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THE SECOND SESSION OF THE FIRST TERRITORIAL LEGISLATURE.
(CHILLICOTHE, NOVEMBER 3, 1800. )
IT was in connection with the work of this first session of the legislature,
that the signs of approaching disagreement with the governor
made their appearance. Governor St. Clair assumed that he was a branch of the assembly and that he had an absolute right to veto the acts of the two houses. He claimed the right, as governor, to lay out and change the boundaries of counties under the Ordinance of 1787, regardless of the expressions from the legislature and was no doubt sincere in his efforts to perform that which he looked upon as his sworn duty. The result of his action was, however, to bring about a strained relation which only grew in force as time went on. Judge Burnet says, in the book already quoted : "The effect of the construction lie gave of his own power may be seen in the fact that of thirty bills passed by the two houses during the first session, and sent to him for his approval, he refused assent to eleven; some of which were supposed to be of much importance, and all of them calculated, more or less, to advance the public interest. Some of them he rejected because they related to the establishment of new counties ; others because he thought they were
unnecessary or inexpedient. Thus, more than a third of the fruits of the labor of that entire session was lost by the exercise of the arbitrary discretion of one man." (p. 376.)
In this connection it may be well to add that the governor was not sustained in his position when he submitted to the Senate of the United States his report of new counties laid out after the legislature of the Territory had come into existence. It was held that the governor of the Territory had exhausted his authority when he had once laid out the whole territory into counties ( which Governor St. Clair had done early in his administration) and that subsequent rearrangements or divisions vested solely in the territorial legislature. This decision was not reached in time to prevent a recurrence of the differences between the governor and the legislature at its second session in 1800, but was gratifying to those members who had been engaged on the legislative side of the question during the first two sessions.
The legislature stood prorogued to meet in Cincinnati on the first Monday in November, 1800. By reference to an act of the Congress of the United States, May 7, of that year (See Part One), it will be noticed that after the adjournment of the first session of the legislature, the Northwest Territory was divided by a line running due north from the
mouth of the Kentucky River, into an eastern part which retained the old name and government, and a western part which was given the name of THE TERRITORY OF INDIANA, and a new government of the first grade
established therein, the officers of which were to be appointed by the President. This act of Congress was acquiesced in by the Governor and legislature of the Territory with great reluctance, and was regarded by the best men in the Territory to be an unwarranted assumption of legislative power on the part of the Congress. President Vanderburg of the council was thus legislated out of office and became a citizen of the new territory. Representatives Shadrack Bond, of St. Clair County John Edgar, of Randolph County, and John Small, of Knox County, also lost their seats in the House of Representatives for the same reason, and the constituents of these gentlemen were summarily deprived of a voice and a membership in that local territorial government, for which they had but recently voted. The seat of government for the new territory was fixed by- Congress at Vincennes, and the same act named the village of Chillicothe, instead of the already established capital at Cincinnati, as the :seat of government for the old territory. It was charged that this act of Congress was urged by two or three ardent and aggressive spirits who hoped to bring about an early state government in Ohio, and were already planning to accomplish the removal of Governor St. Clair and his administration.
Pursuant to the call issued by the Governor under the new order, the members of the legislature met in Chillicothe on the third day of November, 1800. This was almost exactly one hundred years ago, it being an interesting fact that the editor writes these lines on the twenty-sixth day of October, 1900. The council met in the house of Joseph Tiffin, the council chamber in the new capitol not being ready for occupancy. As there is no record to the contrary, it is probable that the representatives were better provided for. The composition of the legislature at this second session was as follows :
IN THE COUNCIL.
Jacob Burnet, of Hamilton County (Cincinnati).
Robert Oliver, of Washington County (Marietta).
David Vance, of Jefferson County (Vanceville).
James Findlay, of Hamilton County (Cincinnati).
Mr. Vanderburg, of Vincennes, having for reasons already given, lost his seat in the council, Mr. Oliver was elected president of that body, Mr. William C. Schenck (secretary of the Territory) acting as secretary to the council, and William Rutledge being elected door-keeper. To fill the vacancy in council, the Governor requested the House of Representatives to nominate to the President of the United States two names from which to make a selection, and on the ninth of November the names of Solomon Sibley, of Detroit, and Samuel Findlay (Finley?), of Cincinnati, were chosen. The seat remained vacant until the session of i801, owing to the time necessarily consumed in forwarding the nominations to the national capitol and in returning the appointment to the Territory.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
The following members were present or took their seats at a later day:
Benham, Robert, of Hamilton County.
Chobert de Joncaire, Charles F, of Wayne County (Detroit).
Darlington, Joseph, of Adams County.
Fearing, Paul, of Washington County.
Findlay, Samuel, of Ross County.
Goforth, William, of Hamilton County.
Kimberly, Zenas, of Jefferson County.
Langham, Elias, of Ross County (Contested seat).
Ludlow, John, of Hamilton County (Vice Cadwell, removed from the Territory).
Lytle, William, of Hamilton County.
McMillan, William, of Hamilton County.
Martin Isaac, of Hamilton County.
Massie, Nathaniel, of Adams County (Seated November io). Meigs, Return J., Jr., of Washington County.
Pritchard, James, of Jefferson County.
Sibley, Solomon, of Wayne County (Detroit).
Smith, john, of Hamilton County.
Tiffin, Edward, of Ross County.
Visgar, Jacob, of Wayne County (Detroit).
Worthington, Thomas, of Ross County.
Edward Tiffin was elected Speaker of the House.
One of the first duties devolving on the legislature was the election of a delegate to Congress to succeed Captain William Henry Harrison, who had resigned to accept the appointment as governor of the territory of Indiana, and also to elect a delegate for the long term beginning on the fifth day of March, 1801. On the sixth day of November the two houses met in joint session in accordance with a previous resolution to that effect, and elected as delegates to Congress: William McMiIlan, of Hamilton County, for the unexpired term ending March 4, i801, and Paul Fearing, of Washington County, for the term ending on the fourth day of March, 1803.
As will be noticed, the selections were made from the members of the House of Representatives.
Mr. McMillan at once resigned from the House and proceeded to his new duties.
The work of legislation was begun with mutual expressions of regard between the Governor and the members of the assembly, notwithstanding the differences of the preceding winter. On November 5, the Governor visited the joint assembly and delivered an annual message of kindly tone in which he spoke of the near approach of the end of his term of office and of their own. He mentioned the efforts of his adversaries only to remark: "The remorse of their own consciences will one day be punishment sufficient. Their acts may, however, succeed. Be that as it may, this I am certain, that, be my successor who he may, he can never have the interests of the people of this Territory more truly at heart than I have had for them, nor labor more assiduously for their good than I have done ; and I am not conscious that any one act of my administration has been influenced by any other motive, than a sincere desire to promote their welfare and happiness."
To this the assembly drafted its formal reply and asked the Governor to fix an hour when he could receive the committee and hear the same. On receiving an intimation of his convenience, the committee formally waited on him in the executive chamber at 10 o'clock a. m., Monday. November 17, and afterward returned to their respective houses bearing with them the formal reply of his excellency to their address. This second communication from St. Clair is a feeling response to the expressions of confidence in which the House had clothed its message to him.
Governor St. Clair, in a message to the House December 2, 1800, calls to their attention the fact that, as his term of office expires in one week from that day, it will be necessary that the session must end on that day, and therefore any business of importance to be transacted should not be too long postponed. He says in this case, the Secretary of the Territory can not supply to the Assembly the place of a Governor.
French inhabitants of the County of Wayne presented to the House. December 4, a petition in French language which was referred to Messrs. Kimberly and Visger for translation. (p. 95.) This committee reported later in the day that the petition was for a redress of certain grievances, and it was referred to the Committee on Propositions and Grievances.
A proposition was submitted that the assembly should hold its sessions in rotation as follows : The first session to be held in the town of Marietta, the second in the town of Cincinnati, and the third in the town of Chillicothe. This was agreed to by the House, 10 to S.
A motion to hold the sessions in Cincinnati was lost, 4 to 14. The bill was finally by striking out the enacting clause, on a vote not given. (p. 109.)
Adjourned by the Governor, December 9, 1800. (S. J. P. 77.)
ACTS OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE FIRST TERRITORIAL LEGISLATURE
1. An Act defining seals affixed to certain instruments of writing. November 27, 1800.
2. An act to amend the act entitled, "An act allowing compensation to the attorney-general of the Territory," etc. November 27, 1800.
3. An act authorizing the leasing of school lands, and lands for religious purposes, in Washington County. November 27, 1800.
4. An act to revise "an act to establish and regulate ferries." November 27, 1800.
5. An act to incorporate the town of Marietta. December 2, 1800.
6. An act to amend the act entitled "An act to create the offices of a territorial treasurer and of an auditor of Public Accounts." December 2, 1 800.
7. An act to empower the trustees named in the last will and testament of Doctor William Burnet, the elder, to dispose of certain lands. (PRIVATE - The act is not published in full.)
8. An act to amend the act entitled, "An act to encourage the killing of wolves." December 2, 1800.
9. An act authorizing the judges of the General Court to appoint commissioners to take special bail, and to administer oaths. December 3, 1800.
10. An act to amend the act entitled "An act allowing and regulating prison bounds." December 6, i800.
11. An act to provide for the recording of town plats. December 6, 1800.
12. An act confirming and establishing the town of Athens in the County of Washington, December 6, 1800.
13. An act to provide for the maintenance and support of illegitimate children. December 6, 180o.
14. An act to establish and regulate taverns and public houses of entertainment. December 6, 1800.
15. An act to amend the act entitled "An act regulating the admission and practice of attorneys and councillors at law." December 8, 1800.
16. An act to ascertain and defray the travelling expenses of the judges of the General Court, and to dispose of the fees heretofore allowed them by law. December 8, 1800.
17. An act for the relief of Lucy Petit. (PRIVATE-Not printed.)
18. An act providing for the trial of homicide committed on Indians. (To the more effectually insure justice to the Indian tribes.) December 8, 1800.
19. An act to prevent the abatement of suits in event of the death of a party thereto. December 8, 1800.
20. An act supplementary to the act establishing and regulating the militia. December 8, 1800.
21. An act supplementary to the act entitled "An act to regulate the county levies." December 8, 180o.
22. An act supplementary to the act entitled "An act levying a territorial tax on land," and providing for a territorial tax for the year 1801. December 9, 1800.
23. An act to amend the act entitled "An act to ascertain the number of free male inhabitants of the age of twenty-one, and to regulate the election of representatives for the same." December 9, 1800.
24. An act regulating circuit courts and allowing appeals from the courts of common pleas in certain cases. December 9, 1800.
25. An act supplementary to the act entitled, "An act establishing courts for the trial of small cases." December 9, 180o.
26. An act appropriating monies, etc. December 9, 1800.
The apropriation bill (No. 26) contains the following ' interesting items connected with the enforced removal of the seat of government from Cincinnati to Chillicothe :
To Bazil Abrams for rent of a house, occupied by the general assembly during their present session, ninety dollars.
To Thomas Worthington (afterwards United States senator and governor) for repairing the house, providing chairs, etc., for the use of the general assembly at their present session, thirty-four dollars and twenty-seven cents.
To John Armstrong, esquire, territorial treasurer, for transporting the books
and papers belonging to his office, from Cincinnati to Chillicothe, forty dollars.
To Thomas Gibson, esquire, auditor of public accounts, for transporting from
Cincinnati to ChiIlicothe the books and papers belonging to his office, sixty dollars.
To William McMillan and James Findlay, esquires, for their services and
expenses in providing a house for the reception of the legislature at the present
session, each forty-three dollars.
To William C. Schenck, for transporting the papers belonging to the legis-
iative council from Cincinnati to Chillicothe and for traveling expenses, forty dollars.
To John Reily, for transporting the papers belonging to the House of Rep-
resentatives from Cincinnati to Chillicothe and for traveling expenses, forty dollars.
The above recited acts were signed by Edward Tiffin, Speaker of the House of Representatives ; Robert Oliver, President of the Council ; and approved by Ar. St. Clair, Governor, on the date named.
Winship & Willis, Chillicothe, printers.
Authenticity vouched for by Zenas Kimberly, Committee, February 4, 1801.
Barbara's Bordered Backgrounds