Organization of Minnesota Territory
ORGANIZATION OF MINNESOTA TERRITORY. 53
ORGANIZATION OP MINNESOTA TERRITORY.
[FROM THE "ANNALS" OF 1851.]
Wisconsin was admitted into the Union on the 29th day of
May, 1848 ; and the first public meeting in Minnesota Ter-
ritory, was held at Stillwater, on the 5th day of August,
1848, to consider whether the laws of the Territory of Wis-
consin were in force beyond the limits of that State. JOHN-
ATHAN E. McKusiCK presided at this meeting, and WILLIAM
HOLCOMBE acted as the Secretary. M. S. WILKINSON, Dr.
CARLI, DAVID LAMBERT, JACOB FISHER, and others, were
present. Sundry resolutions were adopted, and the letter
of Hon. JOHN CATLIN, who had been Secretary of the Ter-
ritory of Wisconsin, was read, as follows :
MADISON, August 22, 1848.
HON. WM. HOLCOMBE DEAR SIR :
I take the liberty to write you briefly for the purpose of ascertaining
what the citizens of the present Territory of Wisconsin desire in relation
to the organization of a Territorial Government. Congress adjourned
on the 14th inst. , without taking any steps to organize the Territory of
Minnesota, or of amending the act of 1836, organizing Wisconsin, so
that the present government could be successfully continued.
I have given Mr. BOWHON, by whom I send this, a copy of Mr. BU-
CHANAN'S opinion, by which he gives it as his opinion that the laws of
Wisconsin are in force in your Territory ; and if the laws are in force, I
think it is equally clear that the officers necessary to carry out those laws
are still in office. After the organization of the State of Michigan, but
before her admission, Gen. G. W. JONES was elected by the Territory of
Michigan, (now State of Wisconsin,) and was allowed to take his seat.
It is my opinion that if your people were to elect a delegate this fall,
he would be allowed to take his seat in December, and then a govern-
ment might be fully organized ; and unless a delegate is elected and sent
54: MINNESOTA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS.
on, I do not believe a government will be organized for several years.
You are aware of the difficulty which has prevented the organization
of Oregon for two years past ; and the same difficulty will prevent the
organization of Minnesota. If Mr. TWEEDY were to resign, (and he
would if requested,) I do not see anything to prevent my issuing a proc-
lamation for an election to fill the vacancy, as the acting Governor ; but
I should not like to do so unless the people would act under it and hold
If a delegate was elected by color of law, Congress never would in-
quire into the legality of the election.
It is the opinion of most all this way that the government of the Terri-
tory of Wisconsin still continues, although it is nearly inoperative, for
want of a court and legislature.
I write in haste, and have not time to state further the reasons which
lead me to the conclusion that the Territorial Government is still in
being ; but you can confer with Mr. BOWRON, who, I believe, is in pos
session of the views and opinions entertained here on the subject.
I shall be pleased to hear from you at your earliest convenience.
Yours very respectfully,
Judge IRVINE, Mr. MARTIN, Gen. JONES, H. N". WELLS, A. D. SMITH,
CHAS. H. LARRABEE, J. G. KNAPP, and many others, entertain the
opinion that the Territorial Government of Wisconsin was not abolished
by the admission of the State of Wisconsin, but is still in being in that
part of the former Territory not included within the limits of the State.
Gov. DEWEY told me he had no doubt on the subject.
The following is the opinion of the Hon. JAMES BUCHANAN,
Secretary of State, referred to in Mr. CATLIN'S letter, to
" The question is, whether the laws of the Territory of Wisconsin still
remain in force in that portion of it now beyond the limits of Wisconsin.
I am clearly of opinion that these laws are still in force over the ter-
ritory not embraced within the limits of the State. It cannot well be
supposed that Congress, by admitting the State of Wisconsin into the
Union, intended to deprive the citizens of the United States, beyond its
limits, of the protection of existing laws ; and there is nothing in their
legislation from which any such inference can be drawn. The difficult
question is, what officers still remain to carry those laws into execution.
It is clear to my mind that all the local officers residing in counties with-
out the State line, such as judges of probate, sheriffs, justices of the.
OKttANIZATION OF MINNESOTA TERRITORY. 55
peace, and constables, may exercise their appropriate functions as here-
tofore. Whether the general officers, such as Governor, Secretary, and
Judges, appointed for the whole of the former Territory, are authorized
to perform their duties within what remains of it, presents a question of
greater difficulty, on which I express no opinion. Whatever may be the
correct decision of this question, immediate legislation is required ; be-
cause it is very certain that Congress will never consent to maintain
.he machinery provided for the government of the entire Territory,
.nerely for the purpose of governing the twenty-five hundred or three
thousand inhabitants who reside beyond the limits of the State. "
A second public meeting took place agreeably to the fol-
lowing notice, to wit :
We, the undersigned, citizens of Minnesota Territory, impressed with
the necessity of taking measures to secure an early Territorial organiza-
tion, and that those measures should be taken by the people with unity
of action, respectfully recommend that the people of the several settle-
ments 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.
STTLLWATER, Aug. 4, 1848.
[Signed.] Louis ROBERTS, JACOB FISHER,
H. H. SIBLEY, JOHN COLLIER,
JNO. McKusicK, Jos. R. BROWN,
M. S. WILKINSON, W. HOLCOMBE,
ANSON NORTHROP, H. L. Moss,
C. CARLI, S. NELSON,
JNO. R. BREWSTER, FRANKLIN STEELE,
H. K. MCKINSTRY, P. A. R. BRACE,
JAS. D. McCoMB, HORACE JACOBS.
[Proceedings of a Territorial Convention held at the Court House at tlie town
of Stillwater, in the county of St. Croix, and Territory of Wisconsin, on the
26th day of August, 1848, in accordance with tJie above notice.
The delegates to the convention assembled at the court
house at 10 o'clock, A. M.
On motion of Mr. JOSEPH R. BROWN, the Convention was
temporarily organized by the election of M. S. WILKINSON,
Esq., of Stillwater, as President, and DAVID LAMBERT, of St.
Paul, as Secretary.
Mr. JOSEPH R. BROWN offered the following resolution :
Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to select a President,
56 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS.
two Vice Presidents, and two Secretaries as the permanent officers of
Which having been adopted, the chair appointed Messrs.
BROWN, JACKSON, FISHER, NELSON and SIBLEY, as such com-
The committee retired, and after consultation, reported
through their chairman, the following gentlemen as officer^
of the convention :
President, SAMUEL BURKLEO ; Vice Presidents, EGBERT '
KENNEDY, JOSHUA L. TAYLOR ; Secretaries, WILLIAM HOL-
COMBE, DAVID LAMBERT.
On motion of HENRY JACKSON, Esq., the report was ac-
cepted, and the committee discharged. The above named
gentlemen were then unanimously elected to fill the several
offices designated in the report.
The following resolution was then offered by Mr. JOSEPH
R. BROWN :
Resolved. That a committee of seven members be appointed to draft a
memorial to Congress, for the early organization of the Territory of Min-
nesota, and to report such further proceedings as they may think proper
for the action of this Convention.
Which was adopted. The chair appointed the following
gentlemen as members of this committee under the above
resolution, viz : Messrs. JOSEPH R. BROWN, CALVIN LEACH,
H. H. SIBLEY, S. NELSON, M. S. WILKINSON, H. JACKSON, and
H. L. Moss.
On motion of Mr. LARPENTEUR, the Convention then took
a recess until half past one o'clock, p. M.
Half past one o'clock, p. M.
Mr. J. R. BROWN, as chairman of the committee of seven^
reported a memorial to Congress, and one to the President
of the United States, on the subject of the organization of
the Territory, together with the following preamble and
ORGANIZATION OF MINNESOTA TERRITORY. 57
WHEREAS, by the admission of Wisconsin and Iowa into the Union
with the boundaries prescribed by Congress, we, the inhabitants of the
country formerly a portion of said Territories, are left without a govern-
ment or officers to administer the laws : and
WHEKEAS, by the omission of Congress to organize a separate Territo-
rial Government for the region of country which we inhabit, we are
placed in the unparalleled position of being disfranchised of the rights
and privileges which were guaranteed to us under the Ordinance of 1787 ;
and without any fault of our own, and with every desire to be governed
by laws, are in fact without adequate legal protection for our lives or
WHEREAS, having patiently awaited the action of Congress during its
late session, under the full hope and confidence that before the adjourn-
ment of that honorable body, a bill would have been passed for the or-
ganization of a Territorial Government to embrace our section of the
country, we have been disappointed in our hopes, and cannot believe
that the omission of Congress to act in the premises can proceed from
any other cause than the want of an adequate acquaintance with the posi-
tion in which we are placed, the character of the country, its population
and resources :
Therefore, be it resolved, that a memorial be addressed to the Senate
and House of Representatives in Congress assembled, and also to his Ex-
cellency, the President of the United States, respectfully requesting that
he will invite the attention of that Honorable bodj r , in his annual message,
to action in the premises.
Resolved, That a delegate be appointed by this Convention, with full
power to act, whose duty it shall be to visit Washington during the ensu-
ing session of Congress, and there to represent the interests of the pro-
posed Territory, and to urge an immediate organization of the same.
Resolved, That a committee of three persons be appointed by the Presi"
dent of this Convention, residing upon the waters of the St. Croix, and
three residing upon the waters of the Mississippi, who shall collect infor-
mation relative to the amount of business transacted and capital em-
ployed within the limits of Minnesota Territory, and forward such infor-
mation as soon as may be, to our Delegate.
Resolved, That there shall be a committee of seven appointed by the
President of this Convention to act as a central committee, whose duty
it shall be to correspond with our Delegate at Washington, and to adopt
all other proper means to forward the objects of this Convention.
The memorials, preamble and resolutions were severally
read and unanimously adopted.
58 ' MINNESOTA HISTOEICAL COLLECTIONS.
On motion of Mr. WILKINSON, the Convention then pro-
ceeded to the election of a delegate to represent the inter-
ests of the Territory at Washington. ;
On the first ballot, Mr. H. H. SIBLEY, having received a
majority of all the votes cast, was, on motion of Jos. R.
BROWN, declared unanimously elected by the Convention.
The chair appointed Messrs. J. R. BROWN and P. A. R.
BRACE to wait on Mr. SIBLEY and inform him of his election-
Mr. SIBLEY then made his appearance in the Convention,
and accepted the office conferred upon him in a few brief
and appropriate remarks.
Mr. WILKINSON offered the following resolution, which
was adopted :
Resolved, That the thanks of this Convention be rendered to BENJAMIN
H. CHEEVER, Esq. , for the exertions which he used at Washington city
last winter, to procure the passage of a bill through Congress for the or-
ganization of the Territory of Minnesota.
The chair announced the following gentlemen as the com-
mittee to collect information as to business, capital, &c. :
On the Mississippi, Messrs. STEELE, JACKSON and HURT-
On the St. Croix, Messrs. HOLCOMBE, WALKER and
Also, the following gentlemen to constitute the centra^
H. L. Moss, DAVID LAMBERT, FRANKLIN STEELE, LEVI
HCRTZELL, S. NELSON, ORANGE WALKER, JOSHUA L. TAYLOR.
Mr. BROWN submitted the following resolution, which was
Resolved, That the proceedings of this Convention be signed by the
officers thereof, and forwarded by the Secretaries to the editors of the
Prairie du Chien Patriot, the Madison, Dubuque and Galena papers, and
the Washinton Union and National Intelligence)', with a request for publi
Mr. WILKINSON offered the following resolution, which
was adopted :
ORGANIZATION OF MINNESOTA TERRITORY. 59
Resolved, That the President of this Convention is required to issue a
certificate to H. H. SIBLBY, signed by himself, the Vice Presidents and
Secretaries, certifying that he is a duly elected Delegate under resolution
and action of this Convention.
On motion of JOSEPH R. BROWN, the following resolution
was adopted :
Resolved, That our Delegate be requested to cause the Orthography of
MINNESOTA (when the organization of the Territory shall be effected) to-
be according to that used in this resolution.
Mr. Moss offered the following resolution which was
Resolved, That the Secretaries prepare copies of the memorials to the
President of the United States, and to Congress, adopted by this Conven-
tion, with the signatures of members attached thereto, and furnish the
same to Mr. H. H. SIBLBY, our Delegate, before his departure for Wash-
The memorials were then signed by all the delegates to
the Convention, amounting to sixty-one signatures.
Mr. WILKINSON moved a vote of thanks to the officers of
the Convention, which was ordered.
On motion of Mr. Moss, the Convention adjourned sine
MEMORIAL TO HIS EXCELLENCY JAMES K. POLK, PRESI-
DENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
Your memorialists, citizens of the Territory north of the North West-
ern 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 ; and a judicial circuit, having within
its limits a seat of justice, where sessions of the District Court have
been held, and the records of the court are deposited, had been estab-
That this region of country is settled by a population of nearly 5,000
persons who are engaged in various industrial pursuits; that it contains
60 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS.
valuable pine forests, excellent arable land, mineral treasures, almost un-
equalled facilities for mills and manufactories, and possessing an exceed-
ingly healthful climate, is capable of sustaining a dense and prosperous
population; that its population is now constantly and rapidly increasing,
and is characterized by industry, energy and sobriety.
That by the admission of Wisconsin into the Union with the bounda-
ries prescribed by Congress, and the omission by that body to pass a law
for the organization of a new Territory, embracing the portion of coun-
try 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, virtu-
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 ex-
tends, and all the operations of business are embarrassed.
Your memorialists would respectfully represent, that even in a well-
ordered and law-abiding community, such as they feel pride in declaring
their own to be, such a state of affairs is fraught with evils and dangers.
Its continuance will tend to prevent the immigration of the more valuable
class of citizens of the United States, while it will open a door of invi-
tation and allurement to the lawless and desperate. It will foster dis-
honest and disorderly principles and actions among their citizens, and if
suffered to exist for a long period, will bring ruin upon a prosperous and
They would further represent, that having been disappointed in their
confident hopes that Congress would by its action at the late session of
that Honorable body, have relieved them from the painful position in
which they are placed, by the passage of a law for the organization of a
new Territory in the limits of which they should have been embraced,
they now most respectfully lay their case before the highest Executive
authority, earnestly asking that your Excellency will 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.
And your memorialists will ever pray, &c.
Joseph R. Brown, Crow Wing. Henry H. Sibley, Mendota.
A. L. Larpenteur, St. Pauls. H. Jackson, St. Pauls.
C. F. Leach, Stillwater. Jacob Fisher, Stillwater.
H. L. Moss, do. William Foreman, do
Morton S. Wilkinson, Still-water. R.B.Johnson, do
David Lambert, St. Pauls. Mah Ion Black, do
W. Holcombe, Stillwater. W. R. Vail, do
J. W. Simpson, St. Pauls. H. K. McKinstry, do
ORGANIZATION OF MINNESOTA TERRITORY. 61
S. Nelson, Still-water. Joseph Rondo, Sank Rapid*,
C. Carli, do H. Chevri, Raccicot.
Wm. Scinchfield, do Peter Quinn, do
John Day, do John Banfleld, Rice Creek.
John Morgan do David T. Sloan, Sauk Rapids.
Louis Robert, St. Pauls. D. T. Holmes, do
Joshua L. Taylor, Falle of St. Croix. West Wm. Aitkin, Little Rock.
Side. James R. Clewett, St. Pauls.
Samuel Burkleo, Stillwater. Edward Blake, Spunk Creek.
Robert Kennedy, Pa. Farm. Michael Phelan, Crow Wing.
William Willim, Stillwater. J. B. Cory, Carnelian Lake.
Wm. R. Brown, Red Rock Prairie. N. B. Ferrell, Rum River.
John A. Ford, do P. Flinn, do
Jamee S. Norris, Cottage Grove. John W. McLaughlin, Cottage Grove.
P. A. R. Brace, Stillwater. Richard McDonald, Little Rock.
A. R. French, near St. Anthony Falls. James D. McComb, Point Douglas.
Stephen Denoyer, do Samuel F. Brown, Boles' Mill.
Vetal Gnerin, St. Pauls. Edward Phalen, Prospect Hill."
David Hebert, do Wm. G. Carter, do
Oliver Ropseau, do Francis Morran, Gervais' Mill.
Andre Godfrey, do James Patten, Ft. Douglas.
Joseph Reeh, St. Anthony. Peter Gervais, Gervais' Mill.
Paschal St. Martin, do D. McDonald, Crow Wing.
Hon. JOHN H. TWEEDY, having resigned his office of Dele-
gate to Congress, on Sept. 18th, 1848, Hon. JOHN CATLIN,
claiming to be acting Governor of Wisconsin Territory, issued
on Oct. 9th, a proclamation dated at Stillwater, where he
was temporarily residing, ordering a special election at that
place to fill the vacancy.] Said election was accordingly
held on the 30th day of October, 1848. Hon. H. H. SIBLEY
being elected the delegate, attended the session of Congress
of 1848-9 as such, and after the adjournment thereof, publish-
ed [in the Minnesota Pioneer] an address to the people of
Minnesota Territory, from which we extract. Mr. SIBLEY
says in that address :
" I arrived in Washington two days before Congress con-
vened, and I soon became convinced that my admission as
Delegate was extremely uncertain, in fact I may say abso-
lutely improbable.* My credentials were presented on the
[ * In an address before the first annual banquet of the "Old Settlers' Association of
Minnesota," June 1, 1858, Gov. Sibley referred to the difficulties attending the organiza-
tion of the Territory, as follows :]
"I desire that none of you ehall ever experience more doubt or distress of mind than
I felt, when, as a delegate elect from the Territory of Wisconsin, I took the route to
Washington City, in 1848. with a view to secure a' seat in the House of Representatives,
and the subsequent passage of .in act for the establishment of Minnesota. I was then
an utter stranger to all except two or three of the public men of the country. It so
happened that I fell in with pome members of Congress, who were also on their way to
the Federal C'ly, and among others was Htm. John Wentworth, commonly called "Long
John." He manifested much interest in my mission, but advised me by no means to
attempt to be admitted to a seat as a delegate, but rather to act as a lobby member, and
by so doing, the passage of the Minnesota Bill would, in his opinion, be facilitated. Mr.
Wentworth was a good friend of our Territory, and aided much in achieving the final
62 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS.
first day of the session by the Hon. JAMES WILSON, of New
Hampshire, in whose hands they were placed, because he
had formerly resided in Iowa, and might be supposed to be
better informed, as to our situation and geographical position,
than any other member. Yet though the case was by him
set forth in a clear and strong light, and no objection was
raised to my admission, my claim was referred to the
committee on elections, with instructions to examine and re-
port thereon. I will not enter into a detail of the mortifica-
tions and vexatious delays to which I was subjected from that
time until the question was decided, six weeks after.
Although permitted through courtesy to occupy a seat in the
House, I was allowed none of the privileges of a Delegate,
and indeed I was little more than a lobby member. Mean-
while, my claim was resisted with bitter pertinacity by cer-
tain individuals of the committee, particularly by the Hon.
Mr. BOYDEN, of North Carolina, who made a long and labored
argument against my right to a seat, and ridiculed the pre-
tension that a Territorial organization still existed in the
favorable result, but I differed with him in opinion, when he gave me the counsel I hare
mentioned, and you all know that after severe struggles and considerable delay, I was
allowed a seat as the Delegate to Congress from Wisconsin Territory.
ganize Minnesota first passed the Senate and was sent to the House. The Senate, being
then, as now, democratic, and the House of Representatives being composed of a ma-
jority of whigs. The latter amended the bill so as to take effect on the 10th of March
instead of from the day of its passage, as fixed in the bill as it passed the Senate. Mr.
Folk's administration was about to go out and that of General Taylor to succeed it. The
Senate desired to give the appointment of the officers of the new territory to Mr. Polk
while the House was as persistent in its own amendment, which would give the offices
to the new administration. Thus the bill was suspended between the two bodies, and
would probably be killed. The people of Minnesota should regard the Department
of the Interior with peculiar interest, for the creation of that new division of the public
service carried with it our bill, in the manner following :
The bill for the formation of a HOAV department called the "Home" or "Interior" De-
partment, passed the House ; and towards the close of the session its fate was to be de-
cided in the Senate. Several of the democratic senators, although not decided in their
opposition, cared little whether a measure which bestowed upon the incoming adminis-
tration a large additional amount of patronage, would be successful or not. It was while
laboring under great apprehensions lest the Minnesota bill should be defeated, that I
chanced to find myself in the Senate. I expressed my fears to several of the democratic
senators, who were my personal friends, and they, to the number of five or six, author-
ized me to say to the whig leaders in the House, that unless that body receded from its
amendment, and thus permitted Minnesota to be organized, they would cast their rotes
against the bill for the formation of the Interior Department. I hastened back to the
House, called together several of the prominent Whig members, and informed them of
thestalfe of affairs. Satisfied that the votes of the senators I named would turn the whole
ecale for or against a measure they particularly desired should succeed, they went to
work in the House, and produced so great a change in a short time, that a motion to
recede from their amendment to the senate bill was adopted the same evening, by a
majority of sonio thirty or forty, and into our infant Territory was breathed the breath
ORGANIZATION OF MINNESOTA TERRITORY. 63
country north and west of the State of Wisconsin. I made
a reply before the committee, the substance of which will be
found appended to this address. You can judge whether
your rights were therein properly sustained and defended.
Finally, the majority of the committee reported in my favor,
and the minority presented a strong counter protest. On
the 15th of January, the subject was brought before the
House, and the resolution introduced by the majority of the
committee was adopted by a strong vote, which admitted
me to the full enjoyment of the privileges of a Delegate. I
should have mentioned that my argument, in answer to the
speech of Mr. BOYDEN was made the basis of the report of
the committee on elections, a copy having been furnished by
me to the Chairman at his request.
Notwithstanding the decision of the House of Representa-
tives, which recognized me as the Representative of Wis-
consin Territory, it was publicly stated by many members
who had voted for my reception, that they did not intend
thereby to admit the existence of an organization there, but
had been actuated merely by motives of courtesy. This
fact was made evident but a few days subsequently, when
one of my opponents, being determined to test the question,
moved to add an item to the general appropriation bill for
defraying the expenses of Wisconsin Territory for the en-
suing year, which motion was negatived by a large majority.
The House was then taunted with having admitted a
Delegate to represent a territory which had in reality no
The great object to which I turned my attention was the
bill for the organization of Minnesota Territory. I was
kindly allowed, by the committee on Territories of the Sen-
ate, to change certain provisions of the bill, so as to meet
the wishes of my constituents, and but little difficulty was
experienced in procuring its passage by that body. But
64: MINNESOTA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS.
with the House the case was far different. The bill was
there most violently opposed. The committee on Terri-
tories had reported amendments to the Senate bill, chang-
ing the boundary of Minnesota, and making the act to take
effect on the 10th of March, instead of the day of its passage,
so as to preclude the administration of Mr. POLK from mak-
ing the appointments. I was averse to these changes, be-
cause we had already sufficient territory, without extending
our boundary to the Missouri river ; and as to the appoint-
ments, I stated that Mr. POLK would only exercise the right
to nominate two or three of the officers, and that under any
circumstances the proposed amendment was to my view, a
breach of delicacy and propriety ; but in both points I was
An effort was made, in committee, to append the Wilmot
Proviso to the Territorial bill ; but this I resisted, as I
determined, so far as it was in my power, not to allow it to
be clogged by a provision wholly superfluous, as the intro-
duction of slavery was prohibited on the east of the Mis-
sissippi by the ordinance of 1787, and on the west of that
river, by the act of 1819, establishing the Missouri line.
The proposition was therefore voted down before the bill was
reported to the House, but was brought in as an amendment
by the minority of the committee, and was only kept from
being adopted, and producing consequently a fierce and
angry discussion,which would have resulted in the loss of the
bill, by my moving and refusing to withdraw the previous
question, which cut off all amendments. On the 22d of
February, I moved that the rules of the House be suspended*
to enable me to submit a motion, that a committee of the
[* The following circular, of which a copy ie on file among the papers of this Society,
was placed on the desk of each member of the House, in order to aid the motion referred
ORGANIZATION OF MINNESOTA TERRITORY. 65
whole be discharged from the further consideration of the
bill for the organization of Minnesota Territory, so as to put
it upon its passage. The rules were suspended by a vote of
100 to 16, and the struggle then commenced upon my mov-
ing the previous question. I turned a deaf ear to all
entreaties to withdraw it, and I thereby incurred the ire of
those who were inimical to the bill. But after an attempt
to lay it on the table, or in other words, to defeat it, which
was unsuccessful, it was finally ordered to a third reading,
and all opposition to it ceased. It was finally passed on the
2d of March, and sent to the Senate, which body refused to
concur in the House amendment, changing the date when
the bill was to take effect. By great exertion on the part of
my friends and myself, the House was at length persuaded
to recede^from its amendment, and the bill was passed and
became a law on the 3d of March, 1849."
* * *****
The removal of the Land Office to Stillwater, was only
effected after much delay and difficulty, as a remonstrance
had been made by the members of the Wisconsin Legislature,
and sent to Senator WALKER, against its being removed out
of the limits of the State. This obstacle was eventually
surmounted by the establishment of an additional Land
District in Wisconsin, the location of which office has been
made at Willow river. A weekly mail has been granted us
by the Postmaster General, at my earnest and repeated
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, )
Saturday, Feb. 17, 1849. 5
SIR :~It is not probable that the Bill for the organization of Minnesota Territory,
will be reached in the order ol'bueiness before the Committee of the Whole. As a failure
of this Bill wonld be a most serious calamity to the people of that Territory, I take the
liberty to appeal to your kind feelings in their behalf, to sustain me in a motion I shall
make on Monday to suspend the rules, that the Bill may be taken up and passed. It is
not probable that any debate will take place upon it.
I am, sir. very respectfully,
Your obedient servant
H. H. SIBLEY.]
66 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS.
solicitation. I was aided in obtaining this grant by the
gentlemen composing the Iowa and Wisconsin delegations.
I offered a resolution in the House, which was adopted, to
instruct the Committee on the Post Office to inquire into
the expediency of establishing a post route from Fort
Snelling to Fort Gaines, also to instruct the Committee of
Indian Affairs to inquire into the expediency of extending
the laws of the United States over the Northwest tribes, so
as to make all amenable to the proper tribunals, and there-
by put a stop to the murders and other crimes habitually
perpetrated among them. I also drew up a bill which was
presented in the Senate by Hon. ROBERT SMITH, appropria-
ting $12,000 for the construction of a road from the St.
Louis river of Lake Superior, to St. Paul and to Point
Douglass via the Marine Mills and Still water. There was
not sufficient time to push these measures through Congress
at this short session ; but they will doubtless be effected
next winter, as I do not apprehend any difficulty will
be thrown in the way of their passage. Much business ap-
pertaining to individuals and to private claims have also
been entrusted to me, and I have given it as great a share of
my attention as other and more important duties would
Having been furnished with a power of attorney, signed
by a large number of Sioux mixed bloods, to dispose of their
lands at Lake Pepin, I waited upon the Secretary of War and
Commissioner of Indian Affairs repeatedly, with a hope of
procuring their concurrence in the furtherance of this
object. It was finally decided by the former, that as a
change of Administration was so soon to take place, it
would not be proper for him to enter into any negotiations
with me ; and he likewise objected, that as many of the
signatures were in the same hand writing, and only witnessed
by two persons, that the letter of attorney would not be
ORGANIZATION OF MINNESOTA TERRITORY. 67
considered valid in law. I then made the attempt to pro-
cure an item to be appended to the General Appropriation
Bill, for a sufficient sum to defray the expenses of making a
treaty with the owners of the Lake Pepin tract, and for ne-
gotiating a general treaty with the Sioux Indians.
In the first place, I assert as a proposition which cannot
be contradicted, that your Delegate would not have been ad-
mitted to a seat if he had appeared there as elected by a
party, and that his defeat would have involved the failure
of the Minnesota bill, and necessarily of other important
projects which were committed solely to his care. I do not
make this declaration in any self-gratulation or conceit.
There are others among you, who, with the same advan-
tages and the same means, would have performed as much
as I have done. But I refer to the fact to illustrate the
wisdom of your determination to draw no party lines at the
late election. Chosen by the people without regard to the
distinctions of Whig or Democrat, my course here has been
shaped in exact accordance with that determination. My
rule was to keep my ears open and my mouth shut, whenever
questions were discussed of a party character, or other mat-
ters not appertaining in any waj r to my own region of country.
You are all aware that I appeared before the people as a
candidate opposed to drawing party lines. I believed then,
and I believe now, that no such distinctions should be made
in a Territory, the Delegate of which has no vote, and whose
policy is to make himself popular with all parties. When
the time comes, be it sooner or later, that we shall have a
population sufficient to justify us in looking forward to our
admission into the Union at an early day, then, in my view,
will be the proper period to mould the political complexion
of the State. My own opinions on points of national policy,
are as distinct and well-defined as those of any other man.
68 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS.
Minnesota now occupies no unenviable position. The
Government granted us, secures us all in the full possession
of privileges almost if not fully equal to those enjoyed by
the people of the States. With a Legislative Council elected
from among our own citizens, our own judicial tribunals,
with a large appropriation for the construction of public
buildings, and for a public librar} 7 , with ample provision for
defraying the expenses of the Territorial Government, and
with the right of representation in the Halls of Congress,
surely we can have no cause of complaint so far as our po-
litical situation is concerned. It is for ourselves, by a wise,
careful, and practical legislation, and by the improving of
the advantages we possess, to keep inviolate the public faith,
and to hasten the time when the star of Minnesota, which
now but twinkles in the political firmament, shall shine bril-
liantly in the constellation of our confederated States.
Return to Statewide Resources
Return to Minnesota Home
© 2010 Trails to the Past & Jeanne Hicks Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000