Down the Ballot

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Governor's Desk Found!

I was recently visiting Tillamook, Oregon most famously known in the region for their cheese factory and aviation museum. I was visiting to go see the freshly renovated  Tillamook County Pioneer Museum. I had not been in for a visit since they had finished the renovations. I was amazed to see how they had made the first level much more open and inviting. Nearly everything else remained the same from what I could recall. The old cars in the basement, the American Service room filled with military artifacts from the community, the pioneer living area and of course the nature preservation room.


One of the cool items that I saw while I was there was the desk of former Oregon Governor William Wallace Thayer, he was Oregon's sixth governor. A Democrat, elected in 1878 he was nominated for his service on the legal team that challenged the standing of Republican elector Watts in the famous 1876 election of President Rutherford B. Hayes. While the team was successful, it did not help Samuel Tilden make it to the White House. Hayes still prevailed in the Electoral College.

Thayer won office by just 59 votes. His administration is best remembered for his frugality. He eliminated the state debt during his term and stopped funding on the state capitol building claiming it was too lavish of a building for Oregon. The modern day Oregon court system owes its existence to Thayer as well as he was the first Governor to set it on a course of modernization.  Declining to seek a second term, he opted instead to seek a position on the Oregon Supreme Court. During the last fall season of the 19th century Thayer passed away in Portland in 1899.

Here is the beautiful desk Thayer used as Governor and possibly while he was serving on the
Supreme Court of Oregon. It is big. A governor was in the full sense of the term the 'chief executive' more so in the 19th century then they are today. At times he could be making decisions that affect the entire state and then next moment acting like a filing clerk signing all sorts of state documents for day to day business. Governors have staff than handle all sorts of business day to day for them.

There is a lot more at the museum,
like Smokey the Bear. Watch out if you press his button, he has a very grizzly story to tell you. Next time you are out in Tillamook go have a look.

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