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   The process of creating Nebraska into a territory set influences at work which, probably, were the Sarajevo of secession in the South and the resulting Civil War. The process of promotion from territory to state, thirteen years later, was also the occasion of a fierce contention in the national Congress. Some men have greatness thrust upon them. In some sort, as we shall see, statehood was thrust upon Nebraska. The territorial dispute was, primarily, over the policy of restricting or enlarging the territorial bounds of slavery. The statehood dispute was over the question, almost purely sentimental, of forcing negro suffrage upon the incoming state. The organic act, as it finally passed, incidentally repealed the famous Missouri compromise, which permitted slavery in the in-coming state of Missouri but forever restricted it from all the Louisiana Territory north of parallel 36o 30'--the extension of the southern boundary of Missouri. The repeal of the restriction theoretically opened the way for introducing slavery into the new territory, and measures were actually taken by slaveholding interests to do so.1

   1 This subject is discussed at length in the proslavery Daily Missouri Republican, of St. Louts, June 2, 1855, by a correspondent from Whitehead, Kansas: "so strong, general and pervading is the proslavery sentiment, that it has extended even to Nebraska, and we find the Nebraska City News enlisting under its banner; and hear of public meetings being held, resolutions passed and addresses published, advocating the establishment of a slave State in the Southern portion of



The new arrangement gave residents of the territories the power to permit or prohibit slavery.
   The slavery question had been settled by the adoption of the thirteenth amendment to the constitution--December 18, 1865--before the controversy over admitting Nebraska into the Union under the constitution of 1866 took place; but a corollary of emancipation, the enfranchisement of negroes, was fiercely disputed in that controversy.
   Only two conventions of Nebraska--those of 1871 and 1875--constructed constitutions. There were two attempts to form constitutions prior to the submission and adoption of the first constitution in 1866. An irrepressible conflict between the North Platte and South Platte sections of the territory was manifested in the first territorial legislative assembly, and it continued until, in comparatively recent years, it became practicable to bridge the Platte River, the all but impassable barrier between these two natural divisions, at many convenient points. The winning of the capital by the North Platte, in the first contest, increased the animosity, partly because the South Platte humanly resented the defeat, and partly because it was believed that the fact of the presence of the seat of government at Omaha, in the North Platte, gave that section undue influence over appropriations and other federal favors. Furthermore, the people of the South Platte, being in a decisive majority, naturally looked to state government for relief and revenge,

the Territory. Several families have already gone there with their slaves. There are not less than forty slaves in Richardson county alone." In the "cool, deliberate judgment" of the majority of the people represented in the legislative assembly, "it was not politic to prohibit slavery," because "it might prove to be the best investment for the State."



because, being purely local, it would be under their control. However, they first sought the revolutionary remedy of dismemberment by the annexation of their own section to Kansas. But failing in this attempt, after a fierce struggle in 1859, they resorted to statehood. And so, on December 8, 1859, William H. Brodhead, of Otoe county, introduced in the House of Representatives of the sixth territorial assembly House file number 3, "A bill for an act to frame a state constitution and state government for the state of Nebraska." On the twelfth the bill was referred to a joint committee on state organization, consisting of Mills S. Reeves and William H. Taylor, of Otoe county, and George W. Doane, of Douglas, from the Council; and William H. Brodhead, of Otoe; John Taffe, of Dakota; Jesse Noel, of Nemaha; James Tufts, of L'Eeau Qui Court; and Houston Nuckolls, of Richardson, from the House of Representatives. On the thirteenth Reeves reported to the Council, and on the fourteenth Brodhead, Nuckolls, and Noel to the House. Both reports recommended the passage of the statehood measure. Mr. Reeves urged that both of the political parties of the territory had expressed themselves in favor of a state government at their recent conventions, and that the advantages of statehood would doubly offset its increased expense, that among the accruing advantges would be an increased influx of capital and immigration, the making of school lands available for use in support of public schools, grants of land for public buildings and roads. The best of these lands, he said, were rapidly passing out of the hands of the general government into those of private citizens and speculators.

   The question of the location of the Pacific railroad, which, since the discovery of the untold millions of gold on our western border [the Pike's Peak gold fields], all concede must and



will be built, may be decided in our favor by the votes of our own representatives, if we are, as we should be, admitted into the Union at the same time with Kansas.

   The House report briefly presented substantially the same arguments.2
   The bill was passed in the House of Representatives on the fourth of January. Only five of the twenty-two affirmative votes were cast by North Platte members, while ten of the fourteen negative votes were of that section. On the ninth of January the Council, by a vote of six to three, receded from its amendments to the bill, with which the House had refused to concur. Four of the six affirmative votes were from the North Platte, but all of the three negative votes were also from that section. The act was approved by the governor on the eleventh of January. It provided that at an election to be held on the fifth of March, 1860, the electors of the territory should vote "for state government," or "against state government," and that they should also elect fifty-two delegates to a convention to be held at Omaha on the ninth of April, 1860, if a majority of the votes cast should be for state government. There were 2094 votes for state government, and 2372 against. Consequently no convention was held. The South Platte cast 1525 for and 1020 against, while the North Platte cast only 569 for and 1352 against. The total vote--4466--was rather light compared with that cast at the ensuing fall election--5900. The Omaha Nebraskian, a democratic organ, said that "not one-half the voters of the party participated in
   2 The Council report appears in the Council Journal of the sixth territorial assembly, page 61, and the House report in the House Journal of the same assembly, page 77. The platforms adopted by the two political conventions of 1859, referred to in the Council report, appear in the history of Nebraska, volume I, pages, 409-411.



the election." The apathy of the Democrats may be accounted for, partly, at least, on the ground that the national administration, which administered territorial patronage, was democratic, with a fair prospect that, under the leadership of Douglas, it might so continue; while, on the other hand, it seemed quite likely that the Republicans would be able to control a local state government.3
   The immemorial feud between Omaha and Nebraska City broke out on the motion by Andrew J. Hanscom, of Douglas county, to designate "Omaha City" as the place for holding the convention, which was lost by a vote of 15 to 19; whereupon, a motion by Milton W. Reynolds, of Otoe county, to confer that honor on Nebraska City was carried by 21 to 13. The next day, however, a motion to reconsider was carried by 21 to 15, and Hanscom's motion to substitute "the capital of the territory" was carried without roll call. Inasmuch as the belligerent newspapers of neither section took notice of this episode, it may be inferred that the reconsideration in favor of Omaha was the result of a more or less amicable compromise on the rest of the measure.
   Council bill number 5, with the same purpose, was passed on December 16, by a vote of 8 to 2, Elmer S. Dundy, of Richardson county, and William H. Taylor, of Otoe, voting nay. The bill was reported to the House the next day; but on the twenty-ninth that body recommended the passage of its own bill, House file number 3, substitute, and the Council bill was dropped. On December 14 there was a heated debate over its own bill in the
   3 The names of the delegates to the proposed convention, and the vote, by counties, on the statehood proposition are given in volume I of the History of Nebraska, page 423. The act of the legislative assembly providing for the convention appears in the Laws of the Sixth Legislative Assembly, page 45.



Council. Section 8 of the bill provided that any white male person who had been in the territory, county and precinct twenty days should be a qualified voter. Mills S. Reeves, Democrat, of Otoe county, moved to strike out the twenty days restriction, holding that mere residence was evidence of sufficient interest to justify permission to vote upon this question of general policy. George W. Doane, of Douglas, favored a requirement of twenty days residence in the territory, but not including county or precinct. He wanted to make the rule as liberal as seemed practicable because, if they were going to apply for admission, it was desirable to show as large a vote as possible. Dundy and Taylor taunted the Democrats who favored the open rule about the alleged illegal voting that had been permitted under the Democratic territorial government, but the Reeves amendment was adopted .4 Dr. George L. Miller said we are too young to ask for admission; Congress had adopted the principle of the "English bill," which declares that no more territories ought to be admitted until their population has reached the ratio required for a representative, which was right. But if we should apply at once we could claim right to admission under the existing ratio, which would be raised to 150,000 and keep us out indefinitely.
   Governor Samuel W. Black made the same mistake as the committee on state organization afterward made in declaring, in his message, that "A very large majority of the people are evidently in favor of the movement . . . " He thought that the population of the territory fell short of the ratio for a member of congress--93,423--but made a prolix argument, with much citation of precedent, for disregarding that incident.
   4 The Nebraska Republican (Omaha), December 21, 1859.



   After the setback of 1860, the statehood question slumbered for two years. By this time the Republican party was firmly in the saddle in the territory, so that it might confidently count on becoming the beneficiary of the increase of official perquisites which would accompany admission; and the addition of two Republican senators and a voting member of the House of Representatives was coveted by the national party. The revival of the movement for admission was therefore largely a party measure.


   The first move in Congress for statehood was made December 22, 1862, when James Monroe Ashley, of Ohio, a Republican leader and chairman of the committee on territories, by unanimous consent introduced in the House of Representatives "a bill" (H. R. 628) "to enable the people of Nebraska to form a Constitution and State government, and for the admission of such State into the Union . . . "5 On the same day Mr. Ashley introduced

   5 Congressional Globe, third session thirty-seventh Congress, page 166.
   Mr. Ashley served five terms in the House, from March 4, 1859, to March 4, 1869. He was appointed a member of the committee on the territories February 9, 1860, in his first term. His name was at the foot of the list of committeemen. At the special session of the next--thirty-seventh--Congress, which convened July 4, 1861, he was appointed--July 6--chairman of the committee. (Congressional Globe, first session thirty-seventh Congress, page 22); and he held that place during the remaining four terms of his service. In the thirty-seventh Congress he introduced the first bill for the submission of the thirteenth amendment of the constitution. After its defeat in the House he vigorously led the successful struggle in the next Congress to adopt the joint resolution for the same purpose which had been passed in the Senate. He also presented the articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson. Ashley's apparent willingness to brush aside obstacles to a controlling purpose without delicate scruple is shown in his attempt to press Turner M. Marquett into a seat in the



enabling bills for Colorado, Nevada and Utah;6 on February 11 he reported all of them, except the Utah bill, back from the committee on territories, and they were ordered to be printed and recommitted;7 on the next day he asked leave to report them back and that the twenty-first be set aside for their consideration; but on the objection of Vallandigham, his Democratic colleague, Ashley held back a report. To his question whether any other day would do Vallandigham replied: "No, Sir; I think we had better get back the States which are absent before we make provision for any other States." Ashley then reported the bills and had them recommitted to the

fortieth Congress. Marquett had come to Nebraska from Ohio, so Ashley doubtless reasoned that he might more safely count on him as a friend in need than upon John Taffe, who was fairly entitled to the seat. Marquett had been elected a member of the House at the provisional election of June 2, 1866, which was authorized by the enabling act. But the way to admission having been blocked by the President's veto in the meantime, at the regular general election in the following October, Marquett had been chosen a territorial delegate to Congress and John Taffe as a tentative member of Congress in case the territory should be admitted into the Union. The Republican convention nominated Marquett for delegate and Taffe for state congressman. Marquett accepted his nomination, presumably on the safety first calculation that the combined Johnson Republicans and the Democrats could and would indefinitely keep the territory out of statehood. Marquett was tempted to make a virtue out of his plain duty to concede the office to Taffe by declaring that his Ohio friends could have procured it for him; but the votes on the question of allowance for mileage and the proposal retroactively to extend his term in the thirty-ninth Congress contradict his assumption. He was admitted to the House on March 2. Technically, perhaps, his term began on the first, by virtue of the president's proclamation of admission; but practically he was king but for a day, because the third being the last day of the term of that Congress and Sunday also, the House adjourned early in the morning. I have given more particulars of this episode in the third volume of the History of Nebraska, pages 3-4.
   6 Congressional Globe, third session thirty-seventh Congress, page 186.
   7 Ibid., page 885.



committee on territories.8 Thus this audacious enterprise was blocked for the session which ended March 3.
   Ashley had similar bills started in the Senate also, by Lane of Kansas. The Nebraska bill (S. No. 522) was introduced by unanimous consent on February 12, 1863. it was reported back from the committee on territories, without amendment, February 20, and taken up for consideration March 3, by a vote of 25 to 11; but the demand of Senator Grimes, of Iowa, that it should be read in full prevented further action at that session. Nine of the eleven senators who voted against consideration were Republicans; among them were Grimes; Preston King, of New York; Trumbull, of Illinois; and Wilson, of Massachusetts.9 Lack of time precluded expression of reasons for opposition to the bill; but doubtless they would have been the same as those against the Colorado and Nevada bills. Trumbull strongly opposed the Colorado measure on the ground of insufficient population, but is was passed on the last day of the session by the close margin of 18 to 17.10 Grimes and Trumbull strenuously opposed the Nevada bill for the same reason, and Garrett Davis, Democrat, attacked it hotly on that ground. Benjamin F. Wade, of Ohio, was the principal defender. Like the Colorado bill it was passed on the last day of the session, by a vote of 24 to 16.11 Among the Republicans who voted no were Anthony, Foster, Grimes, Howe, King, Trumbull. They were not moved by Ashley's confessedly partisan motive. Sumner quietly supported all three of the bills.
   8 Ibid., page 915.
   9 Ibid., pages 905, 1121, 1525.
   10 Ibid., pages 1513, 1523.
   11 Ibid., pages 1610-1512.



in a speech in the House, May 3, 1866, in advocacy of the admission of Colorado, Mr. Ashley said:

    On the 24th March, 1864, the Congress of the United States passed an enabling act authorizing the people of the Territory of Colorado to form a constitution and State government prior to their admission into the Union. Enabling acts were also passed for the Territories of Nebraska and Nevada. I drew up those enabling acts and introduced them into this House; but finding that the Committee on Territories would not be reached in time for action on them in the Senate during the second [third] session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress, I carried them to the Senate and had them introduced there and they passed that body; but this House failed to pass them at that session. At the first session of the Thirty-Eighth Congress the same bills or enabling acts were again introduced into both the Senate and House, and became laws. The bill authorizing the people of Colorado to form a constitution and State government became a law, as I have said, on the 24th of March, 1864.
   My object in drafting and urging the passage of those enabling acts was twofold; one to establish a new principle in the admission of States into this Union, negativing, as far as I could in the enabling acts, the old idea of State rights; the other to secure the vote of three more states, in case the election of President and Vice President in the year 1864 should come to the House of Representatives.
   At the time those enabling acts were passed it was not thought expedient by the party to which I belong to prescribe the qualification of electors in the constitutions of States which were authorized to be organized and admitted into the Union. The people of Colorado, in the constitution which they formed in pursuance of that enabling act, and which constitution they rejected, prescribed that none but white persons should be electors within the State. The State of Nevada, having accepted the conditions prescribed by Congress, was admitted into the Union, with a provision in her constitution precisely like the one now objected to in the constitution of Colorado.12
   Early in the session of the next Congress Ashley
   12 Congressional Globe, first session thirty-ninth Congress page 2373. The bills were introduced at the third session of the thirty-seventh Congress, instead of the second as Mr. Ashley says; and he was in error also in saying that the Nebraska bill was passed in the Senate at that session.

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