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interest in or connection with the southern and eastern communities in Wisconsin, and it was their ambition to create a new state to be called Superior, comprising the Chippewa, St. Croix, and upper Mississippi valleys.43 William Holcombe, of the St. Croix, fought strenuously and persistently throughout the first convention to have Wisconsin bounded on the northwest by a straight line from the borders of Michigan, at the headwaters of the Montreal river, southwest to Mount Trempealeau, which lies across the river and a short distance southeast of Winona. This scheme would have excluded Wisconsin entirely from the control of any part of the Lake Superior shore. At one stage in the proceedings the convention adopted this plan, but in the end the best that Holcombe could obtain was the adoption of a proviso stating that the people of Wisconsin preferred to the line proposed by Congress a line substantially due south from the first rapids in the St. Louis river to the Mississippi river. This would have left much of the St. Croix valley outside of the state of Wisconsin. Congress subsequently approved this boundary preference, but the people rejected the whole constitution and thereby defeated the proposed limits. How much effect the boundary question had upon the result of the vote is not known, but certainly it would be hard to demonstrate that the people actually preferred the boundaries proposed by the convention.
The second Wisconsin constitutional convention, which met in December, 1847, was confronted with the same boundary question, and the same opposition from the St. Croix valley to being included in the state. This time, however, the separation movement was decisively defeated. Instead of voting for boundaries more restricted than those proposed in the enabling act, this convention went beyond them, expressing a desire for a line from the first rapids in the St. Louis river southwest to the mouth of the Rum river, where it flows into the Mississippi within the present city of Anoka. A large portion of Minneapolis, the major part of St. Paul, all of Stillwater and other important towns, and several counties now in Minnesota, would by this boundary plan have been made part of Wisconsin.46 So small was the population west of the Mississippi and Rum rivers in 1848, that it would have taken several years before there would have been enough people there to have justified the establishment of a new territorial government. This boundary scheme, together with the new constitution, the people of Wisconsin promptly ratified.
The towns from Stillwater to St. Paul, together with the settlements farther north and west, were roused to action by the new menace. Since nothing more could be done locally, the struggle was transferred to Washington.
45 Thwaites, op. cit., in Wis. Hist, Col., 11:488, 489.
The leading men of what we have called Minnesota east sent a strong petition to Congress, protesting against the Rum river line, which they denounced in the strongest terms. It is said, also, that there was active lobbying by the friends of Minnesota. Finally Congress admitted Wisconsin with the western boundary specified in the enabling act of 1846.48 Thwaites tells how the surveyors who ran the line south from the St. Louis to the St. Croix
Map N. 6.
MAP NO. 6.
WESTERN BOUNDARY OF WISCONSIN PROPOSED BY THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1847 AND REJECTED BY CONGRESS! This line would have begun at the first rapids of the St. Louis
river and run thence in a straight line southwest to the mouth of the Rum river. river, failing to find the first rapids in the former, due to high water in the lower stream, went farther up river before striking southward across country. By this natural circumstance, "a ribbon of dense pine forest forty-two miles long by about half a mile broad" was added to the state of Wisconsin, and lost to Minnesota.49
The process of clipping new states out of the old Northwest territory was at last ended. Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin-five stateshad been successively delimited upon the map and introduced to an equal station with the original states in the Union. The Louisiana territory was already undergoing the same process, the states of Louisiana, Missouri, Ar
47 U. S. Sen. Doc. (misc.) 30 Cong. I sess., no. 98. Thwaites, op. cit., in Wis. Hist. Col., 11:492-93
48 Stat. at Large, 9:233.
kansas, and lowa having already been erected.50 There was now left in "the Minnesota country," about the headwaters of the Mississippi, the northwesternmost corner of the Northwest territory, the northeasternmost portion of the Louisiana territory, and, a little farther northwest, that portion of the valley of the Red River of the North which, by the convention of 1818, had become part of the American domain.51 In 1848 there was not even a recognized territorial government in this region, and there was very little population,-yet it was destined to become a state in the Union in less than ten years from the time of the admission of Wisconsin. Only one other state, California, was admitted to the Union in the period between the admission of Wisconsin and that of Minnesota.
7. MINNESOTA AS UNORGANIZED TERRITORY. It is probable that the plan for a separate territorial organization for the country west of the St. Croix originated in a few fertile minds within a very short time after the beginning of white settlements at Stillwater and Marine. The necessity for action toward this end was clearly seen late in 1846. On August 6 of that year was passed an act enabling that portion of Wisconsin east of the St. Croix to form a state government and to come into the Union. In December of the same year Iowa was admitted as a state, leaving Minnesota west without organic existence.53 At this juncture of affairs, Morgan L. Martin, delegate from Wisconsin, probably inspired by Joseph R. Brown, introduced a bill to create the territory of Minnesota out of the region west of Wisconsin and north of Iowa. His bill passed the House but was lost in the Senate.54
Due to the difficulties which Wisconsin was experiencing in drafting an acceptable constitution, the year 1847 passed without definitive action toward her admission into the Union. Minnesota east continued in the meantime to be part of Wisconsin territory. Early in 1848, when it seemed that Wisconsin was about to agree at last upon her fundamental law, as she presently did, Senator Douglas introduced a second bill to organize the new territory." His effort also proved to be premature. The summer drew on; on May 29 Wisconsin was finally admitted as a state, with her western boundary fixed at the Mississippi and St. Croix, yet no provision had been made for the region to the west.
Filled with a common sense of danger and neglect, the scanty populations of the remnants of Wisconsin and Iowa were drawn closer to each other than ever before. The little settlement at Mendota, which had formerly looked to the territorial government of Iowa for its laws and administration,
6. The dates of these several admissions were as follows: east of the Mississippi: Ohio in 1803, Indiana in 1816, Illinois in 1818, Michigan in 1837, Wisconsin in 1848; west of the Mississippi: Louisiana in 1812, Missouri in 1821, Arkansas in 1836, and lowa in 1846.
61 See pp. 8-9. 62 Minn, Hist. Col., 8:70-72; Mins. in Three Cen., 2:349 ff. 53 Stat, at Large, 9:117. * Cong. Globe, 29 Cong., 2 sess., pp. 53, 71, 441-45, 540, 572; Minn, in Three Cen., 2:350-54. Box Cong. Globe, 30 Cong., 1 sess., pp. 136, 656, 772, 1052; Minn in Three Cen., 2:355.
found a new attachment to the neighboring towns of St. Paul and Stillwater. The people from both sides of the river promptly met to confer with each other and seem to have agreed to pool their resources and influence to mend their isolated and disorganized state. Several meetings, attended by residents of both regions, were held in St. Paul and Stillwater during July and August.56 The culinination of these gatherings was the so-called Stillwater Convention of August 26.57
The call for the Stillwater Convention was issued from Stillwater under date of August 4. It was in the following language:
We, the undersigned, citizens of Minnesota Territory, impressed with the necessity of taking measures to secure an carly Territorial organization, and that those measures shall be taken by the people with unity of action, respectfully recommend that the people of the several settlements in the proposed Territory appoint delegates to meet in convention at Stillwater, on the 26th day of August next, to adopt the necessary steps for that purpose.
Appended to this appeal were the signatures of eighteen of the leading men of the Minnesota country, the second, third, and fourth names being those of H. H. Sibley, Joseph R. Brown, and W. Holcombe, all of whom took an important part nine years later in the work of the Democratic wing of the state constitutional convention. Sibley and Holcombe became, respectively, the first governor and the first lieutenant governor of the state in 1858.
The convention was well attended, sixty-one delegates signing the memorials. Among them were nearly all the outstanding men of the whole Minnesota region, Joseph R. Brown, A. L. Larpenteur, C. F. Leach, H. L. Moss, Morton S. Wilkinson, W. Holcombe, H. H. Sibley, H. Jackson, Socrates Nelson, Louis Robert, Joshua L. Taylor, Samuel Burkleo, James S. Norris, and many more. These men were the true pioneers of the Minnesota country. They lived mainly in St. Paul, Stillwater, and the adjacent towns, but there were delegates also from Sauk Rapids, Spunk Creek, and Crow Wing, who had received word of the meeting far in their northern settlements and had descended the river many miles to take part in the deliberations. Only the distant Pembina country seems to have been unrepresented.
The results of the convention were in every way gratifying. Everything went smoothly. There was apparently unanimous agreement upon the memorials which were presently addressed to President Polk and the Congress of the United States.59 Sibley was elected "a Delegate to proceed to Washington City,” his election being made unanimous on the motion of Brown. Several committees were appointed, including one which was to gather business statistics to fortify the delegate in his attempts to bring
Minn, Hist. Col., 1:482-85; 8:70-80; Minn. in Three Cen., 2:356 ff.
67 The manuscript record of the proceedings is preserved in the manuscript division of the Minnesota Historical Society, and is published in Minn. Hist. Col. 1:53 ff. See also Minn, in Three Cen., 2:356 ff. There are some very evident chronological errors in the printed accounts.
68 Minn, Hist. Col., 1:55.
about an early organization of Minnesota territory.60 From the little we know about the meeting it appears that its spirit was above reproach and that its attitude toward the situation in which the Minnesota country found itself was sensible and praiseworthy. The point of view of the delegates is best expressed by themselves in their memorial to President Polk:
Your memorialists, citizens of the Territory north of the northwestern boundary of Wisconsin and of the northern boundary of Iowa, ask leave respectfully to represent:
That the region of country which they inhabit formed, formerly, a portion of the Territories of Iowa and Wisconsin, subject to the laws and government of those Territories; ...
That this region of country is settled by a population of nearly 5,000 persons, who are engaged in various industrial pursuits; ...
That by the admission of Wisconsin into the Union, with the boundaries as prescribed by Congress, and the omission by that body to pass a law for the organization of a new Territory, embracing the portion of country inhabited by your memorialists, they and all their fellow citizens are left without officers to administer and execute the laws. That, having once enjoyed the rights and privileges of citizens of a Territory of the United States, they are now without fault or blame of their own, virtually disfranchised.
They have no securities for their lives or property but those which exist in mutual good understanding. Meanwhile all proceedings in criminal cases, and all process for the collection of debts, are suspended; credit exists only so far as a perfect confidence in mutual good faith extends, and all the operations of business are embarrassed. From this point they went on to argue that so lawless a state “is fraught with evils and dangers," and they closed with an appeal to the president to "call the attention of Congress to their situation at the opening of the next annual session, and recommend the early organization of the Territory of Minnesota."61
The certificate of election issued to Sibley also bears out the idea that Wisconsin territory and Iowa territory had both ceased to have any legality in the Minnesota region, that Minnesota was, in fact, virtually without laws and government. This document, made out by “the officers of a convention of Delegates for the people of Minnesota,” declared Sibley "unanimously elected a Delegate to proceed to Washington City and there use such measures as may best tend to effect the early organization of the territory of Minnesota."62
Every document and pronunciamento issuing from its deliberations bears out the statement that the Stillwater Convention was proposed and carried through on the theory that the region north of Iowa and west of Wisconsin was without political organization. It was neither Wisconsin territory nor Iowa territory. It was simply a "region of country" in which
* See the report of the "committee to collect information as to business, capital, etc.” now preserved in the manuscript division of the Minnesota Historical Society.
a Minn. Hist, Col., 1:59-61.