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advised me to see him. Mr. Tipton was not there at first and did not take much part in the work of adinission. I sent up my card to Senator Sumner, and the word came down, "Show him up." I entered his room and he was sitting at his desk. There was one person present, Ben Perley Poore, whom some of you have known by reputation or have read of. He was a very prominent Washington correspondent, especially of the Washington Journal. I stated to the Senator my object in calling. He turned upon me almost fiercely and said, "How can the people of Nebraska send their messenger here and ask for the admission of Nebraska as a state with the word 'white' in its constitution?" Well, it was a rather abrupt way of meeting me. (I don't desire this to be taken down, I may some time put it in print.) "Well," I said, "it is there in the constitution, not by my agency in any respect. I don't like it there, but I had to present it just as it was delivered to me by the legislature." It was a matter that I had to meet on that ground.
I`said, "Mr. Sumner, I have my own views on that point, and I am as much opposed to the word 'white' in the constitution as you are. I have had some experience with the black people (I thought I would use the strongest arguments I could with him), and my association with them in the late war has made me pretty strongly in favor of the right of suffrage being given to the black race."
That seemed to mollify him somewhat, and I went on and explained that during my service in the war I had two colored regiments under my command for nearly a year, and three Indian regiments. There was no doubt about the character of the blacks, but the Indian regiments, my experience was, that I would not give a farthing for them. I would not trust them near an enemy unless well supported by black and white troops. I had observed these black troops regularly while in camp and on the march. The black troops had the tactics and while in camp they would study them. They were trying to be soldiers, and they succeeded. I never saw better soldiers in front of the enemy than your black troops, and I
said to the senator, "they determined me in favor of giving them the franchise. I then learned that the men who had been fighting on my side of the Union were worthy to vote by my side, and that, should I reach Nebraska again, I said it will be my aim to enact the word 'white' out of the constitution."
These remarks seemed to make a decided impression on him. I said furthermore, "We live and learn in this country. The people have to be educated. I can remember in my boyhood days reading when William Lloyd Garrison was chased through the streets of Boston by a howling mob, when the mayor of that city and police got him into the jail and turned the key upon the multitude to protect him. That was in your city of Boston. That can not be done now; things have changed. The people have changed and have improved in their own views on public affairs and public rights, and we shall change in Nebraska. The people will be ready ere long to blot that word 'white' from the constitution." All of this conversation made a decided impression on him.
In a day or two afterwards I made the suggestion first to Senator Fessenden, a man who was more respected than some of them. I suggested this: "Supposing the legislature of Nebraska should come together and agree to accept the conditions which you may impose, passing your resolution through Congress declaring that the state might be admitted if the legislature would pledge itself faithfully to treat that word 'white' as a nullity."
I will make the story short as possible. You recollect that, at the instance of Governor Saunders, a resolution which had passed both houses of Congress containing that provision, was agreed to by the legislature by a special act, the act which I took back to Washington. I came back to Nebraska advised that whenever the President should receive the act of the legislature of Nebraska, pledging itself to treat the word "white" as a nullity, he should declare Nebraska as a state admitted into the Union. I brought the act back and delivered it to him, and he issued his proclamation. During the
quarrel between the President and Congress his hands had been tied so completely that he didn't dare to hesitate to issue the proclamation because the air was full of impeachments then of the President. Nebraska was admitted in that way. Now I have stood longer than I felt able to stand, and taken up more of your time than I intended to, but I have taken this course to get out of the way of making any lengthy speech. I am glad to meet with you, and hope you will have the privilege of coming together many years in the future. [Applause.]
PRESIDENT FURNAS: We thank the Governor for his short address. I was about to call out the same gentleman he named, and now I will call on Mr. Kennard to follow up Governor Thayer.
THOMAS P. KENNARD: Mr. President, and fellow members of the Pioneer Association-I hardly know what to say before an audience of this kind. Is there anything better than to compare the past with the present, and comparing the past with the present anticipate the future? Is that right? In 1857 I lived in central Indiana. I took Horace Greeley's advice to "Go west, young man, and grow up with the country." I came across from Indianapolis to St. Louis on my way to Nebraska. I arrived there before the opening of the navigation, early in the spring. I waited for the first boat up the river. I took the old Albemarle. It was the first boat on the river from St. Louis north. How long could some of you imagine it took to go from St. Louis to Omaha? We go to
1Thomas P. Kennard, Lincoln, was the first secretary of state of Nebraska. He was born near Flushing, Ohio, December 18, 1828. His young manhood was spent in Indiana. He was admitted to the bar in that state, and opened a law office at Anderson, Indiana. On April 24, 1857, he arrived at Omaha, via Missouri river steamboat, and immediately settled at De Soto, Washington county. He was a member of the first Nebraska constitutional convention. In 1863 he was appointed deputy assessor and collector of internal revenue for the territory north of Douglas county. He was nominated for secretary of state by the convention which met in Plattsmouth in 1866, and was active in the election which resulted in the carrying of the proposition for statehood. He was one of the three commissioners to locate the capital at Lincoln, and retired from the office of secretary of state at the end of his second consecutive term. For a time he engaged in the practice of law, but soon gave that up for a business career, which he has since successfully followed. He still resides in
sleep now in the evening and get up in St. Louis. I was just fourteen days coming from St. Louis to Omaha. That is the contrast. I got to Omaha and landed there in the little village with my friend Hascall. I think it had a population of about 800 at that time. I think there was but one brick building in the little town. I stayed there over night, and the next morning I started out afoot and I walked to De Soto, twenty-two miles north.
I will be brief. Now just one other stop. I lived there for a short time, and I didn't imagine that I would ever live to see the time that Nebraska would even be knocking at the gates of the Union to become a state. I don't think there was hardly a man in a thousand, or one hundred I might say, in this territory at that time that looked forward to the time when Nebraska would be a state. Nearly everybody had come here with the idea of making something and going back to their old home, but they didn't go. Why? Why, each successive year demonstrated irresistibly the conclusion that Nebraska would be a state. The flow of immigration commenced coming in, and every avenue was filled with it, and in a few years, as the General there says, there was a proposition that we become a state. He alludes to this so I am warranted in alluding to it, I suppose. General Thayer and I, I think, did more than any other ten men in this state in the canvassing in favor of state organization. I don't mean that we had more finish, but we did more hard work than any other ten men in the state. We canvassed every county north of the Platte, and a good many of them south of the Platte, and we went out to Grand Island during that campaign, and we stayed all night with old father Hedde.
And now I will tell you what is the gospel fact. We were then at the entire outside edge of civilization and we were virtually beyond practical agriculture. I saw a load of corn there, and it was produced from what they called a certain kind of corn that they brought down there from Canada, and the nubbins were about eight inches long, and they could produce that kind of corn and haul it to Kearney, and sell it
to the soldier and make something out of it. Why, they didn't think they would ever become a state, but they were willing to risk this little corn and sell it at Kearney. But the result was, through Governor Thayer's efforts, we became a state. The people voted in favor of it.
Friend Hascall alludes to another point in the development of this country-when the legislature in their wisdom decided that to build a state they must enlarge the foundations, and they must move the capital from the city of Omaha and place it some place in the interior. In the act of Congress admitting us to the Union they had given us 500,000 acres of land to aid and assist in internal improvements, building railroads, etc. The legislature in their wisdom then provided and passed a bill that Mr. Hascall alludes to, appointing commissioners to locate the capital, and a bill providing that any railroad company organized should have, I think, 2,000 acres a mile for the first fifty miles, or something like that, I forget exactly, but it was giving so much out of this munificent gift from the general government to aid in the development of the state. The commissioners came down here and located this capital. I happened to be one of the commissioners, and on the evening after our first day's sale of lots we had a big bonfire over here about where the postoffice now stands. Standing there before an audience I made a prediction that became quite notorious at that time. I said, "I stand here now in the center of what will, in the course of time, be the Indianapolis of Nebraska. It will be the railroad center of this state." How far my prediction was verified late history and your own observation will tell.
At that time there was not a foot of railroad south of the Platte river and west of the Missouri. How did we get down here? I will tell you, brother Hascall. I lived twenty-two miles north of Omaha. The first day I would drive down to Omaha. The next day I went across the river and drove down by the way of Council Bluffs to Nebraska City, and stayed all night, and the third day I was able to reach the place