solved to make the most of it, and the voice he raises for virtue is as that of one crying aloud in the wilderness.

   No inconsiderable portion of the present session of our terrtorial (sic) legislature has been spent in creating corporations. -- This has been done notwithstanding the democratic creed denies the doctrine of "chartered rights" and "exclusive privileges," and in theory maintains the doctrine of equal rights. We say that a large portion of the present session has been spent in the creation of paltry corporations, and petty monopolies, which enable a few individuals to bar away the public from privileges to which they are inherently entitled, and have as good a right to exercise (if the doctrine of democracy be true) as those whom the law says shall have the exclusive right. The liberality of the legislature has been most profuse in granting exclusive privileges to individuals and companies. In proof of this look at the single item of "ferries". . . "Paper towns" are pretty thickly established up and down the river nearly the whole length of the territory . . . Charters have been called for at nearly every place . . . Not content, however, with the establishment of a corporation for each of the places referred to, we notice one of a broader character designed to cover the whole extent of the river from one end of the territory to the other, not already covered by other charters. Numerous charters have been procured by companies or individuals for ferry privileges in different portions of the territory, where there are no settlements nor any likelihood of their [there] being any for many years to come . . . We presume most of these charters have been procured for no other purpose than speculation. A charter when once obtained gives the possessor the power of making something off of the public, without having made the least expenditure for the benefit of either.

   And then this Isaiah in idealism and Jeremiah in lamentation rebukes these monopoly servers with the charge of early recreancy to their democratic faith:

    A large majority of the members of the legislature claim to be the disciples of democracy, and yet, we have never known an instance where the zeal of a whig legislature, led it to bestow charters with that degree of liberality which our legislature has manifested in its creations of monopolies. We look upon this charter-making spirit as democratic heresy of the vilest kind, and more becoming whig faith than democratic practice. If whig principles are the best for the practice of democrats, in other words, for adoption in practice, we have no objection to them -- providing the theory is adopted along with the practice . . . The democratic theory says, avoid special legislation -- shun monopolies. The policy of the legislature appears to have been to cover as large an amount of both land and water with chartered privileges as possible.

   Such are the momentum and inertia of the crowd that the influences of a half century may change its course or character but little. Substitute republican for whig -- bearing in mind that the republican party succeeded to the economic principles or dogmas of the whig party -- and this pronouncement of the Palladium would be a typical democratic newspaper article for today.
   Part eight consisted of an even score joint resolutions and memorials. Congress was memorialized for the right of way and grants of land for the construction of the Missouri River & Platte Valley, and the Platte Valley & Pacific railroad companies; to establish a safe route for mails and other communication between the Missouri river and California and Oregon; and the secretary of war was requested to send without delay a sufficient military force to afford protection to the frontier settlements from Indian depredations. Among the joint resolutions are requests to the delegate in Congress to procure a pension for the widow and heirs of Governor Burt and means for the erection of a monument to his memory, and to procure the passage of a homestead law similar to the laws of Oregon and New Mexico; requesting the governor to commission officers to raise two or more companies of mounted rangers for the protection of the frontier settlements; appointing Sherman & Strickland printers of one thousand copies of the laws of the session, and O. D. Richardson and Joseph L. Sharp of the council and, A. J. Poppleton and J. D. N. Thompson of the house, commissioners "to prepare a code of laws for the government of this territory and report the same to the legislature at the next session."

   NEBRASKA'S PECULIARITY. Neither the dominant spirit nor the general work of this first legislature may be commended or ad-



mired. it worked under abnormal conditions and without the restraints of organized society. There could be no appeal to public sentiment through public discussion -- the present criterion and referee of public measures -- because there was as yet no public. When the Israelite adventurers determined to appropriate Canaan, Moses sent twelve spies "to search the land." Our first handful of pioneers had come the very year of the first session to spy out the land while it was still in possession of its original occupants. Ten years before, Douglas had served unequivocal notice -- in his bill of 1844 -- of the intention of the stronger to "go in and possess the land" of the weaker race. This was no new departure, but the natural process and the immemorial rule of the progress of civilization, and never perhaps pursued by the strong nations of the earth with such unanimity and aggressiveness as in the last quarter century. As a token of the refinement of civilization nineteen centuries after Christ in contrast to the barbarism of fifteen centuries before Christ, unlike the Israelitish summary dealing with the Canaanites, our pioneers offered the people the grace of peaceful, as the alternative of enforced surrender of their homes! But the difference was merely conventional, and there was the same notion and spirit of conquest and force in the one case as in the other. The chief difference between these beginning years of Nebraska and those of the easterly territories was that while, owing chiefly to the legal barrier against gradual occupation of this forbidden "Indian country," our invasion was sudden and comparatively artificial and superficial; their settlement was the result of steady purpose, and their institutions, accommodating themselves to these conditions, were more the product of growth and development. In short the differentiation of Nebraska territory was that it did not grow but was made.
   As there was no settled citizenship to consult, many of the legislators themselves refraining yet to "declare their intentions" to cast their fortunes in this untried and uncertain desert, the first legislative session was a game of scramble with "the devil take the hind-most" for its guiding rule. As the population of prospectors had brought nothing to begin with, their very first acquisition centered in the prospective capital -- in the process and methods, as well as the place of fixing it. Every other act of the legislature was subordinate and subsidiary to this one measure and motive of creating something for a commonwealth composed mostly of speculators and largely of carpet-baggers. It does not disturb this proposition that such men as Thomas B. Cuming, O. D. Richardson, Samuel E. Rogers, A. D. Jones, Andrew J. Poppleton, George L. Miller, A. J. Hanscom, and Thomas Davis remained -- and some of them to this day - -to be capable builders of their city and their state, and to illustrate staunch citizenship therein. For if their main object in making Omaha a place by placing the capital there had failed, not all of them would have remained in Nebraska, and none of them in Omaha, for there would have been no Omaha -- at least none worthy to command such capable handiwork as theirs. In successfully pressing on to the mark and prize of their calling, the leaders of the capital contest exhibited ability and skill of no mean order. As for the rest of the work of the legislature, as we should expect from such conditions, that which was not merely indifferent must be rated as bad.
   The Arrow of Omaha and the Palladium of Bellevue mirror many interesting incidents of the first days of civilized and organized Nebraska. In its initial number the Arrow instructs those not to the manner born as to the pronunciation of Omaha: "As many of our foreign friends will be unable to pronounce this word we will from our Indian dictionary assist them. The proper pronunciation is O-mah'-haw, accenting the middle syllable." Since the editor was a tenant at will of the Omaha tribe, and a few weeks later published an admirable description of the village of the tribe which was situated about seven miles to the southwest, he could speak ex cathedra. But civilized usage has sacrificed melody and euphony to convenience by forcing the accent back (or forward?) to the first syllable. The same inexorable me-



chanical law of civilization has substituted for the beauteous, unconventional slopes and freely irregular lines and the groves as nature placed them, streets and grades and cuttings and piles of brick and mortar, all in hard and fast and stiff rectangular lines; and the groves have been wholly sacrificed to the same Moloch. But by the law of compensation this is the price of progress.
   October 6th the Arrow notes that in his recent visit to Omaha City the commissioner of Indian affairs "found no fault with the settlers for the occupancy of the land," and to

Picture button

From a daguerreotype taken in 1852.


invest this official wink with still greater suggestiveness it is further stated that "a gentleman who accompanied him here purchased a number of lots." The same issue notes "long trains and large herds of stock daily arriving at Bluff City and crossing to Omaha on the steam ferry, Marion." On October 20th the Arrow announces that at the late session of the Iowa conference at Keokuk, a new district, known as the Nebraska and Kansas missionary district, was established, at present under Presiding Elder M. F. Shinn of Council Bluff City, the stations in Nebraska being Omaha City and Old Fort Kearney. This was doubtless the first formal invasion of Nebraska by the great pioneer Methodist church. The same paper, on November 3d, gave the following interesting statement of the beginning of Tekamah: "The Nebraska Stock Company . . . have . . . . upon their claimed lands, some fifty-five miles north of this place, . . . laid-off a beautiful town or city platt called Tecamah. The county is called Burt, . . . after our late respected and lamented Governor." The same issue argues in favor of holding a mass democratic convention to nominate a candidate for delegate to Congress. And notice of the advent of the first physician of Omaha is of more than passing interest: "Although but little sickness pervades our prairie land we can but congratulate our citizens upon the acquisition of a young and apparently well qualified physician to our society." The first editor of Nebraska little knew how peremptorily the career of Dr. Miller, the first physician of Omaha, was to require a slight distortion of the meaning of what he was writing. It was not in the professional, but in a much wider sense that Dr. Miller was to become a physician to Omaha in her subsequent ills and ailments. On the 10th of November the Arrow notes that a new town has been laid off one mile below the mouth of the Platte river and lots were to be sold on the 13th. "It is at present named Plattsmouth and will doubtless become a place of some importance.
   In the same number the editor's quaint fancy runs on an excursion against the "newfangled names which these reformers hitch on with a flourish to town sites, rivers, etc., throughout the territory." "It is not," he protests, "old fogyism to desire a retention of those names in our prairie land which have become as familiar as household words to pioneer men. Point us out if you can anywhere in the English language any names more musical or more appropriate to our territory than those which exist amongst the Indian tribes or have been affixed by old frontiersmen." And then he cites as examples of his outraged taste the substitution of Florence for the good old significant and appropriate name of Winter Quarters. "Next comes Bellevue -- a little better it is true -- but partaking of the



same fanciful air." The name of Otoe, originally selected for the place now called Plattsmouth, "was a good one, and far better than the modern innovation. Mt. Vernon, the name of the beautiful site at the mouth of the Weeping Water, is another bad selection; why not call it after the pleasing name of the river?" "And so," he laments, "it is all over the territory; city and town sites, rivers, and creeks have with but few exceptions undergone an awkward and unbecoming change of names; an abandonment of these beautiful and original names which ofttimes lend an air of enchantment and pleasure to the place."
   Thus at the beginning this voluntary denizen of the wilderness, untutored in the arts, expressed a truth that has rankled in the heart and mind of every sensitive citizen of the commonwealth of this day. And so it seems that taste, that unappraisable gift of God to His creatures -- some of them -- compound of sentiment and judgment, is born and not made. The schools may lead it out and rectify its vision, but if it has only being in the soul it will see straight and clear to the eternal fitness of things. What pity that our poet-editor was not a Poo Bah, with a lord high executioner resolute to enforce his decrees against these counterfeiters of names! Through our obtuseness or vanity or other infirmity general and irreparable violence has been done to the native names of Nebraska. It is slight consolation to know that this esthetic rape was not committed without protest -- that at the first there was at least one eye to pity though there was no arm to save.
   It is not likely that this frontier champion of propriety and esthetic sense knew that Washington Irving, high priest of fine taste, at a still earlier date lamented the same misfortune:

    And here we can not but pause to lament the stupid, commonplace, and often ribald names entailed upon the rivers and other features of the great West, by traders and settlers. As the aboriginal tribes of these magnificent regions are yet in existence, the Indian names might easily be recovered; which, beside being in general more sonorous and musical, would remain mementoes of the primitive lords of the soil, of whom in a little while scarce any trace will be left. Indeed, it is to be wished that the whole of our country could be rescued, as much as possible, from the wretched nomenclature inflicted upon it, by ignorant and vulgar minds; and this might be done in a great degree, by restoring the Indian names, wherever significant and euphonious. As there appears to be a spirit of research abroad in respect to our aboriginal antiquities, we would suggest, as a worthy object of enterprise, a map or maps, of every part of our country, giving the Indian names wherever they could be ascertained. Whoever achieves such an object worthily will leave a monument to his own reputation.
   The first number of the Palladium, July 15, 1854, states that John F. Kinney, who had lately been appointed chief justice of Utah, had given the name "Bill Nebraska" to his son, born at Dr. M. H. Clark's hospital, Nebraska Center, June 10, 1854 -- "the first white child born in the territory since the passage of the bill." Strong faith in the future development of the country is a characteristic of pioneers, and may be traced, in part at least, to the instinct of duty and necessity. It is cherished from the feeling, not always clearly conscious, that requisite courage and tenacity of purpose can not be sustained without it. A striking example of this kind of faith is found in a "puff" article about Nebraska which indulges in the prophecy that the Platte river will after a while become navigable. "According to the statement of experienced navigators on the upper Missouri the Nebraska [Platte] is now a much better stream for navigation than the Missouri was twenty-five years ago." This number also gives an account of the first formal celebration of Independence Day which took place at Bellevue. The characteristic serious religious sentimental temperament of the editor is touched by the scene:

   The assemblage met near the Indian agency, under the broad canopy of heaven, and seemed to have hearts as expansive as the great scene of nature in which they were situated. If the spirit so beautifully and freely manifested on this soul-inspiring occasion, be an index to the future character of the vast multitudes who will soon come from the four quarters of the earth, to mingle in the pursuits and pleasures of this people, then it will be true, as it was remarked by one of the speakers, that "this



country will be, indeed the 'Eden' of the world."
   The editor himself was president of the celebration. A committee consisting of Judge L. B. Kinney, Stephen Decatur, and C. T. Holloway presented patriotic resolutions which did not neglect to point out that Bellevue was the one and only place for the capital. A very long list of toasts which neglected few patriotic topics, and included "the ladies" in duplicate, were offered and responded to.
   The issue of August 16th states that "the Presbyterian board of foreign missions for the benefit of the Otoe and Omaha Indians was established in the fall of 1846," and "the mission buildings were built upon a large scale, having every necessary accommodation for one hundred persons." In the whole range of their descriptive articles we find these "rough" pioneers still harping on esthetic features. And so this mission, we are told, "is built upon the brow of an eminence that overlooks the majestic Missouri and surrounding country, and upon which nature has lavished her charms with unsparing profusion."
   And then, moved to overstrain his eye of faith, the editor sees that "Bellevue is destined by nature to become the metropolis of learning as well as of legislation and commerce in Nebraska." In eight months after these visions of glory had thus strained his aching sight, the confident prophet was to abandon the fruitless and hopeless field. Mr. Reed's judgment was at fault in that it had failed to apprehend that the period of nature made capitals had been superseded by man-made capitals. Henceforth railways and not God-chosen sites were to locate the important towns, and the destiny of railways is dictated by men. In brief, man was not only to propose but also almost absolutely to dispose of townsites. When in 1856 two or three railway magnates diverted the Rock Island line from the proposed Pigeon Creek route to the Mosquito Creek route Omaha's permanency became possible and probable. When, in 1867, the Union Pacific bridge was located at Omaha after a fearful struggle between men, Omaha was made and Bellevue's last hope was destroyed. Again the editor's vision of the coming educational and political capital was quite right in general and wrong only in particularizing. When a dozen years later men, violating all the old rules of town-making, and turning their backs on every site of nature's choice, commanded, "Let there be a capital to be called Lincoln at nowhere" -- and there was a capital -- the orthodox editor could not have comprehended that his prophecy of a capital though not of his capital was true.
   The Palladium of November 29th calls attention to the fact that, "in accordance with the custom of our Puritan ancestors" the acting governor had designated the 30th of that month as the first Thanksgiving day. The editor is a moral exotic, somewhat misplaced in this western desert, and fitter for the society of eastern roundhead than of western cavalier. And so he moralizes: "Although we have, as in all new countries, comparatively little to be thankful for, we have sufficient to inspire our gratitude and praise." It is difficult for this severe purist to acknowledge anything good in a free lance like Governor Cuming, but he comes to it grudgingly and characteristically:

    We have reason to be thankful, that the Governor has thus publicly acknowledged the SUPREME RULER, and recommended a day of thanksgiving to be observed by the people of this Territory, on the very threshold of their territorial existence. We hope this ordinance will be respected and perpetuated from year to year, to the latest posterity.

   In the next number the editor tells us that "We were greatly pleased to witness the general interest, which this festive occasion seemed to awaken among our citizens, and the zeal which they seemed to manifest in the exercises that belong to this time-hallowed institution . . . The day was calm and lovely, and the earth, though robed in the dark hues of autumn, never appeared more beautiful than on this consecrated day." And he goes on to say that, "considering the place, a large and respectable audience attended public worship held at the mission, at 11 o'clock, A.M. An excellent lecture was delivered on the occasion, by the Rev. Wm. Hamilton, founded on the following text: 1st Thessalonians, 5th Chapter, 18th Verse: 'For in



everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you.'" A remarkably large portion of his available space is given up by this devotional editor to an exposition of the traditional, first, secondly, and thirdly of the sermon.
   Alas, for the editor! Even the paucity of things temporal for which to be thankful, and for which he had murmured, is soon to be further reduced by the designation of Omaha as the capital of the territory, thus sweeping away his first and last hope of something worth living for, at Bellevue. And while these faithful souls were holding their devotional services on Thanksgiving day, with an ill-timed trust in the justice and righteousness of their capital cause, their Omaha -- or rather Council Bluffs -- rivals, true modern hustlers, were trustful, too, but in their own intention to command and use whatever means should be necessary to appropriate the prize, discarding moralizing, and, it is to be feared, morals as well. They were so trustful in their own resources that while their opponents on that first Thanksgiving day prayed, and laid down the rules of righteousness and justice, they hustled and laid up the walls of the capitol, while yet they had no assurance, but self-assurance, of its use.
   Notice that the school attached to the Otoe and Omaha mission is about to be transferred to the Iowa and Sac mission, near the northern line of Kansas, appears in this issue.
   The same paper, of December 20th, notes that there are in the Quincy Colony -- Fontenelle -- "about thirty persons who came on and commenced the settlement late in the fall," and several houses had been erected.
   The Palladium of January 10, 1855, explains that "goos-noo-gah" is equivalent of Omaha, and means "sliding," "which is a favorite amusement with the Omaha youth by whom we are surrounded." The sled was a cake of ice about ten inches wide and fifteen inches long rounded off at the ends. Sometimes in its rapid descent the brittle vehicle would go to pieces, when a catastrophe would happen to the Indian boy passenger as precipitate, though not as fatal, as the result of the bucking automobile of our day.
   The issue of January 17th describes the great beauties of the site of St. Mary, "on the eastern shore of the Missouri river, four miles above the mouth of the Platte, and nearly opposite the Council Bluffs agency, Belleview, Nebraska territory . . . The town is surrounded with scenery of unsurpassed beauty. On the east the green bluffs, rising nearly two hundred and fifty feet above the level of the river two miles back, stretch along to the north and south until they disappear in the distant horizon. On the north the Mosquito creek, skirted with beautiful trees and farms, appears at a distance of half a mile. The south presents an open view. The bluffs back of the town are covered with beautiful groves of elm, oak, hickory, and black walnut." The auxiliary embellishments of this picture in unimpaired beauty are still visible from Bellevue, but the ambitious townsite itself long since "moved on" and now, no doubt, forms an important part of the delta of the Mississippi. St. Mary was the eastern terminus of the considerable ferry traffic across the river.
   On the 7th of March there is notice that a postoffice has been established at Bellevue with the editor as postmaster. Mails are to arrive and depart twice a week; but the postmaster gives warning that "As we are not authorized to expend anything beyond the avails of the office for carrying the mails, we hope our citizens will come forward and make up the deficiency, and thus secure promptness and regularity in the mail service." In this number there is a notice of a meeting of the democracy of Nebraska to be held at Omaha on the 8th of March "for the purpose of effecting the organization of the democratic party." The meeting appears to have been held to further the aspirations of B. B. Chapman to become delegate to Congress and to discredit the sitting member, Mr. Giddings. No actual organization of the party was practicable until 1858, when the republican party began to take form, thus influencing the democrats to united action.
   In the issue of March 21st the following announcement appears under the heading "Bellevue":

   The friends of this place being desirous of



changing the orthography of its name, so as to correspond with the French, from which it is derived, we have concluded to adopt that method of spelling.
   Henceforward, the old spelling, "Belleview," is dropped.

   It was the duty of the governor under the organic act, to organize the territorial courts, provisionally, this organization to continue until superseded by the act of the territorial legislature. Accordingly, by Governor Cuming's proclamation, Fenner Ferguson, chief justice of the supreme court, was assigned as judge of the first judicial district, which comprised the counties of Douglas and Dodge; Edward R. Harden, associate justice, was assigned to the second judicial district, embracing all that part of the territory lying south of the Platte river; and James Bradley, the other associate justice, was assigned to the third district, comprising the counties of Burt and Washington. A term of the supreme court was to be held at the seat of government beginning on the third Monday of February, 1855. The first terms of court in the several districts were to be held as follows: First district, at Bellevue, on the second Monday in March, 1855; second district, at Nebraska City, on the third Monday in March; third district, at Florence, on the first Monday in April. Thereafter the times and places of holding the courts were to be regulated by the general assembly.

   "Accordingly, on Monday, March 12, 1855, the first court of record ever held in the territory, the district court of the first judicial district, with jurisdiction practically like our present district court, was opened at the mission house, Bellevue, by Fenner Ferguson, chief justice; Eli R. Doyle, marshal." The Palladium of March 21, 1855, informs us that "The Court was organized by the choice of Silas A. Strickland of Bellevue, Clerk. Several foreign born residents made their declaration of intention to become citizens. No other business of importance coming up, the Court adjourned to April 12." But this was not the first session of a court of record in Nebraska. The first session of the supreme court, according to the governor's proclamation, met in Omaha on the 19th of February; and the Palladium of February 21st tells us that "The first session of the supreme court of Nebraska, is now being held at the capitol, Hon. Fenner Ferguson, Chief Justice, presiding. The Court convened on Monday, the 19th inst. J. Sterling Morton, of Belleview, has been appointed clerk of the court . . . "

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