Joseph Lane (American National Biography)

Frederick J. Blue, "Lane, Joseph," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
National politics finally divided Oregon Democrats…, with Lane at the center of the controversy. Currying southern favor in Congress and at the same time convinced of the slaveholder's right to bring slaves into any territory, the pugnacious Lane showed his hand most dramatically by offering to be Preston Brooks's second when the latter challenged two northern congressmen to duels in 1856. This followed Brooks's vicious caning of the outspoken antislavery senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. Lane headed that faction of his party most closely identified with President James Buchanan and his position favoring legalization of slavery in Kansas Territory. Bush in turn aligned his wing of the party with Stephen A. Douglas and his insistence that Kansans be afforded the right to decide, through the process known as popular sovereignty, whether slavery would be permitted in the territory. Lane's outspoken defense of the Buchanan-endorsed, proslavery Lecompton constitution led to the division of the Oregon Democratic party, and the Bush faction allied with the newly formed Republican party of Oregon in support of Douglas and popular sovereignty. When the House of Representatives delayed an Oregon statehood bill in 1858, it was widely believed to be in punishment of Lane and his proslavery allies. Oregon finally achieved statehood in February 1859. Even before Congress acted, Oregon had organized a state government, and Lane again revealed his political influence when the legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate.
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