The story of how Oregon became a United States territory and then achieved its statehood in 1859 is one that we Oregonians hear in age-appropriate degrees throughout our public school years. From the fur trappers and "fatherly" Dr. John McLoughlin, the infamous interactions between various missionaries and our indigenous peoples, on down through the pioneers emigrating over the Oregon Trail, these stories weave a tale of adventure, opportunity, and gritty determination. In her book, The Salem Clique: Oregon's Founding Brothers, local author Barbara S. Mahoney delves into this often contentious time in our history leading up to statehood, and offers a unique perspective on the characters who played such integral parts in its formation.
The group of men who became known as the Salem Clique were often painted with a broad brush. Newspapers of the time were mostly editorial organs for their owners, rather than reporters of newsworthy events and community information. Depending on the political bent of the ownership, the newspapers painted either glorified or vilified portraits of these young, educated men, mostly in their thirties. They were recruited by political leaders to leave their homes and families "back east" in order to advance the hold of the political parties, as well as advancing their own careers, in this new territory. Many were lawyers who supported their families by farming. Based on all the research she conducted, including reading reams of personal correspondence and very old newspapers on microfiche, Barbara concludes that these men were allies and rivals, very honest, and completely faithful to the Union. They formed close relationships that remained through statehood and far beyond, many becoming very powerful leaders in Oregon.
Another "unsung hero" of our history--another facet of our rich heritage. Guess I'll be placing another book order soon.
Barbara's books are available at the usual local outlets, including the Gift Shop at the Capitol, as well as online. She's happy to communicate with you via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.