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GOVERNOR MARK W. IZARD.
Feb. 20, 1855 to Oct. 25, 1857.
In the illustrated history of Nebraska, a writer quoting from the Omaha Herald, proceeds as follows: "Mark W. Izard, who came into the Territory as United States marshal, was appointed successor to Governor Burt, and the ball was given in honor of his excellency." It might be here parenthetically stated that when the governor was to read his inaugural message he arranged it so that a negro was to announce his ap proach to the legislative chamber, by saying, "Mr. Speaker, the Governor is now approaching"; but forgetting his text he electrified the assembled wisdom with, "Mr. Speaker, de Gub'ner hab done come." The following is from the Herald:
Izard was a stately character physically; mentally, rather weak, and felt a lively sense of the dignity with which the appointment clothed him. He had never known such an honor before, and it bore upon him heavily. To the few persons who then constituted the population of the city, the governor was careful to intimate a desire to have his gubernatorial advent suitably celebrated. The factious and wary Cuming suggested the idea of giving Izard an executive ball. The larger of the two rooms, which then constituted the building, was the theatre of a scene perhaps the most ludicrous that was ever witnessed in the history of public receptions. The room had a single coat of what was called plastering, composed of a frozen mixture of mud and ice, and a very thin coating at that. The floor was rough and unplaned, and not altogether safe for those who preferred the upright position. It had been energetically scrubbed for the occasion. The night being dreadfully cold and the heating apparatus failing to warm the room, the water froze upon the floor and could not be melted by any then known process. Rough cottonwood boards on either side of the room were substituted for chairs. The hour of seven having arrived, the grand company began to assemble. Long before the appointed hour his Arkansas excellency appeared in the dancing hall. He and Jim Orton and "the band" of Council Bluffs reached the scene about the same moment.
The governor was very polite to Jim, and Jim was just "tight"
On the 20th day of February, 1855, the successor of Governor Burt having arrived, Secretary Cuming introduced him to the legislature in a most complimentary speech, which was replied to in a manner indicating that "honors were easy," and eulogiums at par.
MR. CUMING: We congratulate you and ourselves, Sir, that
tion of the popular will which has already fixed the west-
To which the governor replied:
I return my sincere thanks to you for the kind and compli-
These few complimentary extracts may suffice as introductory to an official acquaintance and a prelude to the governor's first message" of February 27, 1855, which ran as follows:
The circumstances under which I make this, my first official communication to your honorable body, are somewhat peculiar, my arrival in the Territory having been delayed by causes entirely beyond my control, until a late day of the session. I cannot flatter myself that I am officially familiar with the progress already made, to indicate a course of policy for the government of your future actions, with as much clearness and precision as I could desire, but finding the session fast drawing to a close, and the more important matters of legislation which are of vital interest to the people of the Territory, yet in their incipient state, or wholly untouched, I feel it my duty to call your attention to the subject, and recommend to your favorable consideration such measures as I deem important for the speedy organization of the Territory, and future peace and harmony of our young and growing community.
1 Council Journal, 1st session, 78.
2 Council Journal, 1st session, 78, 79.
3 Council Journal, 1st session, 97-99.
The length of the session being limited to forty days by the organic act, he recommended that the code of Iowa for civil and criminal practice be adopted, and that a general election law be framed, and a system of territorial revenue be established, and rules and regulations prescribed for defining the rights of settlers under the act of Congress. There was a most pressing necessity for the admonition against special legislation, instead of general laws, for all manner of persons were under a frenzy of excitement in order to acquire charters for banks, ferries and endless corporations, the erection of counties and location of towns, and for the permanent establishment of the capital, whereby a fictitious value should at once be attached to real estate, and vast fortunes amassed. The legislature then in session was not responsible to any settled and well defined constituencies; and many members were citizens of other states, mere adventurers, who, being on prospecting tours, found time to take part in the first organization. On the eighth day of the session, charges were made against six members of the council for want of citizenship, and one for being a minor, leaving six to assume valid citizenship; and inasmuch as a large immigration was expected before another election, a preamble and resolutions were introduced in the council suggesting a general resignation of the members and a new election.
Closing his message, the governor said:
Having the fullest confidence in your wisdom, integrity and patriotism, I invoke the blessing of the Divine Being upon your deliberations and look forward with lively anticipations for the result of this, the first legislative assembly of the Territory of Nebraska, to bring honor and prosperity upon her people, and invite our friends from abroad to come in and share with us the blessings of a government founded upon the eternal principles of popular sovereignty, and I trust that you will always find in me a faithful co-worker in seeking to effect these desirable objects.
During this first session a report was made on the subject of prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors, of which two paragraphs will show the drift:
That in their opinion, where the people are prepared and public sentiment sufficiently in favor of a prohibitory law to fully sustain and enforce it, such a law would be productive of the best results to the community.
much, however, as we may be in favor of a prohibitory law,
The house of representatives having passed a bill excluding free negroes from obtaining a settlement in the territory, it was finally indefinitely postponed in the council by a vote of 7 against 4. On the 19th day of December, 1855, Governor Izard delivered his second message1 to the legislature, and as the facts of history were few, and the realms of fiction unbounded, he dealt in the imaginary creations of the present and the gorgeous realizations of the future. The infant territory was prosperous, the early organization was of bold and energetic measures, the principles of "popular sovereignty" vindicated, the people happy in a degree heretofore unexampled, while towns and cities were springing up as if by magic. The capitol, for which he had projected the plans, and which were worked out in detail by the accomplished architect of St. Louis, William Rumbold, would be the most imposing of buildings, and would be copied by Kansas, and admired by all master builders visiting the Territory. The territorial road westward to Kearney would be the forerunner of the Pacific railway; and the completion of the surveys of government lands would supercede the term "squatter" and we become sovereigns of the soil. Special attention. being given to the ordinary wants of the new community, and a highly colored portrait drawn of our enterprising and intelligent and patriotic neighbors of the Pacific slope, he promised hearty co-operation with the new legislature, and invoked upon them the guidance of Divine Providence.
One of the most notable acts of the body was the adoption of the report of the committee on codification of laws, and an effort to arrest the ocean tide of divorce applicants and to refer them
'Council Journal, 2nd session, 5-15.