« AnteriorContinuar »
Democrat who looks to principle alone would consider as more than cypher, has been sacrificed. Our friends upon the other side—and I give them credit for it-have adopted our articles almost altogether. It was magnanimous in them—I do not say it tauntingly. I repeat, sir, that there is nothing in this report which need frighten any member of this convention."
6. THE COMPROMISE CONSTITUTION IN THE CONVENTIONS. The reception of the report in the two conventions was not cordial. To both parties it was a bitter thing to be compelled to accept compromise where they had hoped for complete victory. The Republicans acquiesced with somewhat better grace than did their opponents. Galbraith, in submitting the committee report, assured his colleagues that there were things in the constitution reported "which no member of our committee approves," but that it was probably was good a constitution as we could get under the circumstances." He was convinced, and the committee was convinced, "that the adoption of one constitution is paramount to all other questions, in order to avoid a prospective state of anarchy." He hoped that bygones would be bygones.78 Coggswell made an acrimonious attack upon the report, dwelling especially upon the sacrifices which had been made in the matter of negro suffrage and the apportionment. To this his former law-partner, McClure, made a very reasonable response. "9 Wilson protested against the arrangement of judicial districts, the arrangement for electing members of Congress, and the location of the university. 89 McKune saw in the report "the sacrifice of almost everything" for which he had worked. 81 There were other protestants. On the other hand several expressed genuine approval of what had been done.82 Not a single amendment to the report was suggested. Protesting to the end, Coggswell saw that his opposition would be of no avail. "This is a dose that has got to go down,” he said, “and we might as well shut our eyes and open our mouth and take it." It went down. The final vote was forty-two to eight, only Billings, Coggswell, Davis, Gerrish, Hanson, Holley, Mckune, and Robbins voting in the negative.83
In the Democratic convention the struggle was much more bitter. No sooner had the preliminary report been read on the afternoon of August 27 than an amendment was offered to the section establishing judicial districts.84 Early the next morning the conference committee corrected the judicial districts by making Ramsey county a separate district.85 This satisfied the
77 Dem. Deb., pp. 597, 599.
proposer of the first amendment, but another delegate immediately offered another. So Gorman acted splendidly in this crisis. He had had no part in the final compromise of the committee but he was firmly convinced of the necessity of submitting only one constitution to the voters. "We have reached a crisis in our proceedings,” he said. "If the report of the committee of conference is to be amended by this convention, we may safely calculate on sitting here for weeks before we can finish our labors. If we are to open the door by the adoption of a single amendment to this report, no one can predict when we shall end." The reply to this by one of the irreconcilables was that "We do not want to submit any constitution which is the joint work of the two bodies."88
Other amendments were proposed. One member found that foreigners were discriminated against in the article on the elective franchise, because of the longer residence required of them than of citizens.89 Others found new objections to the judicial districts, and one proposed an amendment to the legislative apportionment. At this point an adjournment was taken until the afternoon for the purposes of "private consultation” in reference to the report. This had its effect in checking the flow of amendments. When the convention reconvened all the amendments were voted down, the previous question was called for on the report, and it was adopted on the after'noon of the 28th by thirty-eight to thirteen.91 The negative votes included five of the six from the Pembina district, the delegation from which was entirely dissatisfied with the judicial apportionment; and the votes of Baasen who opposed the longer residence requirement for alien voters; and those of Murray and Taylor of St. Paul, and Setzer of Washington county, who were opposed to any compromise.
The latter gentleman had expressed fully the views of the bitter-enders, He replied to Gorman's appeal for adoption of the conference report in the following manner :
Sir, this committee has followed the doctrine which was laid down by a distinguished gentleman of this convention in Democratic caucus that since the Black Republicans have sacrificed their principles, we can afford to sacrifice the offices. The apportionment adopted by that committee will give nigger worshippers the legislature and two United States senators. The gentleman asks if we cannot sacrifice our individual opinions for the good of the whole, Sir, I am a Democrat for the good of the whole. Gentlemen take a good deal of credit to themselves for having sunk all partizan feeling in this matter. For one, I will not sink my partizan feeling, nor abandon the duty which I owe to the country, for the preservation of the union, by pandering to any party who are trying to dissolve the union. This is the position which I take and this is the highest good which I contend for. A portion of this convention have contended
from the beginning that the true policy of the Democratic party was to submit two constitutions to the people, to make a clear issue before them and to express the fanatical ideas of the men who are assembled in a different convention in this capitol. If we abandon this proposition, we surrender the whole field to them. As I have already remarked, the apportionment laid down in this report increases the population of every Republican county, and cuts down the population of every Democratic county, and that I am not disposed to do for the sake of submitting one constitution. Sir, the Republicans would not have been so ready to yield up their principles and everything they have to stand upon if they were not sure the loaves and fishes would fall to their share. They can afford to sacrifice something for the sake of obtaining the legislature and two United States senators. I say that this camp meeting, as they have been called in the other end of the capitol would never have consented so utterly to subvert all manliness and decency by giving up every position they have taken without compensation. The gentleman has well remarked that we have reached a crisis in our proceedings. We stand upon the brink of a precipice. If the report of this committee is adopted, then farewell Democracy in Minnesota; we ourselves have dug the grave that is to bury us."
The complete answer to this outburst was suggested in the reply made by Mr. B. B. Meeker. It was his understanding that "the apportionment adopted by that committee is almost identically the apportionment agreed upon by this convention, and assented to by the gentleman from Washington." Indeed, the charge that the Republicans had exacted an apportionment favoring their party in return for a sacrifice of all their principles, is quite unfounded. The surprising thing is that the Republicans either knew so little about what they were actually entitled to, or insisted so little upon it, as to consent to an apportionment which favored the Democrats in the election of congressmen, the legislature, and the first six judges of the district courts.
7. CLOSING THE WORK OF THE Conventions. On Friday and Saturday, August 28 and 29, both conventions were exceedingly busy adding the final touches to their work. On the morning of the 28th the Democrats passed a resolution ordering the printing of 2,000 copies of their debates. A similar resolution liad been introduced in the Republican wing the day before, and was adopted in the afternoon of the 28th despite the argument of one member that it was useless to print their deliberations since they had nothing to do with the constitution adopted.95
Various resolutions were passed by both conventions for the appropriation of money to increase the pay of several of their officers, for the translation of the constitution into German, Swedish, and French, and for various other minor matters. The most important question which was to be settled, however, was that of finding some way to pay the per diem allowance and the
mileage of the Republican members. It was already known about St. Paul that the Democratic treasurer of the territory was not disposed to honor any certificates issued from the Republican convention for this purpose. The Democrats at this point entertained a resolution apparently designed to get the Republican members out of their predicament. On the afternoon of the 28th, Mr. Gorman offered the following resolution: "Resolved, that if the auditor and treasurer of this territory declines to recognize the organization of the convention presided over by Hon. St. A. D. Balcombe, that Hon. H. H. Sibley, president, and J. J. Noah, secretary, sign certificates for such members of that convention as were elected to the constitutional convention; provided, that they be presented for such purpose and to include the printing for that body.'
."96 In explaining his resolution he said he was confident that the auditor and treasurer would not recognize the Republican convention's warrants and since it was only a matter of dollars and cents he hoped no one would object to the adoption of the resolution. Some of the members immediately pointed out the meaning of what Mr. Gorman had proposed. It practically took advantage of the straits of necessity to which some of the Republicans had been reduced to compel them to give up their organization and to come to Mr. Sibley with a petition that he sign their warrants. Mr. Sibley himself stepped down from the chair long enough to say that he was not willing "to be saddled with the onus of deciding which gentlemen have been and which have not been elected to this convention.”97 Several members pointed out that some way ought to be found to pay the Republicans without either recognizing their organization or unnecessarily insulting them. Mr. Brown expressed the opinion that the separate organization of the convention in two bodies had really been an economical arrangement for the territory. "He ventured to say that if both parties had remained in the same convention, there would not have been two articles of the constitution adopted by the first of January next, and the expense would have been double that of both conventions now."'98 The Gorman resolution went over until the next morning when Mr. Meeker moved to postpone the consideration of it "until the fourth day of July next."9! This motion was adopted by a vote of thirtyeight to seven and the resolution was thus indefinitely postponed. In the afternoon of August 29 the committee on credentials of the Democratic wing reported that it had "satisfactory evidence of the legal election of the following named delegates."100 The list included fifty-three of the Republican members. Those excluded were the four contested delegates from St. Anthony, Mr. Coe, and Mr. Lyle. They offered a resolution, therefore, that
so Dem. Deb., p. 617.
these approved delegates be paid their three dollars per day and mileage. But this resolution was laid on the table by the convention and a few minutes after the convention adjourned.101
It was on the afternoon of the last day of the convention that the Republicans first received conclusive evidence that their certificates were not going to be honored. Delegates Davis and Mills had made application to the treasurer's office and had been politely informed by that official that he would not recognize certificates coming from the Republican body.102 Mr. North immediately proposed a resolution respectfully requesting the territorial treasurer to pay all their certificates.103 A heated debate ensued, in the course of which it was very evident that the few irreconcilable members who had all along opposed any compromise with the Democratic wing were not a little pleased to find their predictions coming true. The members of the conference committee assured the Republican members that there had been a tacit agreement in the conference committee that the Republicans, as well as the Democrats, would be paid, and they were very heated in their denunciations of the Democrats for the breach of their promise. Mr. Coggswell, who had opposed compromise, twitted the other members of the convention who had put faith in the Democratic promises. He said “Now, Mr. President, if that agreement has been violated, it is just what we might expect from that quarter. It was only what has been continually practiced by that body ever since the thirteenth day of last July. It is not the first time they have violated agreements and openly insulted parties treating with them," and he went on to recall some of the delinquencies of the rival organization.104 The resolution was, however, passed by a vote of twenty to fifteen and very soon after came the final adjournment of the Republican wing also.105
It must have been with very much mixed feelings of joy, anger, and regret that the various members departed to the different parts of the territory. Some of the more idealistic of the Republican members appear to have been very deeply disappointed in the final outcome. Mr. Messer of the Republican convention who wrote several letters to John H. Stevens during this period expressed himself near the end of the convention as tired and heartily sick of this political intrigue and trickery. And if I once get out, I mean to stay out. Everything goes wrong. A man to be a successful politician must thrust his conscience into prison and bar the door. I protest against the whole thing. We have contended and stood out week after week, and for what? Moonshine and I doubt whether we get even that. Nothing but darkness with scarce a star of any magnitude to gaze upon. Questions of local interest have taken possession of every
101 Dem. Deb., pp. 631, 632.
106 Ibid., pp. 595, 596. As a matter of fact neither the Democrats nor the Republicans received any money until 1858. Cf. Pioneer and Democrat, Sept. 4, 1857; Sess. Laws 1858, ch. 25.