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a case where a Democratic legislature in Ohio had met at midnight. Not knowing what to expect, the Republicans decided to be upon their guard and a number of them therefore turned their steps toward the capitol and were fortunate enough to find that the council chamber was open. There they gathered about midnight and there they remained until daybreak on Monday morning." At that time they began to go out a few at a time to get their breakfasts and presently to return again to the capitol.
Monday, July 13, 1857, was a day of historic significance: it was the anniversary of the passage of the Northwest Ordinance. It was just seventy years before that the Congress of the Confederation, in the closing weeks of its existence, had enacted this famous charter of liberties for the pioneers of the great Northwest. Under its terms in the course of two generations Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, had successively risen out of the wilderness and had taken their places as sovereign states in the sisterhood of the Union. There remained of the old Northwest territory but one region which had not attained statehood, the country which we have called Minnesota east, and now, on the anniversary of the ordinance, the chosen delegates of the people were assembling in St. Paul to prepare a constitution for the state of Minnesota, which would include the last remaining portion of the Northwest territory. The first meeting of the constitutional convention might well have been given over to the solemn observance of the day and to the serious contemplation of its meaning. Partisan politicians, who had in the past few weeks already done much that was a reproach to the name of Minnesota, had other plans for the day.
Fairly early in the morning the doors of the hall of the house of representatives were opened and some of the Republicans began to take seats. there to await the opening of the session. This was the hall in which it had been agreed tacitly that the convention was to be held. As the hour of noon approached, the number of Republicans in the hall steadily increased, but the Democrats were strangely absent. In the course of the morning, it is presumed, the Republicans completed the signing of the paper in which they requested Mr. North, one of their delegates, to call the convention to order."2 The Democrats, they later learned, were in caucus during the morning in the office of the secretary of the territory and at some time before noon they drew up a new resolution addressed to the Republicans in which they resolved to "confirm the position of the Democratic members last evening," and to "concur in the proposition to meet at 12 o'clock m. of this day, the usual hour for
Ibid., p. 31.
Several of the accounts say that the Republicans spent the night in the hall of the house of representatives, where the convention was to meet, and held it through the next morning. In fact, the Republicans did not enter the hall of the house until some time after daylight on the morning of the 13th.
42 Ibid., p. 119.
the assemblage of parliamentary bodies in the United States."43 Here for the first time the Republicans found out what the Democrats meant by "the usual hour."
Mr. Thomas Foster, one of the Republican delegates, reports that during the morning, an employee of the Democratic territorial administration entered the hall of the house of representatives with a small hand ladder, mounted to the hall clock and went through all the motions of taking it apart, regulating it and setting it "a-going according to their own time."44 Whether or not it was the Democratic intention to tamper with the clock does not clearly appear.
The Democrats remained out of the hall and apparently in caucus until from seventeen to fifteen minutes before twelve. This is a fact which some of the Democrats disputed but the evidence from the report of their proceedings in the Pioneer and Democrat of the next day and also the admission by Mr. Sherburne, one of the Democratic delegates, seems to establish the fact that they did actually enter the hall before the time set for the calling of the convention.45 When they came in, they came as a body, numbering, according to their own claims, forty-five delegates.16 The Republicans claimed that they had with them a number of people who were not delegates. At the head of this group, which came in quickly and as one body, was Mr. Charles L. Chase, secretary of the territory and one of the Democratic contestants from the St. Anthony district. Mr. Chase stepped swiftly to the speaker's platform. The Republicans seem to have been taken by surprise at the quickness with which this occurred. Mr. North, of the Republican group, also mounted the speaker's platform, but apparently was a little bit behind Mr. Chase. While Mr. Chase was calling the convention to order, Mr. North was doing so also and at the same time without pausing Mr. North nominated Mr. Thomas Galbraith to be president pro tem of the gathering. While these measures were proceeding, Mr. Gorman from the floor moved that the convention adjourn until 12 o'clock m. the next day. Mr. Chase from his side of the speaker's platform, put the question on Mr. Gorman's motion and all the Democratic reports are unanimous in saying that all the Democrats voted to adjourn and that some of the Republicans voted in the negative. This was the basis upon which the Democrats claim that the Republicans were committed to the Democratic organization. While the Democrats on their side of the hall were carrying through the motion to adjourn, Mr. Galbraith was declared by Mr. North to be elected president pro tem of the convention and Mr. Galbraith mounted to the chair. Almost at the same time,
43 Rep. Deb., pp. 30-32, 75-76; Dem. Deb., p. 77.
44 Rep. Deb., p. 32.
45 Pioneer and Democrat, July 14, 1857; Dem. Deb., pp. 77-79. The Democratic report of the proceedings does not indicate the hour when the convention met on July 13.
46 Pioneer and Democrat, July 14, 1857; Dem. Deb., pp. 34-75, 79.
according to the various reports, the Democrats marched out in a body as they had marched in. The Republicans, under the presidency of Mr. Galbraith, proceeded to form a permanent organization. Fifty-six members with credentials were sworn in that day, the same who had signed the paper asking Mr. North to call the convention to order, and the first business of the convention was taken up.1
It is evident from the accounts which the Democrats and their friends subsequently gave of this first day's proceedings, that the Democrats aimed at one thing, and one thing only, and that was to capture the organization. From the unanimity with which they acted at every point during the minute or two they were in the convention hall, it is clear that they had thoroughly rehearsed their part for that day. Even such a level-headed man as Mr. Sherburne spoke with great satisfaction a few days later of the fact "that we had legally and fairly and formally, the organization of the convention."48 Indeed, from everything that occurred during those first few days in St. Paul, beginning with the evasive reply of the Democrats to the Republican proposition and going on through their violation of the promise to meet at 12 o'clock, their selection of Chase, a territorial official, to preside and to lend a greater show of authority for what they did, it is perfectly clear that the Democratic group were bent primarily not upon getting down to the work of the convention, but upon winning control of the convention away from the Republicans. They were attempting by tricks of their own to overcome the Republican advantage gained through the trickery of issuing certificates to Republicans who had not actually been elected by majorities. On the other hand, it is fair to say that the Republicans did not feel that they had to resort to deep laid plans to gain control. They already had in their organization a majority of properly accredited delegates and even though some of
47 The reports of the first day's proceedings are numerous and conflicting. In the Democratic wing of the convention, Messrs. Flandrau, Gorman, Setzer, Brown, Sherburne, Curtis, Stacy, and Sibley, all of whom were present on the first day, in addition to others who were not, made speeches giving more or less complete accounts of the proceedings. In the Republican wing, Messrs. Foster, Coggswell, Balcombe, McClure, and North, as well as others, did likewise. The leading speeches on each side were by Gorman and Balcombe, who hated each other heartily since Gorman had forsaken the east and west-line group. Gorman's speech is reported to have lasted three hours, and it is altogether a crowning example of bombast and futile rhetoric. The best of the Democratic accounts were those by Sherburne and Stacy; the best on the other side were by Foster and Coggswell. By all odds the most reasonable newspaper account was that in the St. Paul Advertiser on the 18th. Of the non-contemporaneous accounts, that by Flandrau, a participant in the events, is valuable because it corroborates what is said in the text below as to the Democratic plan to "capture" the organization by tricking some Republicans into voting upon Gorman's motion to adjourn. Flandrau, Hist. of Minn., 1900 ed., pp. 111-12. There is a manuscript narrative of the events apparently written by Mr. Benjamin C. Baldwin, a member of the Republican wing, in the manuscript division of the Minnesota Historical Society. Of the other more recent accounts, that in Hall, Observations, pp. 14-23, is entertaining, and those in Folwell, Minnesota, pp. 135-41, and in Minn. in Three Cen., 3:36-56, are very readable. If the account which is here given is, on the whole, no more satisfactory than others, the author can only say that where the participants in the proceedings are themselves so utterly unable to agree as to the actual occurrences, it must be an almost insuperable task for anyone else to give a perfectly accurate and just relation of what happened.
48 Dem. Deb., p. 79.
the credentials had been acquired in ways which were open to question, they were prepared to stand upon the right of every holder of a certificate to take part in the preliminary organization. This the Democrats would not have agreed to, since it meant that they would have no opportunity to win the contests which they intended to bring against four of the delegates from the St. Anthony district and one from Houston county. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Republicans should have appeared a little more righteous in their actions during these first three days than did their opponents. It is now, of course, too late to pass judgment upon the events of those days and there is little to be gained by so doing, yet it seems clear that if the Republicans had adjourned with the Democrats on the first day, thus recognizing the organization under Mr. Chase and even if that organization had refused to honor the credentials of five of the Republican delegates, the Republicans would still have had a majority in the early days of the convention and would have been able to regain control of the organization after the first day. They refused, however, from the outset to recognize any validity in the actions of the Democrats on that day.
Looking at the whole proceedings, it would appear that the constitutional convention of Minnesota never had a real meeting as a whole. It is true that for a minute or more about fifteen minutes to 12 on July 13, the greater number of the delegates of both parties were in the same room. However, their minds never met and they never agreed upon the same organization. From what we can gather from the fifteen or twenty almost contemporary accounts, the Republicans formed one group in the convention hall who recognized only what was being done by North and Galbraith to bring about an organization. The Democrats formed an almost entirely separate group whose eyes were upon Mr. Chase and whose ears were turned to hear one motion and one only, and that was Mr. Gorman's motion to adjourn. It appears that these two groups did somewhat overlap at the fringes, and that some of the Republicans in their confusion at the suddenness of the events did actually vote on Gorman's motion to adjourn cannot be doubted, but that this bound them to a continued adherence to the Democratic organization of the convention is absurd upon the face of it. Informality in procedure can and should be overlooked.49
49 The principal contention of the Democrats was that the adjournment of the convention, pronounced by Mr. Chase, was absolutely binding upon everyone in the room, and that nothing could be done legally by "the convention" until the regular hour next day. There is an interesting decision by the supreme judicial court of Massachusetts, handed down in 1910, which is directly upon this point. The president of a city council had declared the council adjourned, and had departed from the hall, but a majority of the members remained, reorganized, and went on with the business. In this case the court held the action of the majority entirely lawful. Pevey v. Aylward, 205 Mass. 102; 91 N. E. 315; (1910). Among other things the court said: "The president's declaration of adjournment had no effect to bring the meeting to an end when the vote declared was promptly doubted. The meeting continued without being adjourned, and took action which was equivalent to a decision that the motion to adjourn was not carried."
It is necessary to say a few words concerning the qualifications of the delegates in the convention. The Republicans believed from the start that their Democratic opponents were violating the laws in a number of particulars in their effort to get a majority of the convention. After the two groups began to meet in their separate conventions, the Republicans took a very consistent and straightforward position with regard to the qualification of members. They gave seats to every delegate who came forward with proper credentials and they allowed these members to keep their seats until some contest was brought against them. On the other hand, they did not go out of their way to pass upon the qualifications of men who had not presented their credentials to the Republican convention but had presented them to the other wing. Thus some of the most important questions of eligibility were left undecided.50
One of the points at issue involved the right of the Pembina delegation to sit in the constitutional convention. The enabling act provided "that the inhabitants of that portion of the territory of Minnesota" which is embraced within the proposed state limits were to have the right to form for themselves a constitution and state government and further "that on the first Monday in June next  the legal voters in each representative district, then existing within the limits of the proposed state, are hereby authorized to elect two delegates for each representative to which said district may be entitled according to the apportionment of representatives to the territorial legislature." The Republicans insisted that in view of the fact that practically all the population of the Pembina district lay outside of the proposed state limits, it should not be entitled to full representation in the convention. The territorial legislature, however, enacted that "every council district in this territory" should have the right to elect delegates to the convention and it was impossible for the Republicans to get a reapportionment from the legislature.52 There can be no doubt that the Democrats in the legislative assembly played politics and nothing but politics when they refused to make the territorial act for the constitutional convention conform to the terms of the enabling act. The Democrats knew that they were sure of the six delegates from the Pembina country and they did not intend to sacrifice this advantage in advance. But the Republicans further asserted that not only did the territorial act violate the enabling act in that it allowed all voters in the territory to participate in the elections, but they also alleged that the votes cast for the Pembina delegation were cast very largely by persons living outside the proposed state, and that there were very few even of these
50 Rep. Deb., pp. 53-64, 66.
1 lbid., pp. 300-2; Dem. Deb., pp. 47-50; Pioneer and Democrat, July 12, 1857. See p. 66, note 84.