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[NOTE -- Jesse Lowe was a member of an early Nebraska legislature].



the page to take charge of them and take them to the post-office; Mr. Morton of Otoe spoke to me from his seat, saying, "You have not the franking privilege -- you have no rights here.," I replied I had rights and would assert them. The speaker then ordered the sergeant-at-arms to "clear the House from all refractory members -- take him out." Some one other of the minority added "and see that he does not take more than belongs to him." The sergeant-at-arms approached me when I replied, "I can go without being put out"; he took hold of me and walked with me to the door. From the time Mr. Morton spoke to me until I left the hall there was continued cheering and stamping by the minority and lobby. As I went out I looked back and discovered Mr. Poppleton, the newly elected speaker, near my back with his gavel drawn over me. He afterward told me he had followed me to the door, expecting I would prove refractory; but that he was ashamed of his conduct.

   The following statement is credited to William B. Beck, "an old and highly respected citizen of Washington county":

Ed. Pioneer: Dear Sir: I see in the Nebraskian a charge against you to the effect that you had stated in a certain "extra" that knives were drawn at the time of the fracas in the last legislature.
   I take the liberty to state that such was the case to my own personal observation and knowledge; and I considered at that time, as I do now, that further opposition to Omaha men and measures would have been attended with serious consequences, and put in jeopardy the lives of at least a portion of that body.

   The legislative correspondent of the Bellevue Gazette, in the issue of January 21, 1858, stated the case thus:

    I cannot but believe that the people will feel proud of this legislature for the course it has taken. When an effort was made by an unscrupulous minority, aided by a mob, to clog the wheels of legislation, and cleave down the declared rights of the people and the majority to make their own laws, they stood up in the defense of those rights and the cause of the people.
   An excited mob, and an indignant and self-important accidental executive, together with the free offer of gold, could not swerve them from the path of duty and integrity. They knew that to yield would be to act the traitor to their friends, and they would prove faithless to themselves, faithless to their constituents, faithless to the country of their adoption, and faithless to the eternal principles of democracy as embodied in the Declaration of our independence, and with these sentiments of right and honor in their hearts, they took their stand. An effort was made to buy some of them but failed. They stood firm to the last hour and minute, in the defense of the people and right; and if their labor is lost, and the territory remains without laws for another year, they are not responsible for the consequences.
Five members of the council -- Miller, Rogers, and Salisbury of Douglas; McDonald of Richardson and Puett of Dakota -- and thirteen members of the house -- Armstrong, Clayes, Murphy, Poppleton, Paddock, Steinberger, Stewart, and Thrall of Douglas; Cromwell of Richardson and Pawnee; Jones of Dakota and Cedar; Morton of Otoe; Minnick of Nemaha and Johnson; and Van Horn of Cass county; remained in Omaha, unable to do business, being no quorum, until January 16th, the end of the regular forty days. Presumably all the rest of the members went to Florence; but since the validity of the acts of the Florence session was denied at the time, and was not afterward recognized, no official record of them was preserved. But the Florence seceders, having a quorum, kept busy until the expiration of the forty days, and among the acts they passed were a criminal code, a homestead exemption law, a law setting off the north part of Douglas county -- that is, Florence -- into a separate election district, and a law for the relocation of the capital. The capital act named S. F. Nuckolls of Otoe, W. D. McCord of Cass, John Finney of Sarpy, and Elisha N. Hamilton of Washington as commissioners to choose the new location, which was to be within a district six miles wide on either the north or the south side of the Platte river, and between the guide meridian -- the present west boundary of Cass, Johnson, Otoe, and Pawnee counties on the east, and the sixth meridian -- the present west boundary of Jefferson, Saline Seward, and Butler counties on the west. The bill provided that the entire townsite should belong to the territory and for the sale of one-third of it the first year, by the com-



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[NOTE -- John S. Bowen was a prominent citizen of Washington county, Nebraska, formerly probate judge. He was a delegate to the national convention which nominated General Grant for president.]



missioners, from the proceeds of which the necessary buildings were to be constructed. There is no explanation as to how the commissioners were to obtain title to the site which belonged to the public domain.
   We should be very thankful that the impracticability of the whole scheme saved the territory, with its distinctively and exclusively local and western associations and traditions, from the infliction of the far-fetched foreign name -- specified in the act -- Neapolis; and we should also feel a half-hearted thankfulness that the political bias of those who finally named the capital of the state drew them half way toward their high privilege and plain duty in this respect. But poetical and political justice would have named the capital Douglas.

    FLORENCE SESSION. The house broke up on the 7th of January in a typical frontier row, in which trespass on the prohibitory law cut an important figure. The Omaha minority were talking against time on a minor question, in committee of the whole, and Poppleton had the floor, when Decker, the speaker, who had been out about the town, returned, and finding that there was no quorum, interfered, and insisted on resuming the chair. Morton, the chairman of the committee of the whole, ruled that the point of no quorum could not be raised while a member held the floor. Afterward, Mr. Thrall of Omaha took the chair, and a message from the council was announced. Poppleton made the point that under the rules this message could not be received, as the council was not in session at the time; but Decker insisted that the message should be received then and there, and attempted forcibly to take the chair, when Murphy and Paddock, Omaha members, dragged him away, and then A. J. Hanscom, a very strenuous lobby member, rolled Decker under a table. Finally the speaker left the hall, Morton was elected temporary speaker, and the house adjourned. The next morning Decker took the chair as usual, but on motion of Donelan of Cass county the house adjourned to meet in Florence the next day. In the council on the same morning -- January 8th -- Reeves of Otoe moved an adjournment to meet at Florence on the 9th. The president, Dr. Miller, refused to entertain the motion, whereupon Reeves himself stated it, and it was carried by a vote of 8 to 2, Furnas and McDonald voting in the negative. In this miniature secession Mr. Furnas took about the same position as many southern leaders were soon to take, when, after opposing dismemberment, they at last went out with their states. Furnas opposed secession, but went with the majority.
   Though the Omaha rump had the executive, or federal, part of the government on its side, and by virtue of this advantage con-

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From an unpublished daguerreotype taken in 1855.


trolled the official records and gained its object in practical results, the majority, or seceders, had the best of it before the people, because, outside of Omaha, the press was on their side -- with the exception of the Nebraska City News, now edited, nominally at least, by Milton Reynolds. The News took both sides. Through the evident influence of Morton it condemned the secession; but it also promptly took advantage of the opportunity to again urge Morton's original scheme for annexation of the South Platte to Kansas. Perhaps a more definite illustration of the general anti-Omaha sentiment is contained in the statement of the News that "eleven out of the



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[NOTE -- The Rev. J. M. Taggart was a pioneer missionary and a member of an early legislature]



thirteen papers in the territory (the two remaining being owned by Chapman) have, week after week, since the election, expressed their preference for Ferguson"-- in the contest over the congressional election.
   On the 15th of January, in response to a request by J. Sterling Morton, Attorney-General Estabrook gave a written opinion as to the validity of acts passed by the Florence legislature, in which he correctly held that the seat of government clearly had not been removed from Omaha, and that therefore the only question was as to the power of the legislature to conduct business at any other place than the seat of government. His contention for the negative was lame, and perhaps, from the nature of the case, necessarily inconclusive. Considering the almost unlimited inherent powers of legislative bodies such as this -- not being restrained by a constitution -- and the weighty practical reasons for the adjournment to Florence and the urgent need of legislation, the Florence majority had the stronger argument, unless it could be met by contrary adjudication by the courts. This the attorney general attempted to do with a result negatively damaging to his side of the case; for the only authority he cited was that of the obscure territorial court of Oregon, and the decision evidently turned upon a different point from that held to be the issue in the Nebraska case, though he quoted two of the judges as deciding, incidentally at least, that the legislature could pass valid laws only at the regular seat of government.
   Governor Richardson having refused to sign the acts of the Florence assembly, a controversy arose as to whether he had returned them to the legislature, with his objections, according to the provisions of the organic act, so as to require their passage again by a two-thirds majority. The following statement of Mr. Reeves, member of the council from Otoe county, apparently settles the question in the negative:

Editor News:
   In your paper of the 13th is an article which needs a passing notice, for the purpose of "vindicating the truth of history."
   In the article alluded to I find the following, language:

    "But the governor says he distinctly refused to recognize them (the bills passed at Florence, I presume) and upon the back of each document wrote as follows: This paper was left in my room on yesterday, Jan. 13, 1858, after I had refused to receive it. I neither veto nor approve it; but respectfully return it.
Spacer"'Jan. 14, 1858. W. A. RICHARDSON.'"

   Now as I was a member of the enrolling committee of the Council I wish to state the facts in relation to the presentation of those Florence bills to the governor, and let the people judge how they were "received," and who is at fault that we are now suffering the want of just and equitable laws for the protection of life and property and the administration of justice.
   The committee on enrolled bills in the Council was composed of Mr. Allen and myself. In the House it was composed of Messrs. Taggart, Hail and Abbe.
   On the 13th of January, Mr. Taggart, Mr. Hail, and myself waited on the governor, at his room in the Hamilton House, and presented him all the bills passed previous to that date at Florence, except one which was presented to him by Mr. Abbe on the same day, but at a later hour. I made a memorandum of what transpired at our interview with the governor, from which the following is an extract, and will be certified to as truth by every member of the committee:

    "The governor was notified by Mr. Allen, immediately after our introduction to him, that we were the enrolling committees of both branches of the legislature. The bills which originated in the Council were in one bundle, and were presented to him by Mr. Allen; and the bills which originated in the House, were in a separate bundle and were presented by Mr. Taggart. The governor took the bills from out of our hands and observed that he should take no action on them. When reminded by me that the legislature would consider them laws if not returned within three days, and being asked whether in that case he would file them in the secretary's office, he answered that it was a matter which required consideration."
   After mature "consideration" the governor concluded that the papers were "left at his room after he had refused to receive them, and that he would respectfully return them." But how did he return them? and to whom? Certainly not to the House in which they originated nor to either House separately; nor to both Houses jointly. They were never returned to the legislature at all, and were never before that body or either branch of it, after their presentation to the governor.

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