By William H. Murray
No historian can properly review the provisions of the Oklahoma Constitution without considering the Sequoyah Convention which convened at Muskogee in 1905; for some of the most important provisions of the Constitution derived their inspiration from the Sequoyah Constitution, notably: Article nine on Corporations, the method of Legislative apportionment, the Great Seal, less than a unanimous verdict of Jurors in trials of civil causes, compulsory teaching of Agriculture and Domestic Arts in the public schools, the names of many Counties in old Indian Territory, et cetera.
As Vice-President of the Sequoyah Convention of 1905 and as President of the Guthrie Constitutional Convention of 1906, I witnessed some facts of historical value, hitherto not given publication.
In 1902 a convention, representing the Chief-Executives of the Five Civilized Tribes met in Eufaula to inaugurate a movement to secure Statehood for the Indian Territory, separate from Oklahoma Territory. The Five Civilized Tribes—Chickasaws, Choctaws, Cherokees, Creeks, and Seminoles—were in great dread of Statehood with Oklahoma Territory on account of the hanging of a band of Seminoles in Pottawatomie County some years before. Many asserted the bodies of the Indians were burned. This convention was presided over, I believe by J. Hamp Tucker of McAlester. The Chickasaws were not officially represented in this convention. The convention did little beyond making speeches giving reasons for such movement, and the appointment of an Executive Committee (one from each Tribe) on Ways and Means of accomplishing their objects.
In September 1903 this Executive Committee held a meeting in Eufaula, and invited the Chickasaws to appoint a committee to co-operate with them. At this committee meeting there were present and participating: Henry Ainsley, Chairman, later drowned in the Arkansas River; Alex Posey, Secretary, the Creek poet and humorist, who was also drowned in the South Canadian in 1908 during the contest for the County seat of McIntosh County; Colonel Rogers of Fort Gibson, on the part of the Cherokees; Mr. Brown, brother of
Chief John Brown of the Seminoles; Wm. H. Murray, who was appointed by Gov. Palmar S. Mosley, on the part of the Chickasaws—I was the only white man participating. All our work was, as it were, laying ground wires, with which to charge future batteries. "Under currents" were promoted by us to the limit. We felt then it would be many years before Statehood and our object was to be "good and ready" when the propitious moment arrived. The plans outlined by Chairman Ainsley were a surprise, in the matter of wisdom and shrewdness. I regarded him as the most astute political advisor I ever knew. Had he lived, beyond doubt he would ere this ranked high in the Councils of State.
Our work of "ground wiring" was so thorough that we, ourselves, grew astonished at "live wires" encountered.
In the late fall of 1904, Gov. D. H. Johnston appointed me on the Chickasaw-Choctaw Coal Commission. My duties required me to attend the Choctaw Legislature, sitting at Tuskahoma. At the instance of George W. Scott, and Green McCurtain, the principal chief, I addressed the Choctaw Legislature on the subject of Separate Statehood. The address was timely, although our committee regarded a speech-making campaign, as yet, premature.
Early in 1905, a Cherokee Citizen, James Norman, became over-enthused and on his sole authority, issued a call for a Separate Statehood Convention. His "lighted match set the prairies on fire" all over the Five Civilized Tribes except the west half of the Chickasaw Nation, which section followed the eternal hammering of Sidney Suggs, Editor of the Ardmoreite, for Statehood with Oklahoma Territory. This call was premature for our plans, but the "fat was in the fire" and we had to act. Our committee agreed to follow the lead. In the meantime C. N. Haskell, without our knowledge and before we had time to act, invited into conference the author of the call, together with Gen. Pleasant Porter, Chief of the Creeks, Chiefs Green McCurtain, Rogers, Geo. W. Scott, Seth Corden, perhaps R. L. Owen and others and modified the terms of the premature call, by making it appear as official; it was, so far as the Cherokees, the Choctaws, and the Creeks. This call was taboo with the press of the Chickasaw Nation. I read a mere notice of it in the News of Dallas, Texas, just in time to beat the brush in two recording Districts (Dele-
gates were to be elected in mass-meeting, seven delegates from each of the several Recording Districts under the Federal Courts of the Indian Territory.) I attended to having our actions in our Recording Districts at Tishomingo wired to the Daily Press. My name appearing as chairman of the Delegation, I got a long distance telephone call from Chas. N. Haskell at Muskogee late the following afternoon, my first communication with Haskell. He asked if I would not come to Muskogee at once, via Denison, Texas, by which route by all night travel, I might arrive in Muskogee on the following afternoon. I readily agreed. In Muskogee, I met for the first time, C. N. Haskell, R. L. Owen, W. W. Hastings, P. B. Hopkins, General P. Porter, Judge Jno. R. Thomas, Dr. A. Grant Evans, O. H. P. Brewer, Morton Rutherford, Edgar de Meules, Sid Wiley and others.
The thing that distressed all was that, excepting from two Recording Districts, no others had elected delegates from the Chickasaw Nation. I knew every Separate State Advocate, consisting of Indians, inter-marrieds, and farmers in the Chickasaw Country. All the newspapers save the Chickasaw Capital, all the lawyers except myself and the noted exception of Bill Gilbert, then of Duncan, now of California, were dead set against us. If I would undertake the securing of the election of Delegates in other Recording Districts, they would put up the expense. Hastening back to the Chickasaw County, I got all the long-distance telephone lines and the Telegraph wires busy, asking our friends to meet me in some remote town from the main one of a given Recording District, on a day agreed upon. In each we quietly elected seven Delegates whose names I wired the press and thence to the next town and so on. By the end of the week all had duly elected delegates to attend the Muskogee Convention. This work was so rapid and performed with such secrecy in out-of-way towns that the opposition could not tell whether it was organized or a spontaneity.
The only printed argument for the cause, circulated to any great extent was a printed hearing before the Committee in Congress. This argument was made by Robert L. Owen and was exceedingly strong. Owen was perhaps the best informed man on all questions in the Territory.
Came the Convention. Mayor Fite welcomed the Dele-
gates and the response, as agreed upon, was delivered by the writer. I can at least say that it so impressed Mr. Graham of the St. Louis Republic that he gave especial attention to our Convention in that splendid newspaper.
It was agreed that Gen. Pleasant Porter of the Creeks should be President of the Convention and that the Chief (or his representative) of each of the other Five Tribes should be Vice-President, C. N. Haskell became Vice, in lieu of Gen. Porter, Wm. H. Murray, Vice as the personal representative of Gov. Johnston of the Chickasaws; the other three vice-presidents were Chief Green McCurtain of the Choctaws; Chief Rogers for the Cherokees; and Chief John Brown for the Seminoles. J. Hamp Tucker of McAlester, Secretary.
The Convention selected one Committee to draft the Constitution. It had some 30 or 40 members and W. W. Hastings was made its Chairman. This Committee drafted the entire Constitution and made the map of Counties through its sub-committees. Among its most prominent members were: C. N. Haskell, Judge Jno. R. Thomas, W. W. Hastings, Robt. L. Owen, Dr. A. Grant Evans, Wm. McCombs, author of the corporation provision; Joe LeHay, and others among whom were, I believe, Dr. Bushyhead, A. L. Beckett, W. S. Wiley, O. H. P. Brewer, Colonel Rogers, Hooley Bell, Benge, D. A. McDougal.
These men really drafted the whole of the Sequoyah Constitution.
It was the especial duty of C. N. Haskell and the writer to draw the map of Counties. I recall many amusing incidents of how we forced prominent lawyers to recognize our Convention, and to visit our Committee. We insisted upon their filing their petitions in writing and signed by them. This was often effected by drawing tentative County lines through the center of a town, then making changes when petitions were filed. As the map would appear in the Daily Press from day to day, more petitioners would come to Muskogee. I never had so much fun as when some lawyer of the Chickasaw Nation, who had either belittled or tried to ignore me, came to our Committee for changes in County boundaries. Whereupon I would oppose the change and Haskell favored it, or vice versa, as the circumstances demanded. When all had shown up, we then got to the serious part of our task,
writing the Constitution. In that all, I believe were as serious as the delegates to the Guthrie Convention. This is made manifest from the provisions of the document itself. We knew that it must stand before Congress above ridicule; and in harmony with the best modern thought for the protection of life, liberty, property, and the citizens' highest estimate of intelligence and progress. That our own futures in the political world depended upon just that. For this reason, neither Haskell nor I left the Convention or Committees for a moment, and we were the only persons there every moment. For days at a time, we alone were present. He lived at the Hotel in an apartment and I boarded there. Day and night we were on the bridge, and at the wheel, looking for icebergs, the shoals, and shallows of an uncharted sea. I have never regretted it, for without this experience the work so well done in the Guthrie Convention later, would have been impossible. The Sequoyah Convention gave us the outlines of an organization. The party committees made up for the most part of Railroad attorneys closed their doors against us; and but for Sequoyah Convention they had controlled the Guthrie Convention and drafted the fundamental law of Oklahoma.
The Muskogee Convention by the aid of the Farmers' Union, constrained Bob Williams to resign his attorneyship and forced Walter Ledbetter to make a bonfire of his railroad free pass. All others who failed to do so never "got a look in," until long after the free pass was outlawed and the people had forgotten who "toted" them during the formative period of the state's Fundamental Law; and sad was the day, and yet is to the people themselves, when they forgot and aided these new leaders to retire their first best friends! But such has been the bane of all Republics of History. The people have by themselves destroyed themselves!
The Sequoyah Convention in submitting its Constitution to the people for ratification also submitted the names of four candidates for Congress as its first quota of representatives—two of these were Democrats and two were Republicans—there never was displayed the least partisanship in that Convention. Both were well represented in the make up of the delegations. No one cared for party advantage.
The leader of the Sequoyah Delegation in Congress was the late C. L. Long, a Republican of Wewoka, the first postmaster there, a lovable character, an honest man; ever faith-
ful to friendship or a cause, he remained in, Washington presenting the Constitution and our voluminous petition. He got a hearing and secured the printing of both as "public documents."
The vote was strong everywhere and overwhelming save only in the west portion of the Chickasaw Nation where the opposition organized a new attack. Pretending to become "converted" they got possession of the poll books and burned them. Nevertheless, the vote was a surprise even to us—no State had ever cast so many votes upon its admission—and it was a fair election. We cautioned that since it would never have done to have gone to Congress with padded rolls.
The aid of Judge John R. Thomas, Ex-Federal Judge, and former member of Congress from Illinois was of great value, in drafting the Constitution. Whenever one of us disagreed with him and he declared his position was "Ex cathedra" we knew he was sure of his position.
The campaign for the ratification of our work brought out local speakers in every community. But the whole of the Territory was covered by C. N. Haskell, Judge Jno. R. Thomas, and the writer. In the Chickasaw Nation we encountered many unpleasant incidents—closing the public halls, sometimes the streets against us—everything in "Rough Stuff" except throwing stale eggs, was indulged in. Even the Federal Judge Hosea Townsend made it clear that members of the bar had best give us neither aid nor comfort, but as I had retired from the practice, I had no need to fondle him.
When Haskell and I made an appointment at Marietta, he ordered the Court officer to drive the crowd from the building. We deliberately selected a spot close to his hotel and proceeded to "roast" him at the delight of the crowd, especially the farmers, many of whom had come long distances. I had secretly hoped he would try to fine us as for contempt; but I apprehend he realized that such arbitrary power would result in his impeachment. He doubtless remembered the fate of a St. Louis Federal Judge many years before. He repeated the order later at Tishomingo, my home, from the bench; and in so many words told the jurors and witnesses they should get to sleep early for the morrow's court—sleep indeed for court to convene at 9 or 10 o'clock, A. M. But such discourtesies and intolerance invariably defeated themselves.
Our cause was greatly promoted by them. A notable instance of this was at our appointment of Davis at the time of a District Farmer's Union meeting. After our addresses in the evening, we were invited to the Farmer's Union Hall, where we were told the doors were closed and we could "talk among friends." I spoke! Then Haskell, then first one and the other was called for,—we were questioned, interrogated, quizzed on every phase of the subject until our train about 3:30 in the morning. These delegates (some three or four hundred of them) came from all parts of the Chickasaw Nation. After that our crowds grew in size everywhere.
When I recall the days of Federal Court Rule in the Indian Territory, I realize how sound was Jefferson's statement that if the people must choose between giving up their representatives in Law making branch or the Courts, they had best give up the former; for it would have been intolerable to have lived, at times in some Districts in the Territory without the right of Jury trials, unless one became an abject sycophant to the Court and his cohorts and I never knew a Murray that was good at that. For instance, the U. S. Commissioner (one Bradford) at Ardmore issued a warrant for the arrest of two prominent men on the authority of a letter written by an enemy, whereas under the law no warrant of arrest could be issued by any Court, except upon a sworn statement making a charge of some overt violation of the law.
To be sure every man should recognize lawfully constituted authority; but when the "authority" exceeds his legal authority, it becomes equally the citizen's duty to resist such arbitrary oppression.
Not all the Federal Judges were thus arbitrary like Raymond and Townsend, but there were exceptions, such as Judges Dickenson and Sultzberger; and Judges Hainer and Garber on the Oklahoma Territory side.
The primary reason for the opposition in the Chickasaw Country was an anti-Indian sentiment.
Personally, I cared little whether we had single or double statehood. The point was the Great United States had made the Indians a solemn promise that if they would abandon their homes and establish themselves in the western wilderness, never should Territorial or State Government include their domain without their consent. Sixteen thousand of their
dead lie buried by the wayside, enroute to their western homes, silent sad witnesses to that compact made by our Government. Certainly neither Government, Statesman, or politician should wantonly violate such a pledge. But Providence, it seems, watches over the Indians just as there is a special Providence that guards drunk men and children.
From Lincoln County north and west in Oklahoma Territory the Indians need fear ever unfair treatment from that citizenship. They were unwillingly united with better white friends, than some of their neighbors.
Haskell and I agreed that separate statehood was but a remote chance; but that the Sequoyah move would convince Congress that the Indian was quite capable of drafting instruments of law for a modern state; that the East would become alarmed, and fearing two more western states, would push an Enabling Act for one State. Just how nearly we were right can be determined by recalling the fact that the Oklahoma Enabling Act passed within twelve months.
At the completion of our work, drawing our petition, getting all properly certified to transmit to Congress, Haskell walked with me to the train and while reviewing the probable future, suddenly said, "You know many people in Oklahoma Territory and I wish you would remember this, 'The politicians of Oklahoma City and Guthrie will try to dominate the convention and shut out the Indian Territory along with western Oklahoma. When statehood comes, remember to keep "tab" on the delegates elected and for some good man over there, not allied with the machine, for president of the Convention'." To which I agreed.
I never met Haskell after (except a few moments at McAlester) until after the delegates to the Guthrie convention were all elected, nor did we exchange letters. Remembering my promises later, in October 1906, I reviewed my correspondence on "Who's Who" of the delegates elected. I saw that thirty "Farmer's Union" men on the West side, and thirty-four Sequoyah supporters on the East side had been elected as Democrats. I saw at once I would be President, whether I wanted it or no. I was the only man who could poll both elements. I wrote a letter to Haskell saying, "There are thirty 'Farmer's Union' democrats elected from Oklahoma Territory, and thirty-four Sequoyah democrats, including eleven Indians, from the Indian Territory." "Do you
know some good man from Western Oklahoma for President?" I asked Haskell in the letter and said no more. Up to then it never occurred to me to aspire for the Presidency. I wanted to be on the floor. After considering it for twenty-four hours, I concluded, in justice to our friends, I had to run or, as I considered it then, "accept it"; and that I need not be off the floor since the debate occurred in "Committee of the Whole House," whose chairman, under parliamentary law I would appoint.
I called up two friends, Harry Persons, now of California, and E. C. Patton, now of Oklahoma City, but then young lawyers of Tishomingo; took them to the stairway leading to the second floor of the old Farmer's National Bank building in Tishomingo. I said, "Boys, who will be the President of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention?" After a pause I continued, "I know." They exclaimed, "How important to know that!" and in the same breath, "Who?" "Who is he?" Coolly I said, "Your Uncle Bill." With incredulous demeanor they alternately began to question, "Where'd you get it?" "Who'll give it to you?" "I'll prove it; now exercise reason while I tell you something." Continuing, I said, "Here are the delegates elected: thirteen republicans (not twelve, as many people yet believe), one independent (but really a democrat), and ninety-eight "Straight" democrats. If the latter thirty Farmer's Union men from the West side, and thirty-four Sequoyah men from Indian Territory—sixty-four votes, clearly a majority, as sure as arithmetic, and I can poll both elements to a man." One of them said, "What will Haskell say or do?" I replied, "I wrote Haskell yesterday, giving the 'make-up' of the delegation. He knows that while the Sequoyah men would vote for him, perhaps more readily for me, the 'Farmer's Union' men on the West side only know him as a railroad-builder, and they are scared of any connection with railroads. I am the only man who can poll both. When Haskell thinks over it he will say, 'Get into the race at once'."
Inside of a week I had a letter from Robt. L. Owen saying, "Get into the race for President," and he was the first man to support me. The next day I received a telegram from Haskell saying, "Get in the race for President, come to Muskogee on first train."
My purpose in reciting these details is to explode many speculations and theories on "How and Why Bill Murray became President of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention"—the "Con Con," as we called it.
Some said it was shrewd organization ability of C. N. Haskell. Not so. True enough, had we not been united we could not have destroyed the opposition of the party machines in both territories, united with Federated Labor leaders and the Daily Press. All had combined to defeat us. Just last year I read an article in the Daily Oklahoman, stating emphatically that my election was due to a combination between Haskell and Thomas P. Gore, in which Gore was to be supported for Senator. Gore went to Guthrie to "leg" for John Young for Secretary. As a matter of fact, Gore was not for me until he reached Guthrie. He had nothing to trade and was not even a member. He went so far as to write me a letter just prior to the convention saying, "We have in mind a suitable man for President. I think you should be given the chairmanship on Public Lands."
We made no political promises to any one. We merely presented my platform and told all, we would cut new counties in both Territories and support a separate provision for prohibition, to be voted on at the same election to ratify the Constitution. There you have it—Prohibition supporting me; the Farmer's Union and Sequoyah men with sixty-four delegates. I received sixty-two votes in the democratic caucus, and Pete Hanraty twenty-six votes (one being my vote) with nine absent. The Independent had joined the caucus—making the ninety-nine members of the caucus. The nine absentees were farmers (my friends) who never realized the necessity of getting to Guthrie for the caucus, held the day before the convention, the 20th day of November, 1906.
They were my votes but lost. Then Hanraty's candidacy took from me some seven or more Sequoyah men who had a constituency of minors. Some of them I told to do so, since Hanraty was head of the miners and idolized them.
But I am a bit ahead. I said Haskell wired me to come to Muskogee and I did so. Arriving in the afternoon, I proceeded to Haskell's hotel. Shortly arrived Robert L. Owen and Mr. Looney of the Muskogee Democrat, who did the publicity "stunt" for the Sequoyah Convention so thoroughly and well.
We briefly reviewed the personnel of the elected delegates. We were not compelled to puzzle brains as in the Sequoyah conferences of the year before. Discreetness and harmonious action was all that was needed. As Haskell said, "All will be over except the shouting."
I remember the droll manner of Haskell in reviewing the course agreed upon: "Well that is understood—Looney will send a few epistles to the press; about a week before the convention, I'll take one wife and one stenographer and go to Guthrie; about four days later Murray will drive up looking like he had lost no sleep."
I returned home on the first train and watched for Mr. Looney's "epistles" like his on the Sequoyah. Reference to the daily press will disclose the dispatches under Muskogee date line running about as follows: "The strong men of the convention will be "Alfalfa Bill" Murray of Tishomingo, Charles N. Haskell of Muskogee, W. A. Ledbetter of Ardmore, Henry Asp of Guthrie, Henry Johnston of Perry, W. C. Hughes of Oklahoma City."
The next day: "The prominent Candidate's for the presidency will be, 'Alfalfa Bill' Murray, W. C. Hughes, W. A. Ledbetter."
The next day: "The most favored candidates are Henry Johnston, 'Alfalfa Bill' Murray, and W. A. Ledbetter."
The following day one candidate's name was dropped and a new "Richmond" was in the field, but "Alfalfa Bill" was in every group of candidates and Haskell's name in that of the "leaders"—shrewd psychology!
I wrote no letters except one to the late senator, Clint Graham of Marietta. He had been a school mate and I was anxious to have him with me, to owe him some obligations of friendship. He never "got in" until he arrived in Guthrie. I invited him especially to join the Sequoyah move, but never could, in anything, get him to join me. Our dispositions were too unlike. He counselled the popularity of the moment; I cared nothing for the moment but considered what the result would be a year, or five years in the future. That is the explanation of my making a speech in Congress against the "League of Nations" two years before it became an issue. I saw it coming and foresaw the ultimate result. It will be found I believe, in the Congressional Record, of March or
April, 1916, under my remarks on "Preparedness," and "Pacifist's Dream of Peace." I regard all statesmanship to consist of an understanding of the effect a given set of laws, or governmental polices will produce during the years of the future; their effect upon generations yet unborn. However, I might warn ambitious young men that to act in advance of popular understanding does not make for continuous political success. My declaration to my constituents in the Fourth Congressional District in July, 1914 that there would be "another war in Europe—the most disastrous in history"—coupled with a declaration in 1916 that "we could not avoid the war, that our participation was inevitable," caused my defeat. Too many people think more of the man who is a consummate fool, just when they are also such. Each man to his choice. I prefer my course. Peace of mind and conscience is more conducive to sound sleep, even though all day-light dreams are at an end.
When I returned from Muskogee the first delegate I met was George A. Hinshaw of Madill who voluntarily told me he would vote for me, adding, "You can ruin me but I trust to your gratitude." I knew why he said this. Few believed that both Tishomingo and Madill could be made county seats. I was so pleased with Hinshaw's action, I put him on the County Map Committee and told him to run down the section line, half way between the two towns, as a boundary for our two counties. The people of my home asked what could they do—"Meet in mass, without party, resolute and send some citizen to Guthrie." "No need for more," I said, to be elected.
On schedule time I went to Guthrie. There I merely visited with the delegates by approaching them in the lobby of the Royal Hotel, sometimes taking them behind the stairs. "Old-line" politicians asked where were my headquarters. I invariably replied, "Under my hat."
First came W. C. Hughes with pomp, backed by Oklahoma City; also by the political machine and Labor leaders. No headway. Then Dr. Buchanan of the State University, brother of a former Governor of Tennessee, was offered for half a day. No headway. Then John LeHay, of the Osage Nation, was approached. Then a scramble began to get some one who would stand. Henry Johnston with his old law partner, Tom Doyle, had been with me from the start, but they approached him, Charley Moore, and others who said, "Nay
verily." Then a group of the "Machine," with brewery connections, approached Haskell saying, in substance, "The business men of the new State have decided you (Haskell) should be president of this convention and we are authorized to offer it to you." Haskell in characteristic humor, replied, "Too late, Gentlemen, we have just given it to 'Alfalfa Bill.'"
In the meantime all the Labor leaders were "hot-footing" among the delegates, showing them that Murray would not do for he is not for all our demands. Labor had submitted twenty-six demands to all candidates for delegate and seventy-one democrats had said, "Yes" to all twenty-six. I said "No" to four.
The Recall, Woman Suffrage, Mandatory Referendum, and one other, I just now do not remember. For this they were exceeding wrath. Parenthetically, it may be observed that they got just what I promised, and no more of these demands.
At last the "Machine" and Labor leaders united on "Big Pete" Hanraty, a coal miner, native of Scotland, who was elected from the McAlester District. He got a few of my votes, as before stated, and was the "high-water mark" of the opposition. All these proposed candidates for the Presidency were high class men, able and honest, who became and still are, my steadfast friends.
Pete Hanraty and A. H. Ellis were caucus nominees for vice president, Henry S. Johnston, Chairman of the Caucus, John M. Young of Lawton Secretary, William A. Durant, Speaker of the Choctaw Tribal Legislature, and Speaker later of the third Oklahoma Legislature, was named for Sergeant-at-arms, the Rev. Mr. Naylor, a Methodist minister, Chaplain. All other officers and employees of the convention were left for the President to name.
The Republicans nominated P. B. Hopkins of Muskogee for President. Upon my election the following day, Nov. 20th, I made an extended speech and then said, "But you can't expect to get all of it in the Constitution." Just how much did go into the Constitution may be made manifest by reading the speech in the Journal of the Convention, and then the Constitution itself.
The other matters and things that occurred happened during the next ten months and is a story too lengthy to include in this article. Indeed it would require several articles.