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development.31 The Pioneer and Democrat, which was close to Rice, had supported this position. The legislative assembly itself defeated one proposal for the calling of a constitutional convention, and it failed to memorialize Congress for an enabling act. The most tangible mandate which Rice could have adduced was probably the positive demand by Congress that Minnesota begin to pay its own way. As to the division of the territory by a north and south line the case was somewhat different. The legislative assembly of 1856 had defeated Mr. Rolette's proposal to divide the territory by an east and west line at 45° 10' north latitude, though the editor of the Pioneer and Democrat had at the time, perhaps in a fit of absent-mindedness, expressed himself as favorable to that plan. There is no reason to doubt that the most cogent arguments and the most influential newspapers were on the side of a north and south partition. 33
All of these considerations aside, it is of interest to note that it was Rice whose plans were first divulged. On December 24, 1856, he introduced into the House of Representatives a bill to enable the people residing in the eastern portion of Minnesota territory to form for themselves a constitution and state government preparatory to their admission to the Union. The provisions of this bill made arrangement for a north and south division of the territory along the line of the Red River of the North, Lake Traverse, and the Big Sioux river to the boundary line of Iowa.34 The fifth section of the bill provided also one of the most munificent land grants yet given to any state.35 Aside from the fact that there was no provision for payment of the expenses of the constitutional convention, the terms of the bill could hardly have been more attractive to the people of Minnesota.
But Rice had also another string to his bow. It seems to have been his plan to make the adoption of the north and south division of the territory practically unavoidable. At the same session of Congress he brought in another bill, providing in this case for a land grant to the territory for the building of railroads. That is to say, the grant was made nominally to the territory of Minnesota; actually not a mile of the railroads proposed to be built under his bill would have fallen outside of the state boundaries as also pro
a See p. 47 82 See p. 43.
88 Among the individuals who argued most effectively during the winter and spring of 1856-57 for a north and south line were J. E. Warren, J. W. Taylor, J. M. Berry, and C. C. Andrews. Of the newspapers there may be mentioned the St. Paul Advertiser (non-political), the Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul, Democratic), and the Daily Minnesotian (St. Paul, Republican). The arguments upon this subject constitute a considerable literature and one not unworthy of study.
84 The western boundary line proposed by Rice began where the Red River of the North crosses the Canadian boundary and ran thence up the main channel of the Red River of the North and the Bois des Sioux river to Lake Traverse, “thence up the centre of said Lake to the southern extremity thereof, thence in a direct line to the junction of Kampeskee Lake with Tchtn-kas-an-data, or Big Sioux River, thence down the main channel of said river to the northwest corner of the state of Iowa." Pioneer and Democrat, Jan. 7, 1857. See map, p. 48.
$ See. p. 64.
posed by him. That was not all. It is possibly even more interesting to observe that four of the five railroads were to have their termini in St. Paul and St. Anthony, towns themselves as yet unconnected with the east by either railroads or telegraph lines. The fifth road was to run westward from Winona and La Crescent by two branches converging near Oronoco and from thence was to continue westward as one line to the Big Sioux river, south of 45° north latitude. This line would cross two of the lines running into St. Paul and St. Anthony, giving easy transportation to these points. 36
When read together, the two bills thus briefly described show the entire program of Rice and his followers. They probably represented, also, the desires of a majority of the people of Minnesota in 1856. The primary aim of the plan was unquestionably to build a state which would combine within its boundaries agricultural resources, a great lumbering industry, and possibly mineral resources as well, instead of a state founded solely upon agriculture; and at the same time to make a state sufficiently large to become important, and so bounded as to give it direct access to water transportation northward through the Red River of the North, and eastward via the Great Lakes, as well as southward via the Mississippi. Vitally important to the plan was also the purpose to guarantee to the St. Paul-St. Anthony-Stillwater region the same supremacy in commerce, industry, and politics, as it already had, by directing the development of the new state from this area as a center. "Consolidation" was apparently the keynote.37 Instead of a state like Iowa, which lacked a single dominant commercial center within itself, and was, therefore, dependent upon an outside city, Chicago, Rice planned, how consciously we cannot say, a state which was to be bound closely together through the converging of all its chief railroads near the junctions of the St. Croix and Minnesota rivers with the Mississippi, a small region in which it was already planned to locate the capitol, the university, and the state prison. At the center of all was to be his home city, St. Paul.
5. THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF 1857. The news of the introduction of Rice's bill for the enabling act did not reach St. Paul until January 1, 1857, just before the meeting of the legislative assembly. Tidings concerning the railroad land-grant bill came later. On January 7, 1857, the territorial legislative assembly met in St. Paul. The council was controlled by the Democrats by a narrow margin; the house had passed into the control of the Republican party. A week after convening they were addressed in joint session by Governor Gorman.38
* One reason for the inclusion of this line of railroad in Rice's bill must have been the desire to win for the measure the support of the east and west line faction then in Washington.
87 See the Washington correspondence signed "P" (Ben. Perley Poore) in the Pioneer and Democrat, Jan. 26, 1857.
* Jan. 14, 1857; see supplement to Pioneer and Democrat, Jan. 15, 1857.
The governor devoted substantially a third of his message to an argument in favor of statehood. The points he made fell roughly under three headings, those relating directly to the finances of the territorial and state government, those dealing with land grants, and those which put forward the political advantages which statehood would bring. He pointed out that the only direct pecuniary advantage in remaining a territory consisted in the approximately $30,000 appropriated annually by Congress. To offset this, he averred, the state could raise an equal amount by simply continuing the existing territorial tax of ten cents upon every hundred dollars of taxable property. Furthermore, Congress was becoming reluctant to continue these annual appropriations, and on the other hand the money was not being spent with economy. Let the money but come out of the taxpayer's pocket, being voted by the people's own representatives in the state legislature, and there would soon be more careful spending of the revenues. Finally, under this head, came the question of public credit. “While a territory we have no credit as a government, if such credit should be desirable to develop our resources; as a state, we may command such means as may be deemed indispensable to our welfare."
Very closely related to the question of finances was that of land grants. Certain lands had already been “reserved” by act of Congress to the territory for the use of the schools. “While we remain a territory, our school lands must lie idle for the want of power to appropriate them where needed for educational purposes.” Besides these lands already set aside, Gorman had visions of additional grants. "When we are admitted into the Union as a state, the swamp and overflowed lands can be claimed for state use, and not until then. ... Upon our admission as a state, we shall probably receive a donation of public lands equal to the amount received by Iowa and Wisconsin, say five or six hundred thousand acres, for purposes of internal improvement or otherwise," he argued, and he urged speed that the state might still have the best lands to choose from. On top of all, he was convinced that five or ten per cent of the revenue from federal public-land sales in the territory would also come to the state for purposes of internal improvements, and this amount he felt would “fully compensate for many years for all the appropriations from the national treasury for such purposes.” In a day of many real-estate agents, few indeed could have outdone Gorman in depicting alluring prospects to the people of the coming state.
Finally may be reviewed the political arguments. Not only would the people become capable of electing all their local officers, but for the first time they would be able to elect genuine representatives to sit in the halls of the national Congress. The state would be entitled to two senators and at least two representatives, each possessed of full standing and voting power in their respective houses, to take the place of the single non-voting delegate then
sitting in the lower house. Great projects were soon to come up in Congress, and it was highly desirable that Minnesota should be able to wield her whole power and influence to obtain decisions favorable to herself. Particularly he mentioned the plans for a Pacific railroad, a link in the "road to India," with her "600,000,000 people.” Minnesota should have senators and representatives in Washington to see to it that a northern route, through Minnesota, should be chosen for this railroad, in order that Minnesota might traffic directly with these magnificent and imperial regions of the Orient.
Another portion of his address possessed far more political interest than the solid and cogent arguments for statehood. Twelve months earlier Gorman had pleaded for a policy of delay. At the beginning of 1857 he was, by contrast, in such haste for the coming of statehood that he did not want the people to wait for Congress to act. He argued that the legislative assembly should itself take immediate steps for taking a census of the territory and for holding a constitutional convention apportioned upon that census as a basis. If this were not done, if no action were taken until after Congress had acted, the people would be sure to find that Congress had somehow trammeled their freedom of action. What he hinted at was the fact that Congress might fix a boundary which the people did not want. He favored an east and west division; Rice's bill, already before Congress, provided for a north and south line.
What Gorman here expressed was the argument for "squatter sovereignty.” There were "precedent and high authority” for his plan of procedure. "It has been settled by the definitive action of both branches of Congress, that their authority is not a necessary prerequisite to authorize a territory to form a state government, nor indeed, is the authority of the territorial legislature itself, positively necessary to enable the people to hold a convention, form a constitution, and ask admission into the Union.” He cited Benton, Buchanan, President Jackson, Strange, King, Niles, “and most politicians of the North at the present day” as concurring in his view. It was clear from what Gorman said that he and his friends recognized the necessity of haste. Rice had stolen a march on them. Should Congress come to the support of the Rice plan for statehood, the proposed east and west line would be as good as dead. Unless the people and the government of the territory did something immediately to forestall him, Rice would soon have them committed without their consent to the boundary he had selected. It would be of little avail to argue for different boundaries once Congress had fixed them. Unfortunately for the friends of the east and west line, Rice had the strategic advantage in the struggle. He had the ear of Congress; it was from him that Congress expected suggestions as to legislation.
Minnesota was far removed from the place where the decision was to be made, yet something could be done even there. In quick succession there followed a series of acts which were designed to show what were the desires
of the people of the territory. Gorman had no sooner recommended the calling of a squatter-sovereign convention than both houses of the legislative assembly proceeded to work on bills to that end. There followed the passage by both houses of a memorial to Congress demanding that the people of the territory, acting in a constitutional convention, be permitted to set the boundaries of the state, and deploring any attempt by Congress to decide this question for them.39 A petition for the organization of a state and an east and west division of the territory had already been prepared in the Winona region and sent on to Congress. Then, as the legislature delayed in the matter of calling a constitutional convention, due to the differences between the houses on questions of detail, 41 and the news from Washington all seemed to point to the success of the Rice measures, the Gorman-Winona-St. Peter group, stirred to a frenzy of activity in the face of defeat, decided to save what they could from the wreck of their plans by the passage of a bill for the immediate removal of the capital to St. Peter. This was the most spectacular stroke of the whole session, and as is well known, it resulted in the defeat of the east and west line faction.42 The circumstances of their defeat
30 House Journal, pp. 63, 70-71; Council Journal, pp. 39, 50, 51-54. This memorial is not published in the territorial session laws of 1857. It will be found in the Pioneer and Democrat, Jan. 21, 1857.
40 Rep. Deb., p. 423.
4 Folwell states that this act was passed. Folwell, Minnesota, p. 133. The facts are somewhat as follows: Mr. C. W. Thompson, a Republican, of Houston county, introduced a bill into the council on January 23 “to provide for taking the census and the formation of a State Government in Minnesota.” Council Journal, p. 57. The bill had a twofold purpose: first, to bring about an apportionment of delegates to the convention which would be fair to southern Minnesota; and second, to have the convention called under the sole auspices of the territorial legislature, according to true "Squatter Sovereign" principles, in order that the people might pass directly upon all important matters, including the boundary, instead of being bound by a congressional enabling act. It was, therefore, entirely in line with Gorman's suggestions, and gave fresh evidence of his close affiliations with the Republican east and west line faction of southern Minnesota. The Daily Minnesotian strongly opposed the bill, but it passed, after having been amended to provide for Pembina's repre. sentation, by a final vote of eleven to four. Council Journal, pp. 58, 66, 68, 84; Daily Minnesotian, Feb. 3, 6, 9, 1857; Pioneer and Democrat, Feb. 6, 1857. In the meantime the house had been at work upon a different bill for a constitutional convention, and news had come from Washington of the contents of Rice's bill for an enabling act. Upon receiving the council bill the house appointed a special committee of one member from each council district to study the whole problem. This committee apparently worked upon the principle of trying to draft a law conforming in all essential respects with Rice's bill for an enabling act. This was in line with a suggestion of the Pioneer and Democrat that unless this were done “there is every prospect that we will behold next summer, two distinct Conventions, called to frame a Constitution for the State of Minnesota, in session in this city.” Feb. 14, 1857. (Prophetic words!) The result was that the house committee made sweeping alterations in the council bill, making it over almost into a new bill. House Journal, pp. 112, 141, 203, 228. As thus amended the bill passed the house on March 4. House Journal, p. 230.
The bill was then sent to the council for its approval of the amendments, but that body was at that time in the midst of its famous and farcical five-day session, awaiting the return of Mr. Rolette and the capital removal bill. No other business could be done by the council during this period, and the session ended soon after without any final action on the convention bill having been taken. The amended bill is still preserved for us. Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Archives, Legislative, 1857, House Bills, 291-394.
43 The bill was passed, after a fashion, but the presiding officer of the council refused to sign it in the usual way. Terr. Sess, Laws, 1857, ch. I. Governor Gorman did sign it, but Judge R. R. Nelson declared in a decision directly upon the question some months later that the proceedings and the act were invalid. St. Paul Advertiser, July 18, 1857. The people of St. Peter awaited in vain the setting up of their city as the capital. One of the most readable accounts of the whole ridiculous proceedings is that in Hall, Observations, pp. 26-37. See also Minn. in Three Cen., 2:494-99.