|1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS||Chapter 14||Part 2|
OF NEBRASKA TERRITORY
[Copy of Portrait Owned by
William E. Connelley]
JOEL WALKER GARRETT
[Copy of Portrait Owned
by William E. Connelley]
The only written account of the Convention and the proceedings, so far found, is that in Governor Walker's Journal, as follows:
Monday, July 25, 1853. - Cool and cloudy morning. Resumed cutting my grass. Warm
through the day. Sent Harriet to Kansas [Kansas City, Mo., now] for some
medicines for Mr. C., who has every other day a chill. In the evening three
gentlemen rode up and enquired if W. W. resided here. Upon being assured in the
affirmative they stated they wished to stay all night. I sent them to C. B.
G.'s. They said they were delegates to the Rail Road meeting in Nebraska on the
26th inst. I would gladly have entertained them, but owing to family sickness I
was compelled to send them where I did.
Tuesday, July 26, 1853. - At noon a messenger was sent for me to attend the Rail-Road Convention. I saddled my horse and rode up to the Wyandott Council House, where I found a large collection of the habitans of Nebraska.
The meeting was called to order and organized by the appointment of Wm. P Birney of Delaware, President, and Wm. Walker, Secy. A Committee was then appointed to prepare resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting. James Findley, __ Dyer and Silas Armstrong were appointed.
In accordance with the resolutions adopted, the following officers were elected as a provisional government for the Territory: For provisional Governor, Wm. Walker; Sec'y of the Territory, G. I. Clark; Councilmen, R. C. Miller, Isaac Mundy, and M. R. Walker.
The resolutions are in the Collection of William E. Connelley. They were prepared by William Gilpin, and are in his handwriting. They served as the constitution, authority, or fundamental law of the Provisional Government of Nebraska Territory. They constitute the first state paper of Kansas and of Nebraska, and are as follows:
Whereas it appears to be the will of the people of the United States that the
Mississippi Valley and Pacific Ocean shall be connected by railroad to be built
at the national expense and for the national benefit; it becomes the duty of the
people to make known their will in relation to the location of said road and the
means to be employed in its construction. In selecting a route "the greatest
good to the greatest number" should be the first consideration and economy in
the construction and in protecting the road should be the second.
In estimating the "greatest good to the greatest number," present population alone should not govern, but the capability of the regions to be traversed by the road, for sustaining population should be considered.
Economy in the construction will be best secured by the cultivation of a productive soil, where materials for the road exist, along and contiguous to the line of road whereby provisions, labor and materials can be obtained at low rates. Then the farmers with their teeming fields will ever be in advance of the railroad laborer to furnish him with abundance of wholesome food at prices which free competition always reduces to a reasonable standard. At the same time they will be a defense to the work and the workman against savage malice without the expense of keeping up armies and military posts. These, too, will be the surest and safest protectors of the road when finished and without expense to the Government. But should the road be constructed through barren wastes and arid mountains and upon the frontier of a foreign and jealous and hostile people an immense and expensive military power must be erected to protect it - a power ever dangerous to freedom and desirable only to despots. In view of these facts therefore be it.
Resolved, That from personal knowledge of the country and from reliable information derived from those who have traveled over it we feel entire confidence in the eligibility of the Central Route as embracing within itself all the advantages and affording all the facilities necessary to the successful prosecution of this great enterprise.
Resolved, That grants of large bodies of the public lands to corporate companies for the purpose of building railroads, telegraph lines or for any purpose whatever are detrimental to the public interests, that they prevent settlement, are oppressive and unjust to the pioneer settler and retard the growth and prosperity of the country in which they lie.
Resolved, That we cordially approve of the plan for the construction of a railroad to connect the Mississippi valley and Pacific Ocean recently submitted to the public by the Hon. Thomas H. Benton whereby the settlement and prosperity of the vast country between Missouri and California will be promoted and the construction of that great work be rendered much cheaper, more expeditious, and more universally useful.
Resolved, That it was with profound regret that we heard of the failure of the bill to organize a government for Nebraska Territory; that justice and sound policy alike demand the consummation of this measure and we therefore respectfully but earnestly recommend it to the favorable consideration of Congress and ask for it the earliest possible passage.
Resolved, That the people of Nebraska cherish a profound sense of obligation to the Hon. Thomas H. Benton and to the Hon. Willard P. Hall of Missouri for their generous and patriotic exertions in support of the rights and interests of our territory and that we hereby express to them our grateful acknowledgments.
Whereas it is a fundamental principle in the theory and practice of our government that there shall be no taxation without representation and the citizens of Nebraska being subject to the same laws for the collection of revenue for the support of government as other citizens of the United States it is but right that they shall be represented in Congress, therefore be it
Resolved, That this Convention do appoint a provisional Governor, a provisional Secretary of State and a Council of three persons, and that all election returns shall be made to the Secretary of State and be by him opened and the votes counted in the presence of the Governor and Council on the second Tuesday of November next and that a certificate of election shall be issued by them to the person having the largest number of votes.
Resolved, That while we earnestly desire to see this territory organized, and become the home of the white man, we as earnestly disclaim all intention or desire to infringe upon the rights of the Indians holding lands within the boundaries of said territory.
Resolved, That the people of Nebraska Territory are not unmindful of the services rendered by our late Delegate in Congress, the Hon. Abelard Guthrie, and we hereby tender him our sincere thanks and profound gratitude for the same.
Resolved, That Editors of Newspapers throughout the country favorable to the Organization of Nebraska Territory and to the Central Route to the Pacific Ocean are requested to publish the proceedings of this Convention.
Resolved,/i>, That the Editors of Newspapers throughout the country who are favorable to the organization of Nebraska Territory and to the Central Route to the Pacific ocean are requested to publish the proceedings of this Convention.
Endorsed on the back are these words:
|Preamble and resolutions to be submitted to the Nebraska Convention to meet on the 26th July, 1853.|
While no boundaries were fixed for the Territory for which the Provisional Government was organized it was taken as a matter granted that the Territory included the same area as defined in the Hall, the Richardson, and other bills.
The organization of the Provisional Government of Nebraska Territory gave general satisfaction to the people of Missouri. It had been effected with the assistance of the Benton faction of the Missouri Democracy. It was the faction which was drifting away from slavery and toward Freesoilism. Both factions became now intent on securing the Delegate to Congress to be elected in the following October. In this contest the Price-Atchison faction had a tremendous advantage, as it controlled the patronage of the Indian Bureau of the Department of the Interior, while Mr. Guthrie, Benton's representative, could only depend upon his personal efforts and the efforts of his personal friends.
Hand-bills were printed containing the record of the proceedings of the Convention. These were distributed, and were copied into the newspapers of Missouri. In Governor Walker's Journal mention is made of this fact:
Thursday, July 28, 1853. -
Rec'd the printed proceedings of the Nebraska Territorial Convention. Great credit is due the Proprietors of the "Industrial Luminary" in Parkville for their promptitude in publishing the proceedings in handbills in so short a time.
The first duty of the new Government was to call the election for Delegate, as directed by the resolutions. Governor Walker's mention of this event is as follows:
Saturday, July 30, 1853. - . . .
Well, by action of the Convention of Tuesday last I was elected Provisional Governor of this Territory. The first executive act devolving on me is, to issue a Proclamation ordering an election to be held in the different precincts of one delegate to the 33rd Congress.
This proclamation was printed and distributed throughout the Territory; and in all probability it was printed in some of the newspapers of Missouri. Their preparation for distribution is mentioned by Governor Walker:
|Monday, August 8, 1853. - Geo. I. Clark, Sec'y of the Territory, called this morning and delivered the printed Proclamation (200 copies) for circulation.|
It had been the hope of Colonel Benton and Mr. Guthrie that no candidate would be put forward to stand for election against the regular nominee of the Territorial Convention. While the leaders of the Price-Atchison Democracy had opposed the organization of a Provisional Government and believed that the slave power could prevent the admission of Nebraska Territory and the recognition of its Provisional Government, it still believed it best to participate in the election for Delegate to Congress. A strong man in thorough sympathy with the extremists of the slave power of the South was sought for and found in the person of Rev. Thomas Johnson, Missionary of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, to the Shawnees. Mr. Johnson resided near Westport, Missouri, in the Shawnee country. The Shawnee and Kickapoo tribes are closely related by blood, and Mr. Johnson's nomination was made in the country of the latter tribe. Governor Walker says:
|A few days after the adjournment of this Convention another rather informally was called at Kickapoo, at which Mr. Johnson was nominated as Candidate for Delegate. The latter then yielded to the wishes of his friends and became a candidate in opposition to the regular nominee.|
Having secured a strong candidate the Price-Atchison Democracy brought to bear every influence at their command to secure his election. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs came to the Territory where he remained more than a month to influence personally the Emigrant tribes (and perhaps the other tribes) to vote for Mr. Johnson. Governor Walker leaves us enough evidence to confirm this:
Tuesday, September 6, 1853. - Mr. Commissioner Manypenny came over in company
with Rev. Thos. Johnson to pay the Wyandotts a visit. The Council being in
session I introduced him to the Council. To which body he made a short address.
The priesthood of the Methodist Episcopal Church made unusual exertions to obtain a majority for their holy brother. Amidst the exertions of their obsequious tools it was apparent it was an up-hill piece of business in Wyandott.
I suppose we may safely set down Thomas Johnson's election for delegate as certain. It is not at all surprising, when we look at the fearful odds between the opposing Candidates. Mr. Guthrie had only his personal friends to support him with their votes and influence, while the former had the whole power of the Federal government, the presence and active support of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the military, the Indian Agents, Missionaries, Indian Traders, etc. A combined power that is irresistible.
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Tom & Carolyn Ward
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