1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 21 Part 1

CHAPTER XXI

THE LEGISLATURE

The Legislative Assembly was constituted as follows:

COUNCIL

First District. - Thomas Johnson, Edward Chapman.
Second, District. - John A. Wakefield.
Third District. - Jesse D. Wood.
Fourth District.
- A. M. Coffey, David Lykins.
Fifth District. - William Barbee.
Sixth District. - M. F. Conway.
Seventh District.
- John W. Forman.
Eighth District. - William P. Richardson.
Ninth District. - D. A. N. Grover.
Tenth District. - Lucien J. Eastin, Richard R. Rees.

HOUSE

First District. - A. S. Johnson.
Second District. - Philip P. Fowler, John Hutchinson, Erastus D. Ladd.
Third District. - Augustus Wattles, William Jessee.
Fourth District. - Cyrus K. Holliday.
Fifth District. - A. J. Baker.
Sixth District.
- Joseph C. Anderson, S. A. Williams.
Seventh District. - W. A. Heiskell, Allen Wilkinson, Henry Younger, Samuel Scott.
Eighth District. - S. D. Houston.
Ninth District.
- F. J. Marshall.
Tenth District. - William H. Tebbs.
Eleventh District. - John H. Stringfellow, R. L. Kirk.
Twelfth District. - Joel P. Blair, Thomas W. Watterson.
Thirteenth District. - H. B. C. Harris, J. Weddell.
Fourteenth District. - William G. Mathias, H. B. McMeeken, Archibald Payne.

Governor Reeder returned from Washington in time to be present at the meeting of the Legislature at Pawnee. His act in locating the Territorial capital at Pawnee cannot be justified. It was westward beyond the remotest settlements. The accommodations for members of the Legislature and State Officers were wholly insufficient. The members had protested to the Governor against the location of the capital at that point. The action of Reeder in this matter was evidently caused by his interest in the Pawnee Town Company. That company had erected a stone Capitol Building, two stories in height, and forty by eighty feet in dimensions. A Major Klotz had put up a boarding-house with capacity for forty people. A Mr. Teeples and a Mr. Knapp had each a boarding-house for twenty persons. Two miles away, at Fort Riley, a Mr. Lowe had a hostelry to care for fifteen persons; it was his plan to have a conveyance to carry his boarders back and forth to the Capitol Building. The Governor insisted that these accommodations were sufficient for the needs of the Legislature, and that all would be comfortably housed, the tables being as good as at the average hotel of the time - which was promising little.

While the Legislature had no intention of remaining at Pawnee, it was necessary for it to go to that point and organize for the transaction of business. The legality of its actions rested on this procedure. Governor Reeder had been requested to have the session of the Legislature at the Shawnee Mission, near Westport, Missouri, but had refused to consider that point for even the temporary capital. It had been arranged with the Reverend Thomas Johnson, that he would have quarters prepared for the Legislature when it returned from Pawnee, as it fully intended to do. The Governor, in refusing to consider the Shawnee Mission, in his plans for the government of the Territory, made the point that it was too near the border of Missouri, and the Legislature would be too much in the power and under the influence of the citizens of that State. Considering his experiences, it would seem that the point was well taken.

The members of the Legislature traveled to Pawnee on horseback, by wagons, and in carriages. Upon their arrival they went into camp, very much as had the Missourians when they invaded the Territory to vote. They did not patronize the boarding-houses provided by the Pawnee Town Company.

The Legislative Assembly met in the Capitol Building at Pawnee on Monday, the 2nd of July, 1855. The organization of the House of Representatives was elected by Daniel Woodson, Territorial Secretary, who called the House to order and read the official roll. The following members were present and answered to their names: Johnson, Hutchinson, Ladd, Wattles, Jessee, Baker, Anderson, Williams, Heiskell, Wilkinson, Younger, Scott, Houston, Marshall, Tebbs, Stringfellow, Kirk, Blair, Watterson, Harris, Weddell, Mathias, Payne, McMeeken.

Officers pro tem were elected as follows: Joseph T. Anderson, Chairman; T. M. Lyle, Chief Clerk ; John Martin, Assistant Clerk ; T. J. B. Cramer, Sergeant-at-Arms; Benjamin P. Campbell, Doorkeeper. The Reverend Mr. Stateler being present, was called upon to officiate as Chaplain and open the session with prayer. The House then proceeded to the election of permanent officers. John H. Stringfellow was elected Speaker, and Joseph C. Anderson Speaker pro tem. For the other places the temporary officers were respectively chosen. The Speaker immediately appointed a Committee on Credentials, consisting of the following members: Heiskell, Houston, Mathias, Watterson and Johnson. The Committee was instructed to bring in a report at 8 'o'clock on the following day. The House then adjourned.

Secretary Woodson also presided over the organization of the Council. The following members answered to roll call: Thomas Johnson, Edward Chapman, John A. Wakefield, Jesse D. Wood, A. M. Coffey, David Lykins, William Barbee, John W. Forman, William P. Richardson, D. A. N. Grover, L. J. Eastin, R. R. Rees.

M. F. Conway, the Free-State member was absent, having resigned his seat.

The officers pro tem were: R. R. Rees, President; John A. Halderman, Chief Clerk; Charles H. Grover, Assistant Clerk; Carey B. Whitehead, Sergeant-at-Arms: William J. Godfroy, Doorkeeper. The Council did not wait for a permanent organization before naming a Committee on Credentials, but immediately appointed Coffey, Johnson and Richardson as such committee. The Committee was required to report forthwith, which it did, saying that all members present except those from the second, third and sixth council districts, were entitled to their seats. These districts were represented by the Free-State members, and the Committee asked for further time to consider their credentials, which was granted. The permanent organization was effected by electing Reverend Thomas Johnson, President, and R. R. Rees, President, pro tem, with the other officers as in the temporary organization.

Both ranches of the Legislative Assembly, having been legally organized, Governor Reeder was informed that they were ready for the transaction of any business that might legally come before them. The Governor sent in his message on the morning of the 3rd of July. Then it was read in both houses and referred to proper committees. It dealt with those problems confronting the Legislature met to provide machinery for the government of the Territory, such as the formation of counties, the establishment of Courts, schools, county governments, and a system of taxation. There was a long paragraph on the slavery question, which did not in the least interest the Legislature. Governor Reeder's views were well known, and it was not the intention of the Legislature to regard what he might have to say on that matter. The program concerning slavery had been prepared in Missouri immediately after the election of the Legislature. This program had been agreed upon at Weston, Missouri, by Judge William C. Price, Senator Atchison, and other rabid Pro-Slavery men.

To the Honorable the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Territory of Kansas:

The undersigned, a majority of the committee appointed by this House as a special committee on credentials, whose duty it was to inquire into and examine the evidence of membership of gentlemen who claim their seats as members of this House of Representatives of the Territory of Kansas, most respectfully beg leave to make the following report:

Having heard and examined all the evidence touching the matter of inquiry before them, and taking the organic law of Congress, passed on the 20th day of May, in the year 1854, organizing the territorial governments of the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas, as their guiding star, the only bright and shining light to the port of a true and correct conclusion in the premises, believe and declare, in the first place, that the Governor of the Territory of Kansas had not the exclusive right or power to prescribe the manner and form by which the first election for members of the first Territorial Legislative Assembly of the said Territory of Kansas should be conducted and passed upon; but that a fair construction of the 22nd section of the said organic act leads them - nay, drives a majority of your said committee, to the conclusion that no particular form of the oath which the judges of said election took was necessary, and that no particular form of the return of said election by the said judges was necessary in order to legalize the said election; but that such oaths and such returns as are usual for judges of elections in the several States to take, perform, and return, is all that the organic act requires. And a majority of your committee believe, and are of the opinion, from the original papers filed in the office of the Secretary of the Territory, and other papers and evidence which were before them, that the oaths and returns, and all other acts taken, done, and performed by the judges appointed by his Excellency, A. H. Reeder, Governor of the Territory of Kansas, to hold and conduct the election for members of the first Territorial Legislative Assembly, were in the usual form, at all events as effectual and as legal and binding as if the said oaths and returns had been in the form prescribed by the Governor in his proclamation, verbatim et literatim.

Indeed, any other construction might lead to usurpation of power, never ending confusion, and wrong. And besides, it is not to be expected, nor is it required by any rule of law or courts of justice, in the United States or Great Britain, that oaths or affidavits taken and made promiscuously throughout the country shall be uniform; but that any oath or affidavit, taken or made by any officer of any branch of the government, clearly showing the intention of the party taking or making the same to the point at issue, or matter of fact to be established or procured, is all that the law requires.

In the second place, the undersigned, a majority of our said committee are of the opinion and declare that the said organic act, establishing the territorial governments of the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas, does not give to the Governor of the Territory of Kansas, power generally to set aside elections nor does it confer upon him the right or power to set aside the election held on Friday, the 30th of March last, in any one or all of the election precincts, unless (in the language of the bill itself), that in case two or more persons voted for shall have an equal number of votes, and in case a vacancy shall otherwise occur in either branch of the Legislative Assembly. In these events, and these events alone, has he power to order a new election.

And this, sir, appears to be a very liberal construction. Mark the words, "That in case two or more persons voted for shall have an equal number of votes," without any qualification. This language might deprive two or more persons, fairly elected by their constituents, of their privileges as members of this House; because, for instance, it is not impossible for A, who might be a candidate for a seat in this House for District No. 1, and B, a candidate also for a seat in this House in District No. 2, to have an equal number of votes; so that without liberality in construing this language, the election of both A and B might be set aside on a mere pretense, however trivial. But it is conceded that the Governor of this Territory has the power, under the organic act of Nebraska and Kansas, to set aside the election in any Council or Representative District, where either of those contingencies arise.

But it is not pretended on the part of the Governor, or any gentlemen claiming seats in this House, that a tie occurred in any representative district, nor that any election in any one or more of the representative districts was set aside on that ground, yet it appears that the election in a number of the representative districts of this Territory were set aside, and certificates refused to gentlemen who claimed to be elected by a large majority of their constituents.

Upon what ground then were these elections set aside, and certificates refused? A majority of your committee, and they apprehend a majority of the members of this House, are at a loss to know.

It is pretended, however, that these elections were set aside and certificates refused, upon the ground of a non-compliance on the part of some of the judges of the election, with the manner and form prescribed in the proclamation of the Governor of this Territory. This, as it has already been shown, was not a legitimate reason for thus setting aside these elections; but nevertheless new elections were ordered to be held on the 22d May-last, and a number of gentlemen are now holding their seats in this House by virtue thereof.

Can it be that Congress in its wisdom, having great experience and the history of the past before them, designed to delegate to one man the power to create a vacancy in the popular branch of this Legislature, for his own purposes, on any pretense whatever? Certainly not. But a majority of your committee emphatically deny that any vacancy in this branch had occurred at the time of the issuing of the Governor's proclamation, ordering a new election in the several districts of this Territory where new elections were held and conducted, under and by virtue of that proclamation, or at the time such elections were held and conducted, or at any time subsequent, until the organization of both branches of the first Territorial Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Kansas, and certainly none since, for every seat has been occupied from that moment until the present, whether rightfully or not is for this House to decide.

Now, sir, if this be a correct view of the subject, by what authority have the elections in the said several representative districts been set aside? By what authority have certain gentlemen been refused certificates of election? and by what authority has a new election been ordered and held on the 22d day of May last? Verily, none; at least none that a majority of your committee can see; and the election held in the several districts of the territory on the 22d day of May last, is therefore, in the opinion of a majority of your committee wholly and entirely illegal, unwarrantable, and not authorized by the organic act establishing the territorial governments of the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas, and they have therefore disregarded the said election.

Upon the subject of certificates this committee would only remark, that a certificate of election in the hands of a party claiming a seat in this or any other house of a similar character, is only prima facie evidence of his right to sit until the House shall have passed upon the fact, and nothing more; and that a certified copy of the return of the judges of an election, or the original return filed in the office of the Secretary of State, is also prima facie evidence of his right to sit until otherwise ordered by the House of which he claims to be a member; and that it is competent and legal, and in accordance with the best parliamentary law and regulation, for this House, or any similar body constituted as this is, to oust, or in other words to turn out, and refuse to any person the privilege to sit as a member, notwithstanding he may have a certificate of election with the broad seal of a State or Territory, as the case may be. The precedents on this branch of our report are so numerous, and so well and generally understood, that to say more would be but taxing sounds and words wholly unnecessary now.

In regard to those gentlemen who are now sitting members of this House, and whose seats are not contested in this place, these are passed without further comment.

But with regard to those whose seats are contested, the majority of your committee having already declared that the election held on the 22d of May was void ab initio, cannot entertain either the certificate of the Governor of this Territory, or a certified copy of the return of the judges of the said election, nor even the original return filed in the office of the Secretary of the Territory, and must therefore be governed entirely by the return of the judges who held and conducted the election held on the 30th of March last, in pursuance to and compliance with the just proclamation of the Governor of this Territory, ordering an election for members of the Territorial Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Kansas.

Accordingly it appears that Mr. A. S. Johnson, from the first Representative District, is entitled to his seat as a member of this House.

That Messrs. Joseph C. Anderson and S. A. Williams, from the sixth Representative District, are entitled to their seats as members of this House.

That Mr. S. D. Houston, from the eighth Representative District, is entitled to his seat as a member of this House.

That Mr. F. J. Marshall, from the ninth Representative District, is entitled to his seat as a member of this House.

That Mr. W. H. Tebbs, from the tenth Representative District, is entitled to his seat as a member of this House.

That Messrs. J. H. Stringfellow and R. L. Kirk, from the eleventh Representative District, are entitled to their seats as members of this House.

That Messrs. Joel P. Blair and Thomas W. Waterson, from the twelfth Representative District, are entitled to their seats as members of this House.

That Messrs. H. B. C. Harris and J. Weddle, from the thirteenth Representative District, are entitled to their seats as members of this House.

That Messrs. W. G. Mathias, H. D. McMeekin, and A. Payne, from the fourteenth Representative District, are entitled to their seats as members of this House.

The foregoing gentlemen are those whose seats have not been contested. And it appears that Messrs. John Hutchinson, Philip P. Fowler, and Erastus D. Ladd, from the second Representative District; Messrs. Augustus Wattles and William Jessee, from the third Representative District; and Mr. Cyrus K. Holliday, from the fourth Representative District - have received certificates of their election from the Governor, declaring them duly elected as members of this House, on the 22nd of May last. But inasmuch as a majority of your committee have declared that this election was void from beginning to end, and that the Governor was not authorized or empowered to order that election, by the organic act establishing this territorial government, they are not entitled to their seats as members of this House.

But that Messrs. James Whitlock, A. B. Wade, and John M. Banks, from the second Representative District, are entitled to their seats as members of this House, having received a majority of the votes polled in their said Representative District, at an election held therein on the 30th day of March, 1855.

Messrs. G. W. Ward, and O. H. Browne, from the third Representative District, are entitled to their seats as members of this House, having received a majority of the votes polled at an election held in their Representative District, on the 30th day of March, 1855.

Mr. D. L. Croysdale, of the fourth Representative District, is entitled to his seat as a member of this House, having received a majority of the votes polled in his said Representative District, at an election held therein on the 30th day of March, 1855.

In the fifth Representative District it appears that A. J. Baker received a certificate of election from the Governor of this Territory, declaring that the said A. J. Baker was duly elected a member of this House, said certificate bearing date the 6th day of April, 1855.

It appears from all the facts in this case of Mr. A. J. Baker, that in his (the fifth) Representative District there are two precincts. A. J. Baker received twenty-five votes, and M. W. McGee, the contestant in this case, received twelve votes, at one precinct; and at the other precinct, A. J. Baker received one vote, and M. W. McGee received two hundred and ten votes. The returns of the judges of election from both these precincts are equally effective and equally legal in our judgment, and we therefore declare that A. J. Baker, from the fifth Representative District, is not entitled to his seat in this House, but that M. W. McGee, from the said fifth Representative District, having received a majority of all the votes polled in that Representative District, on the 30th day of March, 1855, is entitled to his seat as a member of this House.

The foregoing, your committee know, is very imperfect; but the shortness of the time allowed to investigate the subject referred to them did not admit of a more thorough and comprehensive report thereon.

All of which is most respectfully submitted.

WILLIAM G. MATHIAS, Chairman.
A. S. JOHNSON,
WILLIAM A. HEISKELL,
THOMAS W. WATERSON.

1918 Kansas and Kansans Previous Section Next Section


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans , written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 1998.

[TOC] [Biog. Index] [1918 Index] [KSGenWeb] [Archives]
Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

tcward@columbus-ks.com

Background and KSGenWeb logo were designed and are copyrighted by
Tom & Carolyn Ward
for the limited use of the KSGenWeb Project.
Permission is granted for use only on an official KSGenWeb page.
The USGenWeb Logo was designed by Linda Cole.

Last updated 1998


Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
including
The KSGenWeb Project