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[NOTE -- James P. Peck was a charter member of the Omaha Medical Association].



   The "respectful return" was made as follows:
    On the night of the 14th of January, about 9 o'clock, while some half dozen members of the legislature and others were sitting around a table in the parlor of the Willett House, some reading, and others writing, Mr. Howard, the governor's private secretary, stepped into the room and threw down a large package, remarking: "Gentlemen, the governor has sent your bills back."
   Now with these facts before him, who can believe that the governor "refused to receive them and respectfully returned them"?
   As stated before, I wish the facts to go before the people and let them form their own conclusions. Had the governor recognized the acts of the legislature, we would now have in force all the laws, except one mentioned in your paper of the 6th, as being necessary for the prosperity of the country; for such acts were among those presented to the governor. It is believed by many eminent jurists that these acts are laws; but if they are not it is no fault of the legislative branch of the government.
   But if it is necessary to cure all doubt that an extra session be called is it necessary that the majority will stultify themselves by making "promises" and "pledges" to the governor in advance? Is it expected that they will surrender the rights of the people for the inestimable privilege of returning to Omaha to be insulted and cheated out of their rights? I can hardly think that the governor would require such promises, but if he should, I for one will never make them. I am ready to pledge myself to the people and obey their behests; but I owe allegiance to no other power.
   I am willing to return to the capitol and labor faithfully, earnestly and peaceably for the enactment of all laws which are calculated to promote the prosperity of Nebraska and the happiness of her people; but I must be free and untrammelled (sic), save by the voice of my constituents.
   Thus, Mr. Editor, I have answered for myself your question, "Shall we have an extra Session?"

   The net product of the Omaha rump of the legislature is in itself a very concise illustration of how Cuming's skill in making things go and come his way had overreached itself. Only two very brief general laws were passed -- one abolishing the use of private seals, the other providing that hereafter the legislature should meet on the first Monday in January.
   Even the list of incorporations and territorial roads acts was relatively meager, and besides this, the sole accomplishment of the session was four inconsequential private acts and two joint memorials to Congress -- one praying for the establishment of a daily mail service from Iowa City, Iowa, to Omaha, and the other for the "division of the present surveying district of Kansas and Nebraska and the erection of a new district for this territory."
   Our novelists are now the makers or the expounders of our social philosophy; and it is a pity that the philosophy of George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, which teaches us not merely that it is better to attempt and fail than not to attempt at all, but that the virtue lies in the resolute purpose, so that often failure may even be better than accomplishment, was not then available for the consolation of the Omaha rump. The then budding "Sage of Arbor Lodge," perhaps unconsciously, gives point to this philosophy in the following inventory of residuary conditions, which is perhaps no less truthful than picturesque. Though Morton was not then the editor of the News, the piquant paragraph bears plainly his image and superscription: "The last legislature adjourned in a row, left, departed this life, miscellaneously and in a mixed manner, and left us no laws. The governor is absent, the secretary deceased . . . We occasionally see the squatters in little squads, whispering among themselves in a wicked, malicious, and mischievous manner that we are 'just as well off' now as we ever were."
   While men of more of that wisdom which comes only of experience than was possessed by those who comprised this fourth legislature would have avoided the foolhardy and, so far as its direct object was concerned, inevitably futile Florence revolution, yet, as may be said of most revolutions, its results were not all evil. For it precipitated unsettled public sentiment, and revealed to the pro-Omaha minority that the determined majority must be reckoned with in some other way than by bribery and coercion. It made both sides sufficiently tired of the disastrous controversy to permit an experienced, tactful, and masterful political leader to restore orderly conditions



and supply necessary laws through a special session of the legislature. Governor Richardson arrived at the capital on the 10th of January, and he not only arrived just at the right time, but he was just the right man to arrive. He brought with him the two things needful, prestige and the impartiality of the outsider, strengthened by the insight of the astute politician. He assumed the office on the 12th of January, and the contrast of his fair and fatherly attitude with that of the youthful ardor of the aggressively sectional Cuming, whom he succeeded, was both sharp and reassuring. Furthermore, Richardson was the next friend of the great Douglas, the natural idol of the northwestern democracy who were beginning to love him the more on account of the ultra pro-slavery enemies he was making, and whom the politicians would propitiate because it was likely that he would be the next president. And so the tone of the press soon became quieter, its insistence upon the validity of the Florence laws was dropped, submission of the capital removal question to a popular vote -- a squint at least toward compromise -- was advocated, and finally there was general acquiescence in the proposal of a special session.

    THE DEATH OF GOVERNOR CUMING. The death of Thomas B. Cuming, secretary and acting governor, occurred between the Florence fiasco in the early part and the special session in the latter part of the year 1859, and the way was opened for the appointment of J. Sterling Morton to succeed him. With Lewis Cass at the head of the department of state at Washington and backed by his already recognized leadership, he had great advantage in his contest for the appointment. In the last days Mr. Cuming must have realized as the irony of fate the probability that his arch enemy would succeed him. It is a mere matter of course that these two brilliant men, of the most aggressive temperament and great political ambition, confined within the small limits of the dominant party of the territory, should have been mutually and bitterly hostile.
   If Cuming, by his masterful manipulation of the capital business, had blasted Morton's first hopes and driven him from his first home at Bellevue, Morton had perhaps repaid him in full by thwarting his hopes to become governor.
   The funeral of Governor Cuming at Omaha was a notable and imposing event for that period of sparse population and scanty sources of the trappings of pageantry; and he was especially fortunate in his eulogist. The formal funeral oration was delivered by James M. Woolworth, April 17, 1858. Making due allowance for the young orator's natural North Platte, or Omaha, partiality or bias, he yet gave to the commonwealth, in this fine address, a very valuable sketch of the character and career of its first actual governor. Furthermore, the oration is remarkable for its rhetorical construction, its formal and stately style, showing the great influence of the dominant classical training of those days. This feature of the address has been modified, and its almost extravagant youthful warmth of expression is wanting in the writings and addresses of the seasoned lawyer and scholar of later days, while its clean-cut diction abides as a characteristic of his style.


   Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen: ---
The tolling bell, the meeting of the citizens called to express a city's sorrow, the solemn announcement to the court, the judge on the bench, the juror in the box, the counsel at the bar turning from the business all undone, the soldier marching with slow and measured tread, with muffled drums and colors furled, and arms reversed, the public buildings draped in mourning, the public offices closed, business and labor all suspended, the flags at half mast, the minute guns, the lengthened process, unwhispered sympathies and sorrows, tearful eyes, sad, sad hearts, -- what cause, what abundant cause, for all these tokens of public and private bereavement!
   Thomas B. Cuming dead! That form that passed and repassed before our eyes, daily, almost hourly, that mingled among us, made one of us on the street, in the office, at the public meeeting (sic), at the social gathering, ever present, ever welcome everywhere; so recently erect and proud and ironbound, now prostrate, cold, dead. That countenance, set with the firmness of the ruler of a great country, yet varying with the varying emotions which chase each other through his mind, fixed now in the changeless expression of death.. That eye that



beamed ever with ardor and intelligence, and anon flashed lightning from its black depths with the kindlings of brilliant intellect, closed now forever. That voice which thrilled, and swayed, and commanded the public assembly, gasped its last words, silent now. Nerveless the hand that grasped a brother's cause so generously ever -- ever as you, sir, or I, and how many others can testify. High ambitions, great promises, sanguine hopes -- all shattered into dust. A people cut off from its leader, its stay, its hope. What cause, what abundant cause, for public and private sorrow!
   Thomas B. Cuming dead! Meet are all these signs of woe. A great "man has gone to his long home and the mourners go about the streets." Let the court be closed; he was the noblest of all its members. Let the soldier honor his memory; he was the most gallant of all this band. Let the public officers suspend the public business; he was the chief and ruler of them all. Let the banker close his vaults, the merchant his ledger, and let the mechanic and the laborer lay down his tools, and let a great people assemble in this common sorrow to mingle together their tears for one whose like we shall not see again. Let the long procession bear him to the capitol, lay him in the very penetralia of his country's temple; let the priest of his church say over him the solemn office of his burial chant, over the inanimate remains the sacred requiem of the dead. Let the people gather around him once more to look on those well known features for the last time. Yes, let her -- alas for her whose heart breaks beneath the burden of its sorrow -- let her gaze and gaze, and as those sad, sad words, "Never again, never again," break the awful silence, let every heart melt; then let the tears flow unchecked, unheeded in the common sorrow for the dead and sympathy for the living, and then lay him in the bosom of his own Nebraska, beloved forever; "earth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes."
   And meet is it that your association, sir, should consecrate an hour to his memory. He was one of its projectors and founders. He contributed of the abundance of his learning and his eloquence to its success. He was on the list of lecturers for the course just ended. Even in his last days he consulted for its prosperity. And yet, sir, I could have wished you had found another to do this sad office to his memory; to teach you his virtues, to recite to your lasting profit the lessons of his life and of his death. And yet what need of words?
   Thomas B. Cuming dead! Perish from among men the great principle of popular sovereignty which he vindicated and established here in stormy times, among enraged men who thirsted for his blood -- which he vindicated and established here, as no one else could, by his own unaided arm, by his own resolute will; perish peace, prosperity, and progress, which by his wisdom and energy he established in the first days of the territory; once and forever perish the achievements of her progress, the home of the settler, the admiration of human heroism, the love of human benefactors; then, and not till then, let us say, Thomas B. Cuming dead!

   Governor Cuming was born in Genesee county, in the state of New York, on the 25th day of December, 1828. His father is the Rev. Dr. Cuming, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, an Episcopal clergyman of distinguished learning, eloquence, and piety. His mother died while he was yet a young child. He was then removed to Rochester, and placed in the family of the Rev. Dr. Penny, an uncle, at that time a distinguished Presbyterian divine, afterwards the president of Hamilton college. He was afterwards removed to the home of his father, in Michigan, under whose care he was prepared for college. In his boyhood Governor Cuming enjoyed a training of the highest character. His father instilled into his young mind with all a parent's anxiety and care those habits of laborious study, of thoroughly mastering whatever engaged his attention, which eminently fitted him for the difficult positions to which he was destined. Especial care was had of his religious culture. Those elevated and severe doctrines which distinguished the higher school of the Episcopal church were early instilled into his young mind, and it is believed that through all the distracting scenes of his life, in the midst of the great temptations to easy, often sceptical (sic) notions which beset young and ardent minds in our day, he never ceased to revere the salutary teachings of his father and of the church.
   He entered the university of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, at a very early age. But young as he was he carried with him a familiar acquaintance with the Latin and Greek languages, a singular aptitude for their acquisition, and a native fondness for letters in general; and to these he added a devotion to study and an ambition to excel very uncommon at so early an age. He accordingly took a high standing as a scholar. In the classical and belleslettres department be had not an equal in the institution. He enjoyed also an uncommon flow of animal spirits. Perfect health was a blessing he enjoyed from his earliest days till his last sickness; and in a boy, health and activity are concomitant. He mingled in all the sports of college life, in all the mischief, too, and made himself notorious by them. The



name of Cuming was known in every hamlet in the state before his first year in college was over. At the age of sixteen he graduated, carrying off the first honors of the institution. His oration is spoken of to this day for the force and eloquence which distinguished it from the platitudes usually spoken by young men on such occasions. Upon his graduation he was appointed geologist to a scientific expedition sent to explore the mineral regions about Lake Superior; a position whose importance is evident from the immense wealth annually derived from the copper of that country.
   At the breaking out of the Mexican war he was a young man averse to the drudgery of any of the professions, but full of the high hopes and aspirations of youth. The sound to arms appealed to the military passions of his nature, for his nature was that of a soldier through and through. He entered the army as a lieutenant, and served out the time of his enlistment. He always regretted that the circumstances of his station prevented his mingling in those great conflicts which reflected such glory on American arms.
   After the war he found himself loose upon the world, without friends to whom he could go, without means, without advantages, save those he had within himself. Accidentally he found employment as a telegraph operator in Keokuk, Iowa. But it was not enough for him to feed his stomach and clothe his nakedness. The mind of the young man must be at work. He wrote an anonymous article to the Dispatch, a paper published at that place. it arrested attention. He wrote another; curiosity as to who was its author was excited; another and another appeared, and curiosity increased more and more. One person and another to whom they were at first attributed disclaiming the authorship, they were at last traced to the young telegraph operator. The ability which they displayed was not to be lost and he was immediately placed in charge of the paper. It was soon the leading paper in the state, a power in the state, and hardly ever was there a country paper exercising such a large influence. During his residence in Keokuk he married Miss Margaret C. Murphy, whose beautiful devotion to him in all the changes and trials of life has been only equaled by the great sorrow which now crushes her.
   It was while in charge of the Dispatch, in 1854, and somewhat in reward for the eminent services which he had rendered to the democracy, that he was appointed secretary of Nebraska. He was at this time only twenty-five years of age. He arrived here on the 8th of October, accompanied by his accomplished bride. It is well known that very soon after Governor Burt arrived in the territory he sickened and died, and that Cuming thereupon became the acting governor. Young as he was he brought to the duties of the office qualities singularly fitted to their faithful discharge. His mind was filled with the idea of a Roman governor and pro-consul in Rome's best days. A mind stern, haughty, severe, and unyielding in the policy it had marked out; resolved by its own invincible will to bend all men to that will, to bend itself to none, to be a great power in the state, and then by virtue of that policy to plant the institution of sound and stable government and order and law. To teach all men the wisdom and the power of that great central government which granted them an organization, and gradually, safely, and surely to fit them for citizenship in its great confederacy.
   What a work was that for a man of twenty-five, but how nobly did Cuming do it! Those factious jealousies and contests, so common and so bitter in new countries, rent the territory into numerous and distracted parties; and when the young governor took one step in the direction of organization he found arrayed against him the combined opposition of all parts of the territory, save this city alone. When he convened the legislative assembly here all the fury of excited passion burst upon him. Any other man would have stood appalled before it; would have retreated before its threats; would have compromised with its turbulence. To do so, however, was to give up the peaceful organization of a territory, consecrated in the midst of national excitement to popular sovereignty; to give up all law and all order, to give up himself, as he was, all he hoped to be. He did not waver. He issued the certificates of election to those who were elected members of the assembly. He pressed the two houses to an immediate organization, and in one week every vexed question was settled, his opponents defeated in their disorganizing purposes, and orderly government in the territory secured as a new proof of the ability and the right of the people to govern themselves. It was a triumph of his commanding will which awed opposition. It was genius mastering transcendent difficulties. Governor Cuming lived to see the blessings of peace, order, law, and prosperity follow his acts.
   It is unnecessary for me to recount in your hearing the life of our friend. It was passed in your midst. You were sharers of its joys, of its generosities, of its devotions. It was a part of your own, and the thread of its narrative is entwined with that of yours so that



you can not recall the past but you recall him. It was a life of energy, of activity, of effort for every good word and work which concerned this city which was his home, and this territory over which he presided. Beautiful is old age; beautiful as the rich, mellow autumn of a bright glorious summer. The old man has done his work and he is gathering in the abundant harvest of his good services in the love of the old and the reverence of the young. He has laid off the cares of life and waits placidly for the end; waits placidly for the beginning beyond the end. God forbid we should not call that beautiful! But more beautiful even than that is young manhood, with strong arm and stout heart, in the face of storm, and wind, and rain, sowing the good seed of national order, prosperity, and peace; sowing the good seed of its own fame which a whole people shall embalm in the memory of its best affections. Raise on the spot where he lies what tomb you will, his true sepulcher is in our hearts, his true epitaph is written on the tablets of our memories.
   The resignation of Governor Izard returned Governor Cuming to the responsibilities of the chief executive. While in their discharge the late assembly convened. For some time before he had been suffering from prostrating sickness, and he was little fitted to meet the violent contests which attended the session. He nerved himself for the task and prepared the message. But the disease which prostrated him gave to his mind a deep coloring of sadness, of doubt for the future, of fear both for himself and the country. He was unable to prevent its tinge appearing in the message, and as he delivered it to the assembled houses, the deep pathos, the hopelessness of some of its passages, cast over the minds of those who loved him, even amidst the excitements of the occasion, a strange foreshadowing of a coming sorrow. The effort was too much for him, and he returned to his home to preside over the territory from his sick bed. The hopefulness of his nature did not at all forsake him in his painful sickness. He hoped he might be permitted to rebuild a better and a nobler self on the ruins of the old constitution; that to the services of his country he might add others, still higher; that he might yet give wider and, freer play to those affections of the heart, to those sentiments of Christian duty and religion which an anxious father had early instilled into his mind. But it was not to be; all the love of friends, all the promises of his young manhood and his abundant acquisitions, all his capacities to do good, all his hopes, all his ambitions could not save him. He was cut down and withered. Peacefully he lies in the embrace of his own Nebraska, and as fond kindred grace the hallowed spot with marble shaft or consecrated iron, with the beauty of the flower, with its rare odor that comes to us as a sweet consolation, a loving people will turn ever and anon from the path of their prosperity to pay their tribute of affection to the great man buried there.
   The character of Governor Cuming was marked by a most striking individuality. In these days, when the etiquette and customs of social life conform even the heartiest salutations and coldest reserve, the dress we wear, all the manners of our life, to one standard of phase and fashion, most men lose, especially in daily intercourse, all distinctive characteristics, become like all others, are least themselves. It was not so with Governor Cuming. You always met him. His peculiarities of phase, of manner, arising not from any desire to be singular, but a natural, unconscious, yet most intense individuality, always impressed you. Besides you always felt you met a man; a man of will, who resisted all external influences and followed the line of his own convictions and purposes. The physical formation of the man indicated the firm, well-knit, active nature; every inch of him was alive and tremulous with the energy which poured along the nerves. His grasp was the grasp of the lion; for its physical power first, most of all for the mighty will which directed it. This same organization was indicated by the eye, which no one ever looked into and ever forgot. That deep black iris, that fervid glance and gleam indicated an organization very remarkable and seldom seen in temperate zones. It was a torrid eye, from which flashed out all the tremulous sensibilities, all the passions, and all the fire of natures born and bred near the sun. In the mental physiology of Governor Cuming imagination held a large space; but it was not the subtle imagination which delighted in beautiful, soft-phrase words, empty of large, strong, vigorous vision; nor yet, even in its highest altitude, did it soar aloft in the clear but cold regions of disenchanted spirit. It was wrapped about, or rather it was at one with his sensibilities. It dwelt among and upon those visions which are beautiful because they are lovely, and delightful because they are creations of *the heart and its affections, not of the cold, selfish mind. This was one peculiarity of his eloquence. It was luxuriantly imaginative, but it was so full of sentiment, of the warm, gushing natural sentiment of the heart. No matter what the occasion, he led captive the feelings, if not the convictions of his audience. The very copiousness of his language, his appeals to numerous passions,



the magnetic power of his figure gave him a command, sometimes an absolute tyranny over his hearers, very seldom equaled by the greatest orators.
   And yet I would not speak of these qualities to the exclusion of the more substantial. They were the leading peculiarities of his mental organism, and yet logic, large abilities at argument, what the Germans call the absolute reason formed a stable and sufficient substratum. He never laid hold of a subject but he mastered it. He took it in, both in its grand outlines and as a whole, and in its minute details. Its scientific nature and relations were clear to him. He could speak of them, and speak of them in the formal propositions of science. But when he came to speak of them to the people, when the full play of his powers moulded them into forms tangible to the popular touch, visible to the popular eye, then he brought them home to the heart by the most singular appeals of passion, of interest, of desire.
   I have already spoken of his early studies, of his devotion to them, of his ambitions and successes in them. He was known here, not at all as a man of books but as a man of the world, dealing with its appliances, means, objects, and yet to the last he was the same ardent student as in early days. His acquisitions in one so young, whose life had been in excitement little congenial to literary habits, were astonishing. No man ever crossed the Missouri so thoroughly educated. By that intense individuality of which I have spoken, he made what he read a part of himself. His knowledge was not something outside of him; it entered into his being; out of it the muscles and sinews of his mind drew their vigor. It was always at command. It sounded not like some familiar words, but like himself alone, and graced and enforced every subject which he touched by its abundant illustration.
   His manner was reserved, especially of late years. He held almost every one at a distance.
   Few penetrated into the great heart within him. But that heart was a great fountain of affection, of sympathy, of generosity. The hard world, long contact with its selfish struggles and hates and jealousies, may have crusted it over with constraint, but within it was warm and true and loving as ever. In his last sickness it came back again to the simplicity and freshness of ingenuous youth. He turned back to old thoughts and feelings and pursuits. The well-thumbed volumes of his schoolboy days were once more brought out, and, clustering thick around them the associations of early life, which none but the scholar knows, he read again and again the lines dimmed by the tears that would come. He talked of those high and holy things which most fill a child's wondering mind, which most fill the soul looking into a world where it must be a child again. It was sad to see him then, with such capacities for good, marked for the grave; to hear him wish for life with a strange hope; to hear him speak with deep pathos of those he loved and must leave, of himself and the past, and his resolves and his prayers; but who could help but feel that he had come back again to the freshness of youth, that he might enter into that youth whose freshness is immortal. I am told by those who knew him in his youth that, as he lay awaiting the last mournful testimony which we have paid to him, he looked, more than he ever has since, as he did before the changes and trials of life had placed their marks upon him. Who shall say that that fair, bright, placid face was not the symbol to us of the spirit fairer, brighter, more placid above?

Light be the turf of thy tomb;
   May its verdure like emeralds be;
There should not be the shadow of gloom
   In aught that reminds me of thee.
Young flowers and an evergreen tree
   May spring from the spot of thy rest,
But no cypress or yew let us see,
   For why should we mourn for the blest?

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