Matthew Paul Deady
President of the constitutional convention
Douglas County delegate
Matthew Deady was born near Easton, Maryland. He attended public schools in West Virginia and trained as a blacksmith. He studied law at Barnesville Academy in Ohio and passed the bar in 1847. In 1849 Deady came to Oregon with the Rifle Regiment Army Troop, escorting a military paymaster to Fort Vancouver.
In June 1850 he was elected to represent Yamhill County in the House of Representatives. In 1853 President Franklin Pierce appointed Deady to be an associate judge on the Territorial Supreme Court of Oregon, and he served this position until 1859.
In 1857 he was elected as delegate from Douglas County and served as president of the constitutional convention. He campaigned for the position as a supporter of slavery. Deady supported slavery because it was lawful. He did not consider applying morality to a public issue. The question of whether Oregon should be admitted as a slave or free state was passed to the electorate. They overwhelmingly rejected slavery.
Deady successfully advocated for provisions in law to set six-year terms for judges, four-year terms for state officers and biennial sessions for the legislature. Prominent in the Democratic Party, he was associated with the “Salem Clique” which virtually controlled state politics at this time.
In 1860, Deady moved to Portland. He prepared the act incorporating the city of Portland. This work soon became the model for acts of incorporation in Oregon towns. During the Civil War he was a strong supporter of the Union and later was associated with the Republican Party.
When Oregon became a state, Deady was appointed to be a U.S. district judge. In 1862 he was appointed to be a code commissioner and prepared the Code of Civil Procedure. He also prepared an Incorporation Act, Code of Criminal Procedure, Penal Code and Justice’s Code–all adopted in 1864. Deady was later asked to publish all the laws and codes in force in Oregon. This work became the General Laws of Oregon, which he compiled and annotated in 1866.
Deady also acted as President of the Board of Regents of the State University of Oregon. Deady Hall on the University of Oregon campus was built in 1876 and named in his honor.
He married Lucy Henderson in June 1852, and they had three sons, Edward, Paul and Henderson.