Executive Committee Administration

Legislative Message One, 1844

Source: Oregon State Archives, Oregon Provisional and Territorial Records, 1844, Calendar No. 1381.


Territory’s Future

Messages – Governor (Executive Committee)

Year 1844

To the honorable the Legislative Assembly of Oregon Territory


As a rising Colony under no immediate external control or civil protection, we have abundant reason for rendering up our thanks to the great Ruler of the Universe for his parental care and protection over us from our first entrance into this county unto the present days.

And it becomes us humbly to acknowledge our defender … as our protector and preserver, and inflows a continuance of his care and watchfulness over us and wisdom to direct us in the discharge of the duties devolving on us. This country has once been populated by powerful tribes of Indians but it has [passed] the great [disputes] of human events to reduce them to mere shadows of their former greatness; thus removing the chief obstructions to the entrance of civilization and offering a way for the introduction of Christianity where ignorance, superstition, and idolatry have reigned uncontrolled so many ages.

There has perhaps been few colonies [located] in North America under the … circumstances in which the present settlers of this territory are placed. We are situated in a portion of country remote from civilized nations among the few remaining savages who are the original proprietors of this soil. The country is claimed by two powerful civilized and enlightened nations proud of their national liberties and jealous of their respective rights and privileges. It is obvious that those claims must be adjusted and the soil purchased from the [existing] proprietors previous to any right being conferred upon the citizens of those governments relative to the cultivation of lands in this Territory.

The government of Great Britain has never publicly extended her claim so far South as to include the lands now under cultivation in this colony. But a treaty now exists between that government and the United States giving to either party the right of united occupancy of their territory in relation to the Indian trade. The United States have held out [incentives] to the citizens and indirectly encouraged the settlements of this country by them. Consequently we are now [upforming] the country by their consent but without their protection and it is [self evident] that every community have a right to make laws for their united benefit and protection where no law exists.

It was under these impressions that the settlers in this Territory established a form of government last year and adopted such rules and regulations [as were at that] time deemed necessary for the protection and prosperity of the colony.

These regulations were so constructed as to be [edited] or amended by Legislative assembly whose members were to be chosen by the people annually until such time as the government of the United States shall extend their jurisdiction over the Territory. At the time of our organization it was expected that the Unites States would have taken possession of the country before this time, but a year has rolled around and there still appears little or no prospect of aid from that quarter. Consequently we are yet left are on our own … In view of the present state of affairs, Gentlemen of the assembly, we would recommend to your consideration the adoption of ...

Also to take into consideration the propriety of having a light tax for the support of government. We would also recommend to your consideration the propriety of vesting the Executive powers in our persons. And the impropriety of vesting the [power] of Supreme Probate and District Judge in our [persons] the necessity of having an individual judge for each court.

We would recommend the rest of the laws of Ioway as have been or may be adopted be so amended and to suit the circumstances of the Country.

That the militia law be so amended that military officers hold their commissions during good behavior and that such company shall have the privilege of electing their own officers at such time and place as they shall think just [on] the days of annual [?]. And that such portions of the militia law of Ioway be adopted as will suit all the circumstances of our military organization.

We would recommend that the first article of the land law be amended to as to require that some [pension to] improvements be made on claims before recording. And that such improvements be designated on records with such other regulations relative to land claims and in the opinion of this assembly will be most beneficial to the interests of the public.

We would recommend that the fourth article of the land law be repealed as it is considered detrimental to the interests of the community.

We would recommend that Commissions be appointed to locate roads in such places as this assembly shall deem necessary for the interests of the [future heirs] that a law be enacted for the purpose of establishing farms at the different thoroughfares [facing] the Willamette River.

We recommend the encouragement of the [practice] of education as often as our historic circumstances will allow.

We will also recommend that the laws of Ioway be taken into [immediate consideration] concerning [Whites and Mulattos]. And that a law be enacted for the punishment of offenders inciting the Indians against the Whites and regulating the intercourse of the Whites among the Indians in this Colony. That permission be made for the erection of a jail. And such other measures as shall be best calculated to secure the peace and [prosperings] of the people.

And in conclusion we desire to impress upon your minds the important fact that although this Colony is small and its [number] is feeble, yet the life, rights and liberties of an individual here are of equal value to him [as a life] in the City of Washington or London.

And it is a duty which devolves on you and us to use as much discretion, vigilance and caution in inventing and adopting measures for protecting the interests of this little Colony as if we expected our names as would be enrolled in the pages of history.

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