History of Greene County, Missouri

R. I. Holcombe, Editing Historian

History of Missouri

Chapter 5: Territorial Organization

Organization 1812—Council—House of Representatives—William Clark first Territorial Governor—Edward Hempstead first Delegate—Spanish Grants—First General Assembly—Proceedings—Second Assembly—Proceedings—Population of Territory—Vote of Territory—Rufus Easton—Absent Members—Third Assembly—Proceedings—Application for Admission.

Congress organized Missouri as a Territory, July 4, 1812, with a Governor and General Assembly. The Governor, Legislative Council, and House of Representatives exercised the Legislative power of the Territory, the Governor's vetoing power being absolute.

The Legislative Council was composed of nine members, whose tenure of office lasted five years. Eighteen citizens were nominated by the House of Representatives to the President of the United States, from whom he selected, with the approval of the Senate, nine Councillors, to compose the Legislative Council.

The House of Representatives consisted of members chosen every two years by the people, the basis of representation being one member for every five hundred white males. The first House of Representatives consisted of thirteen members, and, by Act of Congress, the whole number of Representatives could not exceed twenty-five.

The judicial power of the Territory, was vested in the Superior and Inferior Courts, and in the Justices of the Peace; the Superior Court having three judges, whose term of office continued four years, having original and appellate jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases.

The Territory could send one delegate to Congress. Governor Clark issued a proclamation, October 1st, 1812, required by Congress, reorganizing the districts of St. Charles, St. Louis; Ste. Genevieve, Cape Girardeau, and New Madrid, into five counties, and fixed the second Monday in November following, for the election of a delegate to Congress, and the members of the Territorial House of Representatives.

William Clark, of the expedition of Lewis and Clark, was the first Territorial Governor, appointed by the President, who began his duties 1813.

Edward Hempstead, Rufus Easton, Samuel Hammond, and Matthew Lyon were candidates in November for delegates to Congress. [27]

Edward Hempstead was elected, being the first Territorial Delegate to Congress from Missouri. He served one term, declining a second, and was instrumental in having Congress to pass the act of June 13, 1812, which he introduced, confirming the title to lands which were claimed by the people by virtue of Spanish grants. The same act confirmed to the people "for the support of schools," the title to village lots, out-lots or common field lots, which were held and enjoyed by them, at the time of the session in 1803.

Under the act of June 4, 1812, the first General Assembly held its session in the house of Joseph Robidoux, in St. Louis, on the 7th of December, 1812. The names of the members of the House were:

St. Charles.—John Pitman and Robert Spencer.
St. Louis.David Music, Bernard G. Farrar, William C. Carr, and Richard Clark.
Ste. Genevieve. George Bullet, Richard S. Thomas, and Isaac McGready.
Cape Girardeau.—George F. Bollinger, and Spencer Byrd.
New Madrid.—John Shrader and Samuel Phillips.

John B. C. Lucas, one of the Territorial Judges, administered the oath of office. William C. Carr was elected speaker, and Andrew Scott, Clerk.

The House of Representatives proceeded to nominate eighteen persons from whom the President of the United States, with the Senate, was to select nine for the Council. From this number the President chose the following:

St. Charles.—James Flaugherty and Benjamin Emmons.
St. Louis.—Auguste Chouteau; Sr., and Samuel Hammond.

Ste. Genevieve.—John Scott and James Maxwell.
Cape Girardeau.—William Neeley and Joseph Cavenor.
New Madrid.—Joseph Hunter.

The Legislative Council, thus chosen by the President and Senate, was announced by Frederick Bates, Secretary and Acting-Governor of the Territory, by proclamation, June 8, 1813, and fixing the first Monday in July following, as the time for the meeting of the Legislature.

In the meantime the duties of the executive office were assumed by William Clark. The Legislature accordingly met, as required by the Acting-Governor's proclamation in July, but its proceedings were never officially published. Consequently but little is known in reference to the workings of the first Territorial Legislature in Missouri. [28]

From the imperfect account, published in the Missouri Gazette, of that day; a paper which had been in existence since 1808, it is found that laws were passed regulating and establishing weights and measures; creating the office of Sheriff; providing the manner for taking the census; permanently fixing the seats of Justices, and an act to compensate its own members. At this session, laws were also passed defining crimes and penalties; laws in reference to forcible entry and detainer; establishing Courts of Common Pleas; incorporating the Bank of St. Louis; and organizing a part of Ste. Genevieve county into the county of Washington.

The next session of the Legislature convened in St. Louis, December 6, 1813. George Bullet of Ste. Genevieve county, was speaker elect, and Andrew Scott, clerk, and William Sullivan, doorkeeper.

Since the adjournment of the former Legislature, several vacancies had occurred, and new members had been elected to fill their places. Among these was Israel McCready, from the county of Washington.

The president of the legislative council was Samuel Hammond. No journal of the council was officially published, but the proceedings of the house are found in the Gazette.

At this session of the Legislature many wise and useful laws were passed, having reference to the temporal as well as the moral and spiritual welfare of the people. Laws were enacted for the suppression of vice and immorality on the Sabbath day; for the improvement of public roads and highways; creating, the offices of auditor, treasurer and county surveyor; regulating the fiscal affairs of the Territory and fixing the boundary lines of New Madrid, Cape Girardeau, Washington and St. Charles counties. The Legislature adjourned on the 19th of January, 1814, sine die.

The population of the Territory as shown by the United States census in 1810, was 20,845. The census taken by the Legislature in 1814 gave the Territory a population of 25,000. This enumeration shows the county of St. Louis contained the greatest number of inhabitants, and the new county of Arkansas the least—the latter, having 827, and the former 3,149.

The candidates for delegate to Congress were Rufus Easton, Samuel Hammond, Alexander McNair and Thomas F. Riddick. Rufus Easton and Samuel Hammond had been candidates at the preceding election. In all the counties, excepting Arkansas, the votes aggregated 2,599, of which number Mr. Easton received 965, Mr. Hammond 746, Mr. McNair 853, and Mr. Riddick (who had withdrawn previously to the election) 35. Mr. Easton was elected. [29]

The census of 1814 showing a large increase in the population of the Territory, an appointment was made increasing the number of Representatives in the Territorial Legislature to twenty-two. The General Assembly began its session in St. Louis, December 5, 1814; There were present on the first day twenty Representatives. James Caldwell of Ste. Genevieve county was elected speaker, and Andrew Scott who had been clerk of the preceding assembly was chosen clerk. The President of the Council was William Neeley, of Cape Girardeau county.

It appeared that James Maxwell, the absent member of the Council, and Seth Emmons, member elect of the House of Representatives, were dead. The county of Lawrence was organized at this session, from the western part of New Madrid county, and the corporate powers of St. Louis were enlarged. In 1815 the Territorial Legislature again began its session. Only a partial report of its proceedings are given in the Gazette. The county of Howard was then organized from St. Louis and St. Charles counties, and included all that part of the State lying north of the Osage and south of the dividing ridge between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. (For precise boundaries, see Chapter 1. of the History of Boone County.)

The next session of the Territorial Legislature commenced its session in December, 1816. During the sitting of this Legislature many important acts were passed. It was then that the "Bank of Missouri" was chartered and went into operation. In the fall of 1817 the "Bank of St. Louis" and the "Bank of Missouri" were issuing bills. An act was passed chartering lottery companies, chartering the academy at Potosi, and incorporating a board of trustees for superintending the schools in the town of St. Louis. Laws were also passed to encourage the "killing of wolves, panthers and wild-cats."

The Territorial Legislature met again in December, 1818, and, among other things, organized the counties of Pike, Cooper, Jefferson,. Franklin, Wayne, Lincoln, Madison, Montgomery, and three counties in the Southern part of Arkansas. In 1819 the Territory of Arkansas was formed into a separate government of its own.

The people of the Territory of Missouri had been, for some time, anxious that their territory should assume the duties and responsibilities of a sovereign State. Since 1812, the date of the organization of the Territory, the population had rapidly increased, many counties had been established, its commerce had grown into importance, its agricultural and mineral resources were being developed, and believing that its admission into the Union as a State would give fresh impetus to all these interests, and hasten its settlement, the Territorial Legislature of 1818-19 accordingly made application to Congress for the passage of an act authorizing the people of Missouri to organize a State government. [30-31]

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