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both to a seat and a half vote, upon which the free soilers withdrew and nominated Martin Van Buren for president, and Charles Francis Adams for vice president. The democrats nominated General Cass for president, and William 0. Butler, of Kentucky, for vice president. At that election Van Buren received a popular vote of nearly 300,000, which defeated General Cass.
Public feeling had been greatly intensified at the effort of the Wilmot proviso men to secure the restriction of slavery in the organic acts of the new territories, to allay which the whig party, under the leadership of General Taylor, undertook to establish a more pacific
This doctrine is comprised in the message sent the house in response to a resolution of inquiry on the 21st day of January, 1850, and in which he recognizes the right of California and New Mexico to perfect, form, and adopt such constitutions as their people may choose, subject only to the constitution of the United States.
On the 13th of February afterward, he communicated to congress the free constitution of California. There then remained only Utah, New Mexico, the District of Columbia, and the unorganized territories. Propositions for their adjustment were submitted by Henry Clay and John Bell, provoking extended discussion in both houses.
These propositions were referred to a committee of thirteen, of which Mr. Clay was chairman, on the 28th of February, and their terms were held under consideration to May the 8th, when an extended report covering the many branches of the subject was made by Mr. Clay, the chairman. This report contained the celebrated Omnibus : bill, which was afterwards rejected, and the compromise was finally effected on the original proposition of the great Kentuckian. These included the admission of California on her constitution, an adjustment of the boundary of Texas, and the organization of the territories of Utah and New Mexico. The organization of New Mexico had been the battle field, and among other things it was finally provided “that when admitted as a state, the said territory or any portion of the same, shall be received into the union, with or without slavery, as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission.” This is known as the compromise of 1850, and was generally understood by one school of politicians, to repeal the compromise of 1820. This compromise had long been construed as impairing the rights of the slaveholder,
The consideration of the restriction of slavery from newly acquired territories was raised on different occasions after the introduction of the Wilmot proviso, but the fear that the prosecution of the Mexican war might be impeded, restraining many from voting in its favor until after the treaty of peace had made secure the coveted areas of New Mexico and California, and other lands which were included in its terms. Slavery was at this time considered by many to be upon an equal footing with freedom, and the questions between the two were considered to be at rest. The free democratic vote of John P. Hale, in 1852, was consequently about 100,000 less than that of Van Buren four years before. The general disposition was more pacific and quiet, and by the year 1854, it was supposed to have subsided altogether.
In the formation of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the people were left free to choose for themselves upon this question, and the free soil doctrine prevailed.
THE BEGINNING OF LINCOLN AND LANCASTER COUNTY.
By W. W. Cox.
[Read before a meeting of the Society, January 10, 1888.]
In the last days of June, 1861, we chanced to meet William T. Donevan on the streets of Nebraska City, and upon our learning that he lived on Salt Creek and in the neighborhood of the wonderful salt basins, we speedily arranged to accompany him, that we might see for ourself the country and the basins of which we had heard so much. If we remember correctly, after passing the old Major's farm four miles out, we passed over an unbroken wilderness, save Wilson's ranche at Wilson's Creek, until we reached McKee's ranche on the Nemaha, where widow McKee and her sons lived. James Iler also lived near the same point. This was twenty miles out, and near the present town of Syracuse. The next improvement, was that of John Roberts on the Nemaha, near the present site of Palmyra, and five miles farther to the West lived Mr. Meecham, a weakkneed Mormon that had fallen out by the way. These were all the people that we saw on that trip until we reached Salt Creek. After enjoying the hospitalities of our friends here for the night, a somewhat novel mode of conveyance was improvised for our trip to the Basin. A tongue was fastened to the hind axle of a wagon, and a pair of springs were made of short ash sticks, and a board across the ends of the sticks for a seat, and our carriage was complete, and Buck and Bright served for motive power, and on the second day of July, 1861, we followed a dim track down to Lincoln—no, to Lancasterno, but down Salt Creek (we hardly ever go up Salt Creek), to the mouth of Oak Creek, where we forded the stream. There was at the time a magnificent grove of honey locust timber on the west side of Salt Creek, and just south of Oak Creek, and a little to the south of the foot of O street in the large bend of the creek, there were perhaps a hundred majestic elms and cotton woods, with here and there a hackberry and honey locust. Those lovely groves would now, if they could have remained in their natural grandeur and beauty as we saw them, be of priceless value to the city for a park. Joseph, the elder son of Mr. Donevan, was our teamster and guide. The big flies that infested the low bottoms were a great help as persuaders to our oxen; and at times our ride was exciting in the extreme, as the oxen would dart first to the right, then to the left, to get the benefit of a brush to rid themselves of the flies.
It brings peculiar thoughts to mind as we look around us now, and consider the changes that twenty-six years have wrought. One dim track only crossed the sight of the future city from the east to west, that had been made by hunters and salt pilgrims, and the one already mentioned, running up and down the creek. As we viewed the land upon which now stands this great city we had the exciting pleasure of seeing for the first time a large drove of the beautiful antelope cantering across the prairie just about where the Government Square is. We forded salt Creek just by the junction of Oak Creek, and what a struggle we had in making our way through the tall suntlowers between the ford and the Basin. There was something enchanting about the scene that met our eyes. The fresh breeze sweeping over the salt basins reminded us of the morning breezes of the ocean beach. The Basin was as smooth as glass, and resembled a slab of highly polished clouded marble. The wrecks of some old salt furnaces and two deserted cabins were the only signs of civilization, all was wild and solitary: but our soul was filled with rapturous delight. The geese, brant, and pelicans had undisputed sway, and the air was filled with their shrill notes.
The nearest human habitation to either the basins or the present city was that of Mr. Donevan on the Caldwell place on Salt Creek, about five miies up the creek, or south of the ford, Joel Mason lived a mile further up. Richard Wallingford lived at his present home. A. J. Wallingford also lived just across the creek. John Cadman lived just across the county line, as the counties were first constituted, in eld Clay County, and where the village of Saltillo now stands. Dr. Maxwell lived in that neighborhood, also Festus Reed, and where Roca now stands, J. L. Davidson and the Pray family had located. Wm. Shirly on Stevens Creek was the nearest settler to the eastward. Charles Retslef and John Wedencamp, also Judge J. D. Maine, held the fort a little further up the creek, and Aaron Wood was located the game.
near the head of Stevens Creek. John and Louis Loder lived down Salt Creek near Waverly, also Micheal Shea and James Moran. To the westward it was a complete wilderness.
In company with Darwin Peckham (now of Lincoln) we commenced making salt on the 20th of August, 1861. We pre-empted one of the log cabins and batched it during the fall. Salt was very scarce in war times, and was high in price; and of a necessity great numbers of people came to scrape salt. They came from all the settled portions of the territory, from Kansas, Missouri, and as far east as central Iowa. At the time of the second visit, we found the roads well broken by pilgrims in the search of salt. Going for salt in those days was like going a fishing. It was all in luck. If the weather was perfectly dry, they could get plenty of it; for it could be scraped up by the wagon load; but three minutes rain would end
We have seen a drove of men that came a full hundred miles and arrive just in time to see a little rain clear all the salt off the basin in a moment, and they left to hold an empty sack. We found a goodly number there when we arrived, and they were holding the empty sack; for it had just rained, and the basin was as black as ink. We remember Milton Langdon as one of the disconsolate pilgrims. The next morning, all except our party pulled out, and "we were monarchs of all we surveyed.” We immediately built a small furnace, made a sheet iron salt pan, and began boiling salt; and by the time the next drove of pilgrims came, we had salt to trade or sell them. Many farmers would bring their sorghum pans to make their own salt, and when they would get enough, or get tired, we would trade salt for their pans and all their spare provisions. When the weather was dry, many would scrape up more than they could haul home, and we would trade for their scrapings at twenty-five cents per hundred. In dry times we would accumulate a mountain of scraped salt, and as soon as the first rain came, our scrapings would be worth from fifty cents to one dollar per hundred. Pilgrims would grab for it. They brought up all manner of provisions to trade for it, meat, flour, chickens, butter, fruit, potatoes, eggs, and others were willing to go to the groves and cut and haul wood and trade Others would haul up a large pile of wood and then rent our furnaces for the night, and would work all night, and thus get a supply. So we had salt to sell, scrapings to sell, furnaces to