Letter/IconHE SESSION of the general assembly from July 4 to July 11, 1866, was the first overt act of Nebraska statehood, and from that occurrence until the first governor of the state, David Butler, formally superseded Alvin Saunders, the last governor of the territory, March 27, 1867, the commonwealth wore a mixed territorial and statehood garb. The enabling act passed by the federal Congress, April 19, 1864, authorized the governor of the territory to proclaim an election of delegates to a constitutional convention, with such rules and regulations as he might prescribe. The election was held on the 6th of June, 1864, but since a majority of the voters declared themselves against the proposition for statehood, which was submitted to them at this time, the convention to form a constitution met at the designated time, July 4th, and adjourned without action. But in 1866 the territorial legislature submitted a constitution which was adopted at a popular election held in accordance with a provision of the instrument itself, on the 2d of June, 1866. By authority of the constitution, also, members of the first state legislature were elected on the same day and met on the 4th of July following. In accordance with the supplemental enabling act, passed by Congress February 9, 1867, which imposed the condition that the legislature should formally declare that there should be no denial of the right of suffrage on account of race or color, by the proposed state, Alvin Saunders, governor of the territory, called the legislature which had been chosen in October, 1866, to meet in special session, February 20, 1867, for the purpose of accepting this condition; but David Butler, who had been elected governor of the proposed state in June, 1866, delivered a message to the assembly at this meeting, as if there was a real state and he was actual governor. This session began two days after the final adjournment of the last session of the territorial legislature, and it lasted two days. Though the admission of the territory as a state was formally proclaimed on March 1, 1867, the territorial governor performed the executive functions until he was relieved by Governor Butler, March 27th.
   The first official act under statehood was Turner M. Marquett's assumption of the office of representative in Congress to which he had been elected, June 2, 1866, according to the terms of the constitution which was adopted by popular vote on the same day. The territorial law provided that a delegate to Congress should be chosen at the regular election held on the second Tuesday of October, 1866. On account of the hostility between President Johnson and the republican majority in Congress, it was uncertain in 1866 when the territory might become a state; and so at the republican convention for that year it was decided that Marquett should be the candidate at the regular fall election for delegate to Congress, and John Taffe for representative in case the territory should be admitted as a state during the time in which he would be entitled to his seat.
   Furthermore, the new constitution provided that returns for the election of a representative in Congress should be canvassed in the same manner as those for a delegate, and the territorial law in force in 1866 required that the votes for delegates should be canvassed in the same manner as those for territorial officers. It seems therefore that the law pointed out that a second provisional election for representative in Congress should be held at the



time of the regular territorial election in October. These explanations are pertinent, because friends of Mr. Marquett have indiscreetly contended that he deserved great praise for not insisting, when the state was admitted so early in 1867, that he was entitled to a seat as representative for the full term of the 40th Congress by virtue of his election in June, 1866, notwithstanding his intervening acceptance of a candidacy for the office of delegate and which at the time seemed more certain to give him a seat than to be a candidate for representative under statehood. Moreover, the enabling act provided that a representative in Congress "may be elected on the same day a vote is taken for or against the proposed constitution and state government," which day was the second Tuesday in October, 1864. Therefore the election of a representative in June, 1866, was not authorized at all. In the meantime the regular election came, which the convention evidently decided was the proper time for electing a prospective representative to the 40th Congress whose term would begin March 4, 1867, whether or not such election would supersede the as yet unrecognized election of June 2, 1866. Congress might have cured the first irregularity, but by so doing it could not have cured Marquett's bad faith if he had sought to displace Taffe.
   Mr. Marquett was admitted to the house of representatives March 2, 1867, the day after Nebraska became a state. James M. Ashley, of Ohio (who moved the impeachment of Andrew Johnson), said, in making the motion for Marquett's admission, that the proclamation admitting Nebraska had been published that morning in the official organ. Ashley moved also that Marquett be paid from June 2, 1866, the day of his election. Spalding opposed on the ground that Nebraska was not a state, to which Ashley replied that having been admitted in the last session by the vote of Congress which was vetoed and since then having been admitted over the veto the act became effective on the 2d of June. Spalding, impatient at this logic which did not connect, said: "Make it a donation, then, and not call it the pay of a member of Congress." Ashley said also that Marquett had been elected a delegate to the incoming 40th Congress, which would give him more pay and mileage than his motion proposed, but the intervening admission of the state had kept him out of that. Ashley's motion was defeated by a vote of 43 to 105. Dawes, of Massachusetts, moved a reconsideration with the view of making Marquett's term take effect December 1, 1866, the beginning of the session, but the motion was laid on the table, 67 to 56.
   On the second day of the session, and before the governor's message had been received, Senator Leach offered the following partisan, or, rather, factional resolution:

    RESOLVED, That the Senate of the Legislature of the State of Nebraska heartily endorses the policy and acts of Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, in all his legitimate and conservative efforts to restore the Southern States recently in rebellion, to their legal status in the American Union, and that we pledge him our hearty and cordial support in all such efforts and against the heresies of radicalism, as advocated by Stevens and Sumner, whom the President himself patriotically, on the 22d day of February, A. D., 1866, denounced as disunionists.

   This endorsement of "my policy" was laid on the table by a party vote of 7 to 6. In the house, Mr. Robertson, democrat, offered a similar resolution, which was defeated by a vote of 5 to 20. Mr. Frazier then sugarcoated a friendly Johnson resolution, similar to that offered in the house, with a resolution invoking the favorable action of Congress for statehood, and it passed by a party vote of 22 to 15.
   Mr. Robertson, of Sarpy county, submitted a memorial to the President of the United States asking for an investigation of the alleged official maladministration of Edward B. Taylor, superintendent of Indian affairs for the northwest, and Orsamus H. Irish, superintendent of Indian affairs for southern Nebraska; but the house refused to adopt it by a party vote. Mr. Durant, vice president of the Union Pacaific (sic) railway company, invited the members of the legislature to go on an excursion to the end of the track -- 133 miles -- on Saturday July 7th. The house accepted the invitation and went; the senate declined



on the plea of pressing business, but a large part of it went too; and, after a vain call of the house Saturday morning, there was an adjournment until Monday.
   The burden of the governor's message was an argument that the territory had a right to immediate admission as a state. In 1864, when the enabling act was passed, the population was 30,000; now it was 70,000. In a few weeks the track of the Union Pacific railway would be laid 200 miles west of Kearney. Territorial bonds were now worth ninety-seven cents on the dollar. The governor recommended the adoption of the fourteenth amendment to the constitution of the United States, and Maxwell introduced the measure in the house; but no action was taken upon it.
   The second legislature, at its first and special session, February 20 and 21, 1867, performed no other function than to organize and formally accept the condition imposed by the federal Congress for the admission of the territory as a state. Governor Saunders (territorial governor) stated the object of the session in a message in which he said that it would have been more satisfactory to himself, and he thought to the members, if Congress had referred the question to the people instead of to the legislature.
   On the first day of the session Mr. Doom of Cass county introduced a bill declaring the assent of the legislature to the condition prescribed by Congress, which was referred to a special committee composed of Doom, Hascall, and Reeves. At the afternoon session, Doom and Hascall reported in favor of the bill, and it was at once passed, before Reeves could prepare his minority report, by a vote of 7 to 3, Freeman, Reeves, and Wardelf voting nay. On the next day Reeves offered his report, which the senate declined to receive. Doom moved to strike out certain passages of this report which he declared were offensive, and the motion was carried; whereupon Reeves withdrew the report entirely, and Freeman, Reeves, and Wardell left the chamber in a fit of disgust, but they were afterward permitted, at the request of Mr. Reeves, to record their votes against the bill. J. N. H. Patrick, who had not been sworn in when the bill was passed, was eluded from this arrangement.
   The senate bill was promptly passed in the house, under suspension of the rules, by a vote of 20 to 8, Anderson, Bates, Crawford Dunham, Graves, Harvey, Rolfe, and Trumble voting nay. All the democratic members of the legislature but Hascall adhered to the party policy of opposing the measure. If admission to statehood had been the one question at issue, their course would have been unwise; but since the proposition involved also the question of consenting that Congress and the legislature had the power to annul by resolution a provision of the state constitution, the democrats followed their plain duty, and Hascall's recreancy deserved the reproaches it won, though it seemed to surprise no one.

   The third session of the general assembly, being the second session of the second legislature, was convened by the call of the now full-fledged governor, dated April 4, 1867, on the 16th of May of that year, for the purpose of passing such laws as the governor throught necessary for the new state. The most important work of this session was the removal of the capital from Omaha to Lincoln, accomplished by the passage of an act, approved June 14, 1867, which constituted the governor, secretary of state, and auditor a commission to select a new location before July 15, 1867, within certain specified limits, as follows; the county of Seward, the south half of Butler and Saunders counties and that part of Lancaster county north of the south line of township nine, the new capital city to be called Lincoln. A bill (S. No. 44) entitled "An act, to provide for the location of the seat of government of the state of Nebraska and for the erection of public buildings thereat," was introduced in the senate, June 4th, by Mr. Presson, and its counterpart was introduced in the house (H. R. No. 50) by Mr. Crowe. The senate bill passed that body on the 10th of June; it passed the house on the 13th, and was approved by the governor on the 14th.
   The bill (S. No. 44) which was passed



originally provided that a commission consisting of the governor, the secretary of state, and the auditor should select, before July 15, 1867, from lands belonging to the state, within the counties of Lancaster, Seward, and the south half of Butler and Saunders, not less than 640 acres for a town to be named and known as "Capitol City." The commissioners should cause the site to be surveyed and fix a minimum price on the lots of each alternate block, these lots to be sold at public vendue to the highest bidder and the proceeds deposited with the state treasurer as a state building fund, out of which a capitol, "to be designed as part of a larger edifice," should be constructed at a cost not to exceed $50,000, the building to be completed before November 1, 1868. The state university and the agricultural college, united in one institution, should be situated within the city, and a state penitentiary within or adjacent to the city. The removalists had their project firmly in hand, and the bill was pushed through with remarkably little halting or change. It was read the second time on the 5th of June, and on motion of Majors referred to the committee of finance, ways and means, composed of Presson, Reeves, and Holden -- all of the South Platte section. Hascall of Douglas county attempted to have it referred to the committee on public buildings where it really belonged, but without success, as two of the three members of this committee -- Patrick and Baird -- were of the North Platte. The next day Presson reported the bill back from the committee with amendments not of great importance; June 7th the committee of the whole reported the bill for the third reading, and on the 8th it was made a special order for the 10th; on that day Rogers's motion to extend the limits of choice to all, instead of half of the counties of Butler and Saunders was lost by a vote of 5 to 8; and his motion to strike out the word permanent, applying to the relocation of the capital, was defeated by a like vote. Sheldon's motion, to amend so that the location might be made anywhere within Seward county or the south half of Saunders and Butler and that portion of Lancaster county lying north of the south line of township 9, was carried by a vote of 9 to 4, Freeman, Hascall, Patrick, and Rogers voting nay. Patrick's motion to amend section 11, so as to locate the state university and agricultural college at Nebraska City, was lost by a vote of 5 to 8; and the motion to locate the same institution at such place in Washington county as the county commissioners might select, was defeated by a like vote.
   It was left to Senator Patrick, an uncompromising democrat -- called in the drastic political phrase of the day a copperhead -- to move the substitution of Lincoln instead of the inexpressibly clumsy and ugly original name, Capitol City; and the motion was carried without division. It was read the first time in the house on the 11th, the second time on the 12th. Mr. Woolworth's motion to place the state university and agricultural college at Nebraska City instead of Lincoln was defeated, 11 to 26. Griffin's motion to change the location to some place in Cass county, not particularly designated, but no more than three miles from the Missouri river, was lost by a vote of 10 to 25.
   The charge that there was corrupt collusion between the removalist members of the legislature and promoters and beneficiaries inside and outside of that body of various railway land grant schemes, was pressed with tremendous force but with little effect against removal. But the attacks along this line were effective in defeating all the land grant bills excepting that for the Air Line. Even while his home city and county were the backbone of the removal cause, Morton now began his opposition to land grants of this kind, which he persistently kept up through his life.
   On the day on which the successful removal bill was introduced in the senate, another, identical with it (H. R. No. 50), was introduced in the house; but it was dropped after having been favorably reported from the committee on ways and means. On the 11th of June Mr. Frost of Douglas county, of the committee of ways and means, presented a minority report on this bill, in which were compressed all the objections of the anti-removalists. The number of commissioners was not large enough for so important a



task, and there was danger, in particular, that the choice of a location would be too far from a railroad. "Railroads in this country are too expensive to be run in every direction, and a capital with public buildings located at any inconvenient distance from one would soon be removed." The time was too short for the selection of grounds; and, most important of all the objections to the bill, it failed to submit the location to the people for approval or rejection. "The question has not been fully discussed whether the university and agricultural college should be united or should be different institutions, wholly separated in their organization. Some of the best minds prefer the one course and some the other, but no expression could be obtained during the few days of the session to elapse." There was doubtful propriety in locating all the public buildings in one place. The time was not ripe for removal of the capital. "We have the best building ever occupied by any territorial government, and consequently the best ever belonging to a new state. With a trifle spent for repairs, it will be all that would be required for years. It is located centrally so far as our thoroughfares are concerned, and much more so than the proposed site could be for many years."
   The same day on which these two bills were introduced, Mr. Hascall of Douglas county, introduced another (S. No. 45) entitled "An act to locate the Capitol, State University, and Agricultural College." The bill provided that a commission composed of Governor Alvin Saunders and Turner M. Marquett should procure for the state of Nebraska an entire section of land in the valley of Salt creek within ten miles of its junction with the Platte river and at a cost of not more than $5 per acre. This land should be the site of the capitol, the state university, and the agricultural college, and reservations should also be made for buildings for an insane asylum, deaf and dumb institute, and for other purposes, "as the state may hereafter see fit to erect." The name of the proposed capital was left blank in the bill. It provided that the capitol at Omaha should revert to the city of Omaha for school purposes, on payment of the cost of the site of the new city. On the 7th of June Mr, Patrick, of the committee on public buildings, recommended the passage of the bill, and on the 8th Mr. Presson, of the same committee, reported against it, holding that the location proposed in the other bill -- No. 44 -- --"will better subserve, the interests of the state, in that it contemplates a more central location for the seat of government, and fixing the same where it will enhance the value of our state lands at least three hundred per cent." On the 12th the senate, in committee of the whole, reported in favor of tabling the bill, and that was the end of it. The movement for the removal of the capital was almost, if not altogether, a conspiracy, and the speculative gain of the conspirators was its chief motive and impulse.
   If the capital commissioners were acquainted with the proceedings of the early territorial legislatures -- and probably they were by hearsay, at least -- their attention had been already directed to Lancaster county and the vicinity of the salt springs as a favorite site of a new capital city. In the removal bill of the second legislature -- 1856 -- the proposed capital was to be in the immediate vicinity of the salt springs and called Chester, the name by which the principal salt basil, was known. It is important to revert here to the fact that J. Sterling Morton signed the report of the committee which favored the passage of this bill. In 1857 the capital narrowly escaped removal to a place to be called Douglas City, also in Lancaster county, but not near to the salt springs. According to a map drawn in 1856 there were two places -- or rather prospective places -- of that name, one situated near the point where the Burlington railroad leaves Lancaster county and enters Cass, three miles southwest of the present town of Greenwood; and the other about two miles northwest on Salt creek, near the mouth of Camp creek. These locations on the map correspond with the statement of Governor Izard in his veto of the bill: "All agree, however, that there are two towns in Lancaster county, by the name of Douglas, already made upon paper. To



which of these it is the intention of the legislature to remove the seat of government I am left wholly to conjecture. It might so happen and from my knowledge of the speculative genius of a certain class of our citizens, I think it highly probable that should the bill under consideration become a law each of these rival towns would set up a claim to the capital, which it might require long and tedious litigation to settle; leaving the people of the territory in the meantime without a seat of government."
   A bill to remove the seat of government to the same neighborhood precipitated the riot in the next (fourth) legislature.
   There are extant certificates of shares in Salt City and Bedford, issued in 1856, which show that the salt basin lent the contiguous land a speculative value for townsites. Salt City was to be situated on the western border of the basin, the site comprising 640 acres. According to a prospectus contained in the certificates of shares, Bedford had hopes of becoming the county seat: "It is situated near the center of Lancaster county, contains 640 acres, or 2,200 lots, 200 of which are to be given to the county in case the county-seat is there, besides public grounds for court house, churches, and parks. The timber on Stephen's Creek and Salt Creek lies convenient to Bedford; and the noted Salt Spring in Lancaster county is a "Sure evidence that it will at no distant day be the wealthiest county in the territory." The stock of each of these townsites was divided into 200 shares, and to Daniel H. Wheeler, the prominent Cass county pioneer, they seemed to have more than a paper value. He paid in gold $150 for a single share of Salt City and $100 for a share of Bedford, its rival.
   The suggestion or contention, often heard in recent years, that the confluence of several minor creeks was a strong secondary reason for placing the capital in the salt basin, in the expectation that the easy grades they offered would be a drawing invitation to converging railroads, must be regarded as an apologetic afterthought. The first two and vitalizing lines and two other distinct lines -- the Chicago & Northwestern and the Rock Island -- entered by the salt valley; the two principal western lines of the Burlington system climb arduous grades to get out, and only two of the four creek beds in question are used to any appreciable extent. Engineers of the converging systems assert that in comparison with Milford or Seward, for example, Lincoln is unfavorably situated in this respect, and that to avoid the heavy grades the through freight traffic of the main lines of the Burlington should be diverted to a new track along the Blue river. The "especial advantage" urged by the commissioners for the site of their choosing was that it lay approximately in the center of a circle with a diameter of 110 miles whose circumference intersected or passed near Omaha, Fremont, Columbus, Pawnee City, the Kansas-Nebraska line, Nebraska City, and Plattsmouth.

   On the 29th of July, 1867, the commissioners chose "Lancaster" for the site; August 14th they made proclamation of the event, and the next day August F. Harvey and A. B. Smith began to survey the ground, which comprised 960 acres.
    Sale of lots at public auction, which began September 18, 1867, was characterized by questionable expedients and irregularities. It was a common practice to bid in lots and hold them for an advance without paying for them, and the commissioners in their report made the remarkable admission that they deliberately violated the mandate of the law that the proceeds of the sales should be deposited in the state treasury, because they assumed that the treasurer might be as lawless as themselves and would refuse to give up the money for its lawful purpose -- for, being a resident of Omaha, he was personally hostile to the removal scheme.
   But whatever the sins, omissive or commissional, of the commissioners and other founders of Lincoln, they at least exercised great courage and enterprise. The fact that the mere arbitrary and fiat beginning has so soon developed into a prosperous and most attractive city challenges admiration for the unexcelled faith, resolution, and self-denial of its pioneer citizens. Of a surety, "thy row-



ers have brought thee into great waters, but thy builders have perfected thy beauty."
   The Brownville Advertiser of February 12, 1870, congratulates the state on the business sagacity which has produced "a state house, ample for present purposes, completed, and has the funds raised from the sale of a section and a half of land, worth three years ago, five dollars an acre, to provide two other fine buildings, and some 500 lots left for future use." The entire sales of 1867, 1868, and 1869 brought $400,000.

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