The 1857 Oregon Constitutional Convention

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The Territorial legislature submitted another convention bill for public consent in 1857. This time it passed. Sixty delegates met in Salem from August 17 to September 18, 1857 and wrote the document, which they modeled after the 1851 Indiana Constitution. This bound volume of the convention proceedings records the actions of the delegates during the month it took to draft the state's constitution.

White males over twenty-one voted the constitution into law on November 9, 1857. The issues of slavery and admittance of free negroes were voted on separately. A delegation left shortly afterwards for Washington, DC to request statehood for Oregon.

The Congressional debate over slavery delayed action for fourteen months. Finally, a bill was passed, and President James Buchanan signed it on February 14, 1859. Oregon joined the union as a "free" state on the eve of the Civil War.

Original Oregon Constitution (via Oregon Blue Book)


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