Summer 2009

Issue 110:2

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In this Issue:

Novel Views of the Aurora Colony: The Literary Interpretations of Cobie de Lespinasse and Jane Kirkpatrick

by James J. Kopp

Historian James J. Kopp discusses major works of historical fiction of Jane Kirkptrick and Cobie de Lespinasse, books that take place in the Aurora Colony in Oregon.  He particularly notes the detailed research done by these authors, challenging a view that historical fiction cannot supplement the historical record.  Kopp retraces the trail of the authors’ research through the archives of the Aurora Colony Historical Society and outlines the nuanced characterizations expressed by the authors of day to day life in the utopian community, noting the tendency of both to address areas of discourse not yet analyzed by historians, particularly having to do with women’s experience, thereby challenging readers and researchers to consider new understandings about life in the Aurora colony.

Party Politics in Oregon History

by Robert D. Johnson

Historian Robert D. Johnson writes the introductory essay for this installment of our yearlong Oregon Statehood Sesquicentennial Series, noting that even though Oregon has an unusual history of non-partisan political action and governmental mechanisms (such as the initiative and referendum), much of the significant changes in Oregon’s political history were largely shaped by party politics.  He discusses Barbara Mahoney and Jeff Lalande’s articles in this issue, to access their discussions of Oregon parties, laud their analysis, and develop a challenging assessment of the role of the historians: who invariably comes to their work with certain political opinions, but who are called on to let the archival data speak for itself, in the ever important quest for objectivity.

Oregon Voices
Oregon Democracy: Asahel Bush, Slavery, and the Statehood Debate

by Barbara Mahoney

Asahel Bush, editor of the Oregon Statesman and integral member of the group of political agitators known by friends and foes as the “Salem Clique,” in a manner typical of nineteenth century print journalism, employed the Statesman as a platform for his views on slavery and the growing questions of Oregon statehood.  Historian Barbara Mahoney uses documents and correspondence housed in the Oregon Historical Society Research Library Library as well as those in the Bush House in Salem to reveal that “the clique” was divided on Oregon’s status in regard to slavery.  She also re-addresses Bush’s own ambiguous stance — one in which he argued that Oregon should become both a free state and one that bans African Americans outright, a position finally adopted and mandated by voters in their approval of the first Oregon Constitution.

Oregon’s Last Conservative U.S. Senator: Some Light Upon the Little-Known Career of Guy Cordon

by Jeff LaLande

Jeff LaLande provocatively argues that the narrow defeat of Guy Cordon by Richard Neuberger in the 1954 senatorial race marked the end of Republican Party’s dominance in state government. That dominance had lasted for roughly fifty years, and its end signaled a sea-change in Oregon politics.  LaLande’s discussion of Cordon’s political career as a classic “deficit hawk” (though not adverse to federal funding for Oregon projects like the McNary Dam) and private industry proponent whose influence on O&C land policy was contentious, frames this “turning point” in Oregon politics as part of the general trend in Oregon political identity.  LaLande has done exhaustive research — much of it in the Oregon Historical Society’s collections — to re-address the career of this oft forgotten Oregon senator.

Oregon Places
The Architectural Legacy of the 1959 Centennial Exposition

by Chrissy Curran

The buildings of the 1959 Centennial Exposition were impermanent structures, but they were the work of the region’s most active and famous modern architects, whose mandate was to build an example of Oregon’s future.  Chrissy Curran discusses the architectural trends and ideas that influenced the works at the centennial celebration, trends such as Regionalism, International Style, and Post-Modernism, noting the prime examples of more permanent Oregon structures accomplished by the architects involved.  In the process, discusses the enduring architectural legacies of the centennial and of those who gave the grounds their unique influence.

Oregon Voices
100 Years at a Time: Memories of Oregon’s Centennial

by Barbara (Robertson) Drake

Barbara (Robertson) Drake was a University of Oregon co-ed in 1959, when she was hired with two other college women to work the Coos-Curry booth at the one hundred day Oregon Centennial Celebration in Portland.  In preparation for their work, they were given a weekend long tour of the counties they were to represent, and Coos Bay World photographer Bob Frenette was sent along to document the excursion, leaving an enduring legacy of Oregon as it was — and as it was to be represented — at the centennial.  Barbara Drake highlights the essay with detailed remembrances of the centennial and life for a young person in 1950s Portland.