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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 22, 1858.
House met pursuant to adjournment.
Prayer by Rev. Gaylord.
Journal of yesterday read and approved.
Mr. Collier moved that a Committee of Three be appointed to inform the Council that the House had organized, and to invite that body to take seats in the Hall of the House, in order to hear any communication from the Executive.
Committee-Messrs. Collier, Kline, Daily.
On motion of Mr. Clayes,
The House Rules of last session and Jefferson's Manual, when not in conflict, were adopted for the government of the House during this
On motion of Mr. Clayes,
The north side of the Hall was vacated, for the use of the members of the Council.
The following Message from the Council was received:
I am instructed to inform your honorable body, that the Council have appointed a Committee of Two, consisting of Messrs. Moore and Scott, to act with a similar committee on the part of the House, to wait upon His Excellency the Governor, and inform him of the organization of the two bodies.
S. M. CURRAN, Chief Clerk.
Mr. Steinberger offered the following resolution:
Resolved, That the members of the Council, and ex-members of the Council and House of Representatives, be allowed to take seats within the bar, at pleasure.
On motion of Mr. Stewart,
The resolution was laid on the table.
On motion of Mr. Gwyer,
The Major-General of the Territorial Militia, was admitted to a seat within the bar, at pleasure.
On motion of Mr. Clayes,
A Committee of Two was appointed to act with a like committee from the Council, to wait upon His Excellency the Governor, and inform him of the organization of the two Houses.
Committee-Messrs. Clayes and Noel.
On motion of Mr. Clayes,
A Committee of Two was appointed to inform the Council, that the House was now ready to receive that body.
Committee-Messrs. Clayes and Young.
The members of the Council now appeared, when the Council and House of Representatives went into Joint Convention.
Hon. L. L. Bowen, President of the Council, in the Chair.
On motion of Mr. Miller,
A Committee of Five was appointed to wait upon His Excellency the Governor, and inform him that the Legislature was now ready to receive any communication from him.
Committee-Messrs. Miller, Scott, Stewart, Hall and Clark.
The committee having discharged their duty,
The Governor appeared and delivered the following message:
Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly :
The people of Nebraska have confided to you the important trust of enacting such laws for the protection of their rights and interests as the exigencies of the times and the circumstances by which we are surrounded demand.
The only law under which crime can be punished in this Territory, is the Common Law of England. All other criminal laws have been abolished by the Act of a previous Legislature. The Common Law of England is so uncertain and doubtful in reference to every proceeding and offence, and its punishment, that every point will have to be adjudicated before even the courts can tell what the law is.
Thus, while serious doubts have been entertained as to whether some offences can be punished at all under that law, it has been clear that perjury, forgeries, and all offences designated as felonies, are punishable with death; a penalty which renders the strict administration of that law repugnant to our ideas of justice and humanity, and inapplicable to the age and country in which we live.
Almost all the States of the Union have adopted criminal laws, making the punishment for crime in most cases different from what they were at common law, clearly defining crimes and the penalties. And with their examples before us, it is not a difficult matter to perfect and adopt a Criminal Code for this Territory, which shall at once provide for the just and certain punishment of all offenders.
Having thus briefly called your attention to the important necessity of enacting a wholesome and judicious system of criminal laws, I desire in the same connection to call your attention to the necessity of passing laws clearly defining the jurisdiction and duties of Justices of the Peace, Constables, and other officers of the Territory. It is impossible to have the laws administered by inferior officers unless their duties and jurisdiction are clearly defined by statute laws. Each mem
ber of the Legislative Assembly is aware of the fact, that the Justices of the Peace in the Territory have refused to investigate charges of crime or preserve the peace, or do any other act, unless they could find the authority in the statute for so doing. I therefore invite your attention to the importance of this subject.
I submit herewith the reports of the Auditor, and Treasurer of the Territory.
By the Auditor's Report it will be seen that the total outstanding liabilities of the Territory are $15,774.95. It will be seen by the Treasurer's Report, that "five counties only, viz: Dodge, Douglas, Cass, Otoe and Nemaha, have paid any revenue into the territorial treasury, and the counties mentioned have not paid the full amount due of them up to this time."
Both the Treasurer and Auditor recommend changes in the Revenue Law, or the enacting of a new one. I present their recommendations to your favorable consideration, as also the recommendation of the Auditor for the procurement from the different Land Offices of a list of lands pre-empted, so as to subject them to taxation.
The passage of a law that would secure the prompt payment of taxes now due, and to fall due the coming year, would pay.off the present liabilities and meet the expenses of the Territory. Justice and wisdom dictate the necessity of the passage of such a law.
The salaries of the Auditor and Treasurer are insufficient remuneration for the amount of duty they have to perform. Their compensation should be increased.
I issued instructions, during the summer, to the District Attorneys, to file information in the proper courts against each of the banks that had failed to redeem their notes, when presented for payment, with the view to have their charters forfeited. The cases are now pending, as I am informed, and undecided. While I should not have approved any bank charter that has been adopted in the Territory, and while believing the principle upon which they are based wrong, and the effect injurious, I had no intention to interfere with any corporation that had complied with the law. In all their rights they are entitled to protection. I am not advised whether application will be made by any of them for relief. If such applications are made, serious difficulties interpose, unless the banks deposite securities to redeem their issues with some public officer to be designated by law.
The charters, as passed, made the stockholders responsible for the issues of the banks. If the time of redemption is extended by the legislature, a question may arise as to whether the stockholder is not discharged unless he assents to the extension.
I suggest to you the propriety of fixing by law the evidence which shall be sufficient to transfer stocks in the Banks in future.
A law limiting the prosecution of suits in the Territory, is dictated. by prudence and necessity. In some of the States of the Union the limitation of actions for the recovery of rights, by law, are extended to a long period of time, in others, the period of time is very short; reason and justice point to a period of time between these extremes that should be adopted by the Territory..
Your attention is directed also to the law now in force relative to Notaries Public and Commissioners of Deeds. You will find that while only one Commissioner is allowed to the largest cities in the Union, Notaries are to be commissioned without limit in the smallest towns of the Territory. A new law regulating the appointment of these officers is needed. Appropriations have heretofore been made by Congress to construct two roads in the Territory. One from Platte river to L'Eau qui Court, and the other from the Missouri river to Fort Kearney, but have proved inadequate to complete them as designed. A further appropriation is therefore necessary. The roads are of great importance to the people of the Territory and the General Government, and it is believed that further appropriations will be made and the road speedily completed.
At the last session of the Legislature, the then Acting Governor in his Message made the following recommendation: "A memorial should also be forwarded praying for an appropriation for a Military Bridge across the Platte river. All good citizens ardently desire that the sectional alienation heretofore existing between the two sections of the Territory should cease forever, and will heartily approve the endeavors of your honorable body to contribute to such a result. The importance of the earliest transmission of these memorials to Congress should elicit immediate action."
The subject is important enough to be again referred to.
There are other subjects which will demand your attention and consideration during the present session, and it will afford me great pleasure to co-operate in whatever will conduce to the public welfare. I congratulate you, gentlemen, upon the present prosperous condition of the Territory. We have enough produce to supply the wants of our own people, together with those of the emigrant, and yet more for exportation to those upon whom the harvest sun has smiled less propitiously. The husbandman has drawn wealth from the cultivation of our broad and fertile prairies by that untiring industry which has in all ages of the world been the sure and certain precursor of a Nation's greatness, power and wealth. But this wealth of the soil sinks into comparative insignificance when contrasted with that wealth which is hidden beneath it-those vast stores of mineral and coal which underlie the greater portion of the Territory. The most superficial investigations prove the existence of coal and iron in abundance. And now hundreds of our sturdy sons of the border are en route for the western portion of our Territory, in pursuit of gold. And giving credence to apparently well authenticated reports from Cherry creek and Laramie peak, a new Eldorado has been opened in our very midst which shall give an impetus to every branch of industry, and eventually make the great valley of the Missouri not only the garden, but the central money power of the Union.
In this connection, the importance of a memorial to Congress asking an appropriation to defray the expense of a geological survey of Nebraska, can but be appreciated. Such a memorial from you will, undoubtedly, secure the desired assistance, and greatly aid in revealing the untold mineral wealth of the country.
The Pacific Rail Road, which thus far has only had its existence in the thoughts and plans of men, will soon become a reality, having a permanent being. And the true route for that road and the true interests of its constructors will most certainly lead it up the rich and beautiful valley of the Great Platte. American energy and enterprise are as determined to carry out this great project of connecting the two oceans by bonds of iron, as they were to bring Europe and America into talking distance with each other, by means of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable, and the success of the one only establishes the more certain fulfillment of the other.
Nebraska occupies a position in the very heart of this great Republic, and as she now is the geographical center of the Union, so shall she soon become the commercial. Standing, as we do, midway between the Atlantic and the Pacific, where the wealth and commerce of both oceans shall pay tribute to our people, their wealth, their advancement, and their power is inevitable. With a soil unsurpassed in fertility, and a climate whose healthful influences are admitted by all, settled upon by a class of people whose industry, enterprise and intelligence is fast converting the wilderness into a garden, who shall dare portray the fullness and prosperity of that splendid destiny which is reserved for the future State of Nebraska?
Since the adjournment of the last Legislative Assembly, the Territory has lost one of her brightest intellects, one whose genius and attainments had inspired his many friends with high hopes, and marked out for him a brilliant and useful future. T. B. Cumming, Secretary of the Territory, has been called away forever.
Having resigned the place I now occupy, my official connection with you will soon cease; I can therefore have no interest, no wish, and no inclination to enter into any local agitation. But, upon the other hand, I wish in some degree to contribute to the advancement and improvement of the Territory.
I shall recur with pleasure to the many kindnesses of the people of the Territory towards me, and carry with me the recollection that I have endeavored faithfully to promote the public welfare.
In conclusion, permit me to urge you, gentlemen, to discard all local feeling, all jealousies, and unite where interests are the same and where opinions can not be divided in passing the laws so necessary for the interests of those you represent.
I hope peace, concord and harmony may characterize your deliberations, and that you may so discharge your duties as to merit and receive the approval of your constituents after your labors shall have been completed.
Executive Department, Omaha, Sept. 22, 1858.
W. A. RICHARDSON.