POLITICAL, TERRITORIAL ORGANIZATION, STATE ORGANIZATION,
AND OFFICIAL ROSTER.
MOVEMENTS TOWARD SECURING TERRITORIAL ORGANIZATION.
In 1851 and 1852 the first effort was made to erect a territory west of Missouri and Iowa, which was abortive, and the matter did not reach a vote in congress. At the next session, 1852-53, Willard P. Hall, of Missouri, on December 13, 1852, offered, a bill in the house of representatives organizing the territory of "Platte," which included in its area what is now the greater part of Nebraska, the northern limit of the region being generally described as "the Platte river." The bill was referred to the committee on territories. From that committee William A. Richardson, of Illinois, reported a bill organizing the territory of Nebraska, covering the same area. The report did not meet with the approval of the southern members, and they made such a fight on it that the report presented recommended that the bill be rejected. Notwithstanding the objections, however, the bill passed the house by a vote of 98 to 43, February 10, 1853. Now began the contest which became notorious in the history of the nation. The bill went to the senate heralded by pro-slavery blasts of warning. There was organized secretly a system to prevent free soil from becoming a new territory unless a similar tract of slave soil should be set off as a counterpoise in the national legislature, for to admit a free territory without one dedicated to slavery was to give the anti-slavery faction a political lever that might be used against the south. The bill reached the senate, where it was moved to "lay it on the table." This defeated the bill by a vote of 23 to 17, the senators from the slave states, with the exception of those from Missouri, were solidly arrayed against the bill.
In the meantime the people of Iowa and many localities in the west had manifested their disapproval of the lines described in the bill, and they began to impatiently insist that the country west of the Missouri river be opened to settlement. Thousands of emigrants were camping along the eastern banks of the Missouri, impatiently awaiting the extinguishment of the Indian title to lands, and were awaiting the permission of the general government to cross over and settle in the new territory. And to that end in the fall of 1853 a considerable number of persons crossed the Missouri from Iowa, and, assembling at Bellevue and Old Fort Kearney, proceeded to hold an election for a delegate to represent their interests at Washington in securing a territorial organization. Said election was held on the 11th of October, 1853, and resulted in the unanimous choice of Hon. Hadley D. Johnson, a prominent lawyer and leading citizen of Council Bluffs, Iowa.
On the 14th of December, 1853, a bill was introduced in the senate by Augustus C. Dodge, senator from Iowa, providing for the organization of the "Territory of Nebraska." This measure adhered to the former boundaries, and it was referred to the committee on territories. The bill contained no clause interfering with the interdict on slavery in this region laid down by the Missouri compromise. The report of this committee contains so much information concerning the situation at that time that we quote the following from it, viz: "A question has arisen in regard to the right to hold slaves in the territory of Nebraska when the Indian laws shall be withdrawn and the country opened to emigration and settlement. By the eighth section of an act to authorize the people of Missouri territory to form a constitution and state government, and for the admission of such state into the union on an equal footing with the original states, and to prohibit slavery in certain territories, approved March 6, 1820, it was provided: 'That in all that territory ceded by France to the United States under the name of Louisiana, which lies north of thirty-six and one-half degrees north latitude, not included within the limits of the state contemplated by this act, slavery and involuntary servitude otherwise than a punishment of crimes shall be and hereby are prohibited; provided always that any person
escaping into the same, etc., such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person or persons claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.' Under this section, as in the case of the Mexican law in New Mexico and Utah, it is a disputed point whether slavery is prohibited in the Nebraska country by valid enactment. The decision of this question involves the constitutional power of congress to pass laws prescribing and regulating the domestic institutions of the various territories of the union. In the opinion of these eminent statesmen who hold that congress is invested with no rightful authority to legislate upon the subject of slavery in the territories, the eighth section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri is null and void, while the prevailing sentiment in large portions of the union sustains the doctrine that the constitution of the United States secures to every citizen an inalienable right to move into any of the territories with his property of whatever kind and description, and to hold and enjoy the same, your committee do not feel themselves called upon to enter the discussion of these controverted questions. They involve the same grave issues which produced the agitation, the sectional strife and fearful struggle of 1850. As congress deemed it wise and prudent to refrain from deciding the matter in controversey then * * * so your committee are not prepared to recommend a departure from the course pursued on that memorable occasion, either by affirming or repealing the eighth section of the Missouri act, or by any act declaratory of the meaning of the constitution in respect to the legal points in dispute. It is apparent that the compromise measures of 1850 affirm and rest upon the following propositions: First, that all questions pertaining to slavery in the territories and the new states to be formed therefrom are to be left to the people residing therein."
When the report of the committee was presented Archibald Dixon, of Kentucky, gave notice that he would, when the bill came up, offer as an amendment a clause that the eighth section of the Missouri act "shall not be so construed as to apply to the territory of Nebraska or to any other territory, but that the citizens of the several states shall be at liberty to take and hold their slaves within any of the territories or states to be formed therefrom." This, of course, would have annulled the compromise act, and it reopened hostilities. It was in the midst of this discussion and controversy that Hadley D. Johnson, representing the Nebraska people, reached Washington. He had no official status, but as representative of a large region affected by the measure he was admitted to the councils of the committee on territories. He had a good deal of influence with the committee, and it was mainly through his efforts that Senator Douglas requested the recommital of the bill. On January 23, 1854, a bill retaining the title was offered, but so amended as to leave but little of the original document. Two territories were now proposed, one to be called "Kansas," the other "Nebraska." The amended bill contained the following important provisions concerning slavery:
First, that all questions pertaining to slavery in the territories, and in the new states to be formed therefrom, are to be left to the decision of the people residing therein, through their appropriate representatives.
Second. That all cases involving the title to slaves and questions of personal freedom are referred to the adjudication of local tribunals with right of appeal to the supreme court of the United States.
Third. That the provisions of the constitution and laws of the United States in respect to fugitives from service are to be carried into faithful execution in all the original territories, the same as in the states.
The fight that followed over this bill was a hotly-contested one. Senator Douglas introduced an amendment affirming the principle of non-intervention by congress, which prevailed. Senator Chase moved "that the people of the territory may, if they see fit, prohibit the existence of slavery therein." This was voted down. The contest and debate that followed was one of the most notable in the history of the country. It is not necessary to follow it in detail in this connection. So far as the destiny of Nebraska is concerned it is only necessary to say that the senate passed the amended bill by a vote of 37 to 14 on March 3, 1854. In May a bill was passed by the house, in form as an original measure, although it was in essence the amended senate bill. This was sent to the senate May 24, and was passed. The bill was approved by President Pierce May 30, 1854. The territory embraced 351,558 square miles, extending from the fortieth parallel of north latitude to the British possessions on the north, and from the Missouri river on the east to the summit of the Rocky mountains on the west. The creation of the territory of Colorado, February 28, 1861, decreased the area by 16,035 square miles, and the creation of the territory of Dakota, March 2, 1867, further diminished the area by 228,907 square miles. At one time a triangular tract of 15,378 square miles was attached from Washington and Utah territories, lying on the southwest slope of the Rocky mountains, but this was afterwards included in the 45,999 square miles which went to form the territory of Idaho March 3, 1863.
The following is the full text of the organic act which created the territory of Nebraska:
Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress Assembled, That all that part of the territory of the United States included within the following limits, except such portions thereof as are hereafter expressly exempted from the operations of this act, to-wit: Beginning at a point on
the Missouri river where the fortieth parallel of north latitude crosses the same, thence west on said parallel to the east boundary of the territory of Utah on the summit of the Rocky mountains, thence on said summit northward to the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, thence vast on said parallel to the western boundary of the territory of Minnesota, thence southward on said boundary to the Missouri river, thence down the main channel of said river to the place of beginning, be and the same is hereby created into a temporary government by the name of the Territory of Nebraska, and when admitted as a state or states, the said territory or any portion of the same shall be received into the union with or without slavery as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission; provided, that nothing in this act contained shall be construed to inhibit the government of the United States from dividing said territory into two or more territories in such a manner and at such a time as congress shall deem convenient and proper, or from attaching any portion of said territory to any other state or territory of the United States. Provided further, that nothing in this act contained shall be construed to impair the rights of person or property now pertaining to the Indians in said territory so long as such rights shall remain unextinguished by treaty between the United States and such Indians, or to include any territory which by treaty with any Indian tribe is not, without the consent of said tribe, to be included within the territorial limits or jurisdiction of any state or territory, but all such territory shall be excepted out of the boundaries and constitute no part of the territory of Nebraska until said tribe shall signify their assent to the president of the United States to be included within said territory of Nebraska, or to affect the authority of the government of the United States to make any regulations respecting any such Indians, their lands, property or other rights by treaty, law or otherwise, which it would have been competent for the government to make if this act had never been passed.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the executive power and authority in and over said territory of Nebraska shall be vested in a governor who shall hold his office for four years, and until his successor shall be appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed by the president of the United States. The governor shall reside within said territory, and shall be commander-in-chief of the militia thereof. He may grant pardons and respites for offenses against the laws of said territory, and reprieves for offenses against the laws of the United States until the decision of the president can be made known thereon. He shall commission all officers who shall be appointed to office under the laws of said territory, and shall take care that the laws shall be faithfully executed.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That there shall be a secretary of said territory who shall reside therein, and hold his office for five years unless sooner removed by the president of the United States. He shall record and preserve all the laws and proceedings of the legislative assembly hereinafter constituted, and all the acts and proceedings of the governor in his executive department. He shall transmit one copy of the laws and journals of the legislative assembly within thirty days after the end of each session, and one copy of the executive procedings and official correspondence semi-annually on the first days of January and July of each year, to the president of the United States, and two copies of the laws to the president of the senate and to the speaker of the house of representatives to be deposited in the libraries of congress. And in case of the death, removal, resignation or absence of the governor from the territory, the secretary shall be and he is hereby authorized and required to execute and perform all the powers and duties of the governor during such vacancy or absence, or until another governor shall be duly appointed and qualified to fill such vacancy.
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the legislative power and authority of said territory shall be vested in the governor and a legislative assembly. The legislative assembly shall consist of a council and house of representatives. The council shall consist of thirteen members having the qualification of voters as hereinafter prescribed, whose term of service shall continue two years. The house of representatives shall, at its first session, consist of twenty-six members, possessing the same qualifications as prescribed for members of the council, and whose term of service shall continue one year. The number of representatives may be increased by the legislative assembly from time to time in proportion to the increase of qualified voters; provided, that the whole number shall never exceed thirty-nine. An apportionment shall be made as nearly equal as practicable, among the several counties or districts for the election of the council and representatives, giving to each section of the territory representation in the ratio of its qualified voters as nearly as may be. And the members of the council and of the house of representatives shall reside in, and be inhabitants of, the district or county or counties for which they may be elected, respectively. Previous to the first election, the governor shall cause a census or enumeration of the inhabitants and qualified voters of the several counties and districts of the territory to be taken by such persons and in such mode as the governor shall designate and appoint, and the persons so appointed shall receive a reasonable compensation therefor. And the first election shall be held at such time and places, and be conducted in such a manner, both as to the persons who shall superintend such election and the returns thereof, as the governor shall appoint and direct; and he shall at the same time declare the number of mem-
bers of the council and house of representatives to which each of the counties or districts shall be entitled under this act. The persons having the highest number of legal votes in each of said council districts for members of the council shall be declared by the governor to be duly elected to the council; and the persons having the highest number of legal votes for the house of representatives shall be declared by the governor to be duly elected members of said house: Provided, That in case two or more persons voted for shall have all equal number of votes, and in case a vacancy shall otherwise occur in either branch of the legislative assembly, the governor shall order a new election; and the persons thus elected to the legislative assembly shall meet at such place and on such day as the governor shall appoint; but thereafter, the time, place and manner of holding and conducting all elections by the people, and the apportioning the representation in the several counties or districts to the council and house of representatives, according to the number of qualified voters, shall be prescribed by law, as well as the day of the commencement of the regular sessions of the legislative assembly: Provided, That no session in any one year, shall exceed the term of forty days, except the first session, which may, continue sixty days.
Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That every free white male inhabitant above the age of twenty-one years, who shall be an actual resident of said territory, and shall possess the qualifications hereinafter described, shall be entitled to vote at the first election, and shall be eligible to any office within the said territory; but the qualifications of voters, and of holding office, at all subsequent elections, shall be such as shall be prescribed by the legislative assembly: Provided, That the right of suffrage and of holding office shall be exercised only by citizens of the United States, and those who shall have declared on oath their intention to become such, and shall have taken an oath to support the constiution [sic] of the United States and the provisions of this act. And provided further, That no officer, soldier, seaman or marine, or other person in the army or navy of the United States, or attached to troops in the service of the United States, shall be allowed to vote or hold office in said territory, by reason of being on service therein.
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That the legislative power of the territory shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the constitution of the United States and the provisions of this act; but no law shall be passed interfering with the primary disposal of the soil; no tax shall be imposed upon the property of the United States; nor shall the lands or other property of non-residents be taxed higher than the lands or other property of residents. Every bill which shall have passed the council and house of representatives of the said territory shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the governor of the territory; if he approve, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it, with his objections, to the house in which it originated, who shall enter the objections at large on its journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If, after such reconsideration, two-thirds of that house shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other house, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that house it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, to be entered on the journal of each house respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the governor within three days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the assembly, by adjournment, prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.
Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That all township, district and county officers, not herein otherwise provided for, shall be appointed or elected, as the case may be, in such manner as shall be provided by the governor and legislative assembly of the territory of Nebraska. The governor shall nominte [sic], and, by and with the advice and consent of the legislative council, appoint all officers not herein otherwise provided for; and in the first instance the governor alone may appoint all said officers, who shall hold their offices until the end of the first session of the legislative assembly; and shall lay off the necessary districts for members of the council and house of representatives and all other officers.
Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, That no member of the legislative assembly shall hold, or be appointed to, any office which shall have been created, or the salary or emoluments of which shall have been increased, while he was a member, during the term from which he was elected, and for one year after the expiration of such term; but this restriction shall not be applicable to members of the first legislative assembly; and no person holding a commission or appointment under the United States, except postmasters, shall be a member of the legislative assembly, or hold any office under the government of said territory.
Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That the judicial power of said territory shall be invested in a supreme court, district courts, probate courts, and in justices of the peace. The supreme court shall consist of a chief justice and two associate justices, any two of whom shall constitute a quorum, and who shall hold a term at the seat of government of said territory annually, and they shall hold their offices during the period of four years, and until their successors shall be appointed and qualified. The said territory shall be divided into three judicial districts, and a district court shall be held in each of said districts by one of the justices of the supreme court, at such times and places as shall be prescribed by law;
and the said judges shall, after their appointments, respectively reside in the districts which shall be assigned them. The jurisdiction of the several courts herein provided for, both appellate and original, and that of the probate courts and justices of the peace, shall be as limited by law: Provided, That justices of the peace shall not have jurisdiction of any matter in controversy when the title or boundaries of land may be in dispute, or where the debt or sum claimed shall exceed $100; and the said supreme and district courts, respectively, shall possess chancery as well as common law jurisdiction. Each district court, or the judge thereof, shall appoint its clerk, who shall also be register in chancery, and shall keep his office at the place where the court may be held. Writs of error, bills of exception and appeals shall be allowed in all cases from the final decisions of said district courts to the supreme court, under such regulations as may be prescribed by law; but in no case removed to the supreme court shall trial by jury be allowed in said court. The supreme court, or justices thereof, shall appoint its own clerk, and every clerk shall hold his office at the pleasure of the court for which he shall have been appointed. Writs of error, and appeals from the final decisions of said supreme court, shall be allowed, and may be taken to the supreme court of the United States, in the same manner and under the same regulations as from the circuit courts of the United States, where the value of the property, or the amount in controversy, to be ascrtained [sic] by the oath or affirmation of either party, or other competent witness, shall exceed $1,000; except only that in all cases involving title to slaves, the said writs of error or appeals shall be allowed and decided by the supreme court, without regard to the value of the matter, property or title in controversy; and except also that a writ of error or appeal shall also be allowed to the supreme court of the United States, from the decision of the said supreme court created by this act, or of any judge thereof, or of the district courts created by this act, or of any judge thereof, upon any writ of habeas corpus involving the question of personal freedom. Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to apply to or affect the provisions of the "act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from the service of their masters," approved February 12, 1793, and the "act to amend and suplementary [sic] to the aforesaid act," approved September 18, 11050; and each of the said district courts shall have and exercise the same jurisdiction in all cases arising under the constiution [sic] and laws of the United States as is vested in the circuit and district courts of the United States; and the said supreme and district courts of the said territory, and the respective judges thereof, shall and may grant writs of habeas corpus in all cases on which the same are granted by the judges of the United States in the District of Columbia; and the first six days of every term of said courts, or so much thereof as shall be necessary, shall be appropriated to the trial of causes arising under the said constitution and laws, and writs of error and appeal in all such cases shall be made to the supreme court of said territory, the same as in other cases. The said clerk shall receive in all such cases the same fees which the clerks of the district curts [sic] of Utah territory now receive for similar services.
Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That the provisions of an * act entitled "an act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from the service of their masters," approved February 12, 1793, and the provisions of the act entitled "an act to amend, and supplementary to, the aforesaid act," approved September 18, 1850, be, and the same are hereby declared to extend to and be in full force within the limits of said territory of Nebraska.
Sec. 11. And be it further enacted, That there shall be appointed an attorney for said territory, who shall continue in office for four years, and until his successor shall be appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed by the president, and who shall receive the same fees and salary as the attorney for the United States for the present territory of Utah. There shall also be a marshal for the territory appointed, who shall hold his office for four years, and until his successor shall be appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed by the president, and who shall execute all processes issuing from the said courts when exercising their jurisdiction as circuit and district courts of the United States; he shall perform the duties, be subject to the same regulations and penalties, and be entitled to the same fees, as the marshal of the district court of the United States for the present territory of Utah; and shall, in addition, be paid $200 annually as a compensation for extra service.
Sec. 12. And be it further enacted, That the governor, secretary, chief justice and associate justices, attorney and marshal shall be nominated, and, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, appointed by the president of the United States. The governor and secretary to be appointed as aforesaid shall, before they act as such, respectively take an oath or affirmation before the district judge, or some justice of the peace in the limits of said territory duly authorized to administer oaths and affirmations by the laws now in force therein, or before the chief justice or some associate justice of the supreme court of the United States, to support the constitution of the United States and faithfully to discharge the duties of their respective offices, which said oaths, when so taken, shall be certified by the person by whom the same shall have been taken; and such certificates shall be received and recorded by the said secretary, among the executive proceedings; and the chief justice and associate justices, and all other civil officers
Western Falls of Snake River, South of Cody, Nebraska
Falls of Snake River, South of Burge, Nebraska
Fredericks Peak Near Valentine, Nebraska
Ford on Keya Paha Creek Near Mills, Nebraska
Cliffs at Plum Creek North of Ainsworth, Nebraska
Cliffs on Niobrara River, North of Sparks, Nebraska
Crow Buttes, Crawford, Nebraska
North Platte River Near Paxton, Nebraska
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