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Catalog No. —
Belknap 668
Date —
September 20, 1862
Era —
1846-1880 (Treaties, Civil War, and Immigration)
Themes —
Government, Law, and Politics
Credits —
Oregon Historical Society
Regions —
Author —
Jason Kilgore & A.E. Rogers

Subscriptions to US Sanitary Commission

This document lists the names of Jacksonville, Oregon residents who pledged donations to the U.S. Sanitary Commission at a town meeting on September 20, 1862. The Sanitary Commission was a non-governmental agency organized by northern citizens in June 1861 to assist sick and wounded Union soldiers.

The existence of this document is an interesting commentary on citizen activism in Southern Oregon during the Civil War. During the war, sympathy for the Confederate cause was prevalent in Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine counties. Union supporters even referred to this region as Oregon’s “Dixie.” The pro-Confederate stance was an outgrowth of several historical developments. Unlike other regions in Western Oregon which boasted emigrants from New England, Southern Oregon was primarily settled by Americans from the borderland states of Missouri and Kentucky or from the heavily Democratic regions of southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Proponents of Jacksonian democracy, these settlers sympathized with the Confederate cause because of their strong beliefs in limited government and states rights. They were therefore suspicious of what they viewed as a Northern-initiated conflict led by abolitionists and capitalists that was designed to strengthen the central government.  In addition, many settlers in Southern Oregon were distrustful of the federal government since as veterans of the Rogue River Indian War of the 1850s, they  were still awaiting reimbursement of war debts.

In the face of this pro-Confederate sympathy in Southern Oregon, Union supporters were fiercely partisan in advancing the Northern cause. Such was the case in Jacksonville. In the summer of 1862, Thomas Starr King, a well-known Christian minister and ardent Unionist from California, visited Oregon on a lecture tour to promote the Northern cause and raise money for the Sanitary Commission. King’s visit received significant coverage in the state’s newspapers, and Avery Holbrook of Portland was soon appointed to solicit donations for the commission from Oregon communities. With the support of James Denlinger, the Republican owner of Jacksonville’s Oregon Sentinel, a group of Jacksonville residents organized a donation drive in response to a call from Holbrook.

Further Reading:
Lalande, Jeff. “‘Dixie’ of the Pacific Northwest: Southern Oregon’s Civil War.” Oregon Historical Quarterly 100, 1999: 33–72.

Edwards, Thomas G. “Six Oregon Leaders and the Far-Reaching Impact of America’s Civil War.” Oregon Historical Quarterly 100, 1999: 8–32.

Johannsen, Robert W. Frontier Politics and the Sectional Conflict: The Pacific Northwest on the Eve of the Civil War. Seattle, Wash., 1955.

Written by Melinda Jette, © Oregon Historical Society, 2003.