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The quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society. Volume IX. Oregon Historical Society 1908

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Oregon Historical Society.
Volume IX.]
MARCH,    1908
[Number 1
William p. Fenton—Edward Dickinson Baker        -     -    *fV   -     - 1-23
O. F. Stafford—The Wax of Nehalem Beach - ; ■'-- r.T "' -■,_; - '.- - 24-41
Marie Merriman Bradley — Political Beginnings in Oregon.   The
Period of the Provisional Government, 1839-1849      -     - . ;--   •  42-72
John Minto—From Youth to Age as an American. I. - - 73-78
Frederic G. Young—Columbia River Improvement and the Pacific
Northwest          -     -   ?£&. -     -     - '  ".- 79-94
Notes and News          ■ <-     -     -          "''- -'   - 95-101
Entered at the post office at Portland, Oregon, as second-class matter. The Oregon Historical Society
Organized December 17, 1898
JOSEPH R. WILSON l *„ Vice-President
F. G. YOUNG Secretary
George H. Himes, Assistant Secretary.
Term expires at Annual Meeting in December, 1908,
Term expires at Annual Meeting in December, 1909.
Term expires at Annual Meeting in December, 1910,
Term expires at Annual Meeting in December, 1911,
The Quarterly is sent free to all members of the Society.   The annual dues
re two dollars.   The fee for life membership is twenty-five dollars.
Contributions to The Quarterly and correspondence relative to historical
aterials, or pertaining to the affairs of this Society, should be addressed to
as for  The  Quarterly,  or for  thi
other publications of the
[l, Portland, Oi
Assistant Secretary.' THE
Baker, E
Capital <
i Youth to Age
By John Minto	
 1,73-78; 11,127-172; III,
3, Mrs. Jesse.   By Mrs. S. A. Long	
Iward Dickinson.   By William D. Fenton	
1 Oregon, Contests Over.   By Walter C. Winslow	
Columbia River Improvement and the Pacific Northwest.   By F. G.
Monopoly, Oregon's First—The Oregon Steam Navigation Company.
By Irene Lincoln Poppleton	
Nehalem Beach, The Wax of.   By O. F. Stafford	
Newell, "Doctor" Robert, Pioneer.   By T. C. Elliott	
Political Beginnings in Oregon—The Period of the Provisional Government, 1839-1849.   By Marie Merriman Bradley  	
Slavery in Oregon.   By George H.Williams	
Slavery Question in Oregon, The.   By T. W. Davenport...!, 189-253; II,
Abrogation of the Treaty of Joint Occupation.   Speech by Senator
J. Semple on Resolution of Notification of.   Including also—
1. Proceedings of "Oregon Meetings" held
(a) At Alton, Illinois, November 8,1842.
(6) At Springfield, Illinois, Februarys, 1848.
2. Declaration of "Oregon Convention" held at Cincinnati, July 5,
1843   888-411
Railroad Survey, Subscription List for...  305-307
Meeker, Ezra, The Ox Team, or the Old Oregon Trail, 1853-1906.   By F. G.
Young 184-187
Kate O. McBeth, The Nez Perces Indians Since Lewis and Clark.   By
F.G.Young 187-188
Notes and News 95-101; 184-188; 308
Bradley, Marie Merriman, Political Beginnings in Oregon—The Period of
the Provisional Government, 1889-1869      42-72
Davenport, T. W., The Slavery Question in Oregon 1,189-258; II, 309-378
Elliott, T. C.   "Doctor" Robert Newell, Pioneer 103-126
Fenton, William D., Edward Dickinson Baker        1-28
Long, Mrs. S. A., Mrs. Jesse Applegate  _ 179-183
Minto, John, From Youth to Age as an American..1,78-78; 11,127-172; III, 374-387
Poppleton, Irene Lincoln, Oregon's First Monopoly—The Oregon Steam
Navigation Company  274-304
Stafford, O. F., The Wax of Nehalem Beach .      24-41
Williams, George H., Slavery in Oregon 254-278
Winslow, Walter C, Contests Over the Capital of Oregon  173-178
Young, F. G., The Columbia River Improvement and the Pacific Northwest          79-94
    Review of Ezra Meeker's "The Ox Team, or the Oregon Trail,
1852-1906" 184-187
    Review of Kate O. McBeth's "The Nez Perces Indians since
Lewis and Clark."    187-188  THE QUARTERLY
Oregon Historical Society.
Volume IX.]
MAUCH,   1908,
[Number 1
s responsibility for the positions taken by contributors to its pages.
By William D. Fenton.
Edward Dickinson Baker was born in London, February
24, 1811, and was the son of a school teacher. His family
removed from England and settled in Philadelphia when
the boy was about five years old. While residing there he
was apprenticed to a weaver. In 1825 the family removed to
Indiana, and a year later to Illinois.
His boyhood was that of the ordinary Western boy. The
family lived at New Harmony, Indiana, a year or two, and
finally located in Belleville, St. Clair County, Illinois. It is
said that the young man, then about sixteen years of age,
preceded the family on foot. About this time he went to
St. Louis in search of employment, and here drove a dray
one season, later returning to Carrollton, Greene County,
Illinois, where he entered the office of Judge Caverly and
began the study of law. On the 27th day of April, 1831,
Mr. Baker, at twenty years of age, was married to Mrs.
Mary A. Lee, a widow with two children, and to them were
born four children, Edward D., Jr., Alfred W., Caroline C.
Stevens and Lucy Hopkins. His mother's maiden name was
Lucy Dickinson, sister of Thomas Dickinson, a distinguished
officer in the British Navy. He had three brothers, Alfred
C, a physician who lived in Barry, Illinois; Thomas B.,
who lived in Carrollton, Illinois, and Samuel B., who lived BBMBMMMI
William D. Fenton.
in Pekin, Illinois, and one sister, Mrs. Thomas Jerome, born
in Philadelphia, and who lived at Sausalito, California.
In 1832, Baker enlisted as a private soldier in the Black
Hawk War, and before the conclusion of the war attained
the rank of major. He was admitted to the bar in Greene
County, Illinois, where he commenced the practice of his
profession, and later removed to Springfield, in the year
1835. At that time Springfield had a population of about
fifteen hundred people, and Baker was under twenty-five
years of age. Mr. Joseph Wallace, in his " Sketch of the
Life and Public Services of Edward Dickinson Baker,'' published at Springfield, Illinois, in 1870, speaking of Mr.
Baker, at this time, says:
"At this time he was in the twenty-fifth year of his age,
and in appearance not remarkably prepossessing; his dress
comported well with the straightened condition of his finances. He wore a dilapidated hat of an antique pattern,
and a suit of homespun jeans loosely and carelessly thrown
about him; the pants being some inches too short, exposed
to view a pair of coarse, woolen socks, whilst his pedal
appendages were encased in broad, heavy brogans, such as
were commonly worn by the stalwart backwoodsmen of the
day. Nevertheless, his step was elastic, his figure neat and
trim, and the features of his face regular and pleasing to
the eye."
His career began under influences calculated to develop all
his natural talents. He was the associate of Stephen T. Logan, Albert T. Bledsoe, Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, Lyman Trumbull, and other men, all of whom in later
years achieved national distinction. His career began and
ended in the public service. He was a member of the House
of Representatives of the State of Illinois in 1837; of the
State Senate in 1840-1844; was elected a Representative to
the twenty-ninth Congress from Illinois as a Whig, serving
from December 1, 1845, until December 30, 1846, when he
resigned to accept a commission as Colonel of the Fourth
Regiment of Illinois Volunteers in the war with Mexico. He
participated in the siege of Vera Cruz, was the commander Edward Dickinson Baker, 3
of a brigade at Cerro Gordo, and at the close of the war
removed to Galena, Illinois, and was elected to the thirty-
first Congress, serving from December 3, 1849, to March 31,
1851, when he declined a re-election.
While he was a Whig, and his party as such opposed the
prosecution of the war, Baker was in favor of its vigorous
prosecution. As a slight token of the esteem in which he
was held by the people of his state, and as showing approval
of his conduct and position in favoring the war with Mexico,
the State of Illinois presented him with a sword.
As some evidence of the natural bent of his genius, and
as a forecast of the fervid patriotism which distinguished his
life, it must be noted that his first public career began in
the volunteer service in the defense of the pioneer-settlers
of his adopted state, and for the protection of the homes
of its people from savage warfare; and that his next decisive
step indicating his willingness to serve his country first
in the perils of war, was his resignation as a member of
Congress that he might raise a regiment in his state for
the Mexican War.
On the 4th of July, 1837, Mr. Baker delivered the oration
at the laying of the cornerstone of the old State House in
Springfield, and on this occasion his remarkable powers as
an orator first came to public notice.
In 1843 it is recorded that Lincoln and Baker were competitors for the Congressional nomination from the Springfield district; both resided in Sangamon County, both were
self-made, earnest and able men. After a close contest Baker
finally secured an instructed delegation in his behalf, and
Mr. Lincoln was one of the delegates to nominate his competitor. Neither, however, was successful, for John J.
Hardin was nominated and elected. Baker, however, was
elected to succeed Hardin, and Lincoln to succeed Baker.
He was the only Whig representative from the State of
Illinois at the time, and Stephen A. Douglas was one of his
Democratic colleagues. At that time the question of national
importance claiming the attention of Great Britain and the
l William D. Fenton.
United States was the boundary of what was then known
as the Oregon Country. Baker, although a Whig, ardently
supported the policy of President Polk, and was willing to
justify our claims, if necessary, by an appeal to arms. On
January 16, 1846, he offered a resolution in the House of
Representatives by which it was declared that in the opinion
of the House the President of the United States could not
consistently, with a just regard for the honor of the nation,
offer to surrender to any foreign power any territory to
which in his opinion we had a clear and unquestioned title.
On the 29th day of January, 1846, speaking upon the resolution reported by the Committee on Foreign Affairs requesting the President to notify Great Britain of the intention of the United States to terminate the joint occupation
of Oregon, and to abrogate the convention of 1827, Baker
made his first great speech, in favor of its adoption. After
stating the cause with clearness, and realizing the weighty
issues involved in the contest between the two countries,
he said:
'' I admit the power of England; it is a moral as well as a
physical supremacy. It is not merely her fleets and her
armies; it is not merely her colonies and her fortresses—it
is more than these. There is a power in her history which
compels our admiration and excites our wonder. It presents
to us the field of Agincourt, the glory of Blenheim, the fortitude of 'fatal Fontenoy,' and the fortunes of Waterloo. It
reminds us how she ruled the empire of the wave, from the
destruction of the Armada to the glories of Trafalgar. Nor
is her glory confined to arms alone. In arts, in science, in
literature, in credit, and in commerce, she sits superior. Hers
are the princes of the mind. She gives laws to learning and
limits to taste. The watch-fires of her battle fields yet flash
warning and defiance to her enemies, and her dead heroes
and s atesmen stand as sentinels upon immortal heights, to
guard the glory of the living. * * * She has considered
her honor and her essential interests as identical, and she
has been able to maintain them. Sir, I would profit by her
example. I would not desire to rest upon light and trivial
grounds.   I would be careful about committing the national Edward Dickinson Baker. 5
honor upon slight controversies. But when we have made
a deliberate claim in the eyes of the world; when we persist
that it is clear and unquestioned; when compromise has been
offered and refused; when territory on the American continent is at stake; and when our opponent does not even
claim title in herself, I would poise myself upon the magnanimity of the nation, and abide the issue."
Aware of the fact that he was out of harmony with the
policy of his party, as a Whig, in his support of President
Polk, he said:
"I desire to treat this as an American question, and I
shall not be driven from that course. I am not one of
those who supported Mr. Polk. I used the utmost of my
ability to prevent his election; and when Mr. Clay was
beaten, I confess, I felt as the friends of Aristides may be
supposed to have felt when he was driven from Athens.
* * * Sir, the West will be true to her convictions. I
believe that portion of the West which sustained Mr. Polk
will still be for the whole of Oregon."
In reply to the charge that the controversy was caused
by the restless spirit of Western men pressing into this new
country, he replied:
"Sir, it is to the spirit which prompts these settlers that
we are indebted for the settlement of the Western states.
The men who are going to beat down roads and level mountains—to brave and overcome the terrors of the wilderness
—are our brethren and our kinsmen. It is a bold and free
spirit; it has in it the elements of grandeur. They will
march, not
Like some poor exile, bending with his woe,
To stop too fearful, and too faint to go;
But they will go with free steps; they will bear with them
all the arts of civilization, and they will found a Western
Empire. Sir, it is possible they may not receive protection,
but, at least, they should be shielded from reproach.,,
In June, 1852, Baker arrived in San Francisco, California,
and became a citizen of the Golden State. Here he became
known as an able criminal lawyer and skillful debater in
public life.   He was the Republican candidate for Congress William D. Fenton.
in 1859, but suffered defeat. It is said that disappointment
in some of his political ambitions influenced him to remove
from Illinois to California. He did not come directly to
California, but in 1851 undertook some work on the Panama
Railway, contracted the fever, and was compelled to seek a
northern climate on that account. After his defeat for Congress in California, in 1859, Baker removed to Oregon. It
will be remembered that in April, 1860, Geo. K. Shiel was
nominated as the Democratic candidate for Congress, from
Oregon, and David Logan, the son of Baker's old associate,
Judge Logan, of Springfield, became the Republican nominee. Baker canvassed the state in support of the Republican ticket, but Shiel was elected, receiving a majority of 104
votes over Logan. Oregon at that time was divided into
three political factions:; the friends and supporters of Senator Douglas were led by James W. Nesmith, and those opposed to Douglas and who favored John C. Breckenridge
and Joseph Lane were in the ascendency. Abraham Lincoln meantime had been nominated for President by the Republican Convention at Chicago. In this situation and under
these influences, the Legislative Assembly, elected in June,
1860, in the State of Oregon, convened September 10 at the
State Capital at Salem. After a somewhat prolonged and
bitter contest, James W. Nesmith and E. D. Baker were
chosen, the one a Douglas Democrat, the other a Republican, and their election was brought about by a fusion of
these two parties. Delazon Smith and Joseph Lane were
the Democratic candidates, and Geo. H. Williams and James
W. Nesmith were the independent candidates, or, more properly speaking, the candidates of the Douglas wing of the
party, and E. D. Baker was the candidate of the Republicans.
Senator Baker was elected for the term commencing
March 4, 1859. His credentials were presented by Senator
Latham, of California, on December 5, 1860, and immediately
upon taking the oath of office Senator Baker entered upon
his public duty. Edward Dickinson Baker.
On February 18, 1861, Senator Baker presented the credentials of James W. Nesmith, who was elected as Senator
at the same time with him, and for the term of six years,
from the 4th of March, 1861. From this time forward Baker's record is the record of his country, until his death at
Ball's Bluff, October 21, 1861. His election to the Senate
from the State of Oregon was criticised by his contemporaries in this, that it was claimed he was a resident of the
State of California, and was not identified by residence, acquaintance or property in the State of Oregon. It must be
admitted that there was some foundation for this criticism,
although it is not questioned that he came to the state with
the intention of making it his permanent home. His ambition, of course, was to be elected to the United States Senate
from the State of Oregon. Under the Constitution he was
eligible; he was an American citizen, of national standing,
and of an honorable career, who had seen honorable service,
both in office and in war. He was the life-long friend of
Abraham Lincoln, who was then a candidate for President
of the United States. He had served the State of Illinois
as a member of Congress; he had been a distinguished soldier in the Mexican War; he had defended the title of the
Oregon Country, and in doing so had risen above his party
leadership and platform. He was avowed and outspoken in
his defense of the Union, and in support of the policy for
^hich Mr. Lincoln stood. He did not deceive the people of
Oregon by any false pretensions. While his election was
only possible as a Republican by votes of Douglas Democrats, it must be remembered that at that time political parties were in a state of reorganization and re-alignment.
At this point in the career of this distinguished man it
may be of interest to make some estimate of him as an
orator. It may be admitted that the work of the historian
is one of difficulty and embarrassment.   Macaulay says:
"History, it has been said, is philosophy, teaching by
examples. Unhappily, what philosophy gains in soundness
and depth, the examples generally lose in vividness.   A per- William D. Fenton.
feet historian must possess an imagination sufficiently powerful to make his narrative effective and picturesque. Yet
he must control it so absolutely as to content himself with
the materials which he finds, and to refrain from supplying
deficiencies by additions of his own. He must be a profound and ingenious reasoner. Yet he must possess sufficient self-command to abstain from casting his facts in the
mould of his hypothesis. Those who can justly estimate
these almost insuperable difficulties will not think it strange
that every writer should have failed either in the narrative
or in the speculative department of history."
The record of the orator is most difficult to review, and
an estimate of his talents cannot be made without danger
from mere panegyric.
Baker had the fervor and emotion necessary to every great
orator. He had fluency of speech, richness of diction, accurate memory, and impressed his audience with a sense of
that reserve power which in its last analysis is the secret of
all great orators.
On September 27,1858, in San Francisco, California, Baker
delivered an address in commemoration of the laying of
the Atlantic cable. Among other expressions of beautiful
sentiments so well expressed, he said:
'' We repeat here today the names of Franklin, Morse and
Field; we echo the sentiment of generous pride most felt
in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the associated
glory of her sons, but we know that this renown will spread
wherever their deeds shall bless their kind; that, like their
works, it will extend beyond ocean and deserts, and remain
to latest generations."
His concluding sentence was:
"Our pride is for humanity; our joy is for the world; and
amid all the wonders of past achievement, and all the splendors of present success, we turn with swelling hearts to gaze
into the boundless future, with the earnest conviction that it
will develop a universal brotherhood of man."
In this address he stated that the Atlantic cable was but
one link in a line of thought which was to bind the world,
and that the next link would connect the Atlantic and the Edward Dickinson Baker. 9
Pacific. It is recorded that when this union was effected
three years later, the second message sent over the wires
was the announcement of the fall of Colonel Baker at Ball's
On September 16, 1859, David C. Broderick, United States
Senator from California, and the leader of the Douglas
forces in that state, was mortally wounded in a duel with
Judge Terry. Baker delivered the funeral eulogy, which is
charged with feeling and eloquence. This remarkable address electrified the nation, and did much to destroy a resort
to the code of honor, and to unify those who believed in
restriction and limitation of the slave power. Terry represented in his life and conduct, the thoughts, habits and
wishes of the Southern wing of his party. Broderick was a
strong and aggressive representative of those who believed
in limitation of further political influence in this direction.
There was, therefore, more involved than a mere personal
quarrel. They represented the hot blood and temper of contending and bitter factions, and in a large sense they represented the forces that were soon to feel the shock of battle.
Speaking of this oration, Mr. George Wilkes, of New
York, has said:
"At the foot of the coffin stood the priest; at its head, and
so he could gaze fully on the face of his dead friend, stood
the fine figure of the orator. Both of them, the living and
the dead, were self-made men; and the son of the stonecutter, lying in mute grandeur, with a record floating round
the coffin which bowed the heads Of the surrounding thousands down in silent respect, might have been proud of the
tribute which the weaver's apprentice was about to lay upon
his breast. For minutes after the vast audience had settled
itself to hear his words, the orator did not speak. He did
not look into the coffin—nay, neither to the right nor left;
but the gaze of his fixed eye was turned within his mind,
and the tear was upon his cheek. Then, when the silence
was the most intense, his tremulous voice rose like a wail
and with an uninterrupted stream of lofty, burning and
pathetic words, he so penetrated and possessed the hearts of 10
William D. Fenton.
the sorrowing multitude that there was not one cheek less
moistened than his own."
On October 26, 1860, at the American Theater, in San
Francisco, Senator Baker, en route from Oregon to Washington City, there to take his seat as a Senator of the United
States, delivered a remarkable political address. He began
by saying:
"I owe more thanks than my life can repay, and I wish
all Oregon were here tonight. We are a quiet, earnest, pastoral people, but by the banks of the Willamette there are
many whose hearts would beat high as yours if they were
here.   I owe you much, but I owe more to Oregon."
It will be remembered that John C. Fremont with his
family was present, and that the address was delivered but
a few days preceding the November election which was to
result in the election of his friend Abraham Lincoln as President. He spoke two and a half hours, and moved his audience with the skill and ease of a master. His appeal was
fervid, brilliant and powerful.
On January 2, 1861, he made the first of his two remarkable and celebrated replies to Senator Benjamin. This is believed by all of his critics to be his ablest effort in the
Senate of the United States. Senator Judah P. Benjamin,
of Louisiana, was perhaps at that time the greatest debater
and orator of the South. He was a finished scholar, an able
advocate, and a man of great personal magnetism. Benjamin had undertaken to establish the proposition that the
states could rightfully secede from the Federal Union, and
in the course of his argument emphasized the righteousness
of the Southern cause.    Replying to this, Baker said:
"Right and duty are always majestic ideas. They march,
an invisible guard, in the van of all true progress; they animate the loftiest spirit in the public assemblies; they nerve
the arm of the warrior; they kindle the soul of the statesman, and the imagination of the poet; they sweeten every
reward, they console every defeat."
Baker therefore accepted the challenge that in the discussion of the question it was right and proper to argue the Edward Dickinson Baker.
right and justice of the cause. It must be remembered that
this great reply to Benjamin occupied two days in its delivery, and that he had been a member of the Senate only
twenty-seven days at the time. Baker at that time was fifty
years of age. He had been known on the hustings as "The
Old Gray Eagle.'' He was of striking, military appearance;
he was five feet ten and a half inches high, weighed one
hundred and ninety pounds.
On April 19, 1861, in Union Square, New York City, Baker
addressed a great mass meeting. His first sentence in that
great speech is:
"The majesty of the people is here today to sustain the
majesty of the Constitution, and I come, a wanderer from
the far Pacific, to record my oath along with yours of the
great Empire State. The hour for conciliation is past; the
gathering for battle is at hand, and the country requires
that every man shall do his duty."
He concluded:
"The national banners leaning from ten thousand windows today proclaim your reverence and affection for the
Union. You will gather in battalions, and as you gather
every omen of ultimate peace will surround you. Ministers
of religion, priests of literature, the historians of the past,
the illustrators of the present, capital, science, art, invention,
discoveries, and works of genius; all those will attend us,
and we will conquer; and if, from the far Pacific, a voice
feebler than the feeblest murmur upon its shore may be
heard to give you courage and hope in the contest, that voice
is yours today, and if a man whose hair is gray, who is well-
nigh worn out in the battle and toil of life, may pledge himself on such an occasion and in such an audience, let me
say as my last word, that when, amid sheeted fire and flame
I saw and led the hosts of New York as they charged in
contest on a foreign soil for the honor of the flag, so again,
if Providence shall will it, this feeble hand shall draw a
sword never yet dishonored, not to fight for honor on a
foreign field, but for Country, for Home, for Law, for Government, for Constitution, for Right, for Freedom, for Humanity, and in the hope that the banner of my country may
advance, and wheresoever that banner waves, there glory
may pursue, and freedom be established." mm
William D. Fenton.
On August 2, 1861, Baker, in the Senate of the United
States, made his reply to Breckenridge, then a Senator from
Kentucky.   Speaking of this discussion, Mr. Blaine says:
"He (Baker) laid his sword upon his desk, and sat for
some time listening to the debate. He was undoubtedly impressed by the scene of which he himself was a conspicuous
feature. Breckenridge took the floor shortly after Baker
appeared, and made a speech of which it is a fair criticism
to say that it reflected in all respects the view held by the
members of the Confederate Congress then in session at
Richmond. Colonel Baker evidently grew restive under the
words of Mr. Breckenridge. His face was aglow with excitement and he sprang to the floor when the Senator from
Kentucky took his seat. His reply, abounding in denunciation and invective, was not lacking in the more solid and
convincing argument. * * * It is impossible to realize
the effect of the words so eloquently pronounced by the
Oregon Senator. In the history of the Senate, no more thrilling speech was ever delivered. The striking appearance of
the speaker in the uniform of a soldier, his superb voice,
his graceful manner, all united to give the occasion an extraordinary interest and attraction."
Baker's words were fired with the military spirit. He
had been, up to that time, willing to make concessions; he
had gone beyond the majority of his political associates in
his desire to conciliate the South. Breckenridge had strongly
argued that Lincoln was prosecuting a war of aggression in
violation of the Constitution; that it was a war of conquest, waged against a peaceful and law-abiding people. At
this late day, remote from the immediate conflict, it is the
judgment of posterity that Breckenridge was wrong, and
that Baker was right.
This was Baker's last public address. It was five days
before the adjournment of the Senate, in the darkest period
of the war, when the South was apparently triumphant, and
had just reason to be hopeful. Baker soon quitted the chamber of the Senate for the fortunes of war. Baker had the
confidence of President Lincoln. Lincoln knew him, believed in him, and gave him his commission as an officer in Edward Dickinson Baker.
the army. He was present at his first inaugural, and introduced him upon that memorable occasion. It is said that
at one time a California delegation called upon the President
in Congress, to present a nominee for a local office, and
they disputed the right of Senator Baker of Oregon to be
consulted respecting the patronage of the Pacific Coast.
One of them, it is said, made some remark reflecting upon
the private character and morals of Senator Baker; he had
forgotten that Baker was one of Lincoln's oldest and closest
friends in Illinois, and Lincoln was always loyal to the men
with whom he was associated in his early days. He never
forgot Stephen A. Douglas, David Davis, Edward D. Baker,
John M. Palmer and Lyman Trumbull, nor did they ever
fail in loyalty to him.
On March 4, 1861, when President Buchanan escorted the
President-elect from the executive mansion to the capitol,
where he was to take the oath of office to be administered
to him by Chief Justice Taney, it was fitting that he should
be introduced by Baker, and that Stephen A. Douglas, who
had been his opponent for the Presidency, should stand by
his side.
The oratory of Baker has been the subject of some criticism, and his contemporaries, under the immediate influence of his patriotic addresses, were perhaps not altogether
free from bias in his behalf. His political opponents were
expected to and did criticise him as an orator. His friends
may have erred, on the other side, but at this distance, free
from the influence of his time, it can be safely affirmed that
his speeches rank with the greatest of their kind. It seems
to me from a critical and somewhat careful examination of
the subject matter, the occasion and circumstances under
which each was delivered, that his reply to Benjamin is
worthy of a place alongside of Webster's reply to Hayne.
It is full of power, and of the loftiest diction; its sentiments
are those of a man whose whole life had been devoted and
consecrated to the service of his country. Other speeches
were more ephemeral in their nature, and were delivered 14
William D. Fenton.
under circumstances calculated to have immediate influence
upon those who heard them. They were the inspiration of
the times, and while here and there in each and in all of
them are burning passages of eloquence of transcendent
power and beauty, they do not survive as permanent contributions to the world's greatest and best orations. It is
difficult, of course, to place a just and proper estimate upon
the productions of men in this great field of human endeavor.
Thomas Jefferson, in 1814, said:
"I consider the speeches of Aram and Carnot, and that
of Logan, as worthily standing in a line with those of Scipio
and Hannibal in Livy, and of Cato and Caesar in Sallust."
It depends, however, upon the model which the critic admires. Jefferson, speaking of this subject in his letter to
Mr. Eppes, says:
"The models for that oratory which is to produce the
greatest effect by securing the attention of hearers and readers, are to be found in Livy, Tacitus, Sallust, and most assuredly not in Cicero. I doubt if there is a man in the
world who can now read one of his orations through, but
as a piece of task work."
Scholarly as the sage of Monticello was, he criticized the
great Cicero, and speaking of a man now forgotten, said:
"The finest thing, in my opinion, which the English language has produced, is the defense of Eugene Aram, spoken
by himself at the bar of the York Assizes in 1759."
But who would at this date remember Eugene Aram as
an orator? Doubtless Mr. Jefferson was influenced by the
remarkable defense made by the prisoner to his indictment
for murder. It is said that on his trial for the murder of
Daniel Clark in 1745, Eugene Aram defended himself with
unusual ability. But no man now remembers what he said,
and it is difficult to find a record of the address which Jefferson so much admired.
Victor Cousin, the great French orator, speaking upon
this subject, says: Edward Dickinson Baker. 15
"The two great types of political and religious eloquence,
Demosthenes in antiquity, Bossuet among the moderns,
think only of the interest of the cause confided to their
genius, the sacred cause of country and that of religion,
whilst at bottom, Phidias and Raphael work to make beautiful things. Let us hasten to say what the names of Demosthenes and Bossuet command us to say, that true eloquence, very different from that of rhetoric, disdains certain means of success. It asks no more than to please, but
without any sacrifice unworthy of it; every foreign ornament
degrades it. Its proper character is simplicity, earnestness.
I do not mean affected earnestness, a designed and artful
gravity, the worst of all deceptions; I mean true earnestness, that springs from sincere and profound conviction.
This is what Socrates understood by true eloquence.''
It is difficult if not impossible to divorce the orator from
the occasion. In fact, it is sometimes said that true eloquence consists in the occasion more than in what is said.
Dr. William Matthews, in his work entitled, '' Oratory and
Orators," has said that "the greatest speech made in America this century was made by Daniel Webster in reply to
Hayne. The greatest orator of this country—Patrick
Henry, perhaps, excepted—we think was Henry Clay."
Emerson has said that eloquence is "the appropriate organ of the highest personal energy." It must not be forgotten that the spoken word of the orator loses its power
and influence when reduced to writing.
Dr. Matthews, illustrating this, says:
"The picture from the great "master's hand may improve
with age; every year may add to the mellowness of its
tints, the delicacy of its colors. The Cupid of Praxiteles,
the Mercury of Thorwaldsen, are as perfect as when they
came from the sculptor's chisel. The dome of Saint Peter's,
the self-poised roof of King's Chapel, i scooped into ten
thousand cells,' the facade and sky-piercing spire of Strasbourg Cathedral, are a perpetual memorial of the genius of
their builders. Even music, so far as it is a creation of the
composer, may live forever. The aria or cavatina may have
successive resurrections from its dead signs. The delicious
melodies of Schubert, and even Handel's 'seven-fold chorus mm
William D. Fenton.
of hallelujahs and harping symphonies' may be reproduced
by new artists from age to age. But oratory, in its grandest or most bewitching manifestations—the 'deivotes' of
Demosthenes, contending for the crown—the white heat of
Cicero inveighing against Antony—the glaring eye and
thunder tones of Chatham denouncing the employment of
Indians in war—the winged flame of Curran blasting the
pimps and informers that would rob Orr of his life—the
nest of singing-birds in Prentiss's throat, as he holds spellbound the thousands in Fanueil Hall—the look, port and
voice of Webster, as he hurls his thunderbolts at Hayne—
all these can no more be reproduced than the song of the
sirens.' \
How difficult, then, it is to estimate correctly the funeral
oration over the dead body of Broderick. It is true that
the text has been preserved, but the great audience, stilled
and filled with feeling, the great events which surrounded
the tragedy, the magic presence of the great orator, all these
are gone.
Mr. Rhodes, in his history of the United States, speaking
of this great oration, says:
"The funeral oration was pathetic and caused profound
emotion; at its close orator and people wept in sympathy.
It was calculated to stir up men's hearts, and it impressed
in glowing words the conviction that Broderick had been
hunted to the death by his antagonists. Baker, in 1861, met
an heroic end at the battle of Ball's Bluff, but before he
fell, the martyrdom of Broderick had borne fruit. It produced a mighty revolution in public opinion."
It must not be forgotten that Senator Baker, after he had
received his commission from the President, organized a
regiment in the State of Pennsylvania, called at first the
"California Regiment" and later the "71st Pennsylvania,"
and that he was leading these men when he fell at BalPs
Bluff. How much of glory and fame this tragic end may
have added to his name it is impossible to judge. At the
time, General Charles P. Stone, who was in immediate command, was severely criticized, put in prison, and although
asserting his innocence and demanding a trial, Stone was 11. r
Edward Dickinson Baker. 17
released without explanation or vindication. The affair at
Ball's Bluff was a disastrous defeat of great moral effect at
the time. The death of Baker, under the circumstances,
tended to magnify the national loss, and added lustre to
his memory. He may have been rash and impetuous; his
personal bravery was not questioned, but universally conceded; the fiery genius of the orator, the enthusiasm and
earnestness with which he pressed a solution of every great
question, may have led him into risks which a more phlegmatic man would have avoided. As a soldier Baker was
brave beyond discretion. That there was mismanagement
of the Union forces at Ball's Bluff is the sober judgment of
history. While the casualties were not large, measured in
numbers, the loss of Baker amounted to a national calamity. In the light, therefore, of his tragic death, his work
as an orator must be considered.
The fame of Robert Emmett rests upon his eloquent defense before his sentence; the occasion, the circumstances,
the cause in which he sacrificed his life, all these things
make his memorable words immortal.
Lincoln was not an orator, and yet his second inaugural
address, delivered March 4, 1865, had a permanent influence upon his countrymen, and is justly regarded as an example of the genius and intellectual greatness of its author. From that time forth the world gave, among its orators and statesmen, a high place to Abraham Lincoln. On
the 19th of November, 1863, at Gettysburg, Edward Everett
delivered his great oration to dedicate the battlefield as a
burial place for those who had yielded up their lives in
defense of their country. Mr. Lincoln followed him in an
address of twenty-seven printed lines, which, for simple
eloquence, is not surpassed in the English language. What
was it, what is it, that has made Lincoln's address immortal,
while that of Everett is scarcely remembered? One was a
polished and gifted orator, the other was a simple, earnest
and impressive man, burdened with the responsibilities of
power and standing in the performance of duty.   His words 18
William D. Fenton.
filled the aching hearts of a waiting people; they were uttered in a great cause, and in memory of those who had
sacrificed their lives that the "nation might live." His
power of statement, the simplicity of his language, the earnestness with which his words were uttered, all these things
make the address a classic and model.
The influence of Baker as an orator rested largely upon
his simplicity of statement, his earnestness of purpose, and
the apparent reserve power behind the man. There was,
also, in his delivery the fervor and animation which riveted
attention, in his diction, words, that pleased the ear, and
in his rushing flood of passion a current that hurried men
into flood-tide of patriotism. The severe critic and writer,
Dr. Colton, said:
"When the Roman people had listened to the diffuse and
polished discourses of Cicero, they departed, saying one to
another, 'What a splendid speech our orator has made.' But
when the Athenians heard Demosthenes, he so filled them
with the subject matter of his oration that they quite forgot
the orator and left him at the finish of his harangue, breathing revenge and exclaiming, 'Let us go and fight against
Philip.' "
When that great speech delivered by Baker at Union
Park, New York, April 19, 1861, had been finished, new armies of the republic leaped to the defense of the nation.
But why longer speak of him as an orator, or statesman,
or soldier? Nearly a half century has passed since Baker
gave his life to his country, upon the battlefield, and the
words of his comrades then spoken most fitly record his
virtues, his glories and his fame. Of him McClellan, in command of the Army of the Potomac, in a general order issued within twenty-four hours after Baker's death, said:
"The gallant dead had many titles to_honor. At the time
of his death he was a member of the United States Senate
from Oregon; and it is no injustice to any survivor to say
that one of the most eloquent voices in that illustrious body
has been silenced by his fall. As a patriot, zealous for the
honor and interests of his adopted country, he has been dis- Edward Dickinson Baker. 19
tinguished in two wars, and has now sealed with his blood
his devotedness to the national flag. Cut off in the fullness
of his powers as a statesman, and in the course of a brilliant career as a soldier, while the country mourns his loss,
his brothers in arms will envy while they lament his fate.
He died as a soldier would wish to die, amid the shock of
battle, by voice and example animating his men to brave
Edward Dickinson Baker was buried in Lone Mountain
Cemetery, San Francisco, California, on December 11, 1861.
Thomas Starr King, who preached the funeral oration, there
'' We have borne him now to the home of the dead; to the
cemetery which, after fit services of prayer, he devoted in
a tender and thrilling speech to its hallowed purposes."
Some seven years before that time Baker had, on May
30, 1854, delivered the address at the dedication of this
On Wednesday, December 11, 1861, memorial services in
memory of Senator Baker were held in the Senate Chamber
at Washington. On that day the President of the United
States, Abraham Lincoln, entered the Senate Chamber, supported by Hon. Lyman Trumbull and Hon. 0. H. Browning,
Senators from the State of Illinois. He was introduced to
the Vice-President, and took his seat beside him, while his
private secretaries, John G. Nicolay and John Hay, were
seated near the central entrance. Senator Nesmith, of Oregon, speaking of the death of his colleague, said:
"As an orator Baker ranks high, and was peculiarly fascinating in his manner and diction. As a soldier he was
possessed of a rare aptitude for the profession of arms, combined with that cool, unflinching courage which enabled
him to perform the most arduous duties under trying circumstances, and to look upon the most fearful peril with
composure. It is but a few short months since, in the
presence of this body, he took upon himself a solemn oath
to support the Constitution of the United States; that covenant has been sealed with his heart's blood. Death has
silenced his eloquence forever, and his manly form has been HI
William D. Fenton.
consigned to its last resting place on the shores of the
distant Pacific."
At that time McDougall and Latham were the California
Senators, and Senator McDougall delivered an extended
and finished address.   He said:
"He was a many-sided man. Will, mind, power, radiated
from one center within him in all directions; and while the
making of that circle, which, according to the dreams of old
philosophy, would constitute a perfect being, is not within
human hope, he may be regarded as one who at least illustrated the thought. His great powers cannot be attributed
to the work of laborious years. They were not his achievements. They were gifts, God-given. His sensations, memory, thought and action went hand in hand together with a
velocity and power, which, if not always exciting admiration,
compelled astonishment. * * * He was skilled in metaphysics, logic and law. He might be called a master of
history, and of all the literature of our own language.
* * * He was an orator—not an orator trained to the
model of the Greek or Roman school, but one far better
suited to our age and people. He was a master of dialectics,
and possessed a power and skill in words which would have
confounded the rhetoric of Gorgias, and demanded of the
great master of dialectics himself the exact use of all his
materials of wordy warfare."
Senator Browning, of Illinois, said:
"Baker fell—as I think he would have preferred to fall,
had he had the choice of the mode of death—in the storm
of battle, cheering his brave followers on to duty in the
service of his adopted country, to which he felt that he
owed much; which he loved well, and had served long and
faithfully. * * * He was a true, immovable, incorruptible and unshrinking patriot. * * * To Senators who
were his contemporaries here, and who have heard the
melody of his voice, who have witnessed his powerful and
impassioned bursts of eloquence, and felt the witchery of
the spell that he has thrown upon them, it were vain for me
to speak of his displays in this chamber. It is no disparagement to his survivors to say that he stood the peer of any
gentleman on this floor in all that constitutes the able and
skillful debater, and the classical, persuasive and enchanting
orator.'' Edward Dickinson Baker. 21
Senator Cowan, of Pennsylvania, said:
"Mr. President, Pennsylvania also droops her head among
the states that mourn on this occasion. She, too, sheds her
tears and utters her wail of lamentation over the fall of
the senator and soldier. She was his foster mother. A national orphan, in his infancy and youth, she was his guardian
for nurture. Perhaps he had no recollection of any other
country he could call his native land but Pennsylvania, and
she loved him as though he had been actually to her 'manor
born.' He died under her regimental flag, bearing her
commission and leading her soldiers in the deadly strife.
She therefore laments his heroic and untimely death with
a grief that yields to that of none else in its depth and intensity. Let Oregon, his last and fondest love, steep herself
in sorrow as she may, Pennsylvania still claims an equal
place at her side in this national manifestation of distress
at his loss. She can hardly now realize that in his life he
was not all her own, since he died so near her, and was carried from the battlefield borne upon her shield. He was
also a man of intellect, cool, clear, sharp and ready j his culture was large without being bookish, he was learned without being a scholar, and studious without being a student.
* * * He was a true orator because he confined himself
to his subject, and expressing himself with such ease that
all understood him, he was effective. * * * He had a
fine personal appearance, and his manners were self-poised
and easy, as actual contact with all ranks of men could
make them. * * * He is gone, and his name and character henceforth belong to history. His children will glory
in both, and be known to men because of him, the proudest
legacy he could leave them. His country, too, will honor his
memory, and when the roll of her dead heroes is called, his
name will resound through the American Valhalla among
the proudest and most heroic."
Charles Sumner, then Senator from Massachusetts, said:
'' There are two forms of eminent talent which are kindred
in their effect, each producing an instant present impression; each holding crowds in suspense, and each kindling
enthusiastic admiration; I mean that of the orator and that
of the soldier. Each of these when successful wins immediate honor and reads his praise in a nation's eyes. Baker
was orator and soldier. To him belongs the rare renown
of this double character.   Perhaps he carried into war some- 22
William D. Fenton.
thing of the confidence inspired by the conscious sway of
great multitudes, as he surely brought into speech something
of the ardor of war. Call him, if you please, the Prince
Rupert of battle; he was also the Prince Rupert of debate.
* * * In the Senate he at once took the place of orator.
His voice was not full or sonorous, but it was sharp and
clear. It was penetrating rather than commanding, and yet
when touched by his ardent nature it became sympathetic
and even musical. His countenance, body and gesture, all
showed the unconscious inspiration of his voice, and he went
on, master of his audience, master also of himself. All his
faculties were completely at his command. Ideas, illustrations, words, seemed to come unbidden and to range themselves in harmonious forms, as in the walls of ancient Thebes,
each stone took its proper place of its own accord, moved
only by the music of a lyre. His fame as a speaker was so
peculiar, even before he appeared among us, that it was
sometimes supposed he might lack those solid powers without which the oratorical faculty itself can exercise only a
transient influence. But his speech on this floor in reply
to a slave-holding conspirator, now an open rebel, showed
that his matter was as good as his manner, and that while
he was a master of fence, he was also a master of ordnance.
His controversy was graceful, sharp and flashing, like a
cimeter; but his argument was powerful and sweeping like
a battery."
Thus California, Illinois and Pennsylvania mingled their
words of praise and expressed their common grief in memory of the distinguished dead. Pennsylvania was his adopted
state, and the home of his childhood. Illinois was the scene
of his first active endeavor. California, his introduction to
the great West, and Oregon crowned him with the toga of
a United States Senator. While he held a commission as
United States Senator from the people of the State of Oregon, he was essentially a Senator of the United States.
Edward Dickinson Baker lived in a great era of his country. He was by nature and training a soldier and orator,
and a statesman. Born to poverty and almost dependent
upon his own exertions for advancement, his record is that
of other great self-made men.    His environment early led Edward Dickinson Baker.
him into political debate and conflict, and he will be known
in history as one of the great figures of the Civil War. The
central thought of his public life seems to have been a sincere devotion to his country. A man of deep emotion, his
heart was touched and stirred by any apparent or real assault upon the integrity of his adopted country. He served
his country best in his great work as an orator. His defense of the prosecution of the war, his justification of the
course of the government in his replies to Benjamin and
Breckenridge, constitute a sufficient passport to his immortal fame. His occasional addresses which so stirred the
hearts of the people prove his genius as a master and his
ability to influence the emotions and minds of men. His
death ended a brilliant and useful life; but, measured by
the work which he has left behind, it is not too much to
say of Edward Dickinson Baker that he was a great orator,
a noble patriot and a distinguished American. THE WAX OF NEHALEM BEACH.*
By O. F. Stafford.
Thirty miles south of the mouth of the Columbia River
the Oregon coast line, which for a greater part of the distance has been composed of picturesquely rugged headlands
and most charming stretches of ocean beach, swings around
the sacred mountain Nekahnie, of the Indians, and spreads
out within a distance of two or three miles into a flat, sandy
spit which serves to separate Nehalem Bay from the Pacific.
Here is a spot not only beautiful in its surroundings, but
rich in mysterious legends of shipwreck and buried treasure, as well as vague traditions regarding the first comings
of white men to the great Northwest. There are now, to be
sure, no certain relics of the shipwrecks, and about all that
remains to recall the traditions are occasional pieces of
wax, rescued from the sands of the spit, perchance, by a
passer-by. It is of this wax particularly that the present
article will deal, for it has long been a subject of interest,
speculation, and even of warm controversy. In this substance many have tried to fathom an ancient mystery of
the sea; others have hoped to find it a guiding index to a
vault in Nature's treasure house. It has been at once an
enigma to the theorizing antiquarian, the despair of the
sordid promoter, and the solace of the newspaper space
writer. Yet when all of the evidence bearing upon the
matter is summarized the enigmatical aspects of the question are seen to disappear almost entirely.
For our first historical mention of this wax deposit we
are indebted to that admirable representative of the Northwest Company, Alexander Henry, who, in company with
David Thompson, official geographer of the same company,
made an expedition down the Columbia to the present site
* Reprinted from the Sunday Oregonian of January 26, 1908. The Wax of Nehalem Beach.
of Astoria in the winter of 1813-14. Henry's journal, reproduced and annotated in Coues* "New Light on the History of the Greater Northwest" (Vol. H.), contains, under
the date of December 8, 1813, at which time Henry was at
Astoria, the following notation:
"The old Clatsop chief arrived with some excellent
salmon and the meat of a large biche. There came with
him a man about thirty years of age, who has extraordinarily dark red hair, and is the supposed offspring of a ship
that was wrecked within a few miles of the entrance of this
river many years ago. Great quantities of beeswax continue to be dug out of the sand near this spot, and the Indians bring it to trade with us."
Later, in the entry for February 28, 1814, there appears:
"* * * They bring us frequently lumps of beeswax
fresh out of the sand which they collect on the coast to the
S., where the Spanish ship was cast away some years ago
and the crew all murdered by the natives." <
It is seen that Henry speaks very positively concerning
the origin of the wax deposit, and doubtless his utterances