six thousand seven hundred and sixty-nine over Cleveland, the republican presidential electors, to wit, Robert McLean, William Kapus, and C. W. Fulton defeating W. H. Effinger, W. R. Bilyeu, and E. R. Skipworth, democrats. The legislature, which had been elected in June, 1888, was republican, organized in January, 1889, by electing Joseph Simon President of the Senate and E. L. Smith Speaker of the House, and at this session Joseph N. Dolph was re-elected United States senator for Oregon.

In 1890 Binger Hermann was re-elected representative in congress, defeating Robert A. Miller, democrat. The republican state platform favored the enactment of the Australian ballot, a protective tariff, the forfeiture of the railroad land grant from Wallula to Portland, the restriction of Chinese immigration, internal improvement, an eight hour law, and denounced trusts.

On the money question its declaration was noticeable: “that recognizing the fact that the United States is the greatest silver producing country in the world, and that both gold and silver were equally the money of the constitution from the beginning of the republic until the hostile legislation against silver, which unduly contracted the circulating medium of the country, and recognizing that the great interests of the people demand more money for use in the channels of trade and commerce, therefore, we declare ourselves in favor of the free and unlimited coinage of silver, and denounce any attempt to discriminate against silver as unwise and unjust.”

The democratic state platform on the silver question was equally red hot on the trail, and after condemning the tariff bill and denouncing Speaker Reed, and favoring forfeiture of all unearned land grants and the enactment of an eight hour law, sought to give the “gold bugs” the warm end of the poker, as follows: “We reaffirm the position which has ever been maintained by the democratic party that gold and silver are equally the people’s money. We are opposed to all measures of discrimination against silver, and demand free coinage to supply the needs of business, and that all money issued by the government be made legal tender for all debts, both public and private.”

Both platforms were condemned as to the money question by the leading daily of Portland, which said, “the men in both parties have assented to a policy in regard to silver that they know is erroneous.”

Governor Pennoyer was re-elected over D. P. Thompson, republican. The other state officers were: George W. McBride, republican, secretary of state; Phil Metschan, republican, state treasurer; Frank C. Baker, republican, state printer; E. B. McElroy, republican, superintendent of public instruction; R. S. Bean, republican, supreme judge; M. D. Clifford, Circuit Judge of sixth district. The following were the district attorneys: First district, W. M. Colvig; second district, S. W. Condon; third district, George G. Bingham; fourth district, T. A. Stephens; fifth district, T. A. McBride; sixth district, C. F. Hyde; seventh district, W. H. Wilson.

The legislature was republican, and organized January, 1891, with Joseph Simon President of the Senate and T. T. Geer Speaker of the House. John H. Mitchell was re-elected United States senator. This legislature created the office of attorney-general, and George E. Chamberlain was appointed by the governor.

In 1892 the State of Oregon, on reapportionment being entitled to two representatives in congress, Binger Hermann was re-elected for the first congressional district over R. M. Veatch, democrat, and W. R. Ellis, republican, for the second over ex-Senator James H. Slater.

The republican platform followed the usual lines, and on money matters indorsed the Sherman act as “adding the silver product of the United States to the people’s currency.” It favored a boat railway at the Dalles and the election of senators by direct vote of the people, the construction of ample defense of our coast and the building of an efficient navy.

The democratic platform endorsed the national platforms of 1884 and 1888, pointed with pride to the administration of Cleveland, condemned the billion-dollar congress, and denounced the McKinley tariff as the blighting iniquity of the age; demanded tariff reform, believed in honest money, the gold and silver coinage of the constitution, and in currency convertible into such coin without loss and of sufficient value to meet all demands of the people, all money to be of equal monetary value and of equal purchasing power, and all currency redeemable in gold or silver, at the option of the holder and not at the discretion of the secretary of the treasury. It also favored pensions, election of senators by the people, and various other good things.

F. A. Moore, republican, was elected supreme judge, George E. Chamberlain, democrat, was elected attorney-general, and the legislature was republican.

The following were the circuit judges: First district, H. K. Hanna and W. C. Hale; second district, J. C. Fullerton; third district, George H. Burnett; fourth district, E. D. Shattuck and L. B. Stearns; fifth district, T. A. McBride; sixth district, M. D. Clifford; seventh district, W. L. Bradshaw. The district attorneys were: First district, H. L. Benson; second district, Seymour W. Condon; third district, James McCain; fourth district, W. T. Hume; fifth district, W. N. Barrett; sixth district, Charles F. Hyde; seventh district, W. H. Wilson.

At the fall election Harrison had twenty thousand seven hundred and fifty-nine plurality over Cleveland, and eight thousand one hundred and twenty-seven over Weaver; and the republican presidential electors chosen were John F. Caples, D. M. Dunne, and G. M. Irwin. Nathan Pierce was also chosen through the fusion of the opposition votes on him.

The legislature, on convening in January, 1893, elected C. W. Fulton as president of the senate, and W. P. Keady as speaker of the house.

In 1894 the republican platform reaffirmed its policy of protection, and denounced the action of the democratic party in congress for its discrimination against Oregon fields, forests, and mines. On money matters it adopted the statement of the national republican platform of 1882 favoring bimetallism and the parity of the two metals, and all dollars, paper or coin. It also favored the Nicaragua Canal and restricted foreign immigration.

The democratic state platform resolved for income tax, the Nicaragua Canal, liberal pensions, election of senators by the people, and opposed Chinese and pauper immigration, the federal election law, and all measures discriminating against silver. It demanded free coinage “to supply the demands of business,” and that all money be made a full legal tender.

The people’s party resolved against the vicious financial system of Great Britain and the issuance of gold bonds, and hauled both the old parties over the coals generally.

W. P. Lord, republican, was elected governor; H. R. Kincaid, republican, secretary of state; W. H. Leeds, republican, state printer; Phil Metschan, republican, re-elected state treasurer; G. M. Irwin, republican, superintendent of public instruction; C. M. Idleman, republican, attorney-general; C. E. Wolverton, republican, supreme judge; and the legislature was republican.

The following were elected circuit judges: Third district, H. H. Hewitt; fourth district, Hartwell Hurley and Thomas A. Stephens; sixth district, James A. Fee. The district attorneys were: First district, H. L. Benson; second district, George M. Brown; third district, James McCain; fourth district, W. T. Hume; fifth district, W. N. Barrett; sixth district, John L. Rand; seventh district, A. A. Jayne.

The legislature, meeting in January, 1895, organized by selecting Joseph Simon as president of the senate and Charles B. Moores as speaker of the house.

This legislature after fruitlessly balloting the entire session over the re-election of Senator Dolph, at the last moment of the last day, elected George W. McBride.

Judge Hartwell Hurley died during this year and Governor Lord appointed Henry E. McGinn as his successor.

In 1896 the republican state platform followed the national platform of 1892 and on the money question favored bimetallism and use of both gold and silver as standard money, with such restrictions and provisions as will maintain parity of value of the two metals, and the equal debt paying and purchasing power of every dollar, silver, gold, or paper. Also favored the election of senators by popular vote and the construction of the Nicaragua Canal, etc.

The democratic state platform opposed the single gold standard and favored the unrestricted coinage of silver at sixteen to one, all to be full legal tender. It also demanded the immediate coinage of all silver bullion in the treasury, and all silver bullion hereafter offered for coinage and demanded the repeal of all specific contract laws. Favored the construction of the Nicaragua Canal and its control by the general government; also a tariff for revenue and other matters.

At the election in June, 1896, Thomas H. Tongue, republican, was elected congressman for the first congressional district, over W. S. Vanderburg, people’s party, and Jeff Myers, democrat; and W. R. Ellis, republican, was elected in the second district over Martin Quinn, people’s party, and H. H. Northup, independent gold republican, A. S. Bennett, democrat, and F. McKercher, prohibitionist. The legislature was also republican. R. S. Bean was re-elected judge of the supreme court, and Alfred F. Sears, Jr., circuit judge of fourth district, S. A. Lowell of sixth district, and Robert Eakin of the eighth district.

The district attorneys were: First district, J. A. Jeffery; second district, W. E. Yates; third district, Samuel L. Hayden; fourth district, Charles F. Lord; fifth district, T. J. Cleeton; sixth district, H. J. Bean; seventh district, A. A. Jayne; eighth district, H. F. Courtney, and ninth district, Charles W. Parrish.

At the fall presidential election McKinley and Hobart carried the state, and John F. Caples, T. T. Geer, E. L. Smith, and S. M. Yoran were chosen as presidential electors.

The legislature in January, 1897, became involved in a political wrangle and failed to even organize.

During this year, 1897, on the death of T. A. Stephens, circuit judge, Governor William P. Lord appointed M. C. George to fill the vacancy, and later on, Judge L. B. Stearns, having resigned on account of ill health, the governor appointed John B. Cleland to fill the unexpired term.

In 1898 the republican state platform declared unmistakably for the maintenance of the single gold standard and “unqualifiedly opposed the free coinage of silver and all other schemes looking to the debasement of the currency and the repudiation of debt.” While it deplored imminence of the war with Spain, it recognized that the country was on the eve of a war undertaken for the vindication of the national honor and the performance of a work dictated by every instinct of humanity. It recognized that representative government is one of the principles of the federal constitution and oppose any change in law or constitution which would abrogate this time honored principle.

The question of the free and unlimited coinage of silver at the ratio of sixteen to one was the practical issue, and the democrats and the people’s party men (except the middle-of-the-roaders), along with free silver republicans, united on a state ticket, as follows: For governor, William R. King, people’s party; congressman, first district, R. M. Veatch, democrat; congressman, second district, C. M. Donaldson, silver republican; secretary of state, H. R. Kincaid, silver republican; state treasurer, J. O. Booth, democrat; superintendent of public instruction, H. S. Lyman, silver republican; attorney-general, J. L. Story, people’s party; supreme judge, William M. Ramsay, democrat; state printer, Charles A. Fitch, people’s party. This fusion ticket was opposed by the middle-of-the-roaders, as they were called the out-and-out populists and they put forward a state ticket headed by John C. Luce and adopted both the Omaha and Saint Louis platforms.

At this election Thomas H. Tongue, republican, was re-elected congressman from the first district over R. M. Veatch, fusing democrat; and M. A. Moody in the second district over C. M. Donaldson, fusing silver republican; T. T. Geer, republican, governor; F. I. Dunbar, republican, secretary of state; Charles S. Moore, republican, state treasurer; W. H. Leeds, republican, state printer; D. R. N. Blackburn, republican, attorney-general; J. H. Ackerman, republican, superintendent of public instruction; F. A. Moore, republican, re-elected supreme judge.

A session of the legislature called by the governor in the fall of this year organized by electing Joseph Simon President of the Senate and E. V. Carter Speaker of the House, and elected Joseph Simon United States Senator to fill the four years and five months of the term following the expiration of the term of John H. Mitchell.

The regular session in January, 1899, continued the officers of the special session, except that T. C. Taylor became president of the senate.

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© 2007, J. Kidd.

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