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Dr. John McLoughlin
Dr. McLaughlin's Memorial to Congress


By the passage of the Donation Land Law, and also by reason of the letter and of the speeches of Thurston in Congress, Dr. McLoughlin was put in the humiliating position of having to issue a printed circular letter to get expressions of opinions of others, as to the falsity of the charges made against him by Thurston, and to support a memorial to Congress which Dr. McLoughlin afterwards sent to Congress with all the evidence. But his memorial accomplished nothing. There was, too, the question that Congress had given away his land claim, which was then technically the property of Oregon, for an university, and that Congress could not, with dignity to itself, revoke its gift. And who was Dr. McLoughlin to Congress? He was away out in Oregon nearly 4,000 miles from Washington. There were great and serious matters to be considered by Congress. The Oregon question was settled. What were the wrongs and misfortunes of one old man to Congress?

In answer to the printed circular issued by Dr. McLoughlin, after the passage of the Donation Land Law, for the purposes of his memorial to Congress, he received many commendatory letters. I give merely excerpts from the letter of that noble old pioneer, Jesse Applegate, an immigrant of 1843. He wrote: "I have received your letter of inquiries, and take pleasure in replying to such of them as I personally know to be true. I came to this country in the fall of 1843, and, from that time forward, I can safely testify that your conduct has been the most generous and philanthropic, not only to immigrants from the United States, but to all requiring your assistance, whether natives or foreigners. I can also say that you have greatly encouraged and given much assistance in settling and developing the resources of the country, but I have by no means considered your motive for doing so political, or that your charitable acts were intended to advance the interests of any particular nation, but that you acted in the one case simply from a sense of Christian duty and humanity, and in the other from a natural desire to be useful in your day and generation. . . . But as the office of Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company is in no way connected with politics, the discharge of its duties imposed no restrictions upon your private sentiments, and unless they led to a betrayal of your trust, which has never been charged against you, as an Irishman and a Catholic, you were free to feel and express your partiality for the free and tolerant institutions of the United States. That you did entertain such partiality, from my first acquaintance with you, need not depend upon my assertion, for it is a fact well known, and one you did not pretend to conceal."

Jesse Applegate then says, in this letter, that he was present in 1845 when Dr. McLoughlin applied to Judge Peter H. Burnett, the Chief Justice of the Provisional Government, to take the oath of allegiance to the United States and to obtain first naturalization papers, but Judge Burnett declined to grant the request for he believed he did not have any jurisdiction to do so. Jesse Applegate further said in his letter: "That 'you pulled down houses and turned women and children out of them,' is a charge not only false, but too absurd to require refutation or notice. I can myself state from experience, which accords with that of every other destitute immigrant who applied to you for assistance, either before or since my arrival in the country, that your conduct was entirely the reverse. My own company, of more than seventy persons, mostly women and children, who arrived at Vancouver in the storms of winter, in a condition the most destitute and miserable, were received by you, not as strangers, or foreigners, or as some would have it, enemies, but as brethren and fit subjects of hospitality and Christian charity, and our reception was not more kind and generous than was extended to every immigrant who sought your hospitality or assistance. But however unjust the Oregon Land Law has been towards you, it may be said in excuse for the members of Congress who passed it, that with the concurring and uncontradicted evidence hi the Delegate and Chief Justice of Oregon before them, you neither had nor would become an American citizen, they are not chargeable with injustice."

The Persecution Continued

The conspirators and their friends did not cease their persecution of Dr. McLoughlin. They were determined he should not have his land claim. To protect the reputation of Thurston and the other conspirators, it was necessary to defeat all actions of the Oregon Legislative Assembly in favor of Dr. McLoughlin. If that body made any petitions to Congress or passed any resolutions in favor of Dr. McLoughlin, it would show that he was entitled to his land claim, the injustice of section eleven of the Donation Land Law, and that Thurston was guilty of malicious untruths in his letter to, and his speeches before Congress relating to Dr. McLoughlin and his land claim. Oregon could not, with propriety, pretend to act justly to Dr. McLoughlin and still retain his land claim. I regret to say that the House of Representatives of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, at its session in 1853-4, not onty refused to help Dr. McLoughlin, but by its actions did him harm. January 6, 1854, several petitions were presented to the House asking that Congress be memorialized in favor of Dr. McLoughlin's right to his land claim, "excepting the Abernethy Island," but the petitions were immediately laid on the table. January 28, 1854, Orlando Humason presented to the House the following resolution: "Whereas, the acts of John McLoughlin in regard to his treatment of the early settlers of Oregon, have, as we believe, been misrepresented, therefore - Resolved, that the generous conduct of Dr. John McLoughlin in assisting the early settlers of Oregon, merits our warmest commendations, and that as evidence of the high estimation in which his services are held by his fellow citizens, the thanks of this Assembly be tendered to the said Dr. John McLoughlin." But by the vote of sixteen to seven, three being absent, the resolution was indefinitely postponed, which was the legislative way of defeating it. All honor to the seven who voted in favor of the resolution. Their names are F. C. Cason, L. F. Cartee, Orlando Humason, B. B. Jackson, J. W. Moffitt, Chauncey Nye, and L. S. Thompson.


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