Every Wednesday, the Oregon Republican League will post the biographies of important figures, in the League's/State of Oregon's history. Feel free to comment or share stories of your family's Republican affiliation.
Joel Palmer was born on October 4, 1810, to Quaker parents in Ontario, Canada, and grew up in New York's Catskill Mountains. Indentured to a nearby family for four years, he received only three months of formal schooling before moving to Philadelphia at age sixteen. Four years later, he married Catherine Caffee, who died after childbirth. Palmer married his second wife, Sarah Ann Derbyshire, in 1836. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to the Whitewater Valley in Indiana, where Palmer oversaw a canal construction project and served as a Democratic representative in the state legislature in 1843, 1844, and 1845.
Palmer traveled overland to Oregon in the spring of 1845, without his family. The diary he kept on the trip was published in 1847 as Journal of Travels over the Rocky Mountains and aided later Oregon immigrants as they prepared equipment and planned routes. After returning to Indiana in 1846, Palmer journeyed west again, this time with his family, arriving in Oregon in the fall of 1847.
Shortly after the Palmers arrived in Oregon, Cayuse Indians, panicked by a measles epidemic and suspicious of newcomers, murdered missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and eleven others, sparking the 1848 Cayuse War. Palmer acted as commissary-general of the volunteer forces and as a peace liaison to tribes who may have been tempted to join the Cayuse.
Later in 1848, Palmer left for the gold fields of California. Returning to Oregon in the spring of 1849, he filed a donation land claim in Yamhill County and laid out the town of Dayton. At that time, new settlers were vying with the Native population for land and resources. Newcomers to the region were divided over how to best deal with Indians; some advocated for assimilating them into American culture while others called for their complete extermination. Palmer was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs for the Oregon Territory in 1853, charged with negotiating treaties with Indians in Oregon Territory and moving them onto reservations. He negotiated nine cession treaties. In the politically charged atmosphere, newspapers and officials sometimes accused Palmer of acting too favorably toward Indians, and he was removed from the superintendent's office in 1857.
Palmer served as speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives in 1862, as a state senator from 1864 to 1868, and as Indian agent to the Siletz in 1871. He was unsuccessful in an 1870 run for governor as a Republican. He ran a variety of businesses, including a mill, until he died in Dayton in 1881.
History of Oregon, Vol. 2; The Pioneer Historical Publishing Company, pub.
1922, page 5-7
HARVEY WHITEFIELD SCOTT.
For forty years Harvey Whitefield Scott was editor of The Oregonian and in his
death the journalistic profession of America lost one of its most brilliant
minds, one of its most accomplished scholars, and one of its most vigorous and
courageous Writers. He was a pioneer and a builder. For nearly a half century
he labored for the development of the Pacific coast, and Portland and the
surrounding country owe their splendid progress in large measure to the work
of this terse conductor of a great newspaper. He possessed those qualities
which in the aggregate make what men call character, and this character,
shining out through the columns of The Oregonian, has exalted the character of
the state and the minds of her sons.
His birth occurred in Tazewell county, Illinois, February 1, 1838. He came of
Scotch ancestry, his paternal forefathers landing at Charleston, South
Carolina, in 1755. His grandparents became residents of Pennsylvania and North
Carolina, and his parents, John Tucker and Ann (Roelofson) Scott, established
their home in Tazewell county, Illinois, where Harvey W. Scott continued to
reside until his fourteenth year, becoming inured to a life of severe toll,
assisting with the work of the fields during the summer months, while In the
winter seasons he attended the district school. In 1852 the family started
across the plains to Oregon with ox teams - a journey that was fraught with
many dangers and privations. On reaching Oregon they first located in Yamhill
county, two of the party, the mother and a brother, having succumbed to the
hardships of the journey. The rest of the family resided in that locality for
about a year and removed to the Puget Sound country, settling in the vicinity
of Olympia, in what is now Mason county, Washington. In the difficult work of
clearing the land and preparing the soil for the cultivation of crops Mr.
Scott bore his full share and was thus occupied until 1855, when he enlisted
as a private in the Washington Territory Volunteers, under Captain Calvin W.
Swindall, and for about nine months was engaged in Indian warfare.
Subsequently he worked in logging camps, also following surveying and farming
until 1857, when he resolved to secure a better education and set out for
Oregon City, walking the entire distance from Olympia. For a short time he
resided with relatives in Clackamas county, Oregon, attending school in Oregon
City, while later he continued his studies at Pacific University at Forest
Grove, providing the necessary funds for his education by working as a farm
hand in the neighborhood. In 1859 his father returned to Oregon, settling upon
a farm three miles west of Forest Grove, and the son then entered Pacific
University, where In 1863 he was the first to complete the four years'
classical course, thus becoming the first alumnus of the institution. Near his
father's place was a sawmill, in which Mr. Scott worked when not employed
elsewhere. He was an expert axman, and did a good deal of work in clearing the
forest about Forest Grove. He was fond of the classics and read in the
original all the Latin and Greek authors he could find. He possessed a
retentive memory and throughout his life preserved a general familiarity with
classical literature, being able to quote therefrom with remarkable readiness.
Undoubtedly his great literary ability was due in large measure to his study
of the classics, and when asked what books in English he regarded as most
helpful in creating his literary style, he replied: "The speeches of Edmund
Burke and the prophecies of Jeremiah and Isaiah in the Old Testament."
Following his graduation Mr. Scott went to Idaho, where for a year he was
engaged in mining and whipsawing, and in 1864 he came to Portland. For a few
months he was employed as librarian of the Portland Library, which at that
time utilized two small rooms on the second floor of a brick building on the
northeast corner of First and Stark streets. While thus engaged he wrote a few
articles for The Oregonian and subsequently obtained a position with the paper
through the efforts of Matthew P. Deady, then president of the Portland
Library Association. He was at that time studying law in his leisure hours
under the direction of Erasmus D. Shattuck, but the field of journalism proved
a more congenial one and he directed his energies along that HISTORY OF OREGON
line. Showing a decided talent for newspaper work he soon became editor of The
Oregonian, in which position he found a wide scope for his tastes and
abilities. Without previous experience in the complex duties of what is
usual1y first a trade and afterwards a profession, he rose to all the exacting
requirements of his work, and so signal was his success and so thoroughly was
his individuality associated with his paper that his name became a household
word over the entire northwest. One of his first notable articles was an
editorial written on the death of President Lincoln, which attracted
widespread attention. He gave The Oregonian his continuous editorial service
until October, 1872, when he was appointed collector of customs for the port
of Portland, which position he retained for four years, and in 1877 returned
to The Oregonian as editor and part owner, where he remained until his death
With a strong love of the locality and state and a clear perception of the
immense natural advantages of Oregon and Washington, Mr. Scott gave the most
minute attention to the discovery of the stores of wealth in the forests,
mines, soil and climate. To a certain extent he had so learned the feelings,
demands and habits of the people that his utterances were the daily voice of
the Oregonians. Bold and forceful in his writings, never seeking to
conciliate, he met with opposition but usually prevailed. Earnest and sincere
in all that he did, he had no patience with pretense and had a wholesome
contempt for shams. Avoiding rhetorical art or indirection of language, he
went with incisive directness to his subject and commanded attention by the
clearness and vigor of his statement, the fairness of his arguments and the
thorough and careful investigation of his subject. In the midst of his
journalistic and business affairs he found time to pursue literary,
philosophical, theological and classical study and to his constant and
systematic personal investigation in these directions were due his scholarly
attainments. At the time of the reorganization of the Associated Press in 1898
he took a prominent part therein and served as a member of its board of
directors until his death in 1910.
In October, 1865, Mr. Scott was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Nicklin
and they became the parents of two sons; John H. and Kenneth, but the latter
died in childhood. The mother passed away January 11, 1875, and in the
following year Mr. Scott wedded Miss Margaret McChesney of Latrobe,
Pennsylvania, and to their union were born two sons and a daughter: Leslie M.,
Ambrose and Judith.
In his political views Mr. Scott was a republican, yet he never hesitated to
condemn any course or measure of the party which he deemed detrimental to good
government and the welfare of the nation. He was a strong supporter of the
gold standard, which he championed through the columns of The Oregonian when
the republican as well as the democratic party of the state advocated the
Bryan policy of free silver at a ratio of sixteen to one, and through his
influence Oregon gave its vote in 1896 to the republican gold standard
candidate for president, William McKinley. In 1876 he was a delegate to the
republican national convention, held at Cincinnati,. which nominated
Rutherford B. Hayes for president of the United States. In 1886 he was
temporary secretary of the state convention of the union party and at numerous
times was an active participant as a delegate in conventions of the republican
party in Oregon. He was offered the positions of ambassador to Mexico and
minister to Belgium, which offices he declined. He was a dominant factor in
Oregon politics, although never an office holder, but his clear, logical and
trenchant editorials had an immeasurable influence over public thought and
action. He made The Oregonian. a power and influence not only in the Pacific
northwest but throughout the country. He always gave personal editorial
support to every project which he deemed of vital significance to the city and
was a member of the charter board which drafted the present charter of
Portland. He was also a member of the Portland water board and was active in
the movement which resulted in the erection of a monument in the Plaza to the
dead of the Second Oregon Volunteers who fought in the Spanish-American war.
For a number of years he was a member of the board of trustees of Pacific
University and at the time of his death was its president. In 1903 he was
elected president of the Lewis and Clark Fair Association and through the
columns of The Oregonian did much to promote its success. The other Portland
journals followed in his lead and made the Lewis and Clark Exposition the best
advertised fair that has ever been held in America.
Mr. Scott was a member of the Arlington and Commercial clubs of Portland,
Oregon. He attained high rank in Masonry, with which he became identified in
1905 as a member of Portland Lodge, No. 55, A. F. & A. M. He afterward became
a member of Washington Chapter, No. 18, R. A. M.; and Oregon Commandery, No.
1, K. T. In 1906 he attained the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite
Consistory in Washington, D. C., and became a member of Al Kader Temple of the
Mystic Shrine on the 15th of June, 1907.
In disposition Mr. Scott was most friendly and inclined to be charitable in
considering the errors and faults of men. He was kind-hearted and sympathetic,
quick to vindicate the right and denounce the wrong, whether of public or
individual concern. His crowning virtue, however, was the love he bore for his
state and his pride in Its material advancement. He labored unceasingly for
high ideals and the betterment of the common lot. Success and honor were his,
each worthily won, and there Is in his history an element of inspiration for
others and an example of high principles and notable achievement.
Death came to Mr. Scott on the 7th of August, 1910, following a surgical
operation in Baltimore, Maryland, when he was seventy-two years of age. The
funeral services were conducted at Portland, Oregon, under the auspices of the
Scottish Rite Consistory, the ceremony being a most solemn and impressive one.
His death took from Oregon her most Illustrious figure. Among the many
tributes paid to his memory by the press throughout the country we quote the
H. H. Kohlsaat, editor of the Chicago Record-Herald, wrote of Mr. Scott: "He
was one of the last survivors of the newspaper era that produced a number of
great editors and leaders of public opinion. He made The Oregonian; he was The
Oregonian. He knew and understood the people and the territory he had cast his
lot with as a lad; he interpreted their sentiments, defended their interests
and successfully urged his own convictions upon them. Few men In the Pacific
northwest wielded as great an influence for good."
The following comment was made by S. A. Perkins, publisher of the Tacoma
Ledger and News: "Harvey W. Scott was the dean of the newspaper men of the
Pacific coast. There were no greater, east or west, and those of his class can
be counted upon the fingers of one hand. He ranked with such journalists as
Dana, Watterson and Greeley. He was a product of the Pacific northwest and for
years exerted a greater influence on its current history than any other man.
When Harvey Scott spoke the public listened. His opinions commanded the
respect of even those who did not follow them. For years the name of Harvey
Scott was a household word in the ‘old Oregon country’ and his face was
familiar to thousands of pioneers. He knew the life of the pioneers, for he
was one of them, and his intellectual attainments and broad human sympathy
enabled him to write of pioneer life with remarkable thoroughness and
fidelity. An authority on the Pacific northwest, a profound student of history
and the classics, a master politician in the best sense of the term, an editor
whose utterances were always courageous and convincing, Harvey Scott was the
most dominant Intellectual force west of the Rocky Mountains."
Harrison Gray Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, said of him: "When
Harvey W. Scott passed away at Baltimore yesterday one of the greatest lights
of journalism went out. He was a great editor in every sense of the word;
great in mental force, great in executive ability, great as a writer. He made
the Portland Oregonian famed throughout the country for its breadth of vision,
its originality of thought and the power and effectiveness of its editorial
expression. He fought many a good fight against adverse odds and when he died
was engaged in a vigorous battle for principle against the fury of passing
clamor. He saw a hamlet grow into a metropolis, saw cities and towns multiply
in the field which he dominated."
"His masterful, rugged character will be missed for long and felt keenly in
the walks where it was familiar, in the workshop which he loved, in the
profession which he honored and which honored him, and, indeed, in the ranks
of the strong and thoughtful up and down the land. Oregon still has need of
him and although his voice is hushed, we may be sure that the brave,
arrow-piercing words he has spoken and written will live for years to come and
go on battling in the service of eternal truth."