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Whoever attempts to write history for the people of Nebraska, or sketch the career of prominent citizens, meets with many impediments. So young is the State, that many of the actors. are still in stage costume, and extremely sensitive as to any criticism upon the performers or the play. Scenes that were thrilling to them and heralded as tragic, divested of their sur roundings may innocently by strangers be classed as comical.
An eloquent author once said: "Every attempt to present on paper the splendid effects of impassioned eloquence, is like gathering up dewdrops, which appear jewels and pearls on the grass, but run to water in the hand-the essence and the elements remain, but the grace, the sparkle, and the form are gone." And so when the writer erects a statue upon the historic page and exclaims, "Behold the man!" the disappointed reader may demand, "What of the electric current that warmed the heart, illumined the eye, and flushed the cheek; what of the hopes that impelled, the fears that retarded, the placidity or turbulence that dominated the inner life?" In spite of all hindrances and discouragements, with an apology to the "old settler," and a salutation to the new-comer and his juvenile family, the writer enters upon the theme, Nebraska in Congress.
Her first appearance before the government was as a very diminutive, nameless infant in arms, when in April, 1803, France, by treaty, gave her mother Louisiana away, in marriage, to "Uncle Sam." In 1804 Louisiana was erected into two territories, called Orleans and District of Louisiana, and provision was made for
the formation of a State Constitution for the Territory of Orleans whenever the population reached 60,000. Having ac quired the specified amount in 1810, an Enabling Act was passed in 1811, and in 1812 the Territory of Orleans with the name of Louisiana was admitted into the Union as a state; leaving the balance of the purchase for future disposal.
The Louisiana purchase cost the United States $11,250,000; and such an amount due the citizens of the United States, from France, as should not exceed $3,750,000.
It was bounded north by the British possessions, south by Mexico, and west by the Rocky Mountains, and is to-day included in the states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
The name of Louisiana was changed to Missouri Territory in 1812, and later the southern part became the Territory of Arkansas. The necessary steps being taken, a part known as Missouri became a state June, 1821. As Missouri was coming in as a slave state, the free states demanded "a set-off," hence the Missouri Compromise was enacted, to quiet "slavery agitation forever," and this, when ruthlessly repealed in the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, precipitated the "death to slavery forever" struggle. By that notable act, all new states subsequently formed north of parallel of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes, dividing the Louisiana Purchase, should come in free or slave, as the people might determine. And so a protecting barrier was erected between Nebraska and slave territory for a term of thirty-three years, ending in 1854.
This same line was extended through Texas, under certain conditions, on her admission to the Union in 1845. In 1850, when the Union was endangered by the fiery discussion over the admission of California as a free state, the doctrine of non-intervention as to slavery was affirmed; and when it was enacted in the organic law of Nebraska that the Missouri Compromise was "inoperative and void," and slavery was a question exclusively for the people to settle, Senator Benton of Missouri declared the
statement was "a stump speech injected into the belly of the bill." Had Nebraska then been as far south as Kansas, border warfare would have desolated her plains, murdered citizens, and laid homes and cities in ashes.
Nebraska was introduced to congress, by name, in 1844, when a bill to define her boundaries was presented to the House of Representatives. In 1854 the step-daughter was considered of sufficient age to commence superintending her future estate, under the directions and instructions contained in a law of congress denominated the Organic Act.
NAPOLEON B. GIDDINGS.
33rd Congress, 1855; Jan. 5 to Mar. 4.
In order to "set up housekeeping" in accordance with the customs and manners of the elder sisterhood, a selection of an agent, in that behalf, was made on the 12th day of December, 1854. The student of history will remember that Napoleon Bonaparte was a prime factor in behalf of France in Mr. Jeffer son's negotiations for Louisiana, and the reader of the annals of Nebraska notes the fact that Napoleon B. Giddings, of Missouri, was har first delegate in Congress.
The election took place seven months from the date of the Organic Act of May 30th, 1854. Voting precincts had been designated at twelve places in eight counties adjacent to the Missouri River. Of 800 votes, Mr. Giddings received 377, which was a majority over any one candidate's vote, though a minority of the whole number cast. On the 5th day of January, 1855, just twenty-four days after the election, the Congressional Globe has the following entry:
Mr. Phelps of Missouri announced that the Delegate from
The term for which he was elected was to expire on the ensuing 4th of March, within about two months. A few days before the advent of Mr. Giddings to the House, Mr. Mace of Indiana introduced a bill modifying the Kansas-Nebraska law, and re-enacting the Missouri Compromise act to protect Nebraska from slavery, and for the admission of Kansas as a free state, which failed to pass. Hon. Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, formerly Senator, having to be absent for a few days, left a short speech to be read for him by a colleague, in
which he deprecated the opening up of the slavery discussion on general principles, but especially for fear of retarding emigration, which was so desirable to aid and encourage the construction of a Pacific railroad. Admitting the border ruffianism of Missouri, he claimed it was the natural product of New England Colonization Societies, from which he had from the first anticipated evil.
Bills were introduced by Mr. Giddings as follows: To establish post roads; to protect the proprietors of towns in their town sites; to establish land offices; and for surveying, marking, and opening roads. He offered amendments to establish an arsenal in Nebraska, and to allow $50,000 for public buildings. the 31st day of January he wound up his legislative career by the delivery of his maiden speech. Mr. Giddings said:
I wish to say a word or two in answer to the gentleman from Virginia in relation to the power of the governor in locating the seats of government in these territories. No such power is given to them. They are given the right to select the point at which the first legislature shall be convened; but after that it is left to the legislature to decide at what point the future capital shall be located. I hope the gentleman will not try to put restrictions on Kansas and Nebraska that have never been placed upon any other territories under the government of the United States.
A very short speech of a very short term, and so passed the Napoleon of Nebraska from public observation, returning to his home in Savannah, Missouri.