Paper pub. date
June 2017
ISBN 9780870718915 (paperback)
ISBN 9780870718922 (ebook)
6 x 9, 224 pages. 10 B&W photographs.

The Salem Clique

Oregon's Founding Brothers

Barbara S. Mahoney

During the decade of the 1850s, the Oregon Territory progressed toward statehood in an atmosphere of intense political passion and conflict. Editors of rival newspapers blamed a group of young men whom they named the "Salem Clique" for the bitter party struggles of the time. Led by Asahel Bush, editor of the Oregon Statesman, the Salem Clique was accused of dictatorship, corruption, and the intention of imposing slavery on the Territory. The Clique, critics maintained, even conspired to establish a government separate from the United States, conceivably a "bigamous Mormon republic."

While not in agreement with some of the more extreme contemporary accusations against the Clique, many historians have concluded that its members were vicious and unscrupulous men who were able, because of their command of the Democratic party, to impose their hegemony on the Oregon Territory's inhabitants. Other scholars have seen them as merely another manifestation of the contentious politics of the period.

Although the Salem Clique has been given considerable prominence in nearly every account of Oregon’s Territorial period, there has not been a detailed study of its role until now. What sort of people were these men? What was their impact on the issues, events, and movements of the period? What role did they play in the years after Oregon became a state? Historian Barbara Mahoney sets out to answer these and many other questions in this comprehensive and deeply researched history.

About the author

BARBARA S. MAHONEY is a historian whose interest in Oregon history began when she moved with her family to Salem, Oregon, in 1976. She has contributed a number of entries to the Oregon Encyclopedia and is the author of Dispatches and Dictators, a biography of Oregon native Ralph Barnes, who was a foreign correspondent in Europe in the 1930s. Dispatches and Dictators won the Oregon Book Award for Literary Nonfiction in 2003.

Read more about this author

"[Barbara S. Mahoney's] considerable strengths as a historian are in story telling and especially bringing characters to life. ... There is much here one will learn about Oregon's early history, the interwoven nature of Oregon's and the United States' politics in the larger Civil War era, and of course about the state's 'founding brothers.'"
Peter Boag, Oregon Historical Quarterly

"Mahoney did a very good job researching this book and was also tireless in her analysis of existing works published about the clique...Mahoney's writing style and storytelling abilities will make this publication appealing [in the classroom and] to the general reader wanting to find out more about the territorial and early statehood periods of Oregon's history."
-Mike Mackey, Pacific Northwest Quarterly

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