Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 10, No. 3
September, 1932

Page 306


Forty-two years ago the first territorial legislature convened at Guthrie. This was the beginning of representative government in the Territory of Oklahoma. Under the provisions of an act of congress known as the Organic Act, which became a law May 1, 1890, there were to be elected thirteen members of the Council and twenty-six members of the House of Representatives.

George W. Steele of Marion, Indiana, was appointed Governor by President Harrison. Governor Steele arrived in Guthrie, Oklahoma, the City that had been named as temporary capital, May 23, 1890. In compliance with the provisions of the Organic Act, as soon as the Governor could obtain a certified copy of the population of the Territory, as shown by the census taken in June 1890, he proceeded to apportion the newly created Territory into Representative arid Council districts (the entire population as shown by the census of 1890 was only 61,834).

In the first legislative assemblies there were only seven counties represented, including "No Man's Land" which was made a part of Oklahoma by the provisions of the Organic Act. In its forty-two years of legislative history, Oklahoma has had eight Territorial and thirteen State legislatures. The early legislatures, while the population was small, had some complicated problems to solve. Their work was to initiate, lay the foundation, as it were, for the future great State. Every one of the past legislatures has left its im-

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print upon the laws and has added its chapter to the history of the State. As the State expanded and developed in population and territory, many complications arose that required intelligent consideration by each succeeding legislature. Oklahoma has always been progressive. The legislatures have not been tied to precedent. This State has taken the lead in progressive legislation. Most of these progressive measures proved to be beneficial and have been retained in the statutes of the State and some of them have been incorporated into the codes of other states. Other laws have been enacted to meet emergencies or to appease public sentiment or public clamour that were not founded on the correct theories of political science and had to be repealed.

As to the personnel of the twenty-one Territorial and State legislatures, the writer is of the opinion that the men and women who have made the laws of Oklahoma for the past forty-two years were, in the main, high class citizens and fully the peer of the legislators of other States of the Union. However, there have often been some men unworthy of public trust elected to represent the people.

In the early territorial days many men who had been well known in the states from which they came sought to serve in the legislature in order to bring themselves into prominence before statehood as they had high political ambitions in view when Oklahoma became a state. Most of these soon found that they could not succeed in politics on their past reputation. The fact that a man was prominent in some other state gave him but little prestige in this new country. He had to establish his claim to leadership here. The Oklahoma legislature has been the forum from which many of those who have represented the State in the United States Congress, both in the Senate and the House of Representatives, have been promoted.

While the legislature has been the butt of many jokes and jests, yet ours is a representative form of government and the members are given authority to speak and act for the people. Many mistakes are made, legislatures are all fallible but they are representatives of the people and the people themselves are fallible. A free people can never afford to abandon representative government.


Page 308


The Secretary regrets that a mistake was made in the minutes of the January, 1932, meeting of the Board of Directors, as published in the March number of the Chronicles, in giving credit to another for the splendid historical collection loaned to the Oklahoma Historical society by Aaron C. Parrott.

This mistake in the minutes was corrected at the July meeting of the Board. This collection contains historical souvenirs and mementoes gathered from all parts of the world by Mr. Parrott. There are coins of almost all nations, some of them being the moneys of the people before the Christian Era. Mr. Parrott has traveled extensively in his long life and has collected a great deal of interesting historical material. He has loaned much of this to the Oklahoma Historical Society to be kept until the year 2000, after which it is to go to his descendants, provided all of them living at that time over ten years of age ask for them.


Arrangements are being perfected for the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the admission of Oklahoma into the Sisterhood of States. The celebration of this historic event is being sponsored by the Oklahoma Memorial Association, Mrs. Frank Korn, President. It is known as "Oklahoma's Silver Jubilee" and is to be held in Oklahoma City, November 16th, this being the anniversary of the date that Oklahoma was admitted into the Union.

Committees have been appointed and invitations have been extended to the counties asking their participation in the celebration by entering floats in the Parade of the Counties.

The organization in charge announce the following tentative program for the celebration, to-wit:

Parade of the Counties at 10:00 O'clock A.M.

Speaking at the Historical Building at 2:30 O'clock P.M.

Banquet and Commemoration Program at 7:00 O'clock P.M.

Ball at 10:00 O'clock P.M.

Additional information pertaining to the plans of the

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celebration may be obtained by writing to Mrs. Frank Korn, President of the Oklahoma Memorial Association, 921 South Hoff Street, El Reno, or to Glen Marlowe, Secretary, El Reno.


There was a grand celebration of the thirty-ninth anniversary of the opening of the Cherokee Strip held in the city of Enid, September 16, 1932. It was estimated that there were more than twenty thousand visitors. It was a gala affair, yet reminiscent and historical. The opening of more than seven million acres of the best land in the world to homestead settlement was indeed an important event. It is altogether proper that the hundreds of thousand of people who now live in that section of Oklahoma should make September 16 annually a holiday and a day of remembrance.

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