Minnesota Territorial Government
From Compendium of History and Biography of Northern Minnesota
George Ogle & Company
Chicago, Illinois 1902
Chapter IV, Pages 51-63
Steps toward the organization of
It has been said that while the bill for the admission of
Under this act the president appointed Alexander Ramsey of
To all whom it may concern: Whereas, by an act of the Congress of the United States of America, entitled ‘An act to establish the territorial government of Minnesota,’ approved March 3, 1849, a true copy is hereunto annexed, a government was erected over all the country described in said act to be called ‘The Territory of Minnesota ;‘ and whereas, the following named officers have been duly appointed and commissioned under the same act as officers of said government, viz.: Alexander Ramsey, governor of said Territory, and commander-in-chief of the militia thereof, and superintendent of Indian affairs therein; Charles K. Smith, secretary of said Territory; Aaron Goodrich, chief justice, and David Cooper and Bradley B. Meeker, associate justices of the supreme court of said Territory, and to act as judges of the district court of said Territory ; Joshua L. Taylor, marshal of the United States for said Territory; Henry L. Moss, attorney of the United States for said Territory; and said officers having respectively assumed the duties of their said offices according to law, said territorial government is declared to be organized and established, and all persons are enjoined to obey, conform to, and respect the laws thereof accordingly.
“Given under my hand and the seal of said Territory, this first day of June, A. D. 1849, and of the Independence of the United States of America the seventy third.
“By the Governor,
Chas K. Smith, Secretary"
June 11 of the same year a second proclamation was made. This divided the Territory into three judicial districts, as follows: The first comprised the county of St. Croix; the second the county of La Pointe and the region north and west of the Mississippi and north of the Minnesota, and a line running due west from the head waters of the Minnesota to the Missouri river; the third was formed of the country’ west of the Mississippi and south of the Minnesota. Judge Goodrich was assigned to the first, Judge Meeker to the second, while Judge Cooper was to preside over the courts of the third district. Court was ordered to he held at
From the time of his first appearance in the Territory Governor Ramsey had been staying at Mendota, the guest of H.H. Sibley, but June 26, 1849, he removed to St. Paul, the capital of the new Territory, a place at that time of but 840 inhabitants, as appears from census taken by the sheriff of St. Croix county, in which it was then located.
On July 7, 1849, Governor Alex. Ramsey, by proclamation, fixed the following council districts for the Territory, which had not then been divided into counties: No. 1. The St. Croix precinct of St. Croix county, and the settlements on the west bank of the
An election was also ordered to be held on the first day of August following for a delegate to the National Congress and for nine councilors and eighteen representatives to form the legislative assembly of the Territory.
This election passed off with but little excitement. Henry H. Sibley was chosen delegate to the national House of Representatives without opposition. James S. Norris, Samuel Burkled, William H. Forbes, James McC. Boal, David B. Loomis, John Rollins, David Olmsted, William R.Sturges and Martin McLeod were elected members of the council. Those chosen as representatives were: Joseph W. Furber, James Wells, M. S. Wilkinson, Sylvanus Trask, Mahlon Black, Benjamin W. Brunson, Henry Jackson, John L. Dewey, Parsons K. Johnson, Henry F. Setzer, William R. Marshall, William Dugas, Jeremiah Russell, Allen Morrison, Lorenzo A. Babcock, Thomas A. Holmes, Alexis Bailly and Gideon H. Pond.
With this election the organization of the Territorial government was complete, and the people settled down to the enjoyment of life under their local self-government. J. L. Taylor, who had been appointed to the office of
The first courts were held in accordance with the terms of the proclamation during the month of August. At Stillwater, on the 13th, court was organized with Judge Goodrich presiding, Judge Cooper, by courtesy, sitting with him. On the 20th of the month Judge F. B. Meeker opened court in the government mill at the Falls of St. Anthony, now Minneapolis; the foreman of the grand jury was Franklin Steele. Mendota was the scene of the holding of court for the third judicial district ; David Cooper was the judge. Governor Ramsey was given a seat on the right and judge Goodrich on the left of the presiding judge. Henry H. Sibley was foreman of the grand jury, and for the benefit of those who could not understand English, V. H. Forbes acted as interpreter.
Alexander Ramsey continued governor of the Territory from June 1, 1849, until May 15, 1853,. when he was succeeded by Willis A. Gorman of Indiana, an officer in the American army during the Mexican war. He retained the gubernatorial office until April 23, 1857. when, his term having expired, he was succeeded by Samuel Medary. The latter held the office until the admission of
The other officers of the Territorial government are given officially as follows, with the date of their service:
Secretaries—Charles K. Smith, from June 1,. 1849, to October 23, 1851; Alex. Wilkin, October 23, 1851, to May 15, 1853; Jos. T. Rosser,. May 15. 1853, to April 23, 1857; and Charles L. Chase, from April 23, 1857, to May 24, 1858.
Treasurers —Calvin A. Tuttle, November 3,. 1849 to July 2. 1852; George W. Prescott, July 2, 1853, to February 24, 1854: Charles E. Leonard, February 24, 1854, to May 7, 1857; and George W. Armstrong’, May 7, 1857, until May 24, 1858.
Auditors—J. E. McKusick November 3, 1849, to November 30, 1852: A. Van Vorhees, November 30, 1852, to May 15, 1853; Socrates Nelson, May 15, 1853 to January 17, 1854; Julius Georgii, January 17, 1854, to May 24, 1858.
Attorneys General—Lorenzo A. Babcock,, June 1, 1849, to May 15, 1853; Lafayette Emmett, May 15, 1853, to May 24, 1858.
Chief Justices——Aaron Goodrich, June 1, 1849, to November 13, 1851; Jerome Fuller, November 13, 1851, to December 16, 1852; Henry Z. Hayner, December 16, 1852, to April 7, 1853 (never presided at a term) : William H. Welch, April. 7, 1853, to May 24, 1858.
Associate Justices—David Cooper, June 1, 1849 to April 7, 1853: Bradley B. Meeker, June 1, 1849 to April 7, 1853; Andrew G. Chatfield, April 7. 1853 to April 23, 1857; Moses G. Sherburne, April 7, 1853, to April 13, 1857; R. R. Nelson, April 23, 1857, to May 24. 1858; Charles E. Flandrau, April 23. 1857, to May 24. 1858.
Clerks of Supreme Court—James K. Humphrey, 1850 to 1853 ; Andrew J. Whitney, 1853 to 1854; George W. Prescott, 1854 to 1858.
Reporters of Supreme Court—William Hollinshead, appointed July 7, 1851; Isaac Atwater, appointed March 6, 1852 : John B. Brisbin, appointed February 28; 1854; M. E. Ames, appointed March 20, 1856; Harvey Officer, appointed November 27, 1857.
Delegates to Congress—Henry H.Sibley, January 15, 1849, to March 4, 1853; Henry M. Rice, December 5, 1853, to March 4, 1857; W. W. Kingsbury, December 7, 1857, to May 11, 1858
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF THE TERRITORY
The first legislative assembly of the new
The second session of the Territorial legislative assembly assembled January 1, 1851, and contained the following members:
Council—David B. Loomis, president; James S. Norris, Samuel Burkleo, William H. Forbes, James McC. Boal, John Rollins, David Olmsted, William R. Sturges and Martin McLeod.
The Territory having been divided into counties, it was apportioned into council districts by this assembly, as follows: 1st. Washington, Itasca and Chisago counties ; 2d, precincts of St. Paul and Little Canada; 3d, precincts of St. Anthony’s Falls; 4th, Wabasha and Washington counties and precincts of St. Paul and Little Canada jointly (Wabasha county to be one representative district); 5th, Benton and Cass counties; 6th, Dakota county; 7th, Pembina county.
The third legislative assembly was convened at the capital January 7, 1852 and adjourned. March 5, following. It was composed of the below named gentlemen:
Council—William H. Forbes, president; Elam Greeley, David B. Loomis, George W. Farrington, William L. Larned, Lorenzo A. Babcock, Sylvanus B. Lowry, Martin McLeod and’ Norman W. Kittson.
House—John D. Ludden, speaker; Martin Leavitt, Mahlon Black, Jesse Taylor,
The fourth general assembly, that of 1853, assembled January 5, and adjourned March 5. It was composed as follows:
Council—Martin McLeod, president; Elam Greeley, D. B. Loomis, George W. Farrington, William H. Forbes, William L. Larned, L. A. Babcock, S. B. Lowry and Norman W. Kittson.
House—David Day, speaker; N. Green Wilcox, John D. Ludden, Albert Stimson, Caleb Traux, William P. Murray, B. W. Lott, J. C. Ramsey, L. M. Oliver, William Noot, R. P. Russell, G. B. Dutton, James Wells, J. McKee, A. F. Ames, B. H. Randall, Joseph Rolette and Antoine Gingras.
The fifth assembly, that of 1854, was convened. January 4, and adjourned March 4. It was constituted as follows:
Council—S. Baldwin Olmsted, president ; John F, Mower. Albert Stimson, William P. Murray, Isaac Van Etten, Charles T. Stearns, William Freeborn, S. B. Olmsted, Joseph R. Brown and Norman W. Kittson.
House—N. C. D. Taylor, speaker; John Fisher, N. C. D. Taylor, Robert Watson, William McKusick, William Noot, William A. Davis, Louis Bartlett, John H. Day, Levi Sloan, Cephas Gardner, Henry S. Plummer, O. M. Lord, R. M. Richardson, Peter Roy, Hezekiah Fletcher, William H. Nobles, Joseph Rolette and Donald G. Morrison.
Sixth, legislature, 1855, assembled January 3, and adjourned March 3:
Council- William P. Murray, president; John E. Mower, Albert Stimson, William P.
Murray, Isaac Van Etten, Charles T. Stearns, William Freeborn,S, B. Olmsted, Joseph R. Brown and N. W. Kittson.
House—James S. Norris, speaker; James F. Dixon, William Willim, James S. Norris, Samuel M. Register, William A. Davis, D. F. Brawley, C.
Under the apportionment act of 1855 the state was redistricted as follows:
First council district :
The seventh legislature, that of 1856, assembled January 2, and adjourned March 1. It was composed of the following:
Council—John B. Brisbin, president ; J. D. Ludden, H. N. Setzer, John B. Brisbin, John Rollins, William Freeborn. Lewis Stone, H. G. Bailly, Samuel Dooley, Joseph Rolette, Clark W. Thompson, B. F. Tillotson, St. A. D. Balcombe, W. D. Lowry, C. E. Flandrau and D. M. Hanson.
House—Charles Gardner, of Westervelt, speaker; James S. Norris, Abraham Van Vorhes, Henry A. Jackman, N. C. D. Taylor, William H. Nobles, B. W. Lott, F. Knauft, Ross Wilkinson, Reuben Haus, Sumner W. Farnham, C. W. La Boutillier, Charles Gardner, J. B. Hubbell, John L. Wilson, William Sturgis, M. T. Murphy, O. C. Gibbs, John C. Ide, J. T. Galbraith, John M. Holland, R. Carlisle Burdick, Charles Grant, W. B. Gere, Samuel Hull, William F. Dunbar, William B Covel, Martin G. Thompson, John H. Hartenbauer, Cornelius F. Buck, James Kirkman, Parsons K. Johnson, Aurelius F. de La Vergue, George A. McLeod, James F. Bradley, Thomas W. Pierce, Arva Cleveland, Thomas B. Hunt, Francis Thorndike.
The eighth legislature held two sessions; the regular session was convened January 7, 1857 and adjourned March 7, following. The extra session was held from April 27 to May 23. It was composed of the following named:
Council—John B. Brisbin, president ; John D. Ludden, H. N. Setzer, John B. Brisbin, W. W Wales, William Freeborn, Lewis Stone, Samuel Dooley, H. G. Bailly, Joseph Rolette, B. F. Tillotson. C. W. Thompson,
House—Joseph W. Furber, speaker; L. K. Stannard, Mahlon Black, Joseph W. Furber, Elam Greeley, William Branch, A. T. Chamblin, William P. Murray, William Costello, J. C. Ramsey, Jonathan Chase, Henry Hechtman, Nelson Payne, W. W. Sweeney, Samuel Abbe, W. W Kingsbury, John L. Wilson, C. P. Adams, J. J. McVey, L. M. Brown, F. J. Whitlock, Morgan L. Noble, Charles Grant, John B. Wilkie, William B. Gere, D. F. Case, W. J. Howell, John M. Berry, M. G. Thompson, Eli B. Barrows, Ephraim L. King, Alonzo P. Foster. Joseph R. Brown, Francis Baasen, O. A. Thomas, John M. Troll, Asa Keith, J. P. Plummer, W. Hayden and Delano T. Smith. At the extra session Charles Jewett served in place of M. L. Noble, resigned.
In the early part of 1857 an act was passed by the Congress of the
In accordance with the terms of this act an election was held for delegates to the constitutional convention, on the first Monday in June 1857. Party spirit ran high and the election was exciting. It resulted in the choice of fifty-nine Republicans and fifty-three Democrats. At midnight previous to the day fixed for the meeting of the convention the Republican members proceeded to the capitol, because the enabling act did not fix at what hour the assembly’ should be called to order. Their fear was that the opposition might anticipate them and elect the officers. Immediately on the stroke of twelve the secretary of the territory entered the speaker’s chair and called those present to order. A motion to adjourn having been made, the Democratic members who happened to be present voted in the affirmative and left the hall, The Republicans, however, remained and proceeded to organize, deeming themselves in the majority. They, at once, entered upon the business of drawing up a state constitution and taking all the necessary steps looking toward statehood. After several days the Democratic wing of the convention also organized and laid claim to being the true body’ of the convention. They also proceeded to draw up a constitution. Both parties conducted themselves in a remarkably intelligent and orderly manner. Nothing was done to mar the peace and decorum of the occasion. After few weeks, however, a conference was called, committees from both sides were appointed which resulted in both sides uniting on the same constitution, which was presented to the state on August 29. Election, in accordance with this constitution, was held for state officers and for the ratification of the constitution October 13, 1857, when it was adopted by’ the people by an almost unanimous vote. The convention was composed of the following gentlemen:
Republican wing, assembled July 13, dissolved August 29; St. A. D. Balcombe, president; F. A. Babcock, secretary; P. A. Cedarstam, W, H. Folsom, L. K. Stannard, Charles F. Lowe, S. W. Putnam, D. M. Hall, D. A. Secombe, P. Winell, L. C. Walker, J. H. Murphy, Charles McClure, Aaron C. Hudson, George Watson, Frank Mantor, Joseph Peckham, Fred. Ayer, John W. North, Thomas Bolles, Oscar F. Perkins, Thomas Foster, T. J. Galbraith, A B. Vaughn, C. W. Thompson, John A. Anderson, Charles A. Coe, N. P. Colburn, James A. McCann, H. A. Billings, Charles Hanson, H. W. Holley, John Cleghorn, A. H. Butler, Robert Lyle, Boyd Phelps, William H. Mills, Charles H. Garnish, Simlow Harding, Nathan B.Robbins, W. J. Duly, Samuel A. Kemp, Thomas Wilson, D. L. King, Benjamin C. Baldwin, Amos Coggswell, Lewis McCune, Edwin P. Davis, Cyrus Aldrich, Wentworth Hayden, R. L. Bartholomew, W. F. Russell, Henry Eschlie, Charles B. Sheldon, David Morgan, E. N. Bates, Albert W. Combs, T. B. Smith and B. E. Messer.
Democratic wing, assembled July 13, dissolved August 29; Henry H. Sibley, president; J. J. Noah, secretary; William Holcombe, James S. Norris, Henry N. Setzer, Gold T. Curtis, Charles G. Leonard, Newington Gilbert, Charles E. Butler, R. H. Sanderson, George L. Becker, Moses Sherburne, D. A. J. Baker, Lafayette Emmett, William P. Murray, W. A. Gorman, William H. Taylor, John S. Prince, Patrick Nash, William B. McGrorty, Paul Faber, M. B. Ames, B. B. Meeker, William M. Lashells, C. A. Tuttle, C. L. Chase, Edwin C. Stacy, Daniel Gilman, H. C. Wait, J. C. Shepley, William Sturgis, J.W. Tenvoorde, W. W. Kingsbury. R. H. Barrett, Robert Kennedy, Daniel J. Burns, Frank Warner, William A. Davis, Joseph Burwell, H. G. Bailey, Andrew Keegan, James McFetridge, J. P. Wilson, J. Jerome, Xavier Cantell, Joseph Rolette, Louis Vasseur, James C. Day, Joseph R. Brown, C. E. Flandrau, Francis Baasen, W.B, McMahan, J. H. Swan and A. E. Ames.
The first session of the state legislature commenced on the first Wednesday of December, 1857. and shortly after elected Henry M. Rice and James Shields as
On the 29th of January, 1858, Stephen A. Douglas, United States senator from
By a vote of one hundred amid fifty-eight out of one hundred and ninety-six cast, the house of representatives passed the bill shortly after. May 11, the bill was approved by the president, and
The state constitution provided for the retention in their respective offices of the territorial officers at the time of the adoption of the organic law of the state until the new state should have been admitted, so they held over until May 24, 1858.
From the time of the organization of the territorial government, at which time
Copyright 2007-2015 Minnesota Territorial Pioneers, Inc.