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speedily completed to the Pacific. May it form an additional
After commending the admission of the Territory as a state of the Union, and proffering co-operation in behalf of greater efficiency in the common schools, the acting governor concluded his official communication with temperate and patriotic allusions:
I should hail with joy a radical change in the rule of suffrage which would give the franchise to intelligence and patriotism wherever found, regardless of the color of its possessor. He who can read understandingly the constitution of his country, and he who has fought in its defense, of whatever race or color, should have a voice in the choice of the nation's rulers. I should therefore cheerfully concur with you in a memorial to Congress, praying for an amendment of our organic law, in accordance with this view. No change, however, should be made which would take the franchise away from any person who now enjoys it under existing laws.
At the time he delivered his message there was a peculiar significance in the following:
The kind offices of the peacemaker avail not, and the olive branch is cast aside, a withered and useless thing. How can our beloved country be united again in fact as well as in form? How can the Union be firmly re-established in the hearts and in the affections of the people of all sections? For the patriotic love of the people is the soul of the union, its preservation is essential to the very life of the nation itself. I do not believe it can be done by depriv ing eleven states of loyal representatives in the national congress, when representation is the very germ and essence of union. Only that which will win back the hearts of the southern people will give stability and enduring peace to the Republic.
In conclusion, permit me to assure you that I shall most earnestly co-operate with you in every endeavor to promote the varied interests of our Territory. Whatever measures may commend themselves to your wisdom and judgment, as
best calculated to promote the general welfare will receive my most cordial approval. Permit me to wish you a pleasant sojourn at the territorial capital, and after the labors of the session are terminated, a happy return in safety and in health, to your families and friends.
GOVERNOR ALVIN SAUNDERS.
May 15, 1861 to Mar. 1, 1867.
Gov. Alvin Saunders' claims Kentucky as his birthplace, and was born on the 12th of July, 1817. At twelve years of age he was taken by his parents to the State of Illinois, and in his 19th year united his destiny with the small village of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. With patience and luck he endured the vicissitudes of pioneer life, and as merchant's clerk and merchant, as postmaster and member of a constitutional convention, as representative of the people in the state senate and in the Chicago National Convention of 1860, which nominated Mr. Lincoln, he secured and held the implicit confidence of an honest, intelligent and patriotic community. Though of Virginia parentage and Kentucky birth, having developed an enthusiasm for "free speech, free soil, and free men," he was fully competent to stand guard on freedom's battlements during the stormy days of the Union.
After discharging the duties of Governor for a term of four years, the circumstances attending the signing of his second commission were so peculiar that they are treasured up as a sacred remembrance.
I saw Mr. Lincoln, who told me to return home, as it was
in Mr. Lincoln's name, but the appointment was actually
1 Gunnell Saunders, father of Alvin Saunders, was a native of Loudoun County, Va., who emigrated to Bourbon County, Ky., when a young man, and thence to Fleming County. His ancestry was English, and his wife, maiden name Mary Manzy, was a native of Culpepper County, Va., from French family. Alvin was one of five sons. Gunnell went to Springfield, Ill., about 1829.
Before he assumed the duties of Territorial Governor of Nebraska, May 15, 1861, ten states had passed ordinances of secession, Davis and Stephens elected president and vice-president of the Southern Confederacy, a call had been issued for 75,000 men at the north and for 32,000 at the south, Fort Sumter had been bombarded by the rebels and Massachusetts troops mobbed in Baltimore on their way to the city of Washington, and President Lincoln had ordered the blockade of southern ports.
Three days after Gov. Saunders' arrival he issued a proclamation for troops for three years' service, closing with the following emphatic language:
Efforts are being made to trample the stars and stripes, the emblem of our liberty, in the dust. Traitors are in the land busily trying to overthrow the Government of the United States, and information has been received that these same traitors are endeavoring to incite an invasion of our frontier by a savage foe. In view of these facts, I invoke the aid of every lover of his country and his home, to come promptly forward to sustain and protect the same.
His acts and messages reveal the fact that during the four years of devastating war, his thoughts were ever with the men who answered the calls for troops. Whether they were in camp or in council chamber, their wants and domestic anxieties urged him to duty and called out his ready sympathy.
In his first message to the legislature, the Governor said:
Congress, at its last session, in providing means to be used in putting down rebellion in a number of Southern States of the Union, levied a direct tax on the people. The Constitution of the United States provides that direct taxes shall be levied by Congress in proportion to the population. The proportion assigned to Nebraska amounts to nineteen thousand three hundred and twelve dollars. This tax may be assessed and collected by officers to be appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury, or may be assumed by the Territorial Government. In the latter case, a deduction of 15 per cent, from the gross amount will be allowed the Territory. I therefore recommend that you make the necessary provision for its collection by adding the gross amount to the tax levy for the coming year for
territorial purposes, or that you make such other provision
The patriotism of those who assist our country now, when
A committee to whom was referred the subject of the direct tax, reported that inasmuch as Congress allowed the Territory $20,000 per year, for legislative expenses, the legislature should not be convened during the next year, but the $20,000 should be diverted by the general government for the cancellation of the tax of $19,312.
And to show the necessity of this, they instanced the financial condition of the people, illustrating with Douglas County.
Douglas County has a mortgage debt of $800,000 hanging over her citizens, covering the majority of the real estate in the county and bearing interest at an enormous rate of from 2 to 10 per cent per month. The court records will show a judgment debt of several thousand dollars. The County has a debt of $50,000. So with the other counties throughout the Territory. Our Territorial debt is $50,000. Our taxes in every county in the Territory have been higher for three years than in any state in the Union. Inasmuch as the progress of the Government, in the suppression of the rebellion, was the all absorbing question, his second message, in 1864, contained the following:
When you were last in session the rebels claimed all of the slave states and all of the territories south of Kansas and west to California, but the Union armies have