Dan W. Peery
While Oklahoma was at that time an organized territory and the courts were in session in these countries, yet no arrangements had been made for penal institutions. The first bill introduced in Oklahoma legislature was Council Bill No. 1, entitled "An Act to make provisions for the care and custody of persons convicted of crime under the laws of the Territory of Oklahoma." This bill was introduced by Councilman Foster, of Guthrie and passed the Council as an emergency bill. It became a law and took effect September 14, 1890. Under the provisions of this bill the governor of the territory of Oklahoma was authorized to contract in the name of the territory with the proper authorities of some other state or territory for the care and custody of criminals convicted by the courts of Oklahoma. On the 26th day of November the governor made a contract with the authorities of the State of Kansas to keep our prisoners in the penitentiary at Lansing, Kansas and many of them worked in the Kansas coal mines to earn their board and keep. I. N. Terrill, the Alliance representative from Payne County, took an active part in the passage of Council Bill No. 1 through the House, and it was but a short time after the adjournment of the Legislature until he was convicted of the murder of a man on the government acre in Guthrie and was sent to the Lansing penitentiary. Council Bill No. 1 was introduced the day previous to the delivery of the governor's message.
In the afternoon of the fourth legislative day the House and Council met in joint session in the House of Representatives. Governor Steele came in person and read the message that he had prepared. One of the first things to which he called the attention of the legislature was the reported destitution among the settlers and he asked that early means be taken to investigate the extent of destitution and providing means for relieving it. He said: "We must not lose sight of the fact that our people have no products of any kind to fall back on, like other states and territories have, and who, in many instances, have been subject to a drought equal at
least in severity, to that has been visited upon us." He also called attention to a bill pending in Congress providing a relief fund for forty-seven thousand dollars for the settlers in the new territory. (This sum of forty-seven thousand dollars was an unexpended balance of one hundred thousand dollars appropriated for the Mississippi flood sufferers.) He also called attention to the necessity of the farmers having seed wheat for fall sowing. It may be well to record that the A. T. & S. F. R.R., did furnish ten thousand dollars to buy wheat for seed early that fall and the state received from the government at Washington the sum of forty-seven thousand dollars to be used for the relief of the destitute settlers in Oklahoma. The legislature passed a bill creating a board of relief and authorizing the county commissioners to distribute supplies to the people in need. I think that perhaps the colored people in Logan and Kingfisher counties got the greater part of these supplies. However, many good and honest white people were almost forced to be the beneficiaries of this government aid. This was no reflection on these destitute settlers, as it was just as honorable to receive aid on account of a drought in a new country as to receive aid as the result of a fire or the overflow of the Mississippi. The writer will concede, however, that he had been rather opposed to asking aid from the government until he had met the delegations and heard the story from those who were actually suffering for want of the necessities of life. I had to put aside my political theories when it was a condition that confronted us. As was once suggested by Marcus Cato, "We cannot argue with the belly for it has no ears."
The governor in his message to the first territorial legislature called attention to many other subjects that must have consideration at the hands of the legislature. One among the important things to be acted upon was the establishment of a system of public schools. He called attention to the fact that the government had in Section 26 of the Organic Act appropriated the sum of fifty thousand dollars to be expended by the government in temporary support and aid of common school education as soon as a system of public schools shall have been established by the legislative assembly. The governor recommended that four schools in each township should
be established in Logan, Oklahoma, Canadian, Kingfisher and Payne counties and the settlers should provide their own school houses. He thought the fifty thousand appropriated would employ the teachers for five months and furnish a fair proportion for the cities and villages.
OPPOSED PROHIBITION LAWS
In the discussion of the regulation of the liquor traffic the governor said: "I recommend the adoption of Chapter 50, Compiled Statutes of Nebraska, annotated 1889, on liquors. A rigid enforcement of this chapter would, in my opinion, give us better protection against the evils of intemperance than that enjoyed by states attempting a prohibition law, * * * Without further enumeration, I regard it as a wisely enacted chapter, which I am sure will receive your best consideration."
He called attention to the necessity for legislation in the establishment of public roads and many other subjects that would have to be considered. Perhaps more of us were interested in what the governor might say in regard to the location of the capital of the territory than any other subject, but he cut this subject short and made it brief. After quoting section 15 of the Organic Act, he said: "I am quite positive that these are matters that would better be allowed to rest until those of a great deal more general importance are provided for." But this was one subject that would not rest.
LOCATING THE CAPITAL
The writer has written the story before of the effort to locate the capital of the territory of Oklahoma in the legislature that convened at Guthrie August 27, 1890. There has been some criticism of his story even by some of those who were contemporary with the writer. Articles have been written calling attention to certain statements I had made that they claimed to be erroneous. In reply I will only say that no two people will remember things that happened years ago just alike, but I have a copy of the legislature journal before me, and I have as far as possible, verified everything that I have written of what occurred in the first legislative assembly. Of course there were many things said and done in caucus and among the lobbyists that I knew nothing about but I will tell the story that came to me. If I am wrong in
any essential statement I am willing to acknowledge it and if I have done anyone, living or dead, an injustice, I will gladly apologize.
The newspapers were well represented at the press-table when the first Legislature assembly met. Will T. Little and John Golobie representing the Guthrie papers, the News and State Capital, while Prof. E. L. Hallock was the representative of The Wichita Eagle. Victor Murdock, a young man, nineteen or twenty years of age, came down from Wichita, Kansas, and spent some time at the organization of the legislature representing his father's paper, The Wichita Eagle. The Eagle was, at this time, the Associated Press paper and had a large circulation in Oklahoma. Victor Murdock was a most agreeable personage and a brilliant, versatile writer. He took quite an interest in the political career of our Speaker of the House and dubbed him, the Hon. A. N. Daniel, "The Sockless Statesman of the Canadian." Victor Murdock afterward gave Jerry Simpson the title of "Sockless Statesman" but A. N. Daniels was the original and Daniels could qualify as he seldom wore socks, but often wore a plug hat or a "Silo Hat" as Will Rogers calls it.
The Eagle was all wrought up because the democrats and peoples party had organized both branches of the legislature, Marsh Murdock, the editor of the Eagle, was strictly partisan and could see no possible good in anything political unless it came from his party. Upon the organization he commented as follows: "The situation at Guthrie is not such as to constitute a very high compliment to the sagacity and shrewdness of the majority of the first territorial legislature of Oklahoma. With a clear majority in both branches of the legislature, the republicans turned over the organization of both houses to the democrats. The construction that will be put upon this is, that it is a frank acknowledgment that the republicans are incapable, or are not be to be trusted with important and responsible work of directing and shaping the legislation necessary for the government and protection of the people of the territory * * * They have simply surrendered all of their political advantages at the most important and critical moment as to the future into the hands of the
opposition without receiving so much as a promise of a reward in return. It is now left to the democrats to not only shape legislation but to decide where the capital should be located. * * * At this distance it looks like the republicans had made a serious mistake, and if it does not prove a costly one in the future, it will be next to a miraculous escape."
The trouble with the elder Murdock was that he feared the southern democrats would pass laws providing for separate schools for the white and colored children and laws to prevent intermarriage between the races and perhaps also the "Jim Crow" law. Mr. Murdock was an able man but he never got over being prejudiced against the South and everything southern. He had not the cosmopolitan view possessed by his big, brilliant, red-headed son, the Hon. Victor Murdock.
On the evening of Sept. 3rd, the citizens of Guthrie gave the territorial officials and the members of the legislature a splendid reception. All the territorial officials and members of both houses were there. The reception and ball was held in the House of Representatives and the banquet was served in the Council Chamber. A co-temporary writer described the event as a joyous one and "citizens and strangers were alike happy." He tells of the hall being handsomely decorated and brilliantly lighted with incandescent lamps and an elegant banquet in the spacious halls of the council chamber to over five hundred guests. He gave a glowing description of the ball and tells of the grand march led by Governor and Mrs. George Steele, to the music of the "Guthrie Silver Cornet Band" and also a string band.
The writer remembers the event quite well, and remembers the Governor's daughter, Miss Mettie Steele, dancing with Lieutenant Biddle, who was stationed at Guthrie with Captain Kavanaugh's troop of cavalry. Miss Steele was at least a head taller than the army officer but she danced with him most of the evening. Among others who attended this reception was George W. Steele, Jr., the young son of the Governor and Mrs. Steele. He is now with the Government air forces and was the commander of that great airship the "Los Angeles" and it was he who piloted it across the Atlantic. Lieutenant Biddle was afterward the General Biddle
of the Army. There were many toasts responded to at the banquet, but the principal speech was made by Hon. Sidney Clarke. The boy Victor Murdock was there and he was the subject of some good-natured gibes but his good nature and wit never failed him.
OKLAHOMA CITY ENTERTAINS
Oklahoma City also requested the opportunity of entertaining the legislature and the territorial officers. They not only wanted to show the visitors hospitality but wanted to give the law makers the opportunity of visiting a good town, and also a good location for the capital. The officials of the city wrote a formal invitation to the Governor which was handed to the legislature. The invitation was as follows:
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Territory,
Hon. George W. Steele, Governor,
Dear Sir:- By a resolution passed by the Mayor and City Council of Oklahoma City, I am instructed to write and tender you and other territorial officers and members of the legislature, on behalf of them and citizens of this city, a reception and banquet at any time that will be acceptable to you and the legislature.
The invitation was accepted by a resolution passed by both houses and the date of the visit to the city designated, Wednesday evening, Sept. 10, 1890.
Both the House and Council adjourned early on Sept. 10th and went at once to a special train waiting to take them to the city. They were joined at the depot by all territorial officials and many guests, both ladies and gentlemen. When they arrived at the city they were met at the station by a large part of the population. All the guests were taken in buggies and carriages for a ride over the city. After this the members of the House and Senate met in front of the Grand Avenue Hotel and posed for a photograph. The Grand Avenue was the leading hotel and stood on the site now occupied by the Oklahoma Club building.
This was, perhaps, the most elaborate reception and en-
tertainment Oklahoma City had ever attempted and it was a grand success. The papers gave it a great deal of space and, as was the custom at the time, they were extravagant in the praise of the success of this social and political event. The ball was held in the "Grand Opera House" southeast corner of Grand Avenue and Robinson Street. "At nine thirty a sweet symphony of music beneath the touch of a skilled orchestra swelled through the vast hall and the grand march, under the leadership of Governor and Mrs. Steele," etc.
The banquet was held in the dining room of the Grand Avenue Hotel. Hon. Sidney Clarke was toastmaster. There were many responses to toasts, the first being Governor Steele, who talked upon the subject: "The Chief Executive of Oklahoma," and the last was, Hon. W. A. McCartney, whose topic was: "Oklahoma, why should she not be admitted to a place among the sisterhood of states." Speaker Daniels was also there and responded to a toast. On that occasion he was wearing a Prince Albert coat and his "BeeGum" or "Stovepipe" hat—but he was perhaps sockless.
One writer says: "Thus closed an occasion that in after years will be remembered by the happy participants as one of the bright milestones that marked the early history of this land of the Fair God."
COUNCIL BILL NO. 7
Back to the legislature. These receptions have taken me a little ahead of my story.
On Tuesday, Sept. 2d, the seventh day of the session, J. L, Brown, of Oklahoma County, introduced Council Bill No. 7.
The following is a copy of the bill to locate the capital at Oklahoma City:
"AN ACT to locate and establish the seat of government of the Territory of Oklahoma.
"Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Oklahoma:
"Section 1. That the seat of government of the Territory of Oklahoma be and the same is hereby located at Oklahoma City, in the said Territory of Oklahoma.
"Section 2. That the offices of the executive officers of said Territory of Oklahoma shall be removed from Guthrie to Oklahoma City, and the seat of government there located and established between, the first and fifteenth days of February, A. D., 1891, until which time they shall be and remain at Guthrie, in said Territory.
Section 3. That the first session of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Oklahoma convened after February 1, 1891, shall assemble at Oklahoma City, at such time as may be provided by law.
"Section 4. If the Supreme Court of the Territory of Oklahoma be, on February 1, 1891, holding a term, that term shall be completed at Guthrie, and when adjourned, its offices shall be removed to Oklahoma City, and all future sessions of that court shall be held at Oklahoma City. If the said court is not in session on February 1, 1891, its offices shall be removed at the same time the executive offices are removed. All matters pending before the court shall transferred to Oklahoma City, and there proceeded with, with like force and effect as though the seat of government of said Territory had remained at Guthrie.
"Section 5. If from any cause the removal of said offices be delayed beyond February 8, 1891, they shall be transferred as soon as the cause of the delay is removed.
"Section 6. On January 5, 1891, or within five days thereafter, the Governor shall issue and publish his proclamation giving notice that the seat of government shall be so removed, of which all persons shall take due notice.
"Section 7. This act shall be enforced from and after the adjournment of the present term of this Legislative Assembly."
Mr. Brown moved that Council Bill No. 7 be read the second time by title and referred to the committee on Location of the Capital and other public institutions. The bill was referred to this committee.
The representatives from Logan County did not introduce any bill to locate the capital at Guthrie, although it had been the program to make Guthrie the capital as the first work of the legislature. The fusion organization upset all their plans and the introduction of Council Bill No. 7 had put them on the defensive. That city thought it would be
victory enough to keep the capital from being located at Oklahoma City and let the temporary seat of government remain at Guthrie. In the nearly twenty years that the city of Guthrie had the temporary capital, I do not think there ever was a bill introduced in the legislature to make that city the permanent capital.
On Thursday, September 4th, the committee on the location of the Capital and other Public Institutions of the Council, submitted the following report:
"We, the undersigned members of your committee above named, beg leave to report that we have had under consideration Council Bill No. 7, entitled an act to locate and establish the seat of government for the Territory of Oklahoma, and we recommend that it do pass."
To which report I respectfully dissent.
W. A. McCARTNEY.
This report put the bill on the Council calendar and subject to be called up and placed on its passage at any time.
The Council Journal shows that the bill was called up and read the third time and placed on its passage September 16, 1890.
The main question then was put upon its passage. Roll call showed: ayes 7, nays 6. Those voting in the affirmative were: Bixler, of Cleveland county, and Brown, of Oklahoma county, Howard, Nesbitt, Pitman, Smelser and Mr. President (George W Gardenhire). Those voting in the negative were: Brown, of Logan, Grimmer, Harader, Linn and McCartney.
So Council Bill No. 7 was passed council.
In order that there could be no later re-consideration of this vote, Mr. Brown, of Oklahoma county, moved that a re-consideration of the vote be taken. On this question there were ayes 6 and nays 7. So the action to re-consider failed. Of course this was just what the friends of the bill wanted as it would put a stop to any future re-consideration. This is
the common parliamentary practice and it is supposed to clinch what has gone through.
The people of Guthrie did not become alarmed about the probability of losing the capital until this bill had passed the Council. Somehow they felt that Providence was with them and something would happen to break up our combination, and their town would continue to be the seat of government after the legislature adjourned. Now they began to realize that if drastic measures were not taken at once the bill would go through the House with as little opposition as it encountered in the Council and they had no reason to think that Governor Steele would not sign the bill. However, Guthrie was now fully awakened to the danger and had organized a lobby and they were prepared to resort to any means to defeat our plans. They knew the vulnerable points in our organization and were preparing to take advantage of those weak points. They believed the words of that General who said; "every fortress has its key and every man his price," and the lowest priced men were usually among the biggest demagogues.
IN THE HOUSE
Council Bill No. 7 was certified to the House on September 17th in these words: "I have been directed by the Council to transmit to your Honorable body, Council Bill No. 7 which the Council has passed, and respectfully ask your concurrence therein."
E. J. SIMPSON,
Daniels moved to refer it to the committee on location of the capital. Motion carried by a vote of fourteen to twelve. Those voting in the affirmative were Adair, Clark, Jones, Long, Mathews, Neal, Pack, Peery, Stovall, Talbot; Terrill; Proctor, Wagoner and Speaker Daniels—fourteen.
Negative votes: Barker, Campbell, Colson, Curren, Famsworth, Lewis, Merten, Post, Robertson, Smith, Tritt and Wimberly—twelve. Motion prevailed and the combination in the House seemed to be all intact. The committee on capital location made a report on Council Bill No. 7, recommending the bill do pass. The bill was placed on the House calendar and came up for consideration, or as a special or-
der, October 1st, it having been postponed from time to time. Merten of Logan county moved that the bill be indefinitely postponed. Motion lost, eight to eighteen. Merten offered an amendment but it was ruled out of order.
Mr. Wimberly moved to amend by striking out Oklahoma City and inserting Frisco. Motion lost, eight to eighteen. While these were dilatory motions, yet the friends of the bill began to suspect that they were really leading up to something. Then Representative Wimberly moved to amend Section 2 by striking out "Eight" and inserting "Fifteenth." The roll being called on this motion, the ayes were fifteen, nays eleven. The vote on this amendment was a bomb shell in the ranks of our organization. Three men who had been with us had voted with the opposition, and had amended, the bill so it would have to be returned to the Council in order that the amendment might be concurred in or rejected by that body. It was an innocent appearing amendment but it was the first move to kill the bill. It was the part of the Guthrie strategy and the whole program had been arranged in advance.
The three men who had deserted our ranks in this vote were: Adair, of Cleveland county, and Terrill and Clark, of Payne county. The writer stepped over to Adair's desk when that gentleman had voted aye on this amendment and tried to get him to change his vote before the result was announced. His answer was: "Oh! what difference does it make to change the date a few days." He tried to make us believe he cast his vote for the amendment through innocence and ignorance but subsequent development proved he was in the conspiracy to betray his associates. They did not dare to cast their vote directly against the bill but they would amend the bill so as to send it back to the Council, where it had already been fixed, so the Council would not concur in the amendment and thus the bill would fail for want of agreement between the two houses.
Adair, Terrill and Clark had betrayed us in the House and George W. Gardenhire was ready to play the Judas act in the Council. "But, the jingling of the guineas helps the hurt that Honor feels."
The vote was then on the passage of the bill, including the Wimberly amendment. Roll call showed fourteen ayes and
twelve nays. So the Council bill had passed the House.
It was at once transmitted to the Council in these words: "Mr. President:—I am directed to transmit to your Honorable Body, Council Bill No. 7, which the House has amended as follows: Section 2, strike out the word eight and insert word fifteenth.
E. L. GAY, Chief Clerk."
This put the bill back into the Council and the House was almost deserted the next morning while all interest was centered on the Council. (The House met upstairs in the opera house and the Council directly underneath in a long store room.)
The Council Journal shows that the question of the Council concurring in the amendment of the House in Council Bill No. 7 came up for consideration on Thursday, October 2, 1890. The excitement in the Council chamber was most intense that morning. The room was crowded with the citizens of Guthrie and with quite a number of people from Oklahoma City and Kingfisher. The first business to come before the Council was the report of the "Committee to locate the Capital and other institutions," upon House Bill No. 30, it being an "Act to locate and establish a college for the benefit of agriculture and mechanical arts." That is the bill locating the agricultural college at Stillwater. The vote on this bill was thirteen ayes and no nays. (This bill was vetoed by Governor Steele October 14th. The bill that located this school at Stillwater was House Bill No. 82, by Mathews of Payne County.) Gardenhire afterward made the statement that the reason he voted against Oklahoma City was that our members had refused to let the bill locating the A. & M. College at Stillwater be considered. However, the records show that this bill had passed the Council by a unanimous vote before the vote was taken on the House amendment to Council Bill No. 7. After this vote had been taken, Mr. Brown of Oklahoma county moved: That the rules be suspended, House amendment to Council Bill No. 7 be agreed to."
Mr. Brown, of Logan county, moved as a substitute, that the rules be suspended and Council Bill No. 7 be indefinitely postponed. Brown of Logan's substitute lost, five to eight.
Brown of Oklahoma county moved that Council now
concur in House amendment to Council Bill No. 7. Brown of Logan county moved to table this motion. This vote to table seemed to be the real test of strength. There were seven votes to table Brown of Logan's motion and six against. On this vote the President of the Senate, George W. Gardenhire, showed his cloven-footed treachery by voting against tabling the motion to indefinitely postpone Council Bill No. 7. The only thing that had saved the bill on the roll call was the vote of Grimmer of Beaver. Up to this vote, Grimmer was considered a Guthrie man and his voting with the Oklahoma City organization caused consternation in the ranks of the Guthrie people. It looked a little like Oklahoma City lobbyists might have had an interview with the German spokesman from No-Man's Land. They may have promised to build a railroad from Oklahoma City to Beaver City, but they have not built it as yet.
But this roll call did not settle the question, nor had the Council concurred in the House amendment. One dilatory motion after another was made but all were quickly disposed of. The question recurring on the motion to concur in House amendment was finally put. When the roll call started there was a hush awaiting the results. When the name of Grimmer was called he passed his vote until the close of the roll call. All voted as was expected until the last, Mr. President, who was Gardenhire, and he voted no. Then the clerk called the name of Grimmer, who had passed when his name was first called, Grimmer in a low voice answered yes. So the motion prevailed and the House Amendment to Council Bill No. 7 was concurred in.
Thus Council Bill No. 7 locating the capital of Oklahoma homa City was passed legally, lawfully and according to the rules of the legislature in the forenoon of Thursday, October 2, 1890.
Judge Brown moved that the vote concurring in the amendment be reconsidered. This motion was made just as it was made in the House, by friends of the bill, so they could vote the reconsideration down and prevent any future reconsideration. This is the regular parliamentary practice. On the vote to reconsider there were six yeas and seven nays, so the bill was not reconsidered.
The writer of these lines ran to the depot as fast as he
could to send some telegrams to Oklahoma City, telling them that the capital bill has passed both houses. (I have understood that Oklahoma City put on quite a celebration that day.) While at the depot, Mr. Fred Neal, son of Major Moses Neal came running and told me that his father had said for me to come to the House at once as I was needed.
When I arrived at the legislative hall I found the whole House jammed and packed with people and everybody excited. When I got onto the floor of the House, I learned that Adair, Clark and Terrill had joined the Guthrie crowd and were trying to defeat the bill, although it had passed the House the day before and a reconsideration had been defeated and the bill was now with the Chief Clerk of the Council.
Terrill's motion was to "Reconsider the vote on reconsideration of yesterday's vote on Council Bill No. 7——"
This motion was not only out of order but it was contrary to all parliamentary precedents and it was the last desperate effort to defeat a bill that had passed both houses, and only lacked the signature of the Governor to make it the law. However, since Adair, Terrill and Clark had betrayed us, they had fifteen votes to our eleven and they were prepared to do desperate things to defeat the bill. A call of the House was had and found everybody there—except Pack. Our forces were fighting desperately, protesting against such high-handed methods. Terrill turned to me and pointing his finger, yelled out: "You die hard."
They got a vote before noon on Terrill's motion to reconsider a vote on reconsideration and it carried fifteen to eleven. Then the House adjourned. All of these events had taken place in the forenoon of October 2, 1890.
I will now make some explanation of my connection with the bill. When the legislature was organized, each house adopted its rules and appointed committees. Then there were passed by both houses what is known as Joint Rules. These rules were to govern in the transaction of business between the House and Council. The Joint Rules that were adopted were a copy of the rules of the Iowa legislature and were made a part of the rules of Oklahoma legislature at the sugestion of Judge J. L. Brown.
These rules provided a joint committee consisting of
two members from each house. This committee is responsible for the correct enrollment of the bills that had passed both houses and it was their duty to "carefully compare the enrollment with the engrossed bills, as passed in the Houses, correct any errors therein and make report to their respective houses."
Rule No. 6 reads, "After the report each bill shall be signed, first, by the Speaker of the House and then by the President of the Council in the presence of their respective Houses."
Rule No. 7 reads: "After the bill shall have been thus signed in each house, it shall be forthwith presented by said committee to the Governor for his approval, and they shall forthwith report the day of presentation, which shall be entered upon the Journals of the house in which the bill originated."
In other words, this committee was the custodian of the bill from the time it passed both houses, and it was its duty to have the presiding officers of both houses sign the bill and also their duty to take it to the Governor.
The writer was one of the two members of this joint committee on the part of the House, the other member being Representative Wimberly. The two Council members of this committee were J. F. Linn, of Logan county, and R. J. Nesbitt, of Cleveland county.
Immediately upon the noon adjournment the Oklahoma county representatives and their friends met in the Enrolling room in the front part of the building to consider the situation. Hon. Sidney Clarke said the thing to do when the bill had passed both houses, was to have it enrolled and signed by the presiding officers of both houses and take it to the Governor for his signature. After discussing the matter for a few moments, it was the unanimous opinion of our caucus that this was the correct procedure. C. G. Jones said to me: "Get your clerks together at once and have the bill enrolled," R. J. Nesbit, the Council member of the committee, was also present and he too thought it was our duty to go ahead and enroll the bill, as had been the custom when bills had passed both houses. Everyone of our friends and advisers were of the opinion that all that procedure in the
house was without authority and it was our duty to ignore it and to get this bill to the Governor.
We soon had the clerks at work copying the bill, but it was not quite complete when the House convened. Nesbit and myself representing both the Council and House, compared the enrolled bill with the engrossed copy but we did not prepare a written report of our committee. I took the enrolled copy of Council Bill No. 7 and put it in my inside coat pocket and started into the House of Representatives. I found the House in session and the crowd was so great that I had great difficulty in getting to the floor and to my desk. Terrill had moved to reconsider the vote taken on the passage of Council Bill No. 7—(He had carried the vote to reconsider the vote on reconsideration before noon.) While they were trying to get a vote on this motion, I took the enrolled copy of the bill to the Speaker, A. N. Daniels, and asked him to sign it. He asked, is it correctly enrolled, or is it all right, and I answered that it was, and for him to sign it. In only a few moments after Daniels signed the bill, the House adjourned on a motion made by Joe Post of Kingfisher.
The writer has been criticised for not making a written report on the enrollment of this bill and perhaps I was not following the precedent in making only a verbal report, but this did not occur to me at that time. In his veto message, Governor Steele refers to my act in not making a written report in the following language: "However, the bill, went from the member of the committee of the House on enrolled bills (who had reported it correct to Speaker Daniels) to a member of the Council committee on enrolled bills, and if adjournment had not been unusually early on that day and he had made a verbal report to the Council, and the President had affixed his signature thereto, it is not likely the legality of the procedure would have been questioned by the friends of the bill."
At once upon the adjournment of the House, about two o'clock p. m., I went down the back stairway leading into the council chamber with the enrolled copy of the bill in my pocket with the signature of the Speaker affixed and duly certified by the Chief Clerk. I had arranged to give the bill to the Council member of the committee and let him present
it to the President, or the President Pro Tem, of the Council and have that officer affix his name, and we two members of the committee on enrolled bills would take it to the Governor, as provided by the Joint Rules. I was disappointed when I entered the Council Chamber to find that body adjourned and it would not be possible to get the President to sign the bill while the Council was in session that day. I at once handed the enrolled copy of the Council Bill No. 7 to R. J. Nesbit of Cleveland county, one of the two Council members of our committee on enrolled bills. It was his business to get the signature of the President of the Council and I knew he had a legal and lawful right to the possession of the enrolled copy of the bill at that time
When I went out of the front door of the council chamber, there were but few people in the room, and most of them were Oklahoma City men. I remarked that they could go ahead reconsidering reconsiderations for we would have the bill in the hands of the Governor in the morning.
Just as I stepped out the front door I saw a great crowd on the street and the sidewalks were crowded clear up to the street corner. I noticed a commotion in the crowd about thirty steps from the front of the Council Chamber, where I had stopped. Daniels was in the center and I was told they had him down on the sidewalk, evidently trying to search him, when he cried out: "Peery has the bill." Then it seemed the whole city of Guthrie started after me. They gathered around in scores, and were crying for a rope and made all manner of demonstrations, declaring that I had stolen the capital bill. Two or three fellows grabbed me and had my coat nearly off my back. I got up against the door of the Senate Chamber. The Guthrie Capital said that I tried to climb that door backward. There were a number of my friends inside the Senate Chamber, who came to my assistance. I recollect Uncle Jim Stovall, Bill McCartney, H. B. Mitchell and Tom Jackson—all good friends of mine—came to the door, opened it, knocked, shoved, and pushed the crowd right and left, and got me in the Senate Chamber, and shut the door in the face of the mob. John Linn who was a member of the Council from Logan county, but a friend of mine, and a member of the committee in Enrolled Bills with the writer, called to me: (He was in the Council Chamber) "You had
better get out the back door; they are breaking in the front door." I ran out the back door but they were there—in fact they were everywhere and the crowd was running and Nesbitt, the man who actually had the bill, was running in front of them. He had the bill but they never found it. In the rush and excitement, the crowd failed to recognize me. I saw a friendly high board fence with a small door in it. I went through that door and shut it and into the back end of a butcher shop. The butcher was out in the chase, I suppose, so I got behind a large refrigerator in the back room of the butcher shop. I only tell these things to keep the record straight. There has been several stories told about this. This was about two o'clock in the afternoon. I listened behind the ice chest, and heard the crowd rushing by on the sidewalk and the excitement outside. It wasn't long until everything was quiet. In the excitement one little darkey called to another: "What is the matter, Rastus?" "Matter enough I reckon, that fellow Peery done stole the capital and gone to Oklahoma City with it."
Along about three or four o'clock in the afternoon, I heard the butcher come in. He and another fellow were talking, and I was listening pretty carefully and I heard the fellow say,: "If they get that man Peery they will hang him," and went on to say that "the last time I saw him he was going across the school section toward Oklahoma City." The butcher said, "Damn him they ought to hang him; he stole the Capital bill." That seemed the unanimous verdict. I remained there until dark came and then I came out the back door and went across to the back end of the Council Chamber and, looking in, saw Major Simpson of El Reno, the Chief Clerk of the Council, and two or three other friends sitting there. I went in. They wanted to know where I had been all afternoon. The Guthrie people had been hunting me south of town and several of my friends were following them up to see that I did not get the worst of it if they caught me.
In a few minutes C. G. Jones came in. He was somewhat surprised to find me there and was much excited. He said: "It won't do for you to go out on the front street. Come and go with me up to my room." He took me down by the back way to the old Noble hotel, and we went up the back stairs to Jones's room. He left me and said he would
go down and reconnoiter. Jones came back in a few minutes and brought me a new forty-five Colts six-shooter. I stayed in his room while he went down to learn if there were any new developments. He came back soon and announced, the Oklahoma City crowd is here. When I opened the door, the hall was full of Oklahoma City people. There was Col. J. W. Johnson, Huger Wilkerson, Charley Colcord, Dick Brandon, W. W. Witten, and one Kennedy, whom the boys called "Sam Bass," and fifteen or twenty more, some of whose names I do not recall.
They told me to come out and we would take in the town, and we did. We all gathered over at the old English Kitchen, almost opposite where the Ione Hotel now stands, and had a big supper prepared. Some of us were pretty hungry as we had had no dinner.
Four of the representatives from Kingfisher joined us there that night and we had a caucus with them. Joe Post was the spokesman. Their proposition was that they would join us the next day and vote down Terrill's motion and would stay with the Oklahoma City combination and in good faith, and carry out its program, provided we members from Oklahoma county would agree to vote to locate the capital at Kingfisher in case Governor Steele should veto our bill. D. K. Cunningham, one of the Kingfisher's boosters reduced this agreement to writing and we all signed it.
The Guthrie papers, the next morning, were very bitter in telling of the proceedings of the day before. They denounced everybody but centered their attack largely on the writer. One item in the Guthrie Daily News, reads: "Peery, brave boy, can face a yoke of oxen undaunted but when it came to a Guthrie crowd it was different." "Wait and see what we put up those telephone poles for."
When the House met the next morning, a great crowd of people were in the lobby and the gallery was crowded. Everybody was excited expecting something to happen. Scattered all through that excited crowd of Guthrie people were the men from Oklahoma City cool, calm and collected, just waiting developments. The sergeant-at-arms had to make way for the members to get to their seats. The speaker A. N. Daniels, did not arrive and some of the Guthrie crowd were surprised when the writer of these lines came into the
House and took his seat at his desk. They probably thought he was still running.
As Daniels, the speaker, was not present, C. G. Jones Speaker, Pro Tem, took the chair and called the House to order. Roll call found all of the members present except Daniels. After the usual preliminaries, unfinished business was taken up. Terrill's motion pending—To reconsider the vote taken on the passage of Council Bill No. 7.
The chair ruled the motion out of order and also stated that he would make his ruling in writing and they should be a part of the Journal.
Terrill appealed from the decision of the chair—no vote.
Mr. Merten moved that further action on Council Bill No. 7 be postponed until Tuesday, October 7, 1890. Mr. Talbot moved to lay the Merten motion on the table. Roll being called, there were fourteen yeas and eleven nays.
Those voting in the affirmative to table Merten's motion, were: Colson, Curren, Farnsworth, Jones, Long, Mathews, Neal, Pack, Peery, Post, Stovall, Talbot, Trosper and Wagoner.
In the negative were: Adair, Barker, Campbell, Clark, Lewis, Merten, Robertson, Smith, Terrill, Tritt and Wimberly.
Motion to table prevailed.
This was a test vote, the three renegades, Adair, Terrill and Clark were voting with Guthrie, but Colson, who had been elected on the republican ticket as a member at large, and Post, Curren and Farnsworth, of Kingfisher, voted with the Oklahoma City force. Major Neal made a motion in writing that the reconsideration of Council Bill No. 7 be indefinitely postponed. Merten demanded the reading of Council Bill No. 7. Chair ruled that the bill was not before the House. Neal's motion carried, thirteen to eleven.
In the meantime, Daniels had been the victim of a nervous collapse as the result of the excitement, scare and whisky. He was not able to attend the session of the House but was in the hands of some of his old Guthrie acquaintances, and they induced him to write a note to the legislature, as follows:
Guthrie, October 3, 1890.
"To the Honorable Speaker of the House Pro Tem and Chief Clerk, owing to the fact I signed Council Bill No. 7 under a misapprehension, I hereby ask that the said bill be returned to this body in order that my signature may be erased."
This note was sent to Major Neal and as we had votes to control the Legislature, Major Neal moved that the Council be requested to return to the House Council Bill No. 7 as requested by the Speaker. The resolution was adopted by a vote of fifteen to ten, all the Guthrie members voting no, although they had been clamoring to have the bill before them. In reply to the request of the House for the enrolled copy of House Bill No. 7, the Clerk of the Council transmitted to the House the following report: "I have been directed by the Council to report to your Honorable body, in reference to House resolution received by the Council Oct. 4th, as to the return of Council Bill No. 7 to House, that Council Bill No 7 is now in the hands of the Committee on Enrolled Bills, which committee will make its report."
At a caucus of the Oklahoma county members of both houses, it was decided that inasmuch as Speaker Daniels had requested that he have the privilege of erasing his name, and the House had consented for him to do so, and that Daniels was incapaciated on account of sickness from attending the session of the House, the proper thing now to do would be to have the bill enrolled again and have the Speaker Pro Tem sign it on behalf of the House. (An enrolled copy of the bill without the name of the presiding officer of either house was but a scrap of paper.)
The entire membership of the committee on Enrollment met and had the Enrolment Clerks to again copy the bill and our committee made a written report to each house that we had examined Council Bill No. 7 and found the same to be correctly enrolled. This report was signed by R. J. Nesbit and J. F. Linn on the part of the Council and John A. Wimberly and D. W. Peery on the part of the House.
On Wednesday, October 7th, C. G. Jones, Speaker Pro Tem, signed the bill over the protest of all the representatives from Logan county. They offered resolutions and made motions protesting the action of Jones in signing the bill, but it was too late, the bill had Jones's signature attached thereto. The President of the Council, Gardenhire, affixed his signature the next morning but not until J. L. Brown had threatened to impeach him if he did not sign.
The two members on part of the Council of the committee on Enrolled Bills, delivered Council Bill No. 7 to the Governor, George W. Steele, on Thursday, Oct. 8, 1890.
Thus ended a long hard fight to locate the seat of government of the Territory of Oklahoma, at Oklahoma City, as far as legislative action was concerned. Guthrie had fought on the defensive, only asking to retain what was already in their possession.
Guthrie was fortunate in having William H. Merten, an able and brilliant man, for their general. Hon. William H. Merten, who was the recognized leader of the Guthrie forces was, without question, the best parliamentarian in either branch of the legislature. He had held several public offices in Iowa and has also been a member of the Iowa legislature for two or three terms. He was not only the recognized leader to prevent the removal of the capital to Oklahoma City, but he also defended his town in the four weeks struggle to take the capital to Kingfisher. He was a good fighter who fought for his town to the last ditch, and he was also a gentleman and a good friend.
Representative Whliam H. Campbell, also of Logan, was a good representative and an honest man. He was a man of mature years and an ex-union soldier, as was also Representative Merten. Campbell had held county offices before coming to Oklahoma and was an authority on county government. Much of the constructive legislation of the first legislature was due to the studious work of W. H. Campbell.
The Governor was slow about returning the bill, in fact, he kept it in his possession for the five days allowed by the Organic Act. He gave the representatives of Oklahoma City, Guthrie and Kingfisher all a hearing before passing on the
question of signing or of vetoing the bill, but he gave no one an intimation of what action he would take.
At the end of the five days, he returned the bill to the President of the Council without his signature. His veto message was quite lengthy. He discussed all the phases of the procedure in the legislature in the passage of the bill, including the charges of bribery and corrupt methods in securing its passage. He also referred to the bill having been enrolled twice but stated that he had no doubt that he had before him a correct copy of the original bill. In all this argument his conclusions were favorable to Oklahoma City. However, the last clause of his message put the quietus on Oklahoma City's hopes to be the capital of the Territory of Oklahoma in 1890. It reads: "It is my sincere hope and belief that large areas of territory will be added to what we now have before the date fixed in the bill for removal, in consequence of which the center of population may be materially changed, and thereby furnish better reasons than it seems to me are now presented for changing the present temporary site. In consequence of all of which I must return Council Bill No. 7 without my approval."
GEORGE W. STEELE,
Guthrie went wild when the word of the Governor's veto message was read. They formed processions and marched all over the city and there was great rejoicing at the temporary capital. They gathered in great numbers at the Governor's home and called for an address. In response the Governor is reported as having said: "Fellow Citizens, while I am pleased to see you call upon me, I am aware that you must remember that while your hearts are filled with rejoicing there are other hearts in the Territory full of disappointment. You must remember that Guthrie is not all of Oklahoma. If you do as I will, you will work for the good of the whole Territory."
But Guthrie's trouble were not all ended. The Oklahoma county members of both houses were pledged to make Kingfisher the capital of Oklahoma Territory and there were enough votes in sight to carry out that pledge.
Almost every town in the Territory, by this time, was represented by its lobbyists. While Oklahoma City had lost the capital prize, yet it was interested in the location of state institutions. Although it was not asking for anything for itself, yet there was quite a number of its leading citizens on the ground awaiting developments. Perhaps Kingfisher was represented by the largest delegation in the "third house." Kingfisher men seemed to be well supplied with funds to carry on their campaign; in fact, the lobbyists from all interested towns had contingent funds to draw on in entertaining the members—and themselves. It was quite the fashion for these gentlemen, representing the various towns who were asking for state institutions, to give suppers and invite the citizens representing other towns and a few members of the legislature. These affairs were quite "informal" and the dinner, or supper, was usually served in the dining room adjacent to the bar. Oklahoma City was always represented after they were out of the capital fight and before the season was half over the Guthrie boosters would meet with them and all would mix and mingle in these social amenities. Sometimes these dinners would last until a late hour and, contradictory as it may seem, some of our first citizens who are only known to this generation as financiers and business men, developed a great deal of musical talent. However, I never heard of any of them trying to sing the Messiah or Creation. I remember some of the songs that were always sung at these dinner parties. One of the favorite songs was like this:
"There came from the woods an old Squaw and an old Indian and on their coarse blankets was cold ice and snow."
I can also remember a discussion that took place, perhaps it was at the "Silver Dollar" between prominent citizens of the two largest towns in the territory as to the wording of this song. One of the largest bankers and sedate citizens of Guthrie contended that the song should read: "Cold frost and snow" while an equally prominent citizen of Oklahoma City claimed that the correct rendition was: "Cold ice and snow." While the discussion was going on, C. G. Jones nudged me and said: "How about it Billy?" As I
was a young man and a member of the legislature, I did not think it appropriate to express an opinion. Another favorite song was about that "Bear that came over the mountain to see what he could see."
Col. James Stovall's favorite song was that one about Young Saint Simmons being Old Saint Simmons, since Old Saint Simmons is dead." C. G. Jones and Hon. Sidney Clarke were both congenial men and liked to be "out with the boys," but neither of them drank a drop of intoxicatng liquor.
On the same day the vote was taken to pass Council Bill No. 7 over the Governor's veto, which vote failed, Joseph Post, representative from Kingfisher county, introduced House Bill No. 49. "An Act to locate and establish the seat of government for the Territory of Oklahoma and providing for the erection of capital buildings and for temporary territorial offices."
The Kingfisher bill attempted to overcome all the objections that Governor Steele had offered to the Oklahoma City bill. This bill passed the House the next day, Oct. 17—by a vote of 14 to 1—ten members present not voting. It passed the Council after a long hard fight and with a number of amendments on Oct. 24th. The bill had been fought every inch by Guthrie and all sorts of objections were offered but the majority was against them. It now had to go back to the House where it originated to have the Council amendments concurred in by the House It was transmitted to the House with amendments, Oct. 28th—Kingfisher tried to get its bill called up to vote on, concurring in the Council amendments just as soon as it was reported from the Council. For some reason I did not understand at that time, some of the Oklahoma county delegation refused to vote to consider the amendments. In fact, they stood off the vote on these amendments until Nov. 10th, ten or twelve days. Kingfisher was fretting and disappointed, wanting us to deliver the goods as we had promised in our signed agreement.
While the question of concurring in the amendments of the Council was pending in the House, Governor Steele sent for me to come to his office. He said to me: "Mr. Peery, if
the House passes that Kingfisher capital bill I know of no reason that I should not sign it and make Kingfisher the Capital of Oklahoma. The principal reason that I did not sign your Oklahoma City bill was that when the Cherokee Strip and those western reservations are opened to settlement, your town would not be near the center of this Territory. I cannot make that objection to this Kingfisher bill, for when the new lands are opened, Kingfisher will be well located."
It was quite evident that the Governor thought that we Oklahoma City people did not want the capital to go to Kingfisher. I replied by telling him that if we voted the capital to Kingfisher we wanted him to sign the bill. I also said to him that we were under an obligation to Kingfisher for helping us to pass our Oklahoma City bill and I must vote for Kingfisher.
He replied, "Those people have been playing double with you." "Look here at this petition," and he unrolled a long scroll that reached to the floor. I read it. It was a petition that had been filed while our capital bill was in the hands of the Governor, asking "His Excellency," to veto the bill locating the capital at Oklahoma City. I do not know how many names were signed to that petition but it must have contained the name of nearly every man, woman and child in Kingfisher. I did not blame the citizens of Kingfisher for signing this petition as the veto of the Oklahoma City bill was the only hope for their town ever being the capital of Oklahoma. The members of the Legislature, who had voted for Oklahoma City, had not signed, but Governor Steele said that they had presented this petition to him. I told the Governor that I had promised to vote for Kingfisher and must keep my word.
While the writer was talking to the Governor, we heard people coming up the stairway. He looked up and said to me "There is the Kingfisher bunch now, go into this side room and don't come out until they leave." I went into the small room and listened for an hour to their conversation. When they had gone, Steele expressed himself very emphatically as to the real object of their visit to his office and when it came to expressing an adverse opinion, Steele had Haskell beaten in the use of language.
The next morning I told a prominent citizen of Oklahoma City that I was going to call up the vote concurring in the Council amendment to House Bill No. 49 that afternoon. He requested me to wait until next day and gave his reason. "We Oklahoma City people had paid that Kingfisher delegation in the House a sum of money the night they signed that agreement with the members from Oklahoma county and their agreement with us was that if the capital was voted to Kingfisher they would pay back the money that we had advanced to them." He also said they had not gotten their money back but were promised it that night. I told the gentleman I knew nothing about their financial transaction but I wanted to comply with the agreement that we had made and was ready to vote for Kingfisher. I afterward learned that these Oklahoma City financiers got most of their money back.
The vote on the Council amendment to House Bill No. 49 was a special order for Nov. 10th. The amendment was concurred in by a vote of 15 to 10, but Governor Steele finally vetoed the Kingfisher capital bill. The fight to locate the capital at Kingfisher was a most strenuous one and more than one night the House remained in continuous session until morning. This ended the fight to locate the capital for nearly twenty years and until after Oklahoma was admitted to the union of States.
TERRITORIAL SCHOOLS LOCATED
While the capital prize, the Territorial Capitol, was not located by the First Legislative Assembly, yet three institutions were established for the purpose of higher education for the youths of our young territory. These schools have grown and expanded, ever keeping progress with our great state, until to-day they rank with the best institutions for the dissemination of knowledge, both technical and cultural, in America.
Inasmuch as most of the high schools in Oklahoma receive the Chronicles and many of the teachers use it in teaching Oklahoma history, it will be of interest to know that the University at Norman, the Agricultural and Mechanical College at Stillwater and the Territorial Normal School at Edmond were all located and established by the First Territorial Legislature. These three towns had been selected for the locations of these institutions in our original organization, but
after Oklahoma City had lost the capital by the veto of Gov. George W. Steele, there was but little fight on the location of the Territorial schools. Guthrie was satisfied to keep the capital and as the Kingfisher delegation had deserted them, they owed Kingfisher nothing and they voted solidly for the schools as now located. Not only did they vote for the schools, but their experienced Legislators took an active interest in perfecting the bills that had been introduced by the opposing faction.
LOCATING THE UNIVERSITY
The original bill locating the University of Oklahoma, Council Bill No. 56. was introduced in the Council by Councilman Mort L. Bixler of Cleveland county, October 30, 1890. The title of the bill was corrected to read: "An Act to establish and locate the University of Oklahoma."
Councilman Foster of Guthrie, when the bill came up for consideration, offered a substitute and the substitute was accepted by friends of the bill. When Council Bill No. 56 came up for consideration in the House of Representatives, Merten, of Guthrie, offered an amendment providing that, Cleveland County shall within six months after the approval of the Act provide by sale of bonds, or otherwise, the sum of ten thousand dollars which shall be placed in the hands of the Territorial Treasurer for the use of the Board of Regents for the purpose of erecting the buildings and procuring the apparatus necessary to put the Territorial University in operation. What would the faculty now or the Board of Regents think of a ten thousand dollar appropriation! The bill passed the House without a dissenting vote. The Council concurred in the House amendments. Governor Steele approved the bill December 19, 1890, and it became a law December 24, 1890. While their names do not appear on the bill, yet I think that Tom Waggoner and Col. James Stovall deserve much credit for having Norman named as the seat of this great educational institution. I might insert here that a supplementary bill was passed to clarify some of the provisions in Council Bill No. 56.
THE A. & M. COLLEGE
The Agricultural College was by most people considered the choice of the territorial institutions for the reason that
the United States gvoernment was supposed to make a liberal appropriation for the experimental station in connection with the college. Governor Steele vetoed the first bill passed to put this school at Stillwater. The bill that finally passed and became a law was House Bill No. 892, locating the college in Payne County (introduced Nov. 20, 1890). Mr. Merton inserted a new section making Payne County issue bonds in the sum of ten thousand dollars to be used for the benefit of the school. The bill passed the House December 20. There was some fight on the bill in the Council, but it finally passed. Judge J. L. Brown, William McCartney and L. J Pitman were against the bill. Councilman Brown fought the bill all through and finally explained his vote, making his explanation a matter of record. Brown said: "This Legislature has been charged with bribery and corruption, and rumors in this regard have pointed to no delegation as it has to that of Payne County. Under such circumstances, to see the best institution in the Territory go to that county is the reason one should hesitate and I therefore vote NO."
The writer did not blame Judge Brown for voting No. I would not have voted for this bill that put the A. & M. College at Stillwater except for the faithfulness of one man from Payne County and I had reason to know that this college would not now be located there except that county had one true man in the legislature, the Hon. J. L Mathews. Mr. Mathews introduced House Bill No. 82 and it was signed by the governor and became a law at the adjournment of the first legislative assembly Dec. 24, 1890.
EDMOND NORMAL SCHOOL
Dr. J. W. Howard, of Edmond, Oklahoma County, introduced Council Bill No. 106 on December 16, 1890. This bill provided for a normal school to be located at Edmond. Although this bill was introduced late in the session, it encountered no opposition, being passed by a unanimous vote on roll call in both Houses and Council. No other institutions were located during the first territorial legislature. It may be recorded here that Doctor Howard wanted to make Edmond the county seat of County No. 8, and introduced Council Bill No. 16 with this object in view. It was afterward amended by naming the proposed county "Ventura." It was proposed that this new county should get its territory out of both Logan
and Oklahoma counties. Of course this bill failed to become a law.
DELEGATE TO CONGRESS
While the legislature was busy with the work intrusted to them by the Organic Act, there were other political events taking place that seemed to engage the attention of the new settlers. Under Section 16 of the Act of May 2d, 1890, provisions were made for the election of a delegate to the House of Representatives of the United States to serve during each congress of the United States. It also said: "The first election shall be held at such time and place and conducted in such a manner as the governor shall appoint and direct, after sixty days, notice to be given by proclamation."
Now, a delegate to congress has no vote in that body but has a seat on the floor of the House, can talk upon any subject before the House, and then he draws the same salary of a congressman. He also may introduce bills and is usually the arbiter of things pertaining to the territory he represents. It was a position of influence and importance and was sought after by the public men of both parties.
Governor Steele issued his proclamation providing for the election November 4, 1890. There were two to be elected, one to fill the unexpired part of the Forty-first Congress and the other for full two years term following. The democrats held their convention at Norman, October 10, 1890. They nominated James Mathews for the short term and J. G. McCoy, (the Joseph McCorn of Emerson Hough's "North of Thirty-six" story), for the full term commencing March 4, 1891. It required over fifty ballots to make these nominations. W. W. Witten, of Oklahoma City, was chairman of this convention.
The republican convention met in the House of Representatives Saturday, October 18, and nominated David A. Harvey for both the short and the long term. The writer was present at both of these conventions but was not a delegate in the republican convention. W. H. Merten, member of the House from Logan, was chairman of this convention and Robert A. Lowry of Stillwater was secretary. Only two names were placed before the convention, Dennis T. Flynn, the postmaster at Guthrie, and David A. Harvey, of Oklahoma City. Harvey was nominated by a vote of thirty-six
to sixteen. It might be recorded right here that Flynn came back two years later and his life and public service will take a big page in the future history of Oklahoma. Flynn would probably have been nominated except for the capital fight and that Governor Steele did not think it good policy for Guthrie to keep the capital and to also have the congressional delegate. Anyway on November 4, 1890, Harvey was elected to both the long and the short term and we democrats began to think that maybe we were in the minority.
If I were to stop my story of the first territorial legislature right here the reader would be justified in thinking that that outfit spent the entire 120 days trying to locate the capital and in locating and in establishing the three state schools. However, I believe that the first territorial legislature enacted more pages of constructive legislation than ever has been enacted by any subsequent legislature, either territorial or state.
THE TERRITORIAL LEGISLATURE
The territorial legislature had such a small membership, as compared to the present state legislature, that it did not take nearly so long to consider a bill and get action on it. Then again, the territorial legislature enacted into law whole chapters of the laws of other states without any effort to consider it section by section. This was necessary, however, as we had to have a code of laws to take the place of the Nebraska laws, that had been placed over this territory by the Organic Act, as these statutes became null and void at the adjournment of the first legislature.
By provisions of a bill introduced in the Council, we enacted the entire criminal code and criminal procedure from the laws of Dakota. This was what was known as the Field's Code. It had been originally written by Justice Fields of New York and had perhaps been adopted by one or two other states besides Dakota. The lawyers claimed that it was the most harmonious and systematic code of laws and the best digested that had ever been enacted in the United States. (There may have been a few sections upon the subject of navigation, setting forth the responsibility of the owner of the ship, etc., when we did not have a stream deeper than the
North Canadian. If there were such sections they came into the statutes through the enactment of the Field's code that was originally written for New York. Personally I do not think that Oklahoma ever passed a navigation law.
Some of our first civil code was copied from Indiana and much of our county organization was taken from the political code of Kansas. Of course these code bills were amended so as to make them applicable to territorial conditions and a number of amendments were made to these laws of other states before they finally became the law of Oklahoma.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS ESTABLISHED
No more important nor imperative duty rested upon that legislature than that to establish a system of public schools for the territory. The first bill introduced into the House was a school bill and the second in the Council. There were fifty thousand dollars available from Federal appropriation to pay teachers as soon as it could be legally expended. All the schools up to this time had been subscription schools and only a small part of the children had attended them.
The whole subject was thrashed out in the legislature and this was one subject that every member thought he knew something about. Nearly every member wanted the legislature to pass the laws that were on the statute books in the state from which he came and there were more members from Kansas than from any other state.
The most acrimonious discussion was had in each House of the legislature upon the question as to whether Oklahoma should provide for separate schools for the white and colored children. The writer of these lines, one of the two or three living members of the House, was a young man and from Missouri, no doubt rather impulsive and sometimes intemperate in language. He was bitterly opposed to mixed schools and took an active part in the arguments. The bill as finally enacted was almost a compromise as it gave counties where the citizens wanted mixed schools the right to have them. Only two or three counties ever had mixed schools and the law was afterwards amended making it unlawful to have mixed schools anywhere in the territory.
The laws passed provided for a complete system of public schools and schools were soon organized all over the territory.
THE LIQUOR TIAFFIC
The legislature followed the recommendations made by the governor in his message on the question of regulating the liquor traffic. They passed a law providing that upon a proper petition being presented, the Board of county commissioners were authorized to issue license for the sale of liquors. The license was high and there were all kind of regulations and restrictions. A member from Kansas introduced a bill for strict prohibition in the territory but it had but few friends in the House. The members had all lived under one year of prohibition prior to the passage of the Organic Act. Then again, there was a feeling that we could not successfully enforce a law that ran contrary to human nature; then some folks thought that society should not entrust the keeping of its virtues to the criminal laws, while we fundamentalist democrats could not harmonize it with individualist teaching of Jeffersons or with the doctrine of the "Free moral agency of man." However, we have seen it all come to pass, but if humanity is any better or there is less crime it has not been made apparent to the writer.
I introduced an anti-trust bill entitled: "An act to prevent trusts and combinations in restraint of trade." It became the law of the territory and was on the statute books until Oklahoma became a state; when somehow it got lost out of the book. Perhaps it was just as well as that sort of laws are now obsolete. Everybody now believes in combinations to raise prices and restrain trade. Even the government is lending its aid to organizations in all lines of industry to raise prices and prevent competition. Everybody is to prosper by combining against everybody else and the public is supposed to pay the bill. It is a theory of polictical economics to which I have never subscribed.
The last resolution passed by the House introduced by Tom Waggoner, of Cleveland, was as follows: (To brief it), Whereas, "all the members of said Assembly who had filed their certificate of election and now alive having passed
through the ordeal without any perceivable marks of displeasure of the Creator of all law makers:
Therefore, be it resolved, by the House that the adoption of this resolution shall be the expression of the members of thanks to Him, the speaker of the upper House in Heaven to which House all the members of this House should hope to be elected."
A NEW OKLAHOMA
The legislature had adjourned but it was just the begining of greater things. The six small counties surrounded by Indian reservations was to grow and expand into a great territory and into a great state. No longer was Oklahoma satisfied to be a "pent up Utica" but her ambition was to be one of the greatest states in the Union. The Cherokee Commission had been appointed in July, 1889. The work of the commission contemplated negotiations with the Cherokees and all the smaller Indian Tribes that held reservations in the territory. The object was to clear the title, allot the land to the Indians in severalty and open the surplus land to white settlement. This commission did its work well, many reservations were opened within a few years, and Oklahoma added thousands of new settlers and made much history.
The writer of these "First Two Years" was present and attended all these openings but he cannot continue the story now as he feels that he has already taken up more space in the Chronicles than he should have taken. Perhaps some time he may write more upon the growth and development of Oklahoma Territory.
My Eighty-niner friend, Dr. J. A. Ryan, has called my attention to a mistake made in my story on page 433, of the December, 1929 Chronicles, which should be corrected. The mistake was in the names of the first legal city council of Oklahoma City. The election was held August 9, 1890, under the provisions of the Nebraska law that had been extended
over Oklahoma by the Organic Act and the following were elected, to-wit:
W. J. Gault, Mayor; W. W. Witten, Police Judge; H. B. Mitchell, City Attorney; T. M, Upshaw, City Clerk, and Charley Colcord was continued, as the City Marshal.
The following are the names of the first legal city council, Dr. C. A. Peyton, President; J. A. Barrows, J. W. Boles, Dr. J. A. Ryan, F. V. Brandon, John Brogan, N. M. Miller and John C. Romick.
DAN W. PEERY.