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[NOTE -- Theron Nye was a prominent lumber and grain man and banker of Fremont, Nebraska]



Morton never changed his opinion thus expressed. This considerable attention to the first tumultuous discussion of homestead exemption in Nebraska seems warranted as an interesting illustration, when contrasted with the present general acquiescence in such laws, of the rapid adaptation of means to ends and of measures to environment which is common in western societies.
   Disgust with the Florence fiasco, the firm and effective influence and attitude of Governor Richardson, the suspension of Morton's anti-Omaha hostility at the fourth session, and the growing general feeling that the removal of the capital at this time was impracticable, enabled Councilman Furnas to report early in the session that "the capital question is not spoken of by anyone." So great was the change, or the suspension of sentiment, that a representative -- perhaps apostate -- from implacable and irreconcilable Sarpy dared to introduce a joint resolution and memorial to Congress praying for an appropriation of $30,000 for completing the capitol, and it passed the house without division. The resolution reached the council on the next to the last day of the session, where, notwithstanding that the day before a like resolution introduced in the council had been laid on the table on motion of Taylor of Otoe, it was at once adopted by a vote of 6 to 3, Donelan of Cass, Furnas of Nemaha, and Taylor of Otoe voting no. But the old spirit revived on the same day, and Dundy moved reconsideration, which was carried, and then, adding his vote to the hostile three, the resolution escaped defeat by the narrow margin of five to four. One North Platte member was absent, while of the South Platte members three were missing -- including the implacable Bowen of Sarpy. A full vote would have gone against further expenditure on the capitol at Omaha, and this vote in the council still pointed the way to final removal.
   The memorial recited that a former governor had expended the first appropriation of $50,000 on a large and elegant building, leaving it but partially finished; that to make it available for use the city of Omaha had spent about $50,000 additional in enclosing the building and finishing some of the rooms; that the building was liable to sustain injury unless soon finished, and that in the opinion of the memorialists, $30,000 would complete it.
   The legislature was not graciously inclined, apparently, toward the work of the original code commissioners, O. D. Richardson, J. L. Sharp, and J. D. N. Thompson. A bill providing a specific compensation for their service passed the council but was pigeonholed in the judiciary committee by Mason, who afterward substituted for it a joint resolution, which passed both houses, referring the whole question of the allowance to the judges of the supreme court with power of final action.
   This legislature was as nearly immune from the wildcat bank, as from the capital-moving malady. One bill was introduced -- for the incorporation of the State Bank of Nebraska -- which, on account of the exposure of attempts at bribery by its promoters, was killed in the house where it originated. It was sought to make this new project of adventurers plausible by providing that real estate should be the basis of its security. On the other hand, drastic action against the going banks was attempted by a bill to annul the charters of five of them, which passed the house -- 21 to 5 -- but was indefinitely postponed by the council. A bill to repeal the charters of all the banks was introduced in the council, but did not escape from the judiciary committee.
   Two days before the close of the session twenty-eight members met in joint session and elected R. W. Furnas public printer, and this occurrence was the occasion for the first positive outbreak of partisan politics in the territory. Rankin, whom Furnas had supported in the last congressional campaign, and Daily, whom, though a republican, Furnas, still a democrat, was to support against Morton in the next congressional campaign, pushed Furnas forward for printer. The organic act clearly enough gave the control of the territorial printing to the secretary, and at the opening of the session that officer laid before the legislature the correspondence of the



comptroller of the treasury on the subject. To these Morton added a characteristically explicit statement of his own intentions:

    The above laws and instructions are all, I believe, which it is necessary to lay before your honorable body. They embrace all expenses to be incurred by the legislative assembly, including the public printing, both contingent and regular. And in this connection I may add that any necessary contingent printing your honorable body may desire to have executed will be promptly and cheerfully attended to, by notice being given at my office.
   Respectfully, your ob't servant,
SpacerSec'y. Nebraska Territory.

    On the 3d of March, 1859, Mr. Furnas answers alleged complaints of delay of the printing in this way:

   We have only to say in answer that we have not as yet received the copies of laws from which to print; and, to be frank, we do not expect we will. Had former usages, to say the least, been conformed to, justice to the public printer observed, and the interests of the people of Nebraska in the slightest degree consulted, the laws passed at the late session of the general assembly would before this have been printed and delivered, not only to the secretary of the territory, but to the several counties.
   We are told the Honorable Secretary is having the work done in Albany, New York. How true this may be, or if true, how soon we may expect copies, we are unable to say. This much we do know, however, and that is, the territory is in a deplorable condition on account of the delay. Justices, lawyers and litigants are unable to move a peg, or if they do, grope their way in darkness and uncertainty. Complaints are universal.

   On the 7th of April, 1859, the Advertiser gives this notice: "Morton and Company, it is said, have received from Albany, New York, the printed laws passed at the last session of the Nebraska legislature."
   Furnas admitted the legality of Morton's control of the printing under the organic act, but opposed its exercise "because of precedent to the contrary." But the animus of the dispute and the beginning of the disorganization of the party which heretofore had held undisputed sway in Nebraska was plain.
   Aside from the manifest injustice of again choosing a man who has so recently enjoyed the emoluments of the office, aside from the fact that the legislature has no more business to select a printer for the territory than they have to say who shall haul our wood or dig our potatoes, nothwithstanding that they have undertaken to meddle with matters that are none of their concern, notwithstanding that they have made insulting demands and encroachments upon another department of the government, we purpose to investigate their action to some extent and let it be generally known upon whom their choice has fallen.
   And first it must be remembered that in joint convention the opposition have a majority in our legislature. That opposition for the most part is made up of the worst possible enemies of the democracy, and the democratic organization -- bolters, disaffected soreheads, sleepy Janus-faced democrats, consistent in nothing but their persistent and diabolical opposition to the organization and success of the democratic party, at heart the blackest of black republicans but outwardly "people's men" and "people's candidates," these are the kind of men who have elected a pseudo-democrat, one of their number, and one of their leaders, territorial printer.
   The files of the Brownville Advertiser, the paper of which Mr. Furnas is editor and publisher, for the last eight months abundantly show the deep and bitter hatred of Furnas to the administration and the party.

   The disorganizing conditions at work are set forth by a letter from the attorney at Washington whom the public printer had employed to take care of his interests there:

   I find, however, what the real difficulty is which stands in your way, and which will prevent any remedy for the injury you may have received by the conduct of the secretary. It is that you are an anti-Lecompton democrat, and the power and the patronage, as in Illinois, is given to the few, who profess to be Lecompton democrats, and in all things worship at the shrine of Mr. Buchanan. There lies the real difficulty in your case, and hence I conclude that you are without a remedy. It is represented that there are but two Buchanan newspapers now printed in Nebraska, the Omaha Nebraskian being one; and much pains has, I am confident, been taken to prejudice your case with the department, by the class of persons I have described, who are used as the instruments of persecution against all who do not admit that Mr. Buchanan "can do no wrong."
   I have not known such vindictive tyranny ever before practiced by any party in this



country, as has been, and still is practiced towards the anti-Lecompton democracy of the west. It seems to be inexorable. So that, as matters now stand, nothing, in my opinion, can be done here for your benefit.
   But the beginning of the end of democratic supremacy in the territory lay in a bill, the first introduced in the legislature, to abolish slavery. At this time it was a measure of republican politicians rather than of republicans; and when it was pushed forward on the last day of the session by Daily, who was little, if anything, more than an adroit politician, a motion for its indefinite postponement was lost only by a vote of 13 to 15. But the fear of going on record against the measure, which was to grow in the near future, was shown in the direct vote on its passage which was 23 to 6. Of the republican -- or incipient republican -- leaders, Mason alone voted for postponement, but all of them, including Briggs, Daily, Marquett, Mason, and Taffe, and several democrats also, voted with the majority for final passage of the bill. It was promptly postponed in the council, Dundy alone sustaining it.
   Though this legislature was doubtless superior in practical working capacity to its predecessors, yet it still clung to the idol of special and local legislation, and a large amount of its too brief time was spent in the distinctively local work of changing the location of county seats. Councilman Furnas, to whom credit should be given for taking higher than the average ground on questions of policy and principle, complains of the abuse in question:

    I hold the people would not require the passage of this overwhelming majority of local bills, if their members would take a correct view of the matter, and be governed by a principle that could be consistently explained before their respective constituencies. There are general ferry, road, incorporation and County seat laws, under which the people of every county can obtain their rights at home Without troubling the legislature or its individual members. And yet we see the Republican takes the position that the "republicans and opposition members have at all times been in favor of such legislation as the people of Nebraska require at their hands." Now this is just in keeping with what I have considered their policy and principle.
   In the general assembly, the opposition to special legislation is sneered at and ridiculed, and the republicans do, nearly as a body, whenever a test comes, cast their votes in favor of special legislation, and are backed up and sustained by the leading republican papers of the territory, in plain and unequivocal language that need not be misunderstood.
   Governor Richardson took it upon himself to rebuke this practice of special legislation when he returned to the council a divorce bill, stating that while he had signed this bill in deference to the legislature, yet he held very serious doubts as to its power to grant divorces at all. The continuing bad financial condition of the territory is shown in the communication of Auditor Jordan to the legislature, asking for an increase of the salary of his office to $1,500 and that of the treasurer to $1,000, in which he says that their salaries are now paid in warrants worth only thirty to forty cents on the dollar. But later -- December 9, 1858 -- the Advertiser is able to take a more cheerful view of this heretofore chronically gloomy subject:

    Since the passage of the revenue law, which allows all territorial taxes to be discharged with territorial warrants, and county taxes with county warrants, and city taxes with city warrants and city scrip, there has been a rapid rise and a ready sale, especially in warrants given by the territory, and a reasonable percentage on the others. Territorial warrants are selling here (Omaha) now at forty-five cents on the dollar, and appear difficult to obtain even at those figures. Capitalists are making purchases of all that can conveniently be found in the market, and consider the investments as safe and calculated to yield them a handsome profit and timely return of the principal and interest. County warrants are also looking up.

    RESIGNATION OF GOVERNOR RICHARDSON. The most important political event in the territory in the year 1858 was the resignation of Governor Richardson. On the 16th of August of that year he announced his intention of resigning in the following letter:

SpacerExecutive Dept., N. T.,
Aug. 16, 1858.
   Dept, of State:
   Sir -- I have the honor to inform you that on the first of January next I shall resign the office of governor of Nebraska.



   I deem it my duty thus to advise you of my resignation in advance so that the president may have time to select a successor. I have the honor to enclose a copy of my proclamation convening the legislature in advance of the time fixed by law. The decision of the courts renders early legislation important & I have deemed it my duty to defer the resigntaion (sic) to that time believing that I could accomplish more than one not familiar with the

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Early legislator and merchant of Nebraska

difficulties that exist and the laws necessary to obviate those difficulties.
   I acknowledge with gratitude the obligation I am under to you and the president for the confidence you have resposed in me and the courtesy that has characterized your intercourse with me while holding this office.
Spacer(Signed) W. A. RICHARDSON.

   But the governor hastened his contemplated resignation and left the territory for good on the 5th of December, 1858.
   The telegraphic dispatches to the Quincy (Illinois) Daily Herald of June 5, 1857, announced the appointment of Mr. Richardson as governor of Nebraska, and commenting on the event said: "We presume there is some mistake about it as we have no idea that Colonel Richardson would accept the appointment." On the 7th of July the Herald notes that Richardson has declined the appointment. On the 10th of December, 1857, the same paper notes that the governorship of Nebraska has been again tendered to Mr. Richardson and that he will notify the president of his acceptance the next day. The Herald comments: "The fact that it has been tendered again, and this time accepted, we regard as an indication that there is but little if any difference of opinion among the democracy of the country upon the present aspect of the Kansas question."
   At a meeting of the bar of Quincy, December 28, 1875, on the occasion of memorial services for Colonel Richardson, General Singleton spoke as follows:

    He was benevolent, kind and amiable; brave as he was generous; confiding as he was honorable. His frankness was one of the prominent features of his character, and one of his most valuable traits. I remember the time he was appointed governor of Nebraska, he was requested by Judge Douglas to call on President Buchanan. The position had been tendered him twice, and both times declined. I accompanied him to the presidential mansion when he was asked to accept the appointment. He stated to the president that he did not accord with him upon certain questions, and for that reason could not accept. Mr. Buchanan stated that he had confidence in Col. Richardson, and begged him to accept, although they did not agree upon all questions.
   General Singleton's statement that President Buchanan urged Richardson to take the office, notwithstanding his well-known disagreement with him as to the Kansas question, is confirmed by other accounts of the appointment; and it appears that Senator Douglas moved Richardson's confirmation under suspension of the rules of the Senate. The Quincy Herald of January 26, 1858, in noticing the arrival of the governor in the territory, makes the following observation:

    In the gubernatorial reign of the departed "excellency," Gov. Izard, it was sometimes found convenient to bamboozle the old gentleman, and the innocent executive was frequently led into the commission of acts which his better judgment did not approve. There is no hope in this direction with Richardson.
   O. H. Downing was appointed to succeed Douglas as United States senator after the



latter's death in 1861, and Governor Richardson was elected to fill the unexpired term, taking his seat January 30, 1863. This partial term in the Senate rounded out Richardson's important political career; for by this time his state had become strongly republican. Though he was too thoroughly seasoned, and too brave a democrat to leave his discredited party and join the popular party, as many other democrats in his state and throughout the North did -- some for selfish, and some for patriotic motives -- yet, like Douglas, he declared himself on the side of the Union. There were in the North two classes of critics of the abolitionist spirit manifest in the Democratic party, the implacable copperheads, whose sympathies were with the rebellious South, and those who, while condemning the attitude and the acts of the republicans which they sincerely believed to be mischievous and otherwise unwarranted, yet put the preservation of the Union above all other considerations. Though Richardson was individualistic enough to have stood alone in this respect, the unqualified expressions of Douglas for the Union must have strongly influenced him. His resignation of the office of governor of Nebraska illustrated his loyal coöperation with Douglas in the latter's unbending opposition to President Buchanan's sympathy with the Kansas slavery expansion policy of the southern faction of the Democratic party. In a letter to Mr. M. M. Bane, of Payson, Illinois, dated May 4, 1861, after stating that aggressive disunionists of the South were determined to destroy the Democratic party and the Union and had aided in the election of Lincoln to that end, and that resolutions submitted in Congress in December, 1860, for an amendment to the Constitution, taking slavery out of politics, could have been passed without dishonor to the nation or to any individual, but republicans defeated them all, he said:

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   "However much we have differed in the past, there are great present duties upon which we can all agree. Whether the laws that are passed are wise or unwise, whether the government is wisely or unwisely administered, every citizen owes as a solemn duty to obey the law, to support the constitution, to repel invasion and to defend the flag."



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[NOTE -- Sireno B. Colson was a pioneer banker of Fremont, Nebraska]

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