This Land, Oregon

Resettlement and the New Economy

Oregon-Style Journalism

The 1850s and 1860s were tumultuous decades for Oregon politics, with rival newspapers indulging in unrestrained attacks on their competitors and opponents. The most notorious practitioners of what became known as Oregon-style journalism were Asahel Bush of the Salem Statesman, Thomas Jefferson Dryer of the Portland Oregonian, and William Lysander Adams of the Oregon Argus (Oregon City). Bush, the “Ass of Hell” to his enemies, served the interests of the Democratic Party; Dryer spoke for the Whig/Republican Party; and Adams spoke for the fading Whigs.

In the midst of their incessant and noisome editorial invective, the three newspapers battled over many issues, including the location of the territorial and state capitals, political appointments, statehood, and slavery. In an age without libel laws and few restraints on journalist haranguing, Oregon newspapers indulged in a series of “take no prisoners” colloquies, with Bush indicting Dryer for engaging in “the grossest personal abuse, the most foul mouthed slander, grovelling, scurrility, falsehood and ribald blackguardism.” Such exchanges moderated in the 1870s with the adoption of a libel law and the formation of a state press association with a professional code of ethics.

© William G. Robbins, 2002. Updated and revised by OE Staff, 2014.

Related Oregon Encyclopedia Articles


PREVIOUS SECTION
A Changing Landscape and the Beginnings of White Settlement

When John McLoughlin visited the Willamette Valley in 1832, he remarked that it deserved “all the praises Bestowed on it as it is the finest country I have ever seen.” Bounded by the Coastal Range, the Cascade Range, and the Calapooya Mountains, and extending from present-day Portland to Eugene, the valley measures one hundred miles long and twenty to thirty miles wide.

Read More...

NEXT SECTION
Reclaiming the Land

Passage of the Newlands Reclamation Act in 1902 heightened expectations in Oregon that federal money would be available to develop irrigation projects in the arid regions of the state. In quick order, the newly established U.S. Reclamation Service carried out a series of surveys and investigations of the Malheur, Willow Creek, and Owyhee areas in eastern Oregon; the Umatilla district in the northeast; and the Klamath Basin in the south-central part of the state.

Read More...


This entry was last updated on May 5, 2021