Copyright 2000 - 2003 - Janine M. Bork
This page is part of the Union County, OR AGHP
(1853 - 1859.)
Political and Local History of Washington as a Separate Territorial Government Until Admission of Oregon as a State, Excluding Detailed Narrative of Indian Wars - Area of the Territory - General Features of Organic Act - President Pierce's Appointments of Federal Officials - Census Taken by Marshal Anderson - Northern Pacific Railroad Exploration - Governor Stevens' Arrival - His First Proclamation - Organization of the Territorial Government - Judicial Districts Defined by Governor - Apportionment of Territory for Legislative Representation - First election - Columbia Lancaster Elected Delegate to Congress - Session of First Legislative Assembly - New Counties Organized - Secretary Mason Becomes Acting Governor - Indian Disturbances on Puget Sound - Collectors of Customs of Fort Victoria and Puget Sound Both Claim Revenue Jurisdiction over San Juan Island - Congressional Legislation for Territory - Session of Legislature, 1854-55 - Treaties with Indian Tribes - Indian Council at Walla Walla - Discovery of Gold at Fort Colvile - Murder of Miners and Indian Agent Bolon - Governor Stevens at Council with Blackfoot Nation - Session of Legislature, 1855-56 - The People in Blockhouses - General Stagnation of Business - The Campaigns Against Indians Ended - Session of Legislature, 1856-57 - Organization of Republican Party in Territory - Election of 1857 - Governor Isaac I. Stevens Elected Delegate to Congress - Fayette McMullin Appointed Governor - The Fraser River Excitement - Session of Legislature, 1858-59 - Oregon Admitted Into the Union - Enlargement of Territorial Area by Annexation of Residue of Oregon.
THE boundaries prescribed by the act of March 2, 1853, establishing the territory of Washington, embraced the territory as it existed at the date of the passage of the act authorizing the holding of a convention to form a constitution, preparatory to being admitted as the "State of Washington," together with so much of Idaho and Montana as lies north of the forty-sixth parallel of north latitude and west of the Rocky Mountains. The Organic Act created for the new territorial government the offices of governor, secretary, chief justice and two associate justices of the Supreme Court, an attorney and marshal. It provided for a Legislative Assembly consisting of a Council of nine members, and a House of Representatives, the first of which should consist of eighteen members, which number might subsequently be increased by legislature, but never to exceed thirty members. Of the Council chosen at the first election, the terms of office were respectively one, two and three years, to be settled by drawing lots, one-third retiring at the close of each period. At subsequent elections, the term for which a councilman was elected was three years. The territory still remained in the land district of Oregon, under the jurisdiction of the surveyor-general of that territory; but upon July 17, 1854,
congress amended the Donation law of September 27, 1850, which had created that office, and established Washington Territory as a separate land district, created the office of surveyor-general, and authorized the President, when he deemed it expedient, to appoint a register and receiver (1); and an United States district land-office was established at Olympia.
Previous to the first election, it was made the duty of the governor to cause a census to be taken of the inhabitants and qualified voters, to enable the government to make an apportionment for the election of members of the Legislative Assembly, the ratio of representation to be fixed according to the number of qualified voters in a district or county. The governor was to fix times and places for holding the first election, convene the legislature and name the place of meeting. At the first session, or as soon thereafter as deemed expedient, the legislature "shall proceed to locate and establish the seat of government" of the territory. All justices of the peace, constables, sheriffs, and other judicial and ministerial officers in office in the territory of Washington at the date of approval of the Organic Act, shall continue in their respective offices until they or others shall be duly elected or appointed, and shall have qualified to fill their places, or until the offices are abolished. It was under that provision of the Organic Act that Associate Justice William Strong of the Supreme court of Oregon (who had been assigned to and resided in the third judicial district of that territory, which at the time included all of Washington Territory), held courts north of the Columbia river, and performed all other necessary judicial functions, until the governor, by his proclamation, had created judicial districts for Washington Territory and designated the times and places of holding the district courts therein. Causes pending in the district courts of the late third judicial district of Oregon were transferred by operation of law to the proper court of the district including the county in which suit was brought.
Two townships and land were reserved, by the amendatory act creating the office of surveyor-general of Washington, for university purposes; and, by the Organic Act, sections sixteen and thirty-six in each township in the territory were reserved for the purpose of being applied to the common schools.
The territories of Oregon and Washington were vested with concurrent jurisdiction over all offenses committed on the Columbia river, where the said river forms the common barrier between them.
Soon after the inauguration of Franklin Pierce, President of the United States, he appointed Brevet Major Isaac I. Stevens, U.S. Engineers of Massachusetts, Governor and ex officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Charles H. Mason of Rhode Island, Secretary, John S. Clendenin of Mississippi, Attorney, and James Patton Anderson of Tennessee, Marshal, Edward Lander of Indiana, Chief Justice, Victor Monroe of Kentucky and Obadiah B. McFadden of Pennsylvania, Associate Justices of the Supreme court of Washington Territory. Isaac N. Ebey, an old resident of the territory, was appointed collector of customs for the district of Puget Sound; and early thereafter the port of entry of the district was removed from Olympia to Port Townsend. In the spring of 1854, Associate Justice Victor Monroe, after having held a term of court in several of the river counties, was superseded by Francis A. Chenoweth, an early Oregon pioneer residing in Clark county, now Washington territory. Of these appointees, Colonel J. Patton Anderson, Marshal, Mr. Clendenin, Attorney, Secretary Mason and Judges Lander and
Tilton of Indiana was appointed the first surveyor-general. Early in 1854,
Henry C. Mosely of Steilacoom was appointed register, and Elias Yulee of
Indiana receiver; and a land-office was established at Olympia.
Monroe reached the territory during the summer of 1853. Marshal Anderson at once proceeded to take the census, which, when completed, showed a population of 3,965 white inhabitants, of whom 1, 682 were voters.
The delay in the organization of the territory, growing out of the non-arrival of Governor Stevens, occasioned no dissatisfaction, as it had early become known that he had been assigned to the charge of the exploration and survey of a route for a Northern Pacific Railroad from St. Paul, or some other eligible point near the head of the Mississippi river, to Puget Sound. The instructions of the Secretary of War (Jefferson Davis) to Governor Stevens required a thorough examination of the passes of the Rocky, Bitter Root and Cascade ranges of mountains. The geography and meteorology of the intermediate country, the character of the same, or adaptability thereof for avenues of trade and transportation; the examination of the Missouri and Columbia rivers and their longest tributaries, as auxiliary channels for transportation, and in constructing a transcontinental road; to ascertain the rainfall, the depth of snow along the route, especially in the several mountain passes; in short, learn every feature of country, soil and climate which may render assistance to the solution of the problem of the practicability of transcontinental railroad communication by the northern route. It was also required that investigation be made as to the Indian tribes of the country traversed, with reference to their numbers, habits and especially as to their feelings towards the Whites, and in regard to a right of way for such a railroad through their accustomed haunts.
The better to accomplish their
purpose within on season, the expedition was divided into an Eastern and
a Western division, the former to operate westward from the Upper Mississippi.
The purpose of the latter will be best appreciated by quoting the language
of the War Secretary: "A second party will proceed at once to Puget Sound
and explore the passes of the Cascade Range, meeting the Eastern party
between that range and the Rocky Mountains, as may be arranged by Governor
Stevens." The Eastern division or main party was under the command of Governor
Stevens. Captain George B. McClellan, Corps of Engineers, had direction
of the Western party. Associated with him were his assistant, Mr. Joseph
F. Minter; Engineer, Lieutenant Jefferson K. Duncanm, Third U.S. Artillery;
Dr. J.G. Cooper, Surgeon and naturalist. Captain McClellan started May
20, 1853, from New York via Panama. Upon his arrival at Fort Vancouver,
he was joined by Lieutenant Sylvester Mowry, U.S. Army, as meteorologist,
and George Gibbs, so well known to the early inhabitants of Oregon and
Washington as a distinguished Indian linguist and ethnologist, who acted
as interpreter, geologist and ethnologist of the Western division. Lieutenant
henry C. Hodges, Fourth U.S. Infantry, commanded the military escort, and
acted as commissary and quartermaster of the western party. Under a general
supervision of Governor Steens, the Secretary of War had directed Captain
McClellan "to open the military road from Fort Steilacoom to Fort Walla
Walla." Incidentally, Captain McClellan made a superficial topographic
reconnaissance, intrusting the work to Edward Jay Allen, engineer and contractor
upon the emigrant road built by the citizens. Lieutenant Rufus Saxton had
been assigned to the Western division as its quartermaster and commissary,
with the special duty of organizing a sufficient force to establish a depot
in the valley of the Bitter Root, and supply it with four thousand rations
of provisions. The performance of this duty practically necessitated a
third and separate party, whose starting point was Fort Vancouver, and
whose field of operation was confined to the territory west of the Rocky
Mountains and the examination of a route to Bitter Root valley, in what
is now Western Montana.
Before the Eastern division went into the field, Lieutenant Andrew J. Donelson, U.S. Engineers, was dispatched by Governor Stevens to Montreal to interview Sir George Simpson, Governor-in-Chief of the Hudson's Bay Company's affairs in America, to arrange for obtaining, if necessary, from the trading-posts of the company, provisions or other necessaries, to secure knowledge of the Red River country, and to procure necessary guides and hunters from Fort Snelling to Fort Union, and from that post to Fort Benton, and across the Rocky Mountains. Governor Stevens also determined to send a small party up the Missouri river to Fort Union. A survey of that river was to be made. A post was to be established at Fort Union; and the surrounding country was to be thoroughly examined while the party waited for the coming up of the entire force of the Eastern division, to which had been assigned the following army officers and scientists: Captain J.W.T. Gardiner, U.S. Dragoons, to command the military escort; Lieutenant Andrew . Donelson, U.S. engineers, with a detachment of ten United States sappers and miners; Lieutenant Beekman du Barry, Third Artillery, U.S.A.; Lieutenant Cuvier Grover, Fourth Artillery, U.S.A.; Lieutenant John Mullan, Second Artillery, U.S.A.; James M. Stanley, the artist of the expedition; Dr. John Evans, who had been employed since 1851, by the Department of the Interior, in the geological examination of Oregon and Washington, was assigned to the expedition as its geologist; Isaac F. Osgood, purchasing and disbursing agent; Doctor George Suckley, Surgeon and naturalist; Frederick W. Lander, locating and estimating engineer; A.W. Tinkam, assistant engineer.
The first of June had been fixed as the time of commencing the march of the main party of the Eastern division from Fort Snelling, Minnesota, the appointed rendezvous. The mules were unbroken, and the wagons were not delivered until the 26th of May. Then came the circus of inexperienced civilians breaking those unruly creatures. Mule-breaking was amusing to all except the one who was trying to discipline the brute; it was the work of camp for several days. Small parties were sent out to make preliminary examinations of the river, others to ascertain camps and the condition of the route over which the train was soon to travel; but the members of the party were mainly in camp from the 27th or 27th of May.
When it had been determined to
make a survey of the Missouri river to the mouth of the Yellowstone, a
steamer of high draft had been chartered at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; but
the uncertainty as to the practicability of her ascending to that point
induced Governor Stevens to abandon that means of transportation of Lieutenant
Donelson and party, to whose charge had been committed that work. The party
left St. Louis on the American Fur Company's steamer for Fort Union, on
the 20th of May. It consisted of Lieutenant Andrew J. Donelson, in command,
Lieutenant John Mullan, Mr. William M. Graham, astronomer, and a detachment
of six United States sappers and miners. On the 31st of May, small advance
engineering parties, in charge of Lander, Lambert, Grover and Tinkham,
started by different lines to Sauk Rapids. On the 3d of June, in consequence
of ill health, Captain Gardiner was relieved from duty with the exploration,
and ordered to report at Washington City. On the 6th of June, the Eastern
division struck camp at Fort Snelling and moved toward Sauk Rapids in three
parties, all of whom had arrived within two days at Camp Davis (on the
Sauk river, two miles from its mouth). Here they remained, making preparations,
but moving out in small detachments, until the 15th, when the whole command
was on the march. Lieutenant du Barry was relieved at his own request,
and ordered to report to the adjutant-general at Washington City.
The main party of the Eastern division reached Fort Union on the 1st of August, Donelson's party had been there for several weeks. The other parties all arrived early in August, Lander coming in last, - on the fifth. It was first resolved to organize two parties, under Lieutenants Donelson and Grover, respectively, in order to examine a wider belt of country. The governor was to go forward with a small party, but be within communicating distance. On the 9th of August, the two parties, in charge of Lieutenants Donelson and Grover, respectively, started from Fort Union. Governor Stevens remained until the 10th. On the 11th, he had overtaken both parties at the crossing of the Big Muddy river. Again the programme was changed. The two parties were again consolidated under the command of Lieutenant Donelson; and small parties were to be detailed to perform side-work or make necessary examinations, under Lander, Grover, Tinkham and other officers. The main train moved forward under the command of Lieutenant Donelson. An itinerary of the march and doings of that Eastern division, were they more pertinent to the territorial history, and did space permit, would prove most interesting. Suffice it to add that Governor Stevens reached Fort Benton September 1st; and the Eastern division were all in camp, at that old trading-post of the American Fur Company, on the 6th of September. The governor resolved to abandon the wagons at this point, and go forward with pack animals. On the sixteenth, the westward march was resumed. On the twenty-sixth, Governor Stevens, with a small party, left the main train, hastened forward, and crossed the divide of the Rocky Mountains upon the twenty-ninth. The pass by which the Eastern division crossed the Rocky Mountains (Cadotte's Pass) was the same that had been traversed in 1805 by the Lewis and Clark overland expedition to the mouth of the Columbia river.
Governor Stevens reached Fort Colvile on the 18th day of October. Captain McClellan had arrived there upon the day before. On the 28th of October, both parties met, having in their joint journeyings traversed the continent; and the place where they commemorated the happy result of their joint labors they named Camp Washington. The season was growing late, snow had already fallen, the animals were much fatigued and were growing thin. Further examinations and work had been marked out and discussed by those three accomplished engineers, Stevens, McClellan and Lander. McClellan had been in the Cascade Mountains. He suggested that an examination from the Sound over the Snoqualmic Pass was more practicable than to work westward from Camp Washington. His views were accepted, as he had been in charge of the western field of exploration; and wisely the resolution was reached and acted upon to push forward by Walla Walla, The Dalles and Vancouver to Olympia. In the latter days of November, the expedition (except small parties who had been detached for examination of special features upon which information was required before final report could be made) had finished its labor in the field. Its officers, engineers and specialists had gone into winter quarters; and the office work of preparing reports and maps and illustrations commenced. The labors of that party were chronicled in three large quarto volumes published by the national government, and constitute a valuable addition to the knowledge of the country at large, and especially the physical geography and topographic features of the territory of Washington.
Governor Stevens having arrived
at Olympia (the seat of government as determined upon by him) issued upon
the 28th of November, 1853, a proclamation, as required by the provisions
of the Act of Congress establishing the territorial government of Washington.
By it, Monday the 30th day of January, 1854, was
for holding the first election for members of the Council and House of Representatives of the Legislative Assembly, and for the first delegate for Washington Territory to the House of Representatives of the United States. An apportionment was made; and the council and representative districts were defined. The three judicial districts were established, viz.: the counties of Clark and Pacific constituted the first district, Lewis and Thurston the second; and in the third were embraced the counties of Pierce, King, Island and Jefferson. The times and places for holding said courts were also appointed. The 27th day of February, 1854, at Olympia, were designated the time and place for the meeting of the first Legislative Assembly.
Immediately after the proclamation, the two political parties called territorial conventions to nominate a candidate for delegate to Congress. The Democrats assembled at Cowlitz landing and nominated Columbia Lancaster, who had served as a judge of the Supreme Court under the Oregon Provisional government, and who was defeated at the first Oregon territorial election (1849) for the delegateship to Congress by Samuel R. Thurston; and he it was also who conducted the proceedings of that minority Oregon legislative council, called at the time the "One-horse Council," which met at Oregon City, session 1851-52. The Whigs met in convention at Olympia and nominated Colonel William H. Wallace, an immigrant of 1853, a prominent lawyer, a distinguished advocate and orator, and who had filled several official positions in the State of Iowa. Judge Lancaster was elected by a vote of 698, to 500 received by Colonel Wallace. Both branches of the legislature were Democratic by small majorities.
On the day designated in the governor's proclamation, the first territorial legislature assembled at Olympia. The Council organized by the election of George N. McConaha (1) of King county as President. Francis A. Chenoweth of Clark county was elected Speaker of the House. Governor Stevens delivered his message in person in joint convention of both Houses on the 28th of February. Referring to the valuable information he had acquired in his journey to the territory, with reliance he urged the memorialization of Congress for the vigorous application to Washington Territory of its general territorial policy, - those incidental aids always accorded to new territories by the general government. He appropriately alluded to the deficiency in the mail service, to the extinguishment of the Indian title to lands, and reminded them that as yet Congress had failed to pass a law applicable to the territory east of the Cascade Range. He then called attention to the public lands, and the inconvenience to settlers by the failure of the government to extend the public surveys. His recommendations as to the building of government roads exhibited an intimate knowledge of the needs of the territory. His suggestions for a memorial for congressional aid contemplated a system connecting the Columbia river with the Sound. A road was required extending westward from the falls of the Missouri, at the head of navigation of that river, to connect with the road from the crossing of the Columbia river at Fort Walla Walla to Fort Steilacoom. A road should also be continued down the Columbia river to Fort Vancouver, then called Columbia City, and thence from that point across to the head of the Sound, thence northward on the east side of the Sound to Bellingham Bay. He suggested, as proper subjects to urge upon the attention of Congress, the creation of the office of surveyor-general of Washington Territory; the granting of liberal appropriations to extend the public surveys; the
McConaha had proved himself in that session a thorough parliamentarian,
an able debater, and a master in invective. He was a consummate jury lawyer,
a successful advocate. On the Sound, though a recent comer, he had acquired
an enviable popularity with the masses. He was in the prime of vigorous
manhood, and had he lived, a brilliant future awaited him. While returning
from the session of the legislature to his home at Seattle, in a canoe,
accompanied by Captain B.P. Barstow, with a crew of Indians, the canoe
was swamped between Vashon Island and Alki Point, May 5, 1853; and, with
the exception of one Indian, the whole party found a watery grave.
amendment of the Donation law so as to authorize, after a continuous residence of one year, a commutation by paying the minimum valuation of the land, or the making of improvements equal to such minimum value; with the proviso that the right to acquire or commute should be enjoyed but once; that single women be placed on the same footing as married ones.
This perfect schedule of territorial needs, as also the illustration of territorial resources and future grandeur, included also reference to geographic and geologic surveys. He then urged the necessity of congressional appropriations to continue the survey of the Northern Pacific Railroad route. With broad and liberal statesmanship, he indicated, in that able message, the necessity of "building simultaneously roads to the great harbors on the Pacific, Puget Sound and San Francisco, if practicable routes are found. I can speak decisively as to the Northern route; and I have no doubt that surveys will establish the entire practicability of the Southern and many intermediate routes. the best interests of the country will be advanced by the ascertaining of many practicable routes; and the necessities of the times imperiously demand that the roads now running westward should not be stayed in their course till they reach our Western shores. I am firmly of the opinion, however, that these great undertakings should be controlled and consummated by the people themselves, and that every project of a government road should be discountenanced."
He then cited an actual occurrence of that winter, which illustrates the then condition of the territory, and one of the annoyances to which the early settler was subjected, as he alluded again to the defective mail service: "For six weeks of the present winter has this territory been without communication with the States. Yet, in this interval, sailing vessels reached Seattle from San Francisco, and brought to that port information on the 12th of January which only reached the same place by mail more than six weeks subsequently. There are reasons growing out of the condition of the territory which call for an efficient mail service by steamers. There are nearly five thousand Indians on the shores of the sound, a large revenue district with innumerable ports affording facilities to the evasion of the revenue laws, and a disputed territory. The entrance to the Sound is in common with a foreign possession to the north, wielded by an almost despotic sway, and the abode of large bands of aborigines. For the management of public business, for the protection alike of the Indian and the settler, for the enforcement of the revenue laws, and for the upholding of the dignity and integrity of national and territorial rights, it is essential that a line of steamers should run direct from San Francisco to Puget Sound, and that an effective mail service by steamers be organized on the Sound itself. The portion of the territory on the Columbia river will be provided for by the existing arrangements, let them only be carried out with a due regard to express stipulations."
Governor Stevens was also ex
officio superintendent of Indian affairs. In that capacity he had as
far as practicable acquainted himself with the native population. His estimate
of the number of Indians was ten thousand, in about equal proportions on
either side of the Cascade Mountains. With the usual first blush of sentimentalism
of Eastern people, he characterized them "for the most part a docile, harmless
race, disposed to obey the laws and be good members of the State." With
this view, with that charity towards that race for which he was eminently
noted, in that first message (his inaugural address, it may with propriety
be called), he warmly recommended "the memorializing of Congress to pass
a law authorizing the President to open negotiations with the Indians east
of the Cascades, to provide for the extinguishment of the title to their
lands, and to make ample
appropriations to actually extinguish their title throughout the territory, reserving to them such portions as are indispensable to their comfort and subsistence.
He then wisely referred to the confusion and ambiguity of the statute law in force in the territory by Oregon legislation. He suggested enacting certain necessary laws applicable to the territory, and the employment of a commission to prepare and report necessary acts. He urged the organization of Eastern Washington into counties; the erection of new counties, and the change of county boundaries; the passage of an election law and a militia law; and as to the latter he made a number of suggestions of what was requisite in the formation of a proper militia system. The message took strong ground in favor of extinguishing by purchase the title of the Hudson's Bay and Puget Sound Agricultural Companies to any possessions or possessory rights under the treaty, and suggested legislative investigation, and a report as to its value, and the policy to be pursued to remove the presence of those companies from that territory. He advised the legislature that "the Hudson's Bay Company would not longer be allowed to trade with Indians within the territory, that notice had been given to that effect under instructions from the secretary of state, and that the company would be allowed until the 1st of July, 1854, to wind up their affairs. After that time, the laws regulating intercourse with the Indians would be rigidly enforced."
Information was also communicated as to the congressional appropriation for a territorial library, and its expenditure, and the contributions secured through application to learned societies and the executive of each state and territory, for copies of their publications. The message concluded with invoking the Assembly to provide a system of education, "which shall place within the means of all the full development of the capacities with which he has been endowed. Let every youth, however limited his opportunities, find his place in the school, the college, the university, if God has given him the necessary gifts. A great champion of liberty said, more than two hundred years ago, that the true object of a complete and general education was to fit man to perform justly, skillfully and magnanimously, all the offices, both private and public, of peace and war. Congress has made liberal appropriations of land for the support of schools; and I would recommend that a special commission be instituted to report on the whole school system. I will also recommend that Congress be memorialized to appropriate land for an university."
Every suggestion herein made found a response by the Legislative Assembly. They created a code commission consisting of Chief Justice Edward Lander, William Strong, late Associate Justice of Oregon, and Victor Monroe, Associate Justice of Washington. The laws by them made, reported separately in order to conform to the requirements of the Organic Act, that "they should have but one object, and such object must be expressed in the title," constitute a code, and substantially continued the great body of the statutory law of Washington throughout its territorial existence. The innovations made by subsequent legislatures upon that collection of laws (uncodified, because each subject matter must be confined to a separate enactment, but regarding each act as a chapter rather than a code), under the guise of so-called amendments, in nowise improved the very creditable system which had emanated from those two vigorous legal minds and learned jurists, Edward Lander and William Strong.
An important memorial upon a
subject to which the governor's message had not referred urged Congress
to reimburse Captain Lafayette Balch and others for the expenses incurred
in the rescue of the crew and passengers of the sloop Georgianna
on the east side of Queen Charlotte's Island, among the Hydah Indians. Another was a memorial praying Congress to recognize the humanity of George Bush, a free man of color, who came to Puget Sound in 1845 with the first American colony who settled in that section. He took up a section of land, and with his family had resided upon it from that date; and that the first legislature unanimously joined in the request that, colored man as he was, a grant be made to him of the home he had made for his family. And Congress promptly acceded tot hat request, so eminently just and creditable to the legislature which had made it. The creation of necessary ports of delivery, the building of a marine hospital, and of lighthouses at proper locations, for making the salary of the collector of customs of Puget Sound equal to the collector of Astoria, were referred to in joint resolutions to aid the delegate in asking Congress to recognize the needs of the infant territory.
Governor Stevens was requested to visit Washington City in the interest of the Northern Pacific Railroad survey, and kindred matters incidental thereto. The private independent enterprise of Frederick W. Lander, so liberally contributed to by the private means of his distinguished brother (the chief justice), the examination of the railroad route from Puget Sound by the valley of the Columbia to the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains, was heartily commended by the legislature. Congress was asked to publish his report, and to make appropriation to compensate his labor, and reimburse him for the expenses incurred.
By the terms of the Organic Act, the duration of the first session of the Legislative Assembly had been limited to one hundred days. That session was materially shortened and the labors of its members lessened by reason of the systematized co-operation of its able coadjutors, the commission of judges reporting from day to day well-digested laws, which the assembly could accept as authorized, essential and competent to promote the public welfare. Indeed that judicial oracle announced what the law ought to be and how the courts would construe it. Nor is it unreasonable to say, that following the timely suggestions of that statesmanlike message of the governor, which in so many instances were accompanied with the reason, evidence of necessity or benefit which prompted them, contributed greatly to the prompt and creditable performance of its functions, and enabled that legislature to adjourn sine die on May first, after having been in session only sixty-four days, which included the days of convening and adjournment.
As before remarked, the territorial Organic Act had prescribed as an essential to the validity of a statute that it should refer only to one subject-matter, and that such subject should be clearly expressed in the title. Hence each enactment, each bill, was separately reported and passed. A full code of civil procedure, in the main following New York, but with occasional interpolations from Indiana or Ohio, the representative states of the two reporters or authors. A Criminal Practice act, a Probate law and Justice's Practice were adopted. The election, and very many of those acts which constitute the political code, were similar to the Oregon code upon some subjects, wisely retained because the people were familiar therewith, and because of a strong partiality for Iowa law, which had been spoken into the Oregon system of law, by mere legislative fiat, that the laws of Iowa, so far as the same may be applicable, are in force in Oregon.
The boundaries of several of
the old counties were re-defined. Seven new counties were created. Cowlitz
county was set apart from Lewis in the early part of the session; and later
Wahkiakum county was set off from its western side. Chehalis and Sawamish
were detached from Thurston. The latter-named county by a subsequent legislature
nominated Mason, in honor of Charles H. Mason, the first secretary of the territory, and its acting governor during much of the period marked by Indian outbreaks, and the Indian war of 1855-56. Clallam was set off from Jefferson county. Whatcom constituted all the territory included in Island county, embraced all the mainland late in that county north of a line running due east of the north point of Perry's Island to the summit of the Cascade Range of mountains, its northern boundary being the forty-ninth parallel west to the Canal de Haro, following that channel to the Strait of Fuca, by it across Ringgold's Channel to the place of beginning. In it was the Archipelago de Haro, the islands so long in dispute between the United States and Great Britain, and awarded to the former by Emperor William of Germany.
Among the early acts of the session, the county of Skamania was set off from Clark. It was all of Eastern Washington, the territory lying east of Cape Horn, in the Columbia river; and from it was set off and established the county of Walla Walla. It was a large empire in extent. Run a line due north from the north bank of the Columbia, opposite the mouth of Des Chutes river, to the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude; all the territory between that imaginary line and the dividing ridge of the Rocky Mountains, all of Idaho and Montana, north of forty-six degrees north latitude and west of the Rocky Mountains, was Walla Walla county as defined by the act establishing its boundaries. The land claim of Lloyd Brooke was its county seat. At the next session, Lloyd Brooke was invested with the several offices of probate judge, county auditor and county treasurer. Shirley Ensign was sheriff. Major John Owens, who lived at St.Mary's village, in the Flathead country in Bitter Root valley, was one of the county commissioners named. His colleagues were B.B. Bomford and George N. Noble. Surely it was a county of magnificent distances. That inland empire was allowed two members of the House of Representatives. There were sufficient residents to justify that act, but their residences were far between. No county officers named every qualified. No organization was attempted under either of those acts, by virtue of the legislation of either of those sessions (1). The act creating the county, or rather defining county lines, remained upon the statute book, and never was repealed.
At that session, county seats were designated for the newly created counties. County officers were appointed for them, as also for old counties where vacancies existed, where officers, by the change of boundaries, had ceased to be residents, and for offices established at the current session. In brief, very much was done to effect working county organizations throughout the territory. The legislature divided the territory into three judicial districts, fixed the terms of court in each, and assigned thereto the judges.
The counties of Walla Walla, Skamania, Clark, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum and Pacific constituted the first judicial district, to which was assigned Obadiah B. McFadden, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the territory. The counties of Lewis, Chehalis, Thurston and Sawamish (Mason) formed the second district, to which the act assigned Victor Monroe, associate Justice; but, early in the summer of 1854, he was superseded by Francis A. Chenoweth, who continued to hold the courts of the second district until January 25, 1855, when the legislature made a reassignment, whereby Edward Lander, Chief Justice, was transferred to the second district, and Associate Justice
(1) It was
not until the fall of 1858 that the upper country, the Walla Walla valley,
was thrown open to white settlement. On the 19th of January, 1859, the
legislature passed an act appointing officers of Walla Walla county. No
intervening legislature had abridged the limits prescribed by the act of
1854; and this lawfully recognized the county as an entity, though unorganized.
On the 15th of March, 1859, a quorum of the county commissioners, named
in the act, appointed necessary officers to carry on a county organization.
At subsequent sessions of the board, all necessary officers were secured.
At the July election (1859), all county officers were elected. Steptoeville
had been the name of the site of the present city of Walla Walla. On the
7th of November, 1859, the board of county commissioners changed the name
to Walla Walla, and designated it as the county seat.
Chenoweth to the third district. The third judicial district was composed of the counties of Pierce, King, Island, Jefferson, Clallam and Whatcom. To it Chief Justice Edward Lander was assigned by the act; but on a reassignment January 25, 1855, the district courts of that district were presided over by Associate Justice Chenoweth.
As requested by the Legislative Assembly, Governor Stevens started on the 26th of March for Washington City, for a protracted absence from the territory. Secretary Mason assumed the office of acting governor.
Immediately after the adjournment of the legislature, several Northern Indians, who were on a visit to Puget Sound in quest of employment, and to sell articles of handiwork, were employed by John L. Butler upon his Donation claim on Butler's cove, on the west side of Budd's Inlet, some three miles north of Olympia. With Butler lived a man named Burt. A quarrel ensued between the Indians and the White men, Butler having refused to pay what the Indians claimed. That demand for wages was the occasion of the death of the chief of the Indian laborers, at the hands of Butler and Burt. Those parties were charged with murder. They were arrested; and, when brought before the magistrate (William W. Plumb) for examination, the prosecuting attorney of the second judicial district of the territory, appointed by a late legislative act, himself at the time a member of the Council, moved for the discharge of the accused, "because Thurston county had no jail, and it would be an expense to the county to retain them in custody." Those red-handed murderers, without the semblance of a trial, were set at liberty. At that time, there were many in the community who denounced that needless, unprovoked homicide as a wanton murder, and the miserable travesty on law and justice which succeeded its commission.
Unfortunately, its results did not end with that discharge. The murders escaped even a trial for their misdeeds; but several innocent lives were sacrificed to atone for that mercenary slaying of that northern chief near the city of Olympia. The murdered man was a prominent chief of a tribe of Stikeen Indians, whose dwelling place was near Sitka, in Russian American. In the latter part of May, Indians of that nation came from their northern homes in large numbers to Puget Sound, to avenge that death, - not alone to visit punishment upon those who had occasioned his death. They cared not particularly for the wrong-doer; but his race must pay for that loss by an equal or greater sacrifice. As he was a chief, they exacted two lives for one. In ten large war canoes, each carrying between fifty and sixty well-armed braves, the avenging expedition arrived at Vancouver Island. There, mistaking one Charles Bayley, a settler upon that island, for an American, they initiated their work of reciprocal murder, - their enforcement of their traditional law of retaliation and compensation. A party of eight of the savages shot and fatally wounded Bayley. Governor Douglas, having heard of the raid, immediately dispatched a force to pursue and capture the murderers. The Indians, who had too much the start, eluded their pursuers among the islands and escaped in the direction of Bellingham Bay.
On Saturday, May 24th, at about
noon, two of those large canoes, each manned with fifty or sixty Northern
Indians, approached Bellingham Bay from the direction of Vancouver Island,
and landed on the beach opposite the house of a Mr. Clayton. Entirely unarmed,
he walked down to meet them, when they surrounded him and proposed selling
to him blankets. Their conduct excited his suspicions as to their friendliness
of motive. Under pretense of going to his house for money to pay for the
blankets offered, he fled to the woods, and was pursued for a considerable
distance. He ran to the house of
Captain Pattle, some five miles distant, where he took refuge. There happened to be there several Bay Indians of the Lummi tribe, whom he induced to warn the settlers, Captain Pattle, Clayton and five other Whites, all unarmed, except that in Pattle's cabin there was an old musket with a broken lock, manned a canoe and paddled out from the shore a sufficient distance to enable them to observe the movements of the enemy either upon land or water, and make good their escape if pursued. They anchored the canoe abreast of Captain Pattle's cabin, and remained in it reconnoitering the enemy until near midnight of Sunday. Then they noiselessly paddled ashore, thinking they had baffled their besiegers; but in this they were grievously mistaken, as the sequel proved. Two of the war party, who immediately pursued. The retreating settlers, with the hope to deter the advance of their foe, fired off the old musket with the aid of a coal; and a volley of twenty or thirty shots was returned. The settlers then fled to the timber: The Indians hurriedly retired after firing the volley. The settlers' canoe, in which the two guards had remained, was afterwards found to be riddled with shot. In the bottom was found a pool of blood. Before the party on shore had fled, the two guards had been heard urging each other to push off the canoe and effect their escape. By the words used and the replies, it was evident that both had been disabled by that volley from the Northern canoes. The names of those two unfortunate men, who lost their lives to atone for the crime committed by Butler and Burt, were David Melville and George Brown. After they had been murdered, their heads were severed from their lifeless bodies, and carried north by the avenging raiders.
The Indians, before they left Clayton's house, to which they went upon his flight, stripped it of every valuable article. Two days later they attacked and fired into the house of Alonzo M. Poe. Having thrown the Bay settlers into a state of consternation, and aroused them to organized defense, the Stikeens went to Whidby's Island, attacked the houses of Captain Hathaway and R.B. Holbrook while absent, and appropriated blankets, ammunition, groceries and provisions, indeed everything which could be carried off. Subsequently, they robbed the residences of several other settlers on Whidby's Island, and then, satiated and satisfied with the murder and mischief they had done, headed for their northern homes. By the time the news of these depredations had reached Olympia, those marauders and pirates were well on their way to their northern abode. There was no vessel to pursue them, no means at hand to punish their predatory excursions, nor to protect the settlements against those hordes of Northern barbarians. On the 3d of June, the news having reached Olympia, Governor Mason proceeded to Fort Steilacoom to adopt measures as far as practicable to restore quiet to the northern settlements. He visited the lower Sound. A company of volunteers were enrolled at Olympia, of which Colonel Isaac N. Ebey, Collector, was elected captain, who held themselves in readiness to go upon call.
The Indians of the Sound tribes
were also at this time a source of considerable anxiety to the territorial
authorities. In several localities their friendship was questionable, and
their conduct was calculated to excite apprehension, though no actual indications
of hostility was manifested nor even threatened. This state of feeling
was attributable to several causes. There was not any immediate fear of
the Whites molesting the Indians. The conduct of the settlers was uniformly
friendly; and the Indians near the settlements were glad to perform labor
for the settlers, their women to do housework, and furnish fish, game,
berries, etc., to the Whites, and receive compensation therefor. Indeed,
there was a
reciprocal feeling of dependence by the settlers and their aboriginal neighbors. Yet there was a suspicious feeling of unrest, a seemingly unsatisfied series of grievances or jealousies which might develop into hostility by an act of indiscretion or injustice on the part of the settlers. A number of white settlers had been murdered by Indians in different sections; and in some neighborhoods an outbreak might occur at any moment. While it cannot be denied that the settlers on the Sound treated the Indians with uniform fairness and liberality, nor be truthfully charged that the American settlers committed acts of cruelty upon the Indians, or gave them provocation, still there were latent reasons rendering necessary the exercise of caution and justice in the dealings of the Whites with the native population.
The inexcusable act of Butler and Burt stands alone in the history of American settlement on Puget Sound. It was committed against one of a people who lived at a great distance, with whom the Sound tribes had no sympathy. In truth, they much dreaded the visits of those Northern hordes, and feared them more than the Whites. Hence that wanton act, however illustrative of the madness of the conduct of irresponsible Whites, had no influence whatever in antagonizing the native Indian mind on Puget Sound against the settlers, or in provoking hostile feelings, or in intensifying the danger from their presence. The traditional law and custom of the Sound tribes also exacted a life for a life, or some fixed valuation of property, as compensation to the survivors of the deceased; nor could they appreciate or be reconciled when they had to surrender more than one to expiate the murder of one outlaw. Indian law was satisfied if a like number were exchanged for punishment. It was this view of things that created disaffection by the law's execution of accomplices, when only one party had been slain.
In the winter of 1851, a man at Crescent Harbor had been murdered by Indians. Three years later, after the courts had been organized (at the spring term of 1854, at Penn's Cove), an Indian was tried for that murder, convicted and hung. A surveyor by the name of Hunt, who unarmed and alone was peaceably pursuing his profession on the Swinomish slough, was murdered by Indians. When the first court was held at Whatcom, two Indians were tried for that murder, convicted and executed. In February, 1853, William Young, started from Seattle with a crew of two Snohomish Indians for the east side of Whidby's Island. On his way, the Indians murdered and robbed him. When it was ascertained that Young had been murdered, Thomas S. Russell, a deputy sheriff of King county, Dr. Charles Cherry, F.M. Syner and R.R. Phillips went with a crew of four Indians to Holmes Harbor, Whidby's Island, and arrested the two murderers. A rescue was attempted by the tribe. In the struggle, Dr. Cherry was mortally wounded, and died the next day, March 6, 1853. None of the arresting party escaped severe wounds. One of their Indian crew was mortally wounded, and shortly died. The others escaped. One of the prisoners was killed, the other escaping.
It will be readily appreciated
that such acts as these on the part of the white men, however laudable
and commendable, were naturally calculated to leave exasperated feelings.
They might not openly exhibit hostility; but sooner or later those feelings
might manifest themselves in an outbreak of a band, or in acts of sullen
and murderous revenge against unprotected Whites. In 1853, near Seattle,
a white man had been killed by an Indian, and buried on the shores of Lake
Union. That killing of a man unmissed would have remained unknown; but
the Indians themselves reported the murder. The body was disinterred; but
the victim was a stranger whom no one could identify. For that murder,
two Indians were hanged on the accusations of their people,
without a trial. Their guilt was established according to the custom of the red man; and the people of that race sympathized with the executioners and clamored for the punishment of the two outlaws and desperadoes of their race of whom they lived in constant fear. Shortly afterwards, at Seattle, an Indian killed his wife. On the day that horrible crime was committed, he was hanged by white men. He was an outlaw, called by his people a bad Indian; and they should have punished him, not the white population of Seattle, Three white men who were accused of participating in that execution, were indicted for murder. One of them stood his trial for murder. The case was stubbornly contested. The Judge denounced mob violence, and charged the jury that it afforded no excuse. The jury remained out all night; but the prisoner was finally acquitted. The Prosecuting Attorney, Frank Clark, Esq., then entered a nolle prosequi in the case of the other two.
That Indian murderer, so hated by his people as to warrant them in having demanded his punishment, had friends; and so it is said and believed that two white men, respectively named Rodgers and Phillips, soon afterwards were murdered in cold blood by Indians to expiate the death of that Indian who had killed his wife, and had paid the penalty by having his own taken by an enraged populace. Indians said that Rodgers and Phillips suffered death to expiate the killing of the uxoricide. These circumstances are here detailed as exhibiting some of those underlying causes which serve to illustrate the surroundings of the settlers at that period. They will also measurably explain the status of the Indian mind towards the white population. Through the wise and conciliatory conduct of Governor Mason, the patriotic and prudent course of the settlers, and the very general kindly feeling between the settlers and Indians, fostered by a feeling of mutual dependence on each other, hostilities were, for the time, averted, and quiet restored.
Colonel Ebey, collector of customs,
in May, 1854, in the sloop Sarah Stone, made an official tour to
points down the Sound. While mainly prompted in the line of his official
duty as a revenue officer, incidentally his labors were directed to ascertaining
the cause and extent of the then existing Indian troubles. On visiting
San Juan island, he found over three thousand head of sheep, cattle, horses
and hogs, and was informed by those in charge that such stock had been
imported, in December, 1853, from Vancouver Island, and that no attempt
had been made to enter the same at the United States custom-house, nor
to tender or pay duties. Collector Ebey, upon his arrival on the island,
was visited by Charles James Griffin, who informed him that he was a justice
of the peace, and had come in the name of Governor James Douglas, to inquire
the occasion of his visit to the island. Collector Ebey declined to answer
questions. On the next day, the Hudson's Bay Company's steamer Otter
arrived in the harbor, having on board Mr. Sangster, collector of customs
of Fort Victoria, who, on coming ashore, demanded of Collector Ebey his
business upon San Juan Island. Ebey replied that he was on "official business
as collector of customs of the district of Puget Sound." Whereupon Collector
Sangster informed Collector Ebey that he should "make seizure of all vessels
and arrest of all persons found navigating the waters west of the Rosario
Straits and north of the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca." To which
Collector Ebey responded that an United States revenue officer should be
established upon the island to enforce the revenue laws of the United States,
where the same were attempted to be violated. He expressed the hope that,
in the performance of official duties, the United States officer so left
would not meet with any person so rash as to interfere with his performance
of duty, under pretense that the party interfering was an officer of the
British government, or was employed by the colonial authorities of Vancouver
Collector Sangster then notified Collector Ebey that James Douglas, Governor of Vancouver Island and Vice-Admiral of the British Navy, was on board the Otter, and, if Collector Ebey wished to see him, the governor would receive him. Collector Ebey replied that if Governor Douglas had official business with Collector Ebey, and desired an interview, he would receive him at his tent on shore. Sangster then retired to the steamer, and returned to the shore with a boat and crew; and the Otter immediately steamed out of the harbor. The next morning Collector Ebey appointed and swore in Captain Henry Webber as an United States inspector of customs. Webber's instructions were given in the presence of Mr. Justice Griffin and Collector Sangster, who threatened to arrest Webber and carry him to Vancouver Island. Shortly after Ebey's departure, an attempt was made to arrest Webber; but it was abandoned. Captain Webber shortly after made a visit to Victoria; and no trouble grew out of the two collectors asserting revenue jurisdiction over the then disputed island of San Juan.
Governor Stevens, then in Washington City, having been advised of the raids made by the Northern Indians, and of the unsettled state of mind of the settlers on the lower Sound, as also the questionable attitude of the native tribes, made application August 15, 1854, to the Secretary of War for one thousand stand of arms, one hundred thousand cartridges and a small number of revolvers, to be placed in a depot at Fort Steilacoom, in charge of the commandant of that post, subject to the requisition of the governor of the territory. With hardly a corporal's guard of United States troops in the territory, without even a revenue cutter upon the Sound to drive those marauders from these waters, yet the answer made, August 18th, by the Secretary, was that "the territory is not entitled to and cannot be supplied with arms until the return of the effective militia therein is received." Comment is unnecessary on this continued neglect of the government to protect the frontier settlements. The presence in the territory of that requested quota of arms and ammunition, so rightfully due to the territory, especially as the government had no disposition to station sufficient forces within it, would by its moral effect alone upon the Indians have averted the war which so soon followed. And if, with one thousand armed militia, an outbreak had occurred, will it be questioned that our people would have made quick work in restoring peace, with but trifling expense to the general government?
During the first session of the Thirty-third
Congress (1853-54), much beneficial legislation had been accomplished for
the territory. The amendatory act of July 17, 1854, to the Donation law
(September 27, 1850), provided that a Donation claim should be restricted
to lands settled upon for purposes of agriculture, and should not in any
case include a townsite, nor lands settled upon for purposes of business
or trade; and all legal subdivisions included in whole or in part in such
townsites, or settled upon for business or trade, should be subject to
the operations of the act of May 23, 1844, for the relief of certain citizens
of towns. That provision was, however, liberally construed by the general
land-office; and a settlement taken for agricultural purposes, which subsequently
became a townsite or business location, was not affected by the statutory
inhibition. The proviso to section one lessened the period of continuous
residence, to acquire a right of purchase, to one year. Contracts for the
sale of land were made valid after completion of residence, instead of
issuance of patent, as provided by the original law. The time for giving
notice of Donation claims was extended to December 1, 1855. The provisions
of the pre-emption law were extended over the territory. Two townships
of land were reserved for university purposes. It secured to orphans, whose
parents or either of them, while living, would have been entitled to the
benefits of the act, a quarter section of land. It authorized the
President to appoint a register and receiver, to hold their offices at such place as he should direct, established the territory as a separate surveying district, and created the office of surveyor-general of the territory (1). A large appropriation was made to effect the extinguishment of the Indian title to the lands in the territory. Lighthouses were ordered to be erected upon the waters of Puget Sound; and an appropriation therefor was made. Mail routes were extended so as to embrace all the settlements on Puget Sound and its adjacent waters, and from the valley of the Columbia, by Coeur d'Alene Mission, to Fort Benton.
The delegate, assisted by his able coadjutor, Governor Stevens, and the Oregon delegate, General Joseph Lane, urgently pressed the passage of acts providing for marking the northern boundary of the United States westward from the Lake of the Woods to the Pacific Ocean, and to provide for the creation of a commission to investigate the claims of the Hudson's Bay and Puget Sound Agricultural Companies, and to report for what sum their possessory and other rights in the territory could be extinguished by purchase. both these measures were passed in one branch, but failed in the other.
It may properly be noted, that the cruel massacre of the Ward party, consisting of twenty-one immigrants, near Fort Boise, on the 28th of August, by a party of Wenet Indians (a band of the Snake or Shoshonee nation), created great consternation, and added to the general and growing solicitude as to the uncertain relations between the settlers and their aboriginal neighbors. A force was dispatched from Fort Dalles under command of Major Granville O. Haller, U.S. Army, consisting of United States troops (Fourth Infantry), and a company of thirty-seven volunteers, composed of immigrants and settlers near The Dalles, in command of Nathan Olney (2). On the 18th of September, Governor Curry of Oregon called for two companies of volunteers. He suggested to Major Raines, U.S. Army, the commandant of Fort Dalles, the co-operation of those volunteers with the regulars; but that officer declined such co-operation, and, on the 23d, the Governor countermanded the call.
In the month of September, 1854, Governor Stevens, as superintendent of Indian affairs, submitted a report to the Indian Bureau, in which he estimated the total Indian population of Washington territory as follows: Tribes east of the Cascade Mountains, 6,500; tribes west of the Cascade Mountains, 7,599. The names of the nations, tribes and bands were given, with their respective numbers. The territory inhabited by each was delineated on a map accompanying. The extinguishment of the so-called Indian title to lands within the territory had long and persistently been demanded by the citizens. The titles to their land claims remained in abeyance until such action had been consummated by the government. It is foreign to the purpose of the narrative to inquire or settle the measure of title or possessory right the aborigines possessed or could set up by reason of their roaming over or frequenting at uncertain intervals any particular area. It was surely transitory, vague and uncertain; but the government had long recognized this traditional proprietorship. It had concluded itself, in its land laws, to extinguish such title or claim before recognizing the right of a settler, or confirming to him a title to land.
Hence, it was a matter of individual interest to every settler upon the public land of the territory that this title should be extinguished; for till such extinguishment he could not receive from the government a title to his home. It is true that no Indian had ever
(1) See ante, the appointment of the first surveyor-general.
(2) The bearing and intimate
connection of this massacre and its attempted punishment is more properly
of the series of acts leading directly up to, if not a preliminary of,
the Indian war, which shortly followed, in the account of which it will
be more fully narrated.
set up claim to land settled upon. Yet was such course advisable to assure the maintenance of peaceful relations with the Indians; for they had been taught that they had some claim or interest to sell to the government. Just what, they did not appreciate, for they had never claimed anything as between themselves; and land or landed possessions had never been taken into consideration by them as property. It is readily conceded that it was policy to assume that the government was purchasing this claim, or the right to traverse and dispose of the lands. Such purchase or gift at least created a right whereby the government could assert authority, and that too, with the Indians' consent, to control the Indian, to designate the territory to which he must confine himself, and also to assume a police regulation, and place the Indian where he could to the least harm to the Whites, if evil-disposed, as well as be protected from annoyance, outrage or fraud by designing, unscrupulous and irresponsible Whites. Such at least was the philanthropic view of Governor Stevens when writing that report. He had treated fully as to the number, bands, and the disciplinary system adopted to secure good order, and promote peace to the settlements. He referred to the refractory spirits among them, and the steps taken to keep them in proper subjection. Of a large tribe who had caused much trouble and anxiety to American settlers, who still adhered to their British preferences, which measurably occasioned their quasi independence, and their insolent indifference to American restraint, he said:
"The Clallams, as well as the Makahs and some other tribes, carry on a considerable trade with Vancouver Island, selling their skins, oil, etc., and bringing blankets in return. At present it is hardly worth while to check this traffic, even if it were possible; but, when the white population increases, it may become necessary as a revenue measure. In any treaties made with them, it should enter as a stipulation that they should confine their trade to the American side. A part of the Clallams are permanently located on that island; and it is believed that their language is an extensive one. The Lummi, on the northern shore of Bellingham Bay, are a branch of the same nation. This tribe have, within the last year, been guilty of the murder of three Americans, as well as of several robberies, - for the first, that of a man named Pettingill. One of the two perpetrators was secured by arresting the chief, and has been in custody some two months at Steilacoom awaiting his trial. The other case was the murder of Captain Jewell, master of the barque John Adams, and of his cook, and was unknown until recently, as it was supposed that Jewell had absconded. In both instances the parties had considerable sums in their possession, which fell into the hands of the Indians. On learning of the last affair, a requisition was made by me upon the officer commanding the military post at Steilacoom, and a party promptly dispatched there to support the special agent in securing the criminals. Some severe lesson is required to reduce them to order, as their natural insolence has been increased by the weakness of the settlements near them, and by the facility with which they can procure liquor. The establishment of a military post at some point on the strait would be very desirable for the purpose of overawing them and their neighbors."
Our people were in a tinder-box,
on all proper occasions reminding the general government of the great fact
that the early settlers, while laying the foundation of a future commonwealth
which should contribute grandeur to the American name, where hazarding
the lives of themselves, and those dependent upon them, through the negligence
and failure of duty of the government, who had invited them hither under
the implied pledge of protection.
Governor Stevens' report furnished an illustration of a trait of Indian character which teaches the necessity of watching them closely, and acting judiciously to avoid their enmity and the danger therefrom: "The jealousies existing among all these petty bands, and their fear of one another, is everywhere noticeable in their establishing themselves near the Whites. Wherever a settler's house is erected, a nest of Indian rookeries is pretty sure to follow, if permitted; and, in case of temporary absence, they always beg storage for their valuables. The compliment is seldom returned; though it is often considered advantageous to have them in the neighborhood as spies on others. Some amusing traits of character occasionally develop themselves among the Indians, of which an instance happened with these. A saw-mill was erected during the last autumn upon the outlet of the lake, at a place where they are in the habit of taking salmon. The fishery was much improved by the dam; but what afforded the greatest satisfaction to them was its situation upon their property, and the superior importance thereby derived to themselves. They soon began to understand the machinery, and took every visitor through the building to explain its working, and boast of it as if it had been their own construction."
Having thus fully exhibited that he had studied the traits of character of individuals, as well as the strength and the needs of tribes, he concluded: "Although my attention has been earnestly directed to the measures which should be adopted for ameliorating the condition of the Indians in Washington Territory, I do not propose here to enlarge upon this subject. As the duty will devolve upon myself to negotiate treaties with the Indians of the territory, and, in conjunction with another commissioner with the tribes of the Blackfoot nation, it would be obviously improper to commit myself to views which might need modification when deliberate consultations shall take place with the Indian in council. The great end to be looked to is the gradual civilization of the Indians, and their council. The great end to be looked to is the gradual civilization of the Indians, and their council. The great end to be looked to is the gradual civilization of the Indians, and their ultimate incorporation with the people of the territory. The success of the missions among the Pend d'Oreille and Coeur d'Alene Indians, and the high civilization, not to say refinement, of the Blackfoot women, who had been married to Whites, shows how much may be hoped for.
"It is obviously necessary that
a few reservations of good lands should be large enough to give to each
Indian, a homestead, and land sufficient to pasture their animals, of which
land they should have the exclusive occupation. The location and extent
of these reservations should be adapted to the peculiar wants and habits
of the different tribes. Farms should be attached to each reservation,
under the charge of a farmer competent fully to instruct the Indians in
agriculture and the use of tools. Such reservations are especially required
in consequence of the operation of the Donation Act, in which, contrary
to usage and natural right, the United States has assumed to grant, absolutely,
the lands of the Indians without previous purchase from them. It has followed
that, as settlers poured in, the Indians have been thrust from their homes
without any provision for their support. In making the reservations, it
seems desirable to adopt the policy of uniting small bands under a single
head. The Indians are never so disposed to mischief as when scattered,
and therefore beyond control. When they are collected in large bands, it
is always in the power of the government to secure the influence of the
chiefs, and through them to manage the people. Those who at present bear
the name have not sufficient authority; and no proper opportunity should
be lost in encouraging them in its extension. In conclusion, I would express
the hope that the administration of Indian affairs in this new and interesting
field may illustrate, not so much the power, as the beneficence and paternal
care of the government."
These extracts are presented to show the animus of the man who was about to enter upon the duty of treating with the native tribes of Washington Territory for the cession to the United States of whatever right of territory had attached indefinitely to a large area, and in exchange the conferring upon them of tangible, well-defined benefits. Many of the beneficent suggestions he then made have since been adopted as the best solutions of the problem of Indian proprietary rights to reserved lands. In the month of December, the governor had returned to Olympia. He delivered to the legislature, 1854-55, which there convened on the first Monday of that month, his annual message. It detailed the services he performed at the national capital, rehearsed briefly congressional proceedings regarding the territory, urgently pressed the importance of immediate organization of the militia, alluded to the massacres of immigrants on the plains during the past year, and recommended memorializing Congress to place upon that trail such a force as will inflict summary chastisement on hostile Indians, and render it safe for our immigrants moving in small bodies. In that document will be found an admirable exhibit of territorial resources, and the claim of the territory to the fostering care of the national government, the geological survey thereof, and the building of necessary roads. After invoking the attention of the legislature to the necessity of erecting proper places for the confinement of those who had violated the law, he concluded his message: "In closing this communication, I will indulge the hope that the same spirit of concord and exalted patriotism which has thus far marked our political existence will continue to the end. Particularly do I invoke the spirit in reference to our Indian relations. I believe the time has now come for their final settlement. In view of the important duties which have been assigned to me, I throw myself unreservedly upon the people of the territory, not doubting that they will extend to me a hearty and generous support in my efforts to arrange, on a permanent basis, the future of the Indians of this territory."
As soon as the session of the legislature had commenced its labors, Governor Stevens at once actively entered upon the duty of treating with the Indian tribes west of the Cascade Mountains. The first treaty, known as the "Medicine Creek Treaty," was concluded and signed December 26, 1854, and was ratified by the United States Senate March 3, 1855 (1). By it the Nisqually, Puyallup, Steilacoom and other tribes and bands of Indians "occupying the lands lying round the head of Puget Sound and the adjacent inlets, who, for the purposes of this treaty, are to be regarded as one nation," relinquished and conveyed their right, title and interest in the country occupied by them, reserving three small tracts, each containing two sections of land. Upon these reservations, they were to remove within one year after the ratification of the treaty. No white man was to reside upon said reservations without their permission, and that of the superintendent or agent. Until they removed to such reservations, they were at liberty to occupy any land unclaimed by a citizen, or to go upon a citizen's land with permission of the owner. If it became necessary to cross said reservations by a public road, the right of way was allowed; and to each was assured a right of way to secure free access to any public highway. The right of taking fish at usual and accustomed grounds, in common with citizens, and the privilege of erecting temporary houses to cure the same, of hunting, gathering roots and berries, and pasturing their stock on open and unclaimed lands, were all guaranteed; but they were not to take shell fish fro beds marked or cultivated by citizens.
For the territory thus divested of Indian possessory right, the United States covenanted to pay $32,500, in manner following: For the first year after ratification,
Statues at Large, Vol. X, page 1,132.
$3,250; for the next two years, $3,000 each year; for the next three years, $2,000 each year; for the next four years $2,500 each year; for the next five years, $1,200 each year; for the next five years, $1,000 each year. To enable the Indians to settle upon the reservations, to clear, fence and break up necessary tillable land, the United States was to pay the sum of $3,250. In all the treaties which follow, it is proper to remark that a payment if guaranteed for the objects above-mentioned equal to ten per centum of the consideration for the release. The Indians consented to be removed to other reservations, or to be consolidated with other bands and be located upon a large central agency for all the Indians, provided they were indemnified for any improvement the might sacrifice for such removal. Reserved lands, at the discretion of the President, may be surveyed into lots, which may be assigned to individuals or families, who will locate and make a permanent home. Annuities shall not be taken to pay the debts of individuals. The Indians acknowledge their dependence on the United States, and promise friendship with the citizens thereof, and pledge themselves not to commit depredations on the property of any citizen. Violations of this pledge shall be followed by the return of the property of, if injured and destroyed, compensation shall be made by the government out of the annuities. No tribe will make war o another tribe, except in self-defense, but will submit all matters of difference to the agents of the government, and abide by such decisions. In cases of depredation committed on another Indian's property, the same rule applies as in the case of white persons; and they will not shelter nor conceal offenders against the laws of the United States, but deliver such offenders to the authorities for trial. Ardent spirits are to be excluded from the reservation. If an Indian bring it there and drink it, his annuity may be withheld.
Within one year after the ratification of the treaty, the United States is to establish at the general agency for Puget Sound district, and support for twenty years, an industrial and agricultural school free for the children of these bands in common with those of other tribes, and provide teachers; also a smithy and carpenter shop, and furnish the necessary tools; and employ a blacksmith, carpenter and farmer for a term of twenty years to instruct the Indians in those occupations respectively. A physician shall be employed to reside at the central agency, to furnish medicine, advise and vaccinate them, all of which expenses shall be paid by the United States, and not deducted from the annuities. All slaves are to be freed; and none shall hereafter be purchased or acquired. The tribes agree that no Indian shall trade at Vancouver Island or out of the United States, nor shall any foreign Indian be permitted to reside on the reservations without the consent of the superintendent or agent.
It is a noteworthy fact that the first Indian signature to the Medicine Creek Treaty is that of Quiemuth. His brother Leschi signed third. They were the two leading spirits in the organization of Indian hostility in the fall of 1855. They both infused life into that conspiracy, and held together that hostile combination on Puget Sound. They were in that war that Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, were in the war of 1812, on the then northwestern frontier. Natural leaders, born orators, consummate strategists, fertile in resource and of brilliant audacity, they gave strength to the malcontents, and transformed a mere outbreak into a protracted war.
The negotiations and signing of subsequent treaties followed in rapid successions (1). The same features, privileges and conditions permeated all of them. Substantially they
(1) Except the Medicine Creek
Treaty, none of the treaties negotiated by Governor Stevens were at the
time ratified by the United States Senate. Those that followed were ratified
March 8, 1859, and proclamation made a few days later. See United States
Statues at Large, Vol. XII, page 927 et seq.
are intended to be the same, so far as circumstances and surroundings will admit. They differ of course in the description of territory ceded, the reservations made, and in the amount paid by the government for the relinquishment of claim. In their negotiation, the most scrupulous care was manifested to make plain to all the Indians every provision. The objects and effects were thoroughly explained. Careful and conscientious interpreters were employed. Every Indian was afforded the freest, fullest opportunity to give expression to his opinion, or to urge objection. Those treaties subsequently negotiated are as follows:
The Point Elliott Treaty, signed at Muckelteo, January 22, 1855, was ratified by the Senate March 8, 1859. It was between the United States and the Dewamish, Snohomish and other tribes on the east side of the Sound, from Puyallup northward to the boundary line, and eastward to the Cascade Mountains. Among the chiefs who signed were the venerable Seattle and the crafty Patkanim. The purchase money was $150,000. The Point-no-Point Treaty, signed January 26, 1855, ratified March 8, 1859, was with the Clallam nation, the tribes and bands living upon the Strait of Fuca and Hood's Canal, for the country occupied by them. The sum paid was $60,000. The Neah Bay Treaty, signed January 31, 1855, ratified March 8, 1859, was with the Makah Indians for the country surrounding and adjacent to Cape Classet or Cape Flattery. The consideration to be paid was $30,000. Those treaties included all of the tribes and bands of Indians west of the Cascade Mountains with whom it was practicable at that season to secure a council of the Cascade Mountains with whom it was practicable at that season to secure a council of the tribes. There had only been omitted the Quenaitl and Quiltehutes (1) on the Pacific coast, occupying the territory north of Gray's Harbor up to the south boundary of the coast, occupying the territory north of Gray's Harbor up to the south boundary of the Makah territory, the Chehalis tribes and those straggling bands residing in the vicinity of Shoalwater Bay and upon the Lower Columbia, perhaps numbering a total of between seven and eight hundred. His diplomatic labors having been completed as far as they could be at that time, Governor Stevens returned to Olympia.
Whilst the governor had thus been engaged in treaty making, the legislature, which had convened on December 4, 1854, continued in session the full term of sixty days, adjourning the 1st of February, 1853. It passed amendments to the school, road and fence laws, and changed the time of holding the general election to the second Monday of July. A crude militia law was passed, which provided for the enrollment and organization of the militia, sufficient however to meet the objection of the Secretary of War, and to entitle the territory to its quota of arms and ammunition. Chehalis county was detached from the second judicial district and annexed to the first district for judicial purposes. Chief Justice Lander and Associate Justice Chenoweth were exchanged, the former coming to the second district, and Judge Chenoweth succeeding him in the third district. The representation in the house was increased from eighteen to thirty members. Considerable legislation in regard to county seats and county lines was accomplished. The marriage law was altered, not amended. It was made to declare that all marriages were void between parties where one of the spouses was a white person and the other more than one-fourth negro or one-half Indian blood, except that parties within the proscribed classes then unlawfully living together could marry; and such marriage would not be a violation of the amendatory act. A penalty of not less than fifty nor more than five hundred dollars was to be imposed against clergymen or judicial officers
(1) These two bands were negotiated
with, and the bases of a treaty agreed upon July 1, 1855, at a meeting
on the Quenaitl river. The formal treaty was signed at Olympia on the 25th
of January, 1856, after the return of Governor Stevens from the Blackfoot
council. It is called the "Olympic Treaty." The territory ceded is on the
Pacific coast, between the south boundary of the Makah country and Gray's
Harbor. The purchase money was $25,000.