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mare of the older states along the Atlantic. One fundamental difference turned into border conflict what should have been harmony. Back of one group of pioneers was a slave labor society; back of the other a free labor society.

     Missouri overlapped the western front of both streams of migration. Both of them flowed in. Then it was first realized, north and south, that a fundamental difference of labor systems meant a war of institutions. The bitter conflict in congress which followed was concluded by the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which fixed for more than thirty years the status of Nebraska with reference to slavery.

      This act provided for the admission of Missouri with her slave constitution, but that "in all the remainder of the Louisiana Purchase west of Missouri and north of 36 degrees and 30 minutes north latitude, slavery .... is forever prohibited." This compromise,--one of the great landmarks in American as well as Nebraska history,--was regarded at the time as a settlement of the sectional slavery strug-

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Steamer Omaha Landing Mormons at Florence, Nebraska

gle. We now recognize it as the beginning of that struggle. So when the first bill to organize the territory of Nebraska was put away to its last dusty slumber in the winter of 1845, we understand now why it was so. Other phases of the slavery question absorbed the public mind and heated the congressional arena; the annexation of Texas, the war with Mexico and the fierce debate whether the territory acquired from Mexico shall be slave or free, consume congressional hours. But while the Nebraska Bill sleeps in its pigeon hole the emigrant's wagon marches on. By 1846 there are 12,000 Americans in the Oregon country. Summer of the same year witnesses the strangest migration Nebraska prairies have yet seen, the Mormon exodus. Ten thousand Mormons emptied from Missouri river steamboats upon the Nebraska shores at Florence, an entire church on the march,--more white people in one body than Nebraska had ever seen before. Several hundred more land at Niobrara and during the winter of 1846-7 the



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Rockport and Old Fort Lisa-Site of Old Saw Mill

Mormon population in this state was large enough to organize a commonwealth with their leader Brigham Young for governor, and in which none but Mormons might hold office. But these are birds of passage. In the spring the overland trail is trodden smoother than it has been before by the feet, the cart wheels, and the cattle of these pilgrims for another promised land. The same year which saw the Mormons land on our shores witnessed the erection of the second United States military post within the borders of the present state at Old Fort Kearney--established April 22,1846--on the bluff where today stands Nebraska City. A garrison was maintained there until 1848 when the new Ft. Kearney was located on the south bank of the Platte river, opposite the present city of Kearney and Old Ft. Kearney is left in charge of a sergeant's squad until 1854, when it is abandoned. The southern democratic administration of President Polk has compromised our Oregon claim with Great Britain, cutting it in two in order to have a Texas or the Old Oregon, but an Oregon shorn of half its territory and a Texas grown into an Empire which includes Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California,--come into the American Republic at one long national breath. The Plymouth Rock and Jamestown streams have touched Pacific tidewater at the same moment.

      March 15, 1848, Senator Stephen A. Douglas introduced a second Nebraska Bill. Someone had evidently given him a hint, for this new proposed Nebraska is only half as large as the former one, lying between the fortieth and forty-third degrees of latitude--as the present Nebraska does but extending from the Missouri river to the summit of the Rocky mountains. There is no mention of slavery in the bill and the laws of Iowa are to be extended over the new territory until its inhabitants frame new ones. This bill has the same fate as its predecessor--death without a hearing, but a recommendation to mercy from the committee on territories.

     There is a new phase to the Nebraska question now--one not mentioned by any of the historians who have written upon the topic. The Oregon dispute is settled. There is no longer need for Nebraska as a base of war against England. But the organization and settlement of this region is a long step toward making the Platte valley route for a Pacific railroad and far-sighted leaders north and south have grasped that point. Senator Benton, of Missouri, pioneer in the propagation of Pacific railroad plans, on February 7, 1849, introduced the first Pacific railroad bill in congress. The bill is suggestive of how the west-



ern mind began to attack the gigantic problem of those days,--a railroad across the mountains and desert to the Pacific ocean. It provided for the reservation of a right of way one mile wide from St. Louis to San Francisco, and that 75% of the proceeds of all land sales in California and Oregon, and 50% of the proceeds in other states should constitute a railroad building fund,--the road to be built by the United States government. Now begins to appear, in the fierce southern opposition to Senator Benton's Pacific railroad bill, the identical opposition which all bills for the orgnaization (sic) of Nebraska must meet. The next ten years in congress is one continuous skirmish and battle, plot and counterplot, between the representatives of the north and south on the subject of Pacific railroad. At first the position of the south is against any railroad built by the government. All the old arguments of the Madison, Monroe and Jackson vetoes against federal internal improvements, against the constitutionality of such measures, are set up in order of battle. When, after a time, it begins to appear that the Pacific railroad will be built in the not distant future,--by a clever flank movement, the fight is shifted to the question, which of several routes is the best. Then there are surveys and reports, more surveys and more reports, but the Pacific railroad bill never gets further in congress than the stage of debate until after the climax of contention comes and war between the north and south has taken the place of debate.

     The question of organizing the territory of Nebraska was therefore complicated with two other questions,--the opening of a northern route for the future Pacific railroad and the crowding of Indian population further south and west to still farther obstruct white settlement in those regions. Rival commercial interests north and south, thus become participants in the struggle which is about to ensue. Missouri is a slave state, but her people have become the pioneers of the west; her great city of St. Louis is the metropolis of the western trade and the interests of her active ruling class of merchants and politicians are enlisted in favor of every proposition to develop the west. Accordingly the next move in behalf of organizing the new territory originates in Missouri. December 12, 1852, Representative Hall of Missouri introduces a bill to organize the territory of Platte, which is simply another name for Nebraska. This bill was referred to the house committee on territories, of which W. A. Richardson of Illinois, Senator Douglas' personal friend was chairman. Congressman Richardson made over Congressman Hall's bill into a new one which he reported from his committee February 2, 1853. It proposed to organize the territory of Nebraska--bound on the south by the line of 36 degrees, 30 minutes, on the north by the present northern line of Nebraska, on the east by Missouri and Iowa and on the west by the summit of the Rocky mountains. Again no mention is made of slavery, but the provision in former bills that the laws of Iowa should extend over the new territory until changed by its legislature is left out. The student feels certain, while he does not find the proof of his belief in the documents of the time, that this was done as a concession to southern votes in Congress which would oppose any effort to organize territory where free state laws should govern during the formative period, On February 10, 1853, this bill reaches the stage of debate in the house. To appreciate the exquisite irony, the boundless sarcasm, of this debate,



we must recall the compromise of 1850 which settled the slavery dispute forever;--so said the active politicians of both whig and democratic parties who were trying to keep their respective organizations from going to pieces upon the issue. Both the whig and democratic parties in the presidential campaign of 1852 had declared the act of 1850 the "final settlement" of the subject. The very mention of slavery or slave dispute was taboo in polite political circles. No well-bred congressman, least of all, a southern member, dared discuss the subject. Therefore when the bill to organize the territory of Nebraska, freighted as it was with formidable future results, with the opening of the Platte Valley route for a Pacific railroad, with advantage to northern emigration, and ultimate superiority of free state votes in the national government,--came up there was a wild rush of pro-slavery southern members for a masquerade fighting costume. Indian Rights was the suit. Houston of Alabama, Howard of Texas, Brooks of New York, hotly denounce the bill as a violation of sacred Indian guarantees. The framers of the bill had endeavored to meet this criticism by providing that both the land and the government of the Indians should be left undisturbed. This merely inflamed its opponents the more. They want to know how many white men live in a region where it is proposed to go to the expense of organizing a territorial government. Richardson and. Hall are obliged to tell them that the law in force forbids white men settling there at all; but there are, however, between five hundred and twelve hundred whites living in the region and between fifty thousand and sixty thousand emigrants traveling across this territory every year on their way to the Pacific
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Ruins of Old Town of Rockport near Site of Fort Lisa

coast beyond. It is interesting to note in the debate some of the touches, both of temper and argument, which appear in recent debates upon the Philippine question. Congressman Howard, of Texas, in particular, boiled over with indignation at this ruthless violation of Indian rights--organizing a territory over their heads without their consent. He was asked how long it was since Texas began to measure her conduct toward Indians by the Golden Rule. Congressman Brooks, of New York, dwelt upon the extravagance of setting up a territorial government for the benefit of the few hundred people. He was answered that there were ten to fifteen thousand people in Missouri ready to move on these lands as soon as they were open to settlement. The more one reads of the debate the plainer the situation is. This was a fight between Chicago and St. Louis, on the one hand, looking forward to the opening of the Platte Valley Pacific railroad; New Orleans and Texas, on the other, trying to block the northern route, until they can push a railroad through on southern paral-

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@ 2002 for the NEGenWeb Project by Pam Rietsch, Ted & Carole Miller