South Dakota Statehood


Mitchell Daily Republican, Mitchell SD

December 24, 1885,  pages 1 and 2

Contributed by Suzanne Folk


The Edgerton Reception

A Brilliant Success in Every Respect

The Senator Elect Clearly Defines His Position.

Sort and Eloquent Speeches by Representative Men

Music And Dancing Complete An Interesting Programme

     The informal reception to Senator-elect Edgerton last evening, gotten up as it was on short notice, was a brilliant success in every particular. The ladies and gentlemen of Mitchell were present in large numbers, and there were invited guests from various surrounding points.

     At eight o’clock the military, under command of Capt. Silsby, and headed the Mitchell Cornet Band, marched to the residence of Judge Edgerton and escorted him in a carriage to the Davis Opera House, accompanied by members of the committee.

     Arrived there Co. 1 marched into the hall, and came to present arms while the guest of the evening was given a seat on the stage, where he was received by Mayor Huggins, and the several vice presidents. After [??] [???] by the band, the Mayor made a brief address of welcome, to which Judge Edgerton responded as follows, first expressing the personal satisfaction the hearty greeting gave him.

            Judge Edgerton’s Response:

     It is with feelings of profound pride that I witness this grand assemblage of earnest men and women who have met here to-night to greet me n account of the cause which I in part have the honor to represent.

     It is an omen of good, an assurance that sustains and buoys me up under the grave responsibilities which I in part have assumed.

     A crisis is upon us as a people. Our cause is the cause of good government, and the cause of our enemies that of wrong and revolution to the landmarks of the past and the traditions of the founders of the Republic.

     Never till now have men openly proclaimed that a new state was to be denied admission into the Union because the people differed in politics from the majority of either House. It has been the uniform history of this country until it has become a part of our common law that when a territory has sufficient population, sufficient wealth, sufficient experience, sufficient patriotism and intelligence that she is to be admitted to the Union.  No one disputes but Dakota possesses all of these qualifications. Yet in our case this guarantee of past history, this common law of the land is set at defiance, and by whom and for what?  By men who proclaim us as revolutionists because we claim the rights always vouchsafed heretofore to the territories. Webster defines revolution as “In politics a material or entire change in the constitution of government.” Who proposes to change from the past action of the country which has become a part of the unwritten land?  We, or our accusers? I will let the unprejudiced student of history answer.

     In the constitutional convention which framed our constitution this amendment was proposed to the bill of rights: “All political power is inherent in the people and all true government is founded on their authority and is instituted to their equal protection and benefit, and they have the right at all times to alter, reform or abolish their form of government in such manner as they may think proper.”  Although the proposed amendment was copied from some older state constitutions, yet the majority of that convention thought its enactment unwise under the circumstances, and might provoke the assault of our enemies, consequently it was rejected, and the following inserted in lieu thereof:

     “All political power is inherent in the people and all free government is founded on their authority, and it is instituted for their equal protection and benefit and they have the right in lawful and constituted methods to alter or reform their forms of government in such manner as they may think proper. And the State of Dakota is an inseparable part of the American Union, and the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land.”

     Was there anything revolutionary in that?

     Again the committee on schedule had left it in doubt as to when the complete machinery of government might be set in motion and upon the attention of the convention being called to that fact, Mr. Haines, a distinguished delegate, from Turner county, and a present state senator, introduced the following as an additional section which after a vigorous discussion, was passed by an overwhelming majority;

     “Noting in the Constitution or Schedule contained shall be construed to authorize the legislature to exercise any powers except such as are necessary to its organization, to elect United States Senators, to provide and pass means and measures necessary, preliminary and incident to admission to the Union, and to assemble and re-assemble and adjourn from time to time; neither to authorize any office of the executive

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The Edgerton Reception

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Or administrative departments to exercise any power of his office except such as may be preliminary and incident to admission to the Union, nor to authorize any officer of the judiciary department to exercise any of the duties of his office until the State of Dakota shall have been regularly admitted into the Union, except such as may be authorized by the Congress of the United States.”

     Was there anything revolutionary in that?

     In obedience to that constitution so limited the legislature convened, and in strict accordance with such limitations elected its senators, then adjourned to await the action of Congress.

     Was that revolutionary?

     Gen. Logan, in the United States Senate, last Friday pertinently inquired if it was revolutionary for the citizens of a territory to get together and present their claims to be admitted as a state, they taking care to provide in their new constitution that they should not be a state until Congress should approve their constitution. He thought it unfair for senators to regard the action in Dakota as revolutionary. Until they should set up as a state and undertake to perform the functions of a state, and the powers of statehood, they were not revolutionists.

     When that grand old historic man who had occupied the most prominent office in this country became a member of Congress from the Plymouth District in Massachusetts, and thought it his duty from time to time to present the petitions to congress sent to him, his enemies called such acts revolutionary.

     There never was a grander petition formulated than Dakota’s in the shape of a constitution now sent to the Congress of the United States, and yet we are called revolutionists.

     Men who call such acts revolutionary will soon awake, like Rip Van Winkle, and find that the people are no longer shouting “God bless King George the III.”

     The school master, thank God, has been abroad during the past twenty-five years.

     Indiana was admitted in 1816, with an area of 33,800 square miles, and a population of about 100,000 after being a territory 7 years.

     Illinois was admitted in 1818, with an area of 54,410 square miles, a population of 35,220, after being a Territory 9 years.

     Missouri was admitted in 1821, with an area of 65,350 square miles, a population of 66,557, after being a Territory 16 years.

     Tennessee was admitted in 1796, with an area of 41,000 square miles, a population of less than 100,000, after being a Territory 7 years.

     Wisconsin was admitted in 1848, with an area of 53,924 square miles, a population of almost 160,000, after being a Territory 12 years.

     Minnesota was admitted in 1858, with an area of 83,000 square miles, a population of about 145,000, after being a Territory 9 years.

     These statistics may not be absolutely accurate, but are nearly so.

     The proposed state of Dakota has within her boundaries as defined by the Constitution framed at Sioux Falls, 80,207 square miles and is larger than Tennessee and Kentucky combined, larger than Ohio and Indiana combined, all noble states and each large enough.

     The proposed state of Dakota has a population as determined by the last census of 263,465, more that any territory ever had when admitted into the Union. More than Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi altogether had at the time of their admission. More than each of four states now has. Our proposed state has to-day more free schools, more colleges, more state institutions than any territory ever before.

     Dakota has been a Territory over 23 years.

     Are we revolutionists for asking admission, or are our accusers seeking to change materially the rules and laws applicable to the admission of new states and proposing to keep us out of the Union for no valid reason simply because they have the power?

     Let the unprejudiced examine the record.  No territory was ever admitted into the Union that had served so long as a territory, that had the wealth or paid the taxes, or has the population Dakota has.

     When the Northwest territory was added to the Union, prior to the Constitution, in the compact there was a condition that out of this Territory there should be carved not less than three nor more than five states. The Northwest Territory embraced about 240,000 square miles; consequently according to the express terms of that compact, binding upon us as sacredly as the Constitution of the United States, there was an agreement that these 240,000 square miles should form not less than three nor more than five states. In other words the states were to be in the aggregate not much less than 50,000 square miles in size nor more than 80,000.

     Congress chose to make five states of this Northwest Territory averaging 50,000 square miles each. Congress has in express terms from time to time expanded to all the additional territories of the United States the benefits of than compact,

     If Congress has extended to us the benefits of the ordinance of 1787 what are they:

     First:--That there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude4 within our borders otherwise than for the punishment of crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

     Second:--that our state shall have an area not greatly exceeding 80,000 square miles nor less than 50,000.

     Third:--That we shall be entitled to admission when our population reaches 60,000.

     In the face of all these facts they call us revolutionists. Who are our accusers? I will not answer that question but leave it to an impartial world.  Whom do these men accuse of disloyalty? In no state or territory of the Union are there more Union soldiers in proportion to the population than in Dakota. In the Constitutional Convention which framed our organic law and in the present legislature are there many indelible evidences of loyalty to government in the scars and armless sleeves.

     Is this the reason why we are branded as revolutionists and taunted with disloyalty?

     It has been my fortune to have witnessed many distinguished bodies of representatives but I have never seen a body of men characterized by a higher loyalty to the Union and in the main characterized by more intelligence than the Sioux Falls Convention and the present Legislature.

     Men came there from all the walks of life. The lawyer left his brief to attend. The clergyman his pulpit. The farmer his plow. The mechanic his shop. The merchant his storehouse. The banker his ledger. The editor his press. And the college president his classes.

     Our people will never be classed with revolutionists by thoughtful and truthful men. Too many of our citizens paid a high price to save the country from the hands of revolutionists. No sir; and if the time ever comes again, when foreign or domestic foes seek to destroy the Republis, no state will respond more freely to the call of their country, and no men will keep truer step to the music of the Union than Dakotans.

     Like the Roman Republic by wise legislation in the free gifts of lands, the disbanded Union army was quite largely distributed in this province and have become citizens and husbandmen here without forgetting the lessons of the past.

     Of such men you can never make revolutionists any more than you can of Logan and Hawley, of Bragg and Slocum.

     Some one asks why we are so anxious for admission? If a people that have fulfilled all the conditions of territorial tutelage, who have the wealth, the numbers and the intelligence entitling them to emancipation should willingly and uncomplaining remain in that inferior condition, it would be an evidence of their incapacity for emancipation and self-government, and be a cause of serious apprehension with patriotic statesmen in other states.

     And I maintain that the founders of the republic never contemplated the possibility that a territory should remain long in that condition.  It is subversive of the true principles of this government. Large, populous, wealthy and dependent provinces are alike dangerous to the governed and the governing.

     I appeal to the people of the older states and especially to those two great states which furnished the President and the late vice President of the Union. I appeal to the grand empire state from which so many of us immigrated in our young manhood, to do us justice; I appeal to the chivalric  state of Indiana which has sent to the territory so many of her sons and her daughters.

     In fine, I appeal to the good and loyal men from every state no matter what their past or present political affilieations may be to do us justice, to preserve the land marks of the government.

     I am not unmindful of the opposition which the admission of Dakota will meet in Congress. The older states are beginning to look with apprehension on the rapid development of the west for two reasons.  First because the admission of new states decreases the power and importance of the older ones and again the emigration to the west is taking much of the best and energetic blood of the east away to new fields of enterprise.

     There are other causes for opposition, some of which will be admitted and others evaded.

     One is that probably our state will be Republican in politics. A reason that no patriot will or can assign, from the fact that when men oppose our admission on such grounds it must be conceded to be revolutionary and destructive to good government. Another cause assigned is that the presentation of our claims to Congress in the mode we have adopted is revolutionary.

     Possibly the very men who make this charge are disappointed and chagrined that our methods have been so conservative and moderate. It is possible that such men desired some revolutionary acts upon our part that would divert the attention of good men from their past record and postpone if not absolutely defeat our admission by disarming our friends and arming our foes.

     The Constitution of the United States provides that Congress may admit new states but there is no law as to the mode or manner in which the application shall be made and the rule has been different. In some cases the territory has made the application as we have, in other cases and perhaps the majority of cases Congress has initiated the proceedings.

     Both methods have precedents and no lawyer who has any pride in his reputation as a lawyer will way that the course pursued by Dakota us without good precedent or is in violation of law.

     Never was a nobler cause committed to the trust of advocate than Dakota now entrusts to her representatives authorized to present her claims to the Congress of the United States.

     You ask what are the chances of success. My answer is our success is certain just in proportion to the preponderance of justice and right ot the injustice and wrong in the men and tribunal who will determine our cause.

     I have great confidence in the man who now presides over the councils of the nation. I believe that when President Cleveland examines the claims of Dakota he will decide the case as a statesman who is the ruler of a great nation and not the deputy of a faction who seek to subvert the indisputable landmarks of our history. I believe that Mr. Cleveland will determine our cause as an impartial judge in accordance with the law and the facts, and by so doing endear himself still more to the impartial citizens of the whole Republic. But if I am mistaken in this and the President is determined to evade the question and refer the whole matter to Congress, I still shall hope for the best. There are many noble men in each House, from the North and the South alike, Republicans and Democrats. I believe when they fully understand our cause and are satisfied that we are not revolutionists, that we shall have the support of even South Carolina. I confidently expect when they know the truth that even Gen Butler and Gov. Hampton will support our cause. They do not understand it.

     I confidently believe that many good men from the South, when correctly informed of the facts, will be supporters of the admission of Dakota. I shall expect substantial aid from Missouri, for no state can or ought to be interested in the development of the Missouri Valley more than that great state, and no city is do deeply interested in our growth as St. Louis. The time will come in the near future when representatives from Missouri will be our most active allies.

     I am asked that if Congress refuses then what? An appeal to the court of last resort, the people. There are enough close districts in the United States where a few just men next fall will determine who shall represent them in Congress, men who will not be parties to a great wrong to a great people.

     Some aggressive Dakotan asks me if all these fail, what then? I shall not attempt to draw the ve[?] between this and that almost impossible condition of things—when the ruler of a great people and the Congress of the United States, and the people of the United Sates have each and all perpetrated a great wrong.

     Such a condition of things and such a result is well nigh inconceivable.

     No, fellow citizens, it can not be. I have that confidence which assures me that:

                        “right will come uppermost, and justice shall be done.”

     Hearty applause was given to the several stirring seatiments throughout the address, which is one of the clearest presentations of the statehood question in a short space, that has yet been made.

     There were present on the stage, J.W. Shannon, of the Huronite, Col M.M. Price, of Letcher, C.B. McDonald, of Wessington Springs, and J.O. Porterfield, of Letcher, who were among the invited guests from out of the city. It was expected that Major Kellam, of chamberlain, would be present to speak, but in his absence, Mayor Huggins called on Mr. Shannon. That gentleman, who made the nominating speech for Gen Campbell at Huron last week, responded in a happy impromptu effort, that had the right ring, and in which he paid the highest tribute to Judge Edgerton.  He closed by saying that the citizens of Huron stood ready to work hand in hand with us to advance our common interests.

     Hon T.D. Kanouse, of Woonsocket, was next on the programme, but a letter of regret was read from him and Col. Price was called on to fill his place. This he did in a most felicitous manner, his speech combining wit, eloquence, historic tacts and crop statistics in equal and interesting quantity. He touched on woman suffrage and rode his hobby—the farmer’s movement, a few moments most acceptably.

     Senator Stauchfield followed, as one who was on the scene of action at Huron, and his clear, logical presentation of the situation, his hopes and suggestions for future, and his strong showing of our rights at this important juncture, left no question but that this district made a wise choice last fall.

     Rev Dr. brush also volunteered a few stirring remarks.

     The vocal quartetic, Messrs. Kratz Brothers, Ahern and Lott, interspersed several of their choice selections throughout the programme which were heartily enjoyed.

     At the close of the programme Judge Edgerton was introduced to those present individually, as were the Misses Edgerton, and the evening thereafter was given to social intercourse and dancing.

     Regrets were also received from Hons. L.P. Chapman, T.O. Bogert, James Baynes, J.W. Cone and J.M. Green.


Mitchell Daily Republican, Mitchell SD

December 24, 1885,  pages 1 and 2

Contributed by Suzanne Folk




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