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When the resolution had been read Sherburne spoke very briefly in explanation of his purpose.26 He had no doubt, he said, that the body with which he was serving was the constitutional convention. This, it will be recalled, was at a time when the Democrats counted only fifty-four members, and three days before they mustered in the fifty-fifth. Since the Democrats were in the right, he argued, they could afford to be magnanimous and to extend the olive branch to the illegitimate body sitting at the other end of the capitol. His object was to set the territory and the future state right in the eyes of the outside world.
He had no sooner explained the object of his resolution than the storm broke upon his head. Delegates Setzer, Meeker, Streeter, Stacy, Baker, and Butler took turns in denouncing the proposition.27 It looked to them like
complete surrender of the Democratic position, a bending of the knee to the Republican organization. Setzer closed his second speech against the proposition with these words: “If gentlemen here determine to appoint a committee to go and beg other men to acknowledge us, I want no further connection with the constitutional convention." Several members responded, "Nor I! Nor I!"28 Delegates A. E. Ames, Gilman, Warner, and Brown appeared not entirely satisfied with the wording of the resolution, but favored its purpose. 29 Ex-Governor Gorman was, besides Sherburne, the staunchest supporter of the resolution as offered. He had discussed the matter, he said, with the merchants and other substantial men of the city, and he knew that they were afraid that what was being done was injurious to the territory. 30 This business took up the entire morning session. At ten-thirty the resolution was indefinitely postponed by a vote of 23 to 19 and the convention adjourned until Monday. 31
It would appear that over Sunday the Republicans held conferences as to their course of procedure. Just at the close of the session on Monday morning, August 10, Mr. Galbraith submitted to the Republican convention the identical resolution which Sherburne had submitted to the Democrats on the Saturday before, with one exception.32 Galbraith's resolution omitted the word “immaterial” before the words "questions which arose in the course of forming a temporary organization." This was indeed an unfortunate word in Sherburne's resolution and would better have been omitted by him too. When this resolution had been read to the Republicans, there was, according to the record, not a word of debate or discussion, and the resolution was unanimously adopted.33 At this point the Republicans stood
26 Dem, Deb., pp. 350-51.
committed to compromise upon a basis outlined by one of the leading Democrats, whereas the Democratic organization stood opposed even to this plan.
ident Balcombe of the Republican wing immediately nominated Delegates Galbraith, McClure, Stannard, Aldrich, and Wilson as this committee.
In the meantime it appears that there had begun some devious negotiations between the two bodies. In a report which Gorman presented to the Democratic wing some days later, it appears that after the defeat of the resolution in the Democratic wing on August 8, a Democratic caucus had been held to consider ways of approaching the Republicans unofficially.34 The vote of the Democratic convention he construed as an assertion that the Democrats as a constitutional convention could not recognize the existence of the other convention. They were nevertheless willing to bring about a compromise behind the scenes and unofficially. They sent word to Mr. Galbraith of their desire for such caucus negotiations and set a time and place for meeting with an equal number of Republicans. There they waited for two hours or more, but no Republicans appeared.35 This was apparently on Tuesday. The Republicans, meanwhile, were holding a caucus of their own in which they apparently decided to send a communication directly from the Republican convention to the Democratic enclosing the resolution which they had adopted on Monday. This plan was accordingly carried out on Wednesday. Once the communication had been placed in President Sibley's hands there was nothing for him to do but appoint a committee to consider the communication.37 This committee was headed by Gorman and included also Brown, Holcombe, Setzer, and Kingsbury. A part of the Democratic report is given above. The Democratic committee expressed itself as very much injured at the treatment accorded them by the Republicans in refusing to enter upon secret negotiations with them. Gorman's report continued with an assertion that the Democratic committee was the only committee of conference and conciliation as yet appointed.
The Republicans, to our knowledge, have neither appointed a committee as a caucus, or in any other capacity. We are ready to meet any committee of the Republican party who have been elected to the convention, no matter how appointed, if they propose to deliberate with us, as such committee, for the welfare of our future state, and to avert any threatened danger to our public or private tranquillity. ... We have the welfare of our territory and future state at heart. We earnestly hope that no future calamity may befal our people. But we feel that we are the only rightful constitutional convention, and we will not officially consent to recognize any other, but all can be easily reconciled if the Republicans will meet our caucus committee, and when met, all amicable arrangements made and concluded, be reported to each party in caucus, and then
34 Dem. Deb., pp. 480-82.
The Pioneer and Democrat denounced the Republican resolutions as insulting to the Democrats. Aug. 14, 15, 1857.
37 Dem, Deb., p. 422.
acted upon calmly, and in that statesman-like spirit which we hope and trust may characterize the deliberations of us all. If each party act as the convention, the most perfect equality must exist, each must be recognized by the other as a constitutional convention which necessarily involves a contradiction of the position taken by each. Therefore, if this is not done, we are acting, at best, but as a caucus.
The report of the committee closed with a resolution "That this constitutional convention cannot receive any communication of any body of men assuming to be the constitutional convention of this territory, by which the legal character of this convention can be called in question." This resolution was unanimously adopted by the convention.39 It is very clear that the Republicans had stolen a march upon the Democrats in adopting Sherburne's resolution for compromise. Had the Democrats adopted it at the time it was offered to them, their position would in no wise have been compromised.
The movement for a compromise was now apparently blocked. So far as direct negotiations between the two conventions were concerned, they seemed out of the question after the Democrats had twice decisively defeated them. The only possible avenue was that which Gorman's report pointed out, namely, the unofficial caucus negotiations, which he so dearly cherished. One of the difficulties up to this point seems to have been that Secretary Babcock in communicating the Republican resolutions to the Democratic convention, had addressed Mr. Sibley as "presiding officer of that portion of the delegates to the constitutional convention assembled in the council chamber of this capitol” and that he had signed himself as secretary of "the constitutional convention assembled in the hall of the House of Representatives.”40 The resolution also which the Republicans adopted instructing the secretary to transmit the original compromise resolutions used similar language. 41
Gorman's report was submitted on Friday, August 14. Just what happened in the next few days is not entirely clear. That there must have been some caucus negotiations between the two groups cannot be doubted. On Tuesday morning, August 18, the first business before the Democratic convention was the reading of a communication from Balcombe to Sibley. 42 This communication, dated also August 18, read as follows:
St. Paul, August 18, 1857. Hon. H. H. Sibley, President.-Sir: The convention over which I preside did, upon the 18th day of August, adopt a resolution for the appointment of a committee to confer with a similar committee of the convention over which you preside to consider and agree upon, if practicable, and report some plan by which the two bodies can unite upon a single constitution to be submitted to the people.
In pursuance of said resolution, I have appointed Messrs. Galbraith, McClure, Aldrich, Stannard, and Wilson, such committee, and would respectfully ask the appointment of a similar committee on the part of the convention over which you preside.
Yours most respectfully,
St. A. D. BALCOMBE, President, 88 Dem. Deb., pp. 480-82. 89 I bid., p. 482. 40 lbid., pp. 421, 422. 41 Rep. Deb., p. 410; Dem. Deb., p. 422. 12 Ibid., p. 521.
What authority Balcombe had for the sending of this communication is not clear, nor is there anything in the Republican proceedings for August 18 which corresponds to the wording of the resolution he mentions. The Sherburne resolutions adopted on August 10 would probably have given warrant for the communication but in that case the date in the body of the letter must be wrong. The only other explanation possible is that the Republicans in caucus and not as a convention gave Balcombe the authority of which he speaks. The conimittee members named are identical with those who were appointed following the adoption of the Sherburne resolution on August 10.43
Following the reading of this communication to the Democratic convention, and on motion of Mr. Gorman, a recess of one hour was taken." The Democrats apparently went into caucus once more to decide on a plan of action. When the convention reassembled, Mr. A. E. Ames offered the following resolution:
Resolved, That the president of this convention is hereby authorized to appoint a committee of five, to confer with a committee appointed by the convention, holding sessions in the representative hall of this capitol, upon the subject designated in the communication just received, and that the president is hereby authorized to communicate the action of this, to the convention over which the Hon. Mr. Balcombe presides.
Mr. Gorman immediately demanded the previous question upon the adoption of the resolution.45 Mr. Setzer and Mr. Baker attempted to block action, but in vain. The vote was taken and thirty-three favored the resolution as against seven who opposed. 46 The irreconcilable seven included delegates Baker, Barrett, Day, Setzer, Taylor, Ten voorde, and Wait, of whom Baker, Taylor, and Wait subsequently failed to sign the compromise constitution. The Democratic convention had at last gone on record as recognizing the convention at the other end of the capitol but it will be observed that the resolution was so worded as not to recognize the Republicans as the constitutional convention. President Sibley soon after announced the appointment of delegates Gorman, Brown, Holcombe, Sherburne, and Kingsbury as the Democratic members of the committee of compromise."
Certain of the Democrats were still entirely opposed to what had been done. On August 21 a resolution was introduced to require the conference committee to report “at one o'clock p. m.” with no date given.48 This resolution was adopted. As this occurred on a Friday afternoon after one o'clock and as it was not customary for the Democrats to hold Saturday afternoon sessions, it is difficult to see any purpose in the resolution except to attack the whole compromise idea. On August 27 when the compromise committee
4 Cf. Rep. Deb., p. 411. * Dem. Deb., p. 521.
Ibid. 46 Ibid., p. 523. 17 Ibid. 45 Dem. Deb., pp. 557-58.
was just about to report, Setzer made a motion to discharge the committee. 49 The motion was laid on the table. At four o'clock the same afternoon Sherburne appeared in his seat in the council chamber to report to the Democratic wing the success of the compromise committee in agreeing upon one constitution.50
5. THE WORK OF THE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE. The committee held its first meeting in the office of the secretary of the territory on the afternoon of August 18.51 The mere fact of its meeting constituted a long step toward compromise, but there were hard days yet ahead. Many obstacles had to be overcome and some of them seemed insuperable. Several of the Republican members of the committee later charged that it was Gorman who was the principal trouble-maker, that he was determined that the two conventions should not agree upon one constitution.52 Gorman, on the other hand, asserted that the Republican committee members, particularly Thomas Wilson, were guilty of a disposition to retard business and to make it more difficult.53 That there was great personal bitterness between the two men named cannot be denied, nor is it possible to believe that they kept their good humor under trying circumstances as well as the other eight members.
The committee proceeded with its work for nearly a week without serious strife. From day to day they received from the two conventions engrossed reports of the new decisions reached as to various articles and sections of the proposed constitution. With these materials they worked, harmonizing diverse proposals where they could, and selecting the better of two different provisions when they could not use both. Sometimes they added new clauses, and in several cases they left out things already agreed upon in both conventions. How far the work of fitting the different clauses into one constitution had gone at the end of the first week it is not possible to say. Galbraith said that the work of preparing the final report of the compromise committee to the conventions had "only fairly commenced” on the morning of the 26th.54 This was the day after the incident narrated below, and one day before the report was submitted to the Democratic convention.
On the 24th the compromise committee reached a crisis in its labors. The Pioneer and Democrat carried the information the next morning that “Without separating, we believe, the compromise committees yesterday came to the conclusion that they would be unable to agree on one constitution; and will probably proceed to the preparation of a plan of voting on the (two]
49 Dem. Deb., pp. 587, 595-96.