Washington Territorial Division, Elections, and Legislature

With the setting off of the territory of Idaho from that of Washington came the close of a long period of exciting events, and the beginning of a reign of peace and constant, gradual growth. Some slight temporary inconvenience was occasioned by the amputation from the body politic of several counties between two sessions of the legislature, when no provision could be made for the reapportionment of representatives, the legislature of 1863-4 consisting of but seven councilmen and twenty-four assemblymen. 1

George E. Cole, democrat, was elected delegate to congress in 1863. 2

He received some votes of union men, although repudiated by the Republican Party as a peace democrat in war times, or of that class of politicians known as copperheads, who were amiably willing to condone rebellion, but without the nerve openly to oppose the government. However this may have been, Cole was subsequently appointed governor of Washington by a republican administration, and again postmaster of Portland under President Grant.

At the election for delegate in 1865 A. A. Denny of Seattle, republican, was elected by a large majority over James Tilton, who, like Cole, was charged with entertaining sentiments inimical to the course of the government in suppressing secession. 3

Search Military Records - Fold3

There was in Washington a party strongly opposed to the reconstruction acts of congress, which favored the readmission of representatives to congress from the ten excluded states, and demanded for the territory a vote in congress, and the exclusive right to define the elective franchise, or in other words, to exclude negroes from the polls. Among this class were to be found many of Tilton’s supporters.

Denny’s successor as delegate was Alvan Flanders, of Wallula, an active business man, who left the Democratic Party before the date of the civil war. 4 Flanders was opposed by Frank Clark of Steilacoom, his majority over Clark 5 being 153 out of 5,000 votes, so close was the contest. 6

The last two elections had been carried by undoubted republicans, and a republican executive and secretary had administered affairs for four years, when President Johnson saw fit to remove Pickering, and furnish the late delegate Cole with a commission as governor, dated November 21, 1866, as the Oregonian declared, with “partisan motives.” The senate, however, declined to confirm the commission, and Cole, who had qualified and entered upon the duties of his office without waiting to hear from the senate, was compelled to abdicate at the end of two months, and after several nominations by the president, 7 Marshall F. Moore was confirmed as governor, and E. L. Smith as secretary of the territory. Smith arrived on the 27th of June, and assumed the duties of acting governor until the advent of Moore, 8 late in the summer.

Moore made a good impression upon the legislature, which, by the way, was the first elected and held under an amendment of the organic law allowing biennial instead of annual sessions. The amendment was made in consequence of a memorial to congress in 1864-5, setting forth that no necessity existed for annual sessions, and that the per diem was inadequate to the expense. 9

The legislature of 1865-6 in another memorial requested that the people of the territory might be permitted to elect their own governor, judges, and other officers. The Oregonians assigned as reasons for a similar request that the federal judges did not remain in the country, and asserted that they had men among themselves competent to be made judges. The Washingtonians, with more tact, refrained from referring to this thought in their minds, but simply complained of absenteeism and its evils.

The answer to their first memorial was the amendment spoken of above, which enacted that after the session of 1866-7 the legislature should meet but once in two years, that members of the council should be chosen for four years and assemblymen for two years, and that they should receive six dollars a day instead of three as formerly, with the same mileage as before; the first election for members of the biennial legislature to take place in 1867. The chief clerk was allowed six dollars a day, and all the other officers elected by the legislature five dollars, including an additional enrolling clerk. 10

With reference to the petition to be permitted to elect the territorial officers, congress sought to cure the evil complained of by enacting that no officer appointed should be allowed compensation out of the public funds before he should have entered upon his duties at the proper place, nor should he receive pay for any time he might be absent without authority from the president. In the event of the death or disability of any judge of the federal courts at the time appointed for holding a session, either of the other judges might hold his court. Should the governor die or be otherwise incompetent, the secretary should act in his place, and receive a salary equal to that of governor. These laws put an effectual check upon the practice of governors and judges of spending a large portion of their time journeying to and from Washington City, and of delegates procuring executive appointments in order to receive double mileage.

It is not my intention to go into the particulars of the political contests of this period, when the amendments to the constitution of the United States provoked the same criticism and opposition from the democratic party in Washington that they did elsewhere, and when certain territorial politicians assumed a belligerent air because congress ‘interfered’ in the concerns of ‘our territory.’ I have alluded in my History of Oregon to the great influx of immigration from the southern and border states, and their effect upon the political and social condition of the Pacific coast, during the period of the civil war in the east and the mining discoveries in the west. It is greatly to the credit of the original pioneer settlers, many of whom were southern born and bred, that notwithstanding the pressure upon society of a large disorganizing element, they maintained the balance of power and performed their duty toward the government.

Moore’s administration opened auspiciously, much pains being taken by him to place himself in sympathy with the whole people by studying their interests. It was said that his first message, delivered soon after his arrival, was a surprise to the legislature, which had not expected so elaborate a document from a new appointee. From it might be gathered a more or less complete statement of the condition of affairs in the territory in 1867.

After a long series of interruptions, it was once more prosperous and progressive, in the enjoyment of health, plenty, and peace, with a rapidly increasing population, as shown by the vote east at the election in June, 11 which exceeded the vote of the previous year by one thousand. The agricultural, commercial, and mineral resources of the country were being developed, and its exports increasing. During the current year steamboats had been placed on the Chehalis and Cowlitz rivers, opening to commerce settlements hitherto remote. 12

Within the year just ended, Alaska had been added to the United States territory, giving Washington a comparatively central position with respect to the Northwest Coast, which could not but be beneficial to it, with the stimulation to trade which the change in the nationality of the Russian possessions must bring with it. 13

A reciprocity treaty had also been negotiated with the Hawaiian Islands, from which it was expected that Washington would obtain sugar at a reduced price, and the Hawaiian kingdom purchase more largely of the territory’s lumber and other products. 14

The inadequacy of the mail service it was suggested should be made the subject of a memorial to congress. 15 The legislature accordingly petitioned for a mail route by sea from San Francisco to Olympia, instead of by land from the Columbia; for steamship service between Olympia and Sitka; for a weekly mail to Astoria by the way of the Chehalis, Gray Harbor, Shoalwater and Baker bays; and for improvements in other routes, and for increased compensation in certain cases, which have since been granted. The necessity of codifying the laws was urged, and of appointing commissioners for that purpose without delay. An act was accordingly passed authorizing the governor to appoint “three discreet persons” as code commissioners, to revise, digest, and codify the statute laws of the territory. The three persons chosen were J. H. Lassater, Elwood Evans, and B. F. Dennison, 16 who made their report to the legislature of 1869, which met in October, in accordance with an act passed in January 1868 changing the time of holding the sessions of the legislative assembly.

Another subject of executive advice was the proper care of the insane, at the time provided for by contract with the lowest bidder. No territorial asylum was provided where their condition could be ameliorated until 1871, when an asylum at Steilacoom was prepared for their reception. 17

For several sessions previous to 1862 the legislature had granted divorces indiscriminately. 18 When Governor Pickering came to observe this, he made a serious appeal to the legislature to cease dissolving the marriage bond and leave this matter to the courts, where the impediments were few enough, but where, at least, some examination would be made into the merits of the applicant’s case. Notwithstanding, sixteen unions were dissolved by the legislatures of 1862-3, and at the following session Pickering again called attention to the practice, which was not there after renewed; but an act was passed in January 1866 declaring marriage to be a civil contract, and doubtless intended to prevent legislative divorces, as civil contracts could only be annulled by the courts. 19

Nevertheless, a bill was passed in January 1868 dissolving a marriage, which on presentation to Governor Moore was returned without approval, and the legislature declined to pass it over the veto, by a vote in the house of three to twenty-four. Subsequent efforts to revive the practice failed. This tendency to dissolve marriage ties was the more remarkable when it is remembered that the male population greatly exceeded the female, many men having taken wives from among the Indian women. 20 A. S. Mercer of Seattle in 1865 made a movement to establish a social equilibrium, by importing a shipload of unmarried women from the Atlantic states, widows and orphans of soldiers, but the influence of a single adventure of this kind was hardly perceptible.

Among the public institutions of which the territory had long had need was a penitentiary, the only prison in use for felons being the county jail of Pierce county, from which escapes were of frequent occurrence. In January 1867 congress set aside for the purpose of erecting a suitable prison the net proceeds of the internal revenue of the territory from the 30th of June, 1865, to the same date of 1868, provided the amount should not exceed twenty thousand dollars. The legislature appointed a committee to wait upon the collector to ascertain the amount due the territory, 21 which fell far beneath the appropriation, the grant of $20,000 being doubled before the penitentiary buildings proper were begun. 22

No event could better illustrate the change which ten years had made in the condition of Washington than the abandonment in the spring of 1868 of Fort Steilacoom. So far as the natives of the Puget Sound region were concerned, their millennium had come, their eternity begun, and they would learn war no more. Contentedly they digged their little farms on the reservations, hired themselves out as farm-hands, fished, raced horses, held potlatches, 23 gathered berries for sale, or spent their trifling earnings in whiskey, which caused many, both men and women, to adorn, in the picturesque enjoyment of dolce far niente, the curbstones and doorsteps of the various towns in the vicinity of their reserves, day after day. Whiskey, as applied to the noble savage, is a wonderful civilizer. A few years of it reduces him to a subjection more complete than arms, and accomplishes in him a humility which religion never can achieve. Some things some men will do for Christ, for country, for wife and children: there is nothing an Indian will not do for whiskey.

But it was not altogether, nor in the first place, the allurement of strong drink, which reduced the red men to submission. Troops on one hand, and government agents with presents on the other, had accomplished the reduction; and now in 1868 there was no longer any use for the troops, and the occupation of the Indian agent would last but a few years longer. In the interim, teachers and preachers contended with the other civilizer, rum, to the salvation of some and the utter reprobation of others. In the haste and exigency of the times, and dreading an Indian war, numerous small reservations had been left here and there about the Sound, which in these ten years had come to lie at the doors of the principal towns, the temptations of which few Indians could resist. It would have been better to have banished them to the sea-coast, as in Oregon, and kept up a military guard to hold them there, than that they should mix with the foremost civilization of the day. 24

The political quarrels of 1867 culminated in an act of the legislature, passed in January 1868, redistricting the territory, and assigning the federal judges in such a manner that Hewitt was given the county of Stevens for his district, and required to reside there; while Wyche was given Walla Walla, Yakima, Klikitat, Skamania, Clarke, Cowlitz, Pacific, Wahkiakum, Lewis, Mason, Thurston, and Chehalis; and the latest appointee, C. B. Darwin, was assigned to the counties of Pierce, King, Kitsap, Clallam, Whatcom, Island, and Jefferson, 25 but in order to relieve Wyche, was required to hold court at Olympia for the counties of Thurston, Lewis, Chehalis, and Mason. The old war was renewed against republican measures, which had only been suppressed while the integrity of the union was in danger. Whatever the ability or want of ability of Hewitt, who had held the judgeship for eight years, it was not that question that assigned him to Stevens County to hold court and reside at Fort Colville. The same persons who made war upon Hewitt openly declared that Darwin should be removed, as well as some other officials. 26

Congress did not look with favoring eyes upon the act of the legislature heaping contumely upon the appointments of the president and senate, refusing to confirm it. 27 But when Grant came to the presidency a sweeping change was made, which saved the male contents the trouble of scheming against the old bench of judges, by the appointment of B. F. Dennison chief justice, and Orange Jacobs and James K. Kennedy associates, 28 with A. W. Moore chief clerk, and Philip Ritz marshal. 29 In 1871 Jacobs was appointed chief justice, with Rodger S. Greene and James K. Kennedy associate justices, and E. S. Kearney marshal. In 1872 J. R. Lewis succeeded Kennedy. 30

The presidential appointments of 1869 included a new governor, Flanders, who, it was said, had intended to return and run again for delegate, but was prevented by the commission of executive. James Scott was appointed secretary, Colonel Samuel Ross, late commander of Fort Steilacoom, Indian superintendent, 31 Elisha P. Ferry surveyor-general, Edward Giddings 32 Assessor of Internal Revenue, Hazard Stevens collector, and United States district attorney Leander Holmes.

Salucius Garfielde and Marshall F. Moore then became candidates for the delegateship, the former as the choice of the Republicans, the latter of the Democratic Party. Garfielde, was elected, and secured some of the ends for which he was nominated. 33 Moore died in February of the following year, from the effects of old wounds received in the civil war, sincerely regretted by the people of the territory. 34

The republican party, which had been in the ascendancy for several years, elected a republican majority to the legislature in 1869, 35 but it was losing power by dissensions and struggles for place within itself, of which the reviving democratic party eagerly took advantage. Garfielde, who held the delegateship nearly three years, on account of a change in the time of elections 36 was not permitted to take his seat until December 1870. He served his term, and was renominated by the Republican Party in 1872, but was beaten by O. B. McFadden, the democratic candidate, 37 who since the incoming of Lincoln’s administration had been living in the retirement of an ordinary law practice, or serving in the legislature. He went to Washington City, but was unfitted for duty by severe illness during a portion of his term, and died the year following his return. McFadden had the faults and the virtues that recommended him to his constituents, a warm heart and ready adaptability to surroundings, which was counted to him sometimes for judicial weakness. He was buried with imposing ceremonies from the house of his son-in-law, Ex-surveyor-general W. W. Miller. 38

Flanders did not long retain the executive office, being succeeded in April 1870 by Edward S. Salomon of Chicago, a German Jew, lawyer by profession, and a colonel in the 82d Illinois volunteers during the civil war, where he won wounds and honors, after which the quiet and ease of Olympia life must have seemed a summer holiday. 39 James Scott still remained secretary. The officers elected 40 in the territory now began and closed their terms in the year intermediate between the elections for delegate, the congressional and executive terms corresponding, and the legislative appointments coming between. 41

On the expiration of Salomon’s term he was succeeded by Elisha Pyre Ferry, surveyor-general, his appointment making way for a new officer in the land department, which was filled by Lewis P. Beach, a pioneer of 1849. 42 Ferry held the office of governor from April 1872 to April 1880, when William A. Newell was appointed. 43

Ferry’s administration was not eventful in wars 44 or political changes, but covered a period of active growth. He reestablished civil government over the Haro archipelago in October 1872, by making it temporarily a part of the county of Whatcom, until reorganized by the legislature, 45 and was a witness of the closing scenes of the Hudson Bay Company’s occupation of the territory through the claims of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company.

It was during Ferry’s administration, also, that the Northern Pacific Railway constructed the Puget Sound division from Kalama to New Tacoma, passing Olympia eighteen miles to the east, in resentment for which slight put upon the capital the citizens of Thurston county constructed with their own money and labor, the women of the county assisting, 46 a narrow-gauge railway from Olympia to Tenino, a distance of fifteen miles, which was completed and opened for travel in July 1878.

The territorial secretaries during Ferry’s administration were J. C. Clements, 1872 to 1875, Henry G. Struve 47 from 1875 to 1877, and N. H. Owings 48 from 1877 to 1884. Ferry’s administration extended over four biennial sessions of the legislature, 49 during which time the laws were frequently amended and improved, the legislation of Washington being from the first liberal and progressive. The revised statutes of the United States, approved June 1874, made some changes in the mode of filling territorial offices. Justices of the peace and all general officers of militia were required to be elected by the people, in such a manner as the legislature might prescribe; but all other officers not provided for in the revised statutes should be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the council. This new system of appointment removed from the governor the opportunity of exercising any arbitrary power, and affected all territories alike.

The Democratic Convention of 1874 renominated McFadden, who, being at that time ill in Pennsylvania, telegraphed the withdrawal of his name. B. L. Sharpstein of Walla Walla was then made the nominee of the party for delegate to congress. Sharpstein was a lawyer of good abilities who had represented his county in the territorial council in 1866-7. J. M. Murphy of the Olympia Standard was chairman of this convention, which met at Vancouver.

The Republican Convention, which met at the same place, chose Thomas H. Brents 50 of Walla Walla chairman, and nominated Judge Jacobs for delegate. Jacobs immediately resigned the chief justiceship, which was conferred upon Judge Lewis, the vacancy created by his promotion being filled by S. C. Wingard, United States prosecuting attorney, whose place was taken by John B. Allen of Olympia. 51 Jacobs was elected by a large majority, the counties east of the mountains for the first time casting the greater number of votes for a republican nominee 52 for the delegateship, showing that the class of voters which in 1862-4 overflowed from the south-western states upon the Pacific coast was being either eliminated or outnumbered! 53

The democratic convention of 1876 nominated John Paul Judson, son of John Paul Judson, senior, who settled on Commencement Bay in 1853, where New Tacoma now stands. 54 He was a member of the legal fraternity of the territory, of good talents and unassuming address; but he was unable to carry the territory against Jacobs, who was reelected by the Republican Party. At the following congressional election in 1878 Thomas H. Brents was returned by the same party, and served two terms in congress. At his first election he ran against N. T. Caton, democrat, also of Walla Walla, beating him by over thirteen hundred votes out of thirteen thousand.

The platform resolutions adopted by the democrats in 1878 were, 1st, unalterable opposition to the dismemberment of the territory, and approval of state government; 2d, extension of time to the Northern Pacific Railroad; 3d, improvement of the Snake and other rivers by the general government. The 6th resolution declared the Indian-reservation system a failure, and called for the breaking-up of the tribal relation, or the consolidation of reservations into one, which should be under military control. The 5th resolution charged upon the republican party a widespread commercial distress.

The platform of the republicans protested against an irredeemable currency; favored extension of time to the Northern Pacific Railway, provided it should construct twenty-five miles of road annually; approved the restoration to the public domain of the lands of the branch line originally located over the Skagit pass of the Cascades; besought government aid in the construction of the Seattle and Walla Walla railroad; 55 opposed the dismemberment of the territory; urged the passage of an enabling act for state purposes by congress; denounced Chinese immigration and the existing management of the Indians. 56 From these two schedules of party principles and aims the general drift of territorial affairs at this period may be gathered.

Ever since 1867-8 a movement had been on foot to annex to Washington that strip of country forming a handle to Idaho on the north, comprising the counties of Nez Percé, Shoshone, and Idaho. 57 These counties did not all lie in the “long narrow strip” described in a legislative memorial to be only fifty miles wide, but congress was asked to assume that they did. And these veracious memorialists did “further show” that the representatives of the said counties in order to reach Boise City were compelled to travel through a large portion of Washington and Oregon, a distance of over 500 miles, at a great expense to their territory; to cure which evil, it was claimed that they desired to travel 125 miles farther, at the expense of Washington, to reach Olympia!

There was, indeed, a wish on the part of those inhabitants of Idaho north of the Salmon Range to he reunited to Washington. In 1873 another memorial was passed in the legislature of Washington, setting forth the benefits to be derived to the north of Idaho from annexation, 58 which received as little attention in congress as the former one. Not long after, a scheme was found to be on foot to create a new territory out of eastern Washington and northern Idaho, this being the dismemberment to which both republicans and democrats were opposed in the laying-down of their principles.

Both parties were agreed in disapproving of the reservation system, which had brought on another Indian war, in which that portion of the Nez Perces which acknowledged Joseph as chief had massacred an entire settlement in Idaho and alarmed the whole country. 59 Both parties wished for the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and favored extension of time as a means to that end. Both believed the time had come for a state constitution, being satisfied that as a territory congress would ignore their demands for internal improvements, harbors, and coast defenses, with an unjust degree of parsimony on one hand and favoritism on the other. 60

The legislature of 1867-8 passed an act to submit the question of calling a constitutional convention to the people at the next general election, but the meager vote polled in 1869 showed them to be indifferent or undecided. The legislature of that year passed another act calling for a vote in 1870, and making it the duty of the next legislature, should there be a majority in favor of a convention, to provide for the holding of it. 61 Again the people were indifferent.

The legislature of 1871 repeated the enactment of 1869, with the addition that the governor should give notice in his proclamation that the legal voters of the territory were required to vote for or against a state convention, but with the same result as before. In 1873 another act was passed of a similar nature, in the hope, by mere iteration, to bring the voters up to the mark of taking an interest in the matter. The whole vote cast “against convention” was less than a fourth of the popular vote for delegate, but enough to defeat the movement.

In its turn, the legislature of 1875 took up the subject, passing another act similar to the last, 62 which called out in 1876 a vote of over 7,000, and a majority for convention of 4,168. Accordingly the succeeding legislature 63 appointed a state constitutional convention to be held at Walla Walla in June 1878, the delegates being elected in April.

Notwithstanding the election of delegates took place as ordered by proclamation of the governor, the newspapers complained of the apathy of the people, accounting for it by saying they feared the movement would fail in congress. But the real reason was, that a majority of the voting class were willing that congress should continue to pay the expenses of the municipal government until the population, then less than 40,000, reached the number of 124,000 required by the general apportionment bill to give them a member of congress. Outside of Washington it was admitted that if any territory might claim exemption from the law it was this one, possessing an immense area and great resources, and lacking only population, which would rapidly be drawn thither when it should become a state, with all the advantages of equality with the other Pacific states. 64 At home the arguments put forward to overcome the apathy of the people at large was the increased value of property likely to result from admission into the union, which would more than offset the expense of state government; the appropriations which would be due, and the position of north Idaho, which was waiting to be joined to Washington, but could not be until the latter should be admitted, with this territory included within its present boundary. 65

In the mean time the delegate in congress, Jacobs, acting on the result of the election of 1877, introduced, by way of an entering wedge, a bill for the admission of Washington as a state of the union, in December 1877. After it was settled that there was really to be a constitutional convention, the subject of a name for the future state was discussed more than any of the more important issues, a large number of the inhabitants clinging to the name of Columbia, by which it was first presented to congress for territorial organization. 66

The convention met at Walla Walla June 11, 1878, a delegate from northern Idaho being also present, but without a vote. A new boundary was fixed for the eastern portion of the state, including the panhandle of Idaho. In the declaration of rights it was said that “no person on account of sex should be disqualified to enter upon and pursue any lawful business, avocation, or profession,” 67 but all attempts to have stricken out the word `male’ as a qualification for voters failed. The instrument gave the legislature power to amend itself, made the sessions biennial, gave that body authority to adopt the system known as the preferential system in dealing representatives, and limited its sessions to forty days. Special legislation was forbidden; no lotteries could be authorized, or divorces granted. The courts were reorganized; taxes made uniform under general laws; the power to tax corporate property could never be suspended; the public school fund could never be reduced; educational and penal institutions should be provided; the legislature should have power to change the location of the seat of government, which should be submitted to a vote of the people at the general election next following the adoption of the constitution; the qualifications of voters who were citizens of the United States were a residence of six months in the state, and thirty days in the county, and aliens must have declared their intention of becoming citizens six months before voting. Three articles were left to be voted upon separately, namely, local option, a temperance measure; woman suffrage; and the annexation of the panhandle counties of Idaho.

Such, briefly, was the instrument, which occupied the delegates twenty-four days in completing. It was submitted to the people at the November election for delegates, and by them adopted. 68 Congress had passed no enabling act; the convention was purely voluntary, and therefore the constitution ineffectual until ratified.

Delegate Thomas H. Brents, elected in November, offered the state of Washington for adoption into the union immediately on taking his seat in congress, but the candidate for the honors of statehood was not regarded in the national legislature with favor, although a rapid growth had set in with the development brought about by navigation and railroad companies, and the territory was in a solvent financial condition.

The members of the legislature of 1879 were still largely of the pioneer class, about half the members having resided in the territory for twenty-five years. The other half were young men of more recent immigrations, 69 the newer element promising soon to be the founders, and to become themselves builders of empire. In the judiciary there had occurred a change in 1878, R. S. Greene being appointed chief justice, the place he vacated being filled by John P. Hoyt, 70 of Michigan. Judge Wingard was reappointed. The other federal officers of this administration were N. H. Owings, secretary; C. B. Hopkins, marshal; J. B. Allen, United States attorney; William McMicken, collector of internal revenue; J. R. Hayden, deputy collector; Robert G. Stuart, receiver of public moneys at Olympia; Josiah T. Brown, register of the general land-office; and C. B. Bagley, deputy.

By an act of congress, approved June 19, 1878, a change of apportionment was made, to take effect in 1881, which reduced the maximum of members of the lower house of the legislature to twenty-four from thirty, and increased the council from nine to twelve.

In 1884, William A. Newell was succeeded in the executive office by Watson C. Squire, 71 a veteran of the civil war and a man of rare administrative ability. During his term, and for several preceding years, the history of Washington, apart from the anti-Chinese riots of 1885-6, was one rather of material development than of political significance. Up to that date, the employment of Chinese in large numbers had been almost a necessity, since for the construction of the transcontinental and other railroads no adequate supply of white labor was available. But now the herding in cities and towns of hordes of chinamen was becoming a serious menace to society, and to the working classes an ever present source of uneasiness. Thus in 1885, an attempt was made by the Knights of Labor, an organization mainly composed of foreigners, to expel them from the territory. At Tacoma they were compelled to leave at a month’s warning; at Squak two were killed; but it was at Seattle and among the coal-miners that the agitation assumed its most aggravated form, resulting in bloodshed and general disorder. Fortunate it was that at this juncture a ruler was at the helm of state whose soundness of judgment and promptness of action were equal to the emergency.

On the 5th of November Governor Squire issued a proclamation calling on the citizens to preserve the peace; but the very next day a number of Chinese houses were set on fire by an infuriated mob. Thereupon troops were ordered from Vancouver, and a statement of the situation forwarded to the secretary of the interior, resulting in a proclamation by the president, which was duly published and promulgated. For a time the disturbance subsided, only to break out again in more violent phase in February of the following year, when lives were lost in the effort to protect the Chinese, and overt rebellion existed against the constituted authorities. The governor then adopted the extreme measure of declaring martial law, and thus with the aid of the citizens and troops at length succeeded in restoring order. Though such a course subjected him to the abuse of the proletariat and to the hostile criticisms of a portion of the press, his action was approved by all the more conservative and law-abiding people of the community. By the Cleveland cabinet he was warmly commended, and as a token of its approval his resignation was not accepted until long after the democrats succeeded to power. His conduct also received the approbation of the legislature, and of such representative associations as the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the bar association of King County. 72

During the regime of Governor Squire, and at his recommendation, several long-deferred public needs were supplied, among them the building of the penitentiary at Walla Walla, the addition of a manufacturing department to the penitentiary at Seatco, and the erection of a new insane asylum at Steilacoom. The finances of the territory were carefully administered, and at the close of 1885 it was free from debt, and with an available surplus of nearly $100,000. His reports to the secretary of the interior are deserving of more than passing notice, as models of political literature, on the preparation of which no money or pains was spared. The one for 1884 was declared by that official to be “the best that had ever been given by any governor of any territory.” So great was the demand for it throughout the east, that, the government edition being exhausted, the Northern Pacific railroad company ordered at its own expense a special edition of five thousand copies with accompanying maps. In the opening paragraph the governor states that as no report had been forwarded since 1879, while those issued before that date were somewhat meager in their treatment, he has thought it best to make a full representation of the more important facts connected with the resources and development of the territory. “For this purpose,” he says, “I have diligently corresponded with the auditors and assessors of all the counties of the territory, furnishing them printed blanks to be returned, and with all the managers of its various educational and business institutions. Besides drawing on my own knowledge of the territory, gleaned during a residence here during the past five or six years, I have gathered and compiled a variety of important facts from leading specialists in reference to the geographical, geologic, and climatic characteristics, the coal and iron mining, horticultural, agricultural, and manufacturing interests, the fisheries, and the flora and fauna of the territory.

“The data thus offered, together with the summary reports of our charitable and penal institutions, and an exhibit of the financial condition of the territory, if published, will not only be of great service in encouraging and stimulating our people, but will furnish reliable information to the intending immigrant, and will indicate to congress the rightful basis of our claim for admission into the union of states.”

In the report for 1885 we have a careful revision of the previous document, including more recent data. Again the government edition was speedily exhausted, whereupon a special edition of ten thousand copies was issued by authority of the legislature, and included the governor’s biennial message for 1885-6. Under the title of the Resources and Development of Washington Territory, it was scattered broadcast throughout the United States and Europe, not only by the Northern Pacific railroad, but by real estate firms and by the citizens of Washington. To the representations of the two reports is largely due the immense volume of immigration within the last half-decade, and more than anything else that has been written they have aided in securing admission to statehood.

The population of Washington increased from 75,000 in 1880 to 210,000 in 1886, owing chiefly to the rapid construction of railroad lines. The Northern Pacific company operated at the beginning of this year 455 miles of railway within its limits; the Oregon Railway and Navigation company, 295 miles; the Columbia and Puget Sound railroad company, 44 miles; the Puget Sound Shore railroad company, 23 miles; and the Olympia and Chehalis railroad, 15 miles-making, with sonic newly completed portions of roads, 866 miles of railroad, where a few years previous only a few miles of local railway existed. The effect was magical, all kinds of business growth keeping an even pace with transportation. Leaving out the lumber and coal trade of western Washington, and the cattle trade of eastern Washington, each of which was very considerable, the Northern Pacific shipped to the east 4,161 tons of wheat and 1,600 tons of other grains, while the Oregon company carried out of southeastern Washington 250,000 tons of wheat, flour, and barley. The tonnage of Puget Sound vessels, foreign and domestic, amounted to 1,240,499 tons, and the business of shipbuilding was active.

The federal and territorial officers, during the administration of Governor Squire, were N. H. Owings, secretary; R. S. Greene, chief justice; J. P. Hoyt, S. C. Wingard, and George Turner, associate justices; Jesse George, United States marshal; John B. Allen, United States district attorney; William McMicken, surveyor-general; C. Bash, customs collector; C. B. Bagley and E. L. Heriff, internal revenue collectors; John F. Gowey, registrar, and J. R. Hayden, receiver of the United States land-office at Olympia; F. W. Sparling, registrar, and A. G. Marsh, receiver at Vancouver; Joseph Jorgensen, registrar, and James Braden, receiver at Walla Walla; J. M. Armstrong, registrar, and J. L. Wilson, receiver at Spokane; and R. R. Kinne, registrar, and J. M. Adams, receiver at Yakima. Thomas H. Brents was delegate to congress.

In 1887, Eugene Semple of Oregon, democrat, was appointed governor of Washington. Semple had been a newspaper editor, and possessed fair talents, with industry. He found public affairs somewhat disquieted on the questions of statehood and woman suffrage. After the defeat of equal suffrage by the popular male vote of 1878, the legislature had, in 1883-4, passed an act conferring upon women the privilege of voting at all elections. Later, this act was pronounced unconstitutional, and after voting at two elections, serving upon juries, and holding various offices, the women of the commonwealth were disfranchised. But there was a sufficiently strong sentiment in favor of the political equality of the sexes to make it a party question in 1886, the republicans having incorporated equal suffrage in their platform, while a respectable majority in both houses of the legislature were pledged to vote for a bill restoring the woman suffrage law.

Another matter upon which the legislature was divided was the proposition revived to remove the capital from Olympia to some more central location, favorable mention being made of North Yakima 73 and Ellensburg. Those who were laboring for this end expected that the long-coveted panhandle of Idaho would be joined to Washington, and intended to use that accession of territory as a lever to effect the removal of the capital east of the mountains. But the people of western Washington strenuously opposed the transference of the government offices to the Yakima valley, and succeeded in preventing it.

The legislature of 1887 appointed a commission to codify the laws of Washington, consisting of W. H. Doolittle of Tacoma, J. H. Snively of Yakima, Thomas H. Came of Seattle, and A. E. Isham of Walla Walla. As the passage of the enabling act rendered it undoubted that the state constitution would differ materially from the organic law of the territory, the commission suspended its labors until the state constitution had assumed definite form, when it reviewed its work.

The corporation law received particular attention, making provision for freights, for the rights of different roads to the use of each other’s tracks, and the rights and duties of stockholders. All telegraph and telephone companies were given the right of way on the lines of railroad companies on equal conditions. Railroads might pass along streams, streets, or highways where life and property were not endangered, but the companies must restore either of these to its former condition of usefulness. Every railroad must construct not less than five miles of road each year until completed, or forfeit its charter. Foreign railroads could not enjoy greater privileges than domestic roads. An annual report was to be made by each railroad to the stockholders, subject to the inspection of the secretary of state; besides which a sworn annual statement was required of the officers of each company.

The federal officers during Semple’s second term were N. H. Owings, secretary; R. A. Jones, chief justice; W. G. Langford, George Turner, and Frank Allyn, associate justices. Charles S. Voorhees succeeded Brents as delegate to congress 74 James Shields succeeded Hayden in the receiver’s office of the land department, and John Y. Ostrander was appointed registrar in 1886. 75


Bancroft, Hubert H. Bancroft Works, Volume 31, History Of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, 1845-1889. San Francisco: The History Company. 1890.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top