death a useful citizen of Omaha, whose townsite was originally surveyed and platted by him. Mr. Jones vehemently and with good logic denounced all the proposed banks as unsafe. He declared that by mere enactment or fiat the territory could not create value in paper promises to pay dollars. He argued firmly, thoroughly, and intelligently against all the financial fallacies which Judge Bradford advocated. And finally Mr. Jones made a closing argument against all the bank charters. His peroration was eloquent, with citations from the history of banking in Michigan and the crash and calamity that came to that state through a redundant issue of bank notes. Sturdy facts were arrayed in every stalwart sentence. Prophecies of the panic that would come to Nebraska when the proposed issue of bank notes had driven out gold, silver, and currency redeemable in gold, under the operation of the Gresham law, were delivered with fire and force; and then, winding up his speech, Mr. Jones said:

   As an honest man who cares for his good name, I can not vote for such banking. Neither expediency nor principle demands such a sacrifice of common sense. Let the gentlemen threaten, they cannot frighten. The years that are coming, the monetary experiences that this attempt at creating values will bring to the people will vindicate my judgment. When I am gathered to my fathers I shall be remembered, I hope, as having acted wisely and well in this matter, and I aspire to no higher eulogium or epitaph upon my tombstone than, "Here rest the remains of an honest man."

   At that time Mr. Jones was a squatter sovereign upon the land just southeast of the Omaha townsite, upon the north side of which the Union Pacific and Burlington depots and their bewildering maze of railroad tracks and sidings now handle the travel and freight of this continent and of Europe and Asia. The Jones claim, upon which he lived, consisted of three hundred and twenty acres. It rejoiced in a pretty piece of woods and a brook of pure water, and Mr. Jones had named it Park Wild. Thus when Mr. Bradford closed the debate in favor of chartering the Platte Valley bank at Nebraska City, the Nemaha Valley bank at Brownville, the Bank of Fontenelle at Bellevue, the Bank of Nebraska at Omaha, and the Bank of Tekamah, he said, with all the vigor which his thin and squeaking voice would permit:

    Mr. President, the honorable gentleman from Park Wild has declared himself an honest man. Perhaps he is. I don't suppose a man would tell a lie about a matter which is of so little consequence in this distinguished body. But, Mr. President, the gentleman from Park Wild talks of his death, of his grave and his tombstone and an epitaph thereupon. But if he is as good and as honest as he pretends he is, he need fear neither death nor the grave. He'll never die. He'll be translated like Elijah and go up in a chariot, be wheeled right into the golden streets of the New Jerusalem, and made a member of the everlasting choir to sing glory hallelujah forever and ever among the saints and angels; and, Mr. President, he is so good, so pious, and so honest that I wish he were there NOW.

   This satirical and grotesque apotheosis of Jones finished the opposition to the bank charters and ended the debate. Mr. Jones lived to be ninety years old in the enjoyment of his well-earned good name and the banks are all dead, having expired in the panic of 1857.
   The Omaha Nebraskian of February 20, 1856, copies a study of the Nebraka (sic) legislature, then in session, by a correspondent of the New York Times -- who, it alleges, was the clever young journalist, J. W. Pattison -- which possesses sufficient inherent evidence of being tolerably true to life to be worth reproducing:

   It is a decidedly rich treat to visit the general assembly of Nebraska. You see a motley group inside of a railing in a smalI room crowded to overflowing, some behind their little school-boy desks, some seated on the of desks, some with their feet perch on top of their neighbor's chair or desk, some whittling --half a dozen walking about in what little space there is left. The fireman, doorkeeper, sergeant-at-arms, last year's members and almost anyone else, become principal characters inside the bar, selecting good seats, and making themselves generally at home, no matter how much they may discommode the members. The clerk, if he chooses, jumps up to explain the whys and hows of his journal. A lobby member stalks inside the bar, and from one to the other he goes talking of the advantages of his bill. A row starts up in the



secretary's room, or somewhere about the building, and away goes the honorable body to see the fun. Hon. Mr. A. gives Mr. B. a severe lecturing because he didn't vote as he agreed to. Mr. B. says Mr. A. lies, is no better than he should be and reckons he ain't much afraid of him. Mr. C. comes to the rescue and speaks in concert pitch half an hour, and says nothing; then a thirsty member moves an adjournment, and in a few minutes the drinking saloons are well patronized. Although both bodies have about seven days more to sit only four bills have been passed. It is one continued personal and local fight -- a constant attempt at bargain, sale and argument. A bill to remove the capital was considered in the House last night until the small hours. It was an amusing time. The history of official corruption was renewed; how through bribery and fraud the capital was located here; how that little arch-intriguer, T. B. Cuming, did many naughty and rascally things, how the people were opposed to the location at Omaha. Morton, member from Nebraska City, Decker from the same place, a man by name of Moore and Dr. Miller took the lead in the discussion. It was nearly all, however, for buncombe.

   The two-year-old commonwealth now -- 1856 -- begins to show rudimentary features of normal political organization and life. There is a semblance of public discussion, the basis -- in theory -- of present political government. There begins to be a public, and there is a good beginning of a press. The census, taken in the fall of this year, will indicate a population of 10,716, and there are two very aggressive political journals, the Nebraska City News and the Omaha Nebraskian, and one -- the Advertiser of Brownville, that is industriously newsy. The homing instinct and spirit begin to modify or withstand the predatory carpet-bagger and the land pirate. But the dominant issues and the absorbing controversies are sectional, and they are kept alive in the main by and for the rival politicians.
   The perennial politics of this period was kept in full life, during the naturally dull season between elections and the sessions of the legislature, by the regular contest over the election of delegate to Congress. The North Platte, or Omaha candidate at the second congressional election was Bird B. Chapman, a young man who had recently come to the territory from Elyria, Ohio, in the direct pursuit of a political career, and with the prestige of being the beneficiary of a popular impression that he was a sort of political legate or next friend of President Pierce. In the character sketches by the over-apt South Platte politicians he comes to us as a mere cunning, tricky, small-bore political adventurer. In fact he was a smooth, suave, and alert politician, of just that smallish caliber which then, as now, is the most useful and likely makeup for

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Second delegate to Congress from Nebraska territory

achieving a term or two of congressional notoriety, and then to drop into the dead sea of normal mediocrity. While candor cannot yield to this first delegate from the North Platte more than the virtue and capacity of the average present day member from Nebraska, it can yet compliment him as the possessor of much less vice and incapacity than he was credited with by his South Platte opponents. J. Sterling Morton -- still the boy of twenty-four -- was, apparently, by tacit consent, and at any rate by irresistible force and irrepressible impulse, already the speaker-



in-chief for South Platte hostility. He was at all times charged with South Platte wrath, and which, let off never so copiously, yet, like the widow's cruse, was only thereby augmented. Sample vials of the Morton anti-Chapman hate, let loose by way of rejoicing at the news that the House committee on privileges and elections had decided in favor of Bennet, serve to illustrate in some sort the bitterness of the sectional spirit of the time and the characteristic way in which this most unique figure in Nebraska history manifested it:

    We expected that the voice of the people would be heard there instead of the feeble and imbecile voice of our respected grandmother, the governor of Nebraska . . . We are rejoiced at the fact, in short we are specially and exquisitely rejoiced because the great bug-a-boo of administration influence . . . failed to frighten away the facts in the case which with a thousand tongues related the baseness, the corruption and the injustice of the miserable beings who filched from Bennet the certificate [of election.] He [Chapman] was an imposter. He never voted the democratic ticket in his life until the fall before the last presidential campaign.
   And then follows the epitaph:

    Embalmed with soft soap, chiseled in brass, sepulchered in the cottonwood coffin of public charity, rest now his rotten remains, and ever and anon popular ridicule shall giggle his requiem while common sense shall point to the spot as inhabited by one whom she knew not.

   Now, referring to the friends of the prematurely interred statesman who "lament for receiverships, registerships, and land-offices that are not," who have been "indefatigable in lying, surpassless in lickspittlery, without a parallel in rascality. Poor miserable devils, we pity, we lament your ignominious defeat, and the death of your golden calf. Trusting, however, that your affliction may be the means of your purification, we drop you down among the maggots and worms, where you will be at rest and at home, poor devils."
   Hiram P. Bennet, Chapman's opponent, was the candidate of the Nebraska City coterie, just as Chapman was of the Omaha coterie. The territorial board of canvassers consisted by law of the secretary and two territorial officers, and the auditor, Chas. B. Smith, arid the treasurer, B. P. Rankin, were called in to act with Secretary Cuming in this case. Mr. Bennet complains in his speech in the contest in the House of Representatives that all the members of the board were his political and personal enemies. Judged by the prevailing standard of duty it is not surprising that this board undertook to disregard the vote of four counties in toto with this very vague explanation:

    The board would also respectfully submit the following return of votes from Dakota, Washington, Richardson and Otoe counties upon which under the specific act which prescribed their powers and duties, viz., the act regulating elections approved March 6, 1855 they feel themselves incompetent to act.

   According to the board's finding the five counties whose returns had been accepted gave Chapman 380, and Bennet 292 votes. The returns of the four rejected counties swelled Bennet's vote to 588 and Chapman's to 575 -- a majority of 13 for Bennet. There are no adequate recorded reasons why the hoard thus boldly undertook to annul nearly half the vote of the territory; and when living contemporaries of those pioneer state-builders are asked for explanations they only say, with knowing shoulder shrug, "It must have been because Tom Cuming wanted it that way."
   In May, 1856, the House committee on elections, ignoring the certificate Chapman had received from the territorial canvassers, reported that Bennet was entitled to the seat, and the committee of course counted the votes of the counties which the canvassing board had thrown out. The old question of the halfbreed tract vote again arose, but the committee found that the reservation was part of Nebraska and that the white settlers therein had the right to vote, notwithstanding that they had been technically excluded from the governor's census. But Alexander H. Stephens made an adverse minority report in favor of excluding the half-breed vote, which would leave Chapman six votes in the lead. This was a plausible excuse for the House to ignore the majority report, and to seat Chapman by a vote of 69 to 63; and the Nebraskian avers that in the final vote Congress recog-



nized the rejection of the half-breed vote by the territorial canvassers.
   But Mr. Bennet's indiscretion was doubtless the real cause of his undoing. He had always been a whig with an anti-slavery leaning, and he made no pretense of democratic regeneration during his canvass. He was a promising and reliable young man who suited Nuckolls, the proprietary genius of Nebraska City, and so, influentially, of the South Platte, and who was also an old line whig, but a slaveholder. Bennet also suited Morton as a likely man to beat the detested "Brass" B. Chapman, as he called him. What suited Nuckolls and his two promising protegés, Morton and Bennet, for practical purposes suited Otoe county, which led the South Platte. The Brownville Advertiser, however, had from the first, for reasons of its own, been inclined to cast its political fortunes with the North Platte element, and Nemaha county had actually given Chapman a majority of one. We even find the Advertiser contending that the minority report of the house committee shows that Chapman is entitled to his seat .2 Furnas was sharply crticised by the South Platte press for this misalliance, which was charged to his land-office aspiration.
   Bennet's clash with J. L. Sharp in the first legislature, which was wholly to his credit, had not been forgotten by that cunning politician who had diligently collected such evidence as he could of irregular voting in Richardson county, and in person laid it before the proper committee of Congress. But after the majority of the committee bad reported in his favor Bennet attended the republican national convention at Philadelphia, and sat as a vice president from the territory of Nebraska. This was too much for the more strongly proslavery southern members to overlook, and it was welcome ammunition for his enemies at home. The Nebraskian, which Morton had lately alluded to as suffering from pecuniary debility and the property of "B. B. Chapman and his toadies," pounces with avidity on the rich morsel Bennet had thrown to his enemies. In its issue of July 9th it charges that Bennet "figured extensively in the late Black Republican convention at Philadelphia," and that, "the Nebraska City News, edited by Morton, claimed that he was a democrat and urged squatters to vote for him, and not having learned, as they since have, that Morton's highest ambition was to tell a slick lie, many good democrats voted for him."
   At this period the smaller frontier democratic newspapers were very subservient to the dominant southern element of their party, and were noisome in their abuse of negroes and negro sympathizers. And so we find the Nebraskian speaking of the "sooty deity" before which Bennet had bowed, and remarking in rather mixed metaphor that "this last step smells strongly of wool."
   The Omaha faction -- for as yet there was no organized political party in the territory -- encouraged by the seating of Chapman, pressed the suggestion it had previously made for organization, and charged that sympathizers of Bennet opposed it. For Chapman to have triumphed at last was a hard blow to Morton, and instead of feigning acquiescence, as the mere politician does, and as the successful politician usually must do, while he waits for his own turn, he cut loose from restraint and attacked the democratic administration, local and general. His bitterness was increased by the fact that Chapman, in the course of his patronage purveyorship, went to Morton's home and selected for the office of United States marshal, Dr. B. P. Rankin, just the pretentious, windy, verbose, and not over-abstemious politician, between whom and Morton mutual dislike and hostility were inevitable. We learn something of political conditions and methods of those times as well as something about an interesting pioneer journalist in this item from the Nebraska City News of February 9, 1856:

    B. P. Rankin and J. W. Pattison, are, we learn, candidates for the marshalship of Nebraska. We do hope that Pierce will let the Rankin cup pass by us. There are several half-breed Indians whose appointment would meet with far more approbation from the people. Pattison is a young man of fine ability and prepossessing appearance, and would make an excellent officer. He was almost unanimously endorsed by the members of the

   2 Brownville Advertiser, June 21, 1856.



last legislature, and also by the governor and secretary; the latter endorsement is rather against him. However, it was not love that made Granny and Tommy [Izard and Cuming] sign the letters.
   The News of the same date gives Governor Izard's message the following greeting under the title "De Guberner 'Proaches":

    This document is characterized by that superabundance of sagacity, superflity of patriotism and superlative degree of candor which has ever distinguished from the vulgar herd the chivalric and classic sons of Arkansas. Through its sentences one can hear the tread of a mighty intellect as it strides majestically through the labyrinthine ramifications of politics, and marches along the corridors of thought; and as he hears his soul's tongue whisper in awe, "De Guberner 'Proaches."

   In the same plethoric issue is a satire on political conditions, quite likely by Morton, but well disguised, in the form of a message by Governor "M. W. Lizard." It laments that most and the best of the large immigration has gone into the South Platte "to swell the numbers of the factious malcontents in that section." "I intend to know no north, no south in this territory, and to use all means in my power to allay sectional jealousy. I am for the whole of Nebraska, but you know, fellow citizens, that I consider North Platte the whole of Nebraska, and Omaha the whole of North Platte; thus qualified I can truly say that I am for the whole of Nebraska." The governor says that he is afraid of expending much money in the capital (though he must make some show), fearing the legality of the location should be questioned and the ingenious management of Acting Governor Cuming brought to light. He does not fear President Pierce, as he is probably aware of the necessity of keeping the disorganizers down south in the shade by any means that can be used. " . . We can not hope for another president with whom the end will justify any means to benefit Omaha and speak in favor of the Nebraska bill." The governor admits that his laborers on the capitol were non-residents, but they voted for Chapman for delegate. He fears that he didn't manage well last winter with those dreadful Indian stories, got up so that Omaha and Council Bluffs could handle the spare gold of the troops to be sent on; they worked badly, for they scared immigrants away from the North Platte; and, the soldiers didn't find any Indians -- as was expected. The message urges the legislature to send appeals and memorials to Congress for donations so that the money may be spent for the benefit of Omaha, and the governor wants his salary increased though the fifteen hundred dollar contingent fund is already spent on his two sons.
   We do not wonder that on his return, after an absence of two months, Morton is constrained --in the News of May 3d -- to make the following confession:
   We are now about to recommence our abusive proceedings in the old mild and placid style. We call our position a responsible one, one which renders us sole proprietor of more threatened lickings than we can enumerate, establishes us as sole target for the remarks of the mellifluent revolver, and secures us daily gratuitous invitations to proceed to a place of perpetual caloric.

   The next item is headed "Calamity":

   During our absence, as might have been expected, the country has met with a serious calamity -- in the melancholy attempt of Franklin Pierce to appoint a marshal of Nebraska. Had Rankin been deputed to carry carrion to a bear we should have pitied the bear for having fallen into very bad society and commiserated him upon the fact that the carrion would never all reach him.

   Another item reads as follows: "We are convinced at the present writing that Nebraska City must be the western terminus of the Burlington railroad." Though this prevision did not come true literally, yet, from the writer's point of view, it was consistently prophetic. He foresaw that the Union Pacific would begin at or near Omaha, and in the then condition of traffic and railroad building it was rational to believe that this southern trunk line would connect itself with the main commercial point in the territory of the Missouri river south of the territory to be occupied by the Union Pacific road. Light is thrown on economic conditions at the beginning of 1856 by a statement in the News of February 9th that claims of one hundred and sixty acres within two and a half miles from Nebraska City were selling at from five hundred to eight hundred dollars.

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