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VOL. XIII., No. 1 January, 1922
Washington Historical d&uarterlp
THE COWLITZ CONVENTION : INCEPTION OE
Historians have fallen into peculiar confusion as to dates, per-
sons and events associated with the subdivision of Oregon Territory,
events lying at the very foundation of the Commonwealth of
Reasons for the confusion may be found in these facts: two
Fourth of July orations were delivered in Olympia, one in 1851
and one in 1852 ; after each of such orations meetings of citizens
were held and agitation made for a separate territorial government
north of Columbia River; and in each case the agitation led to
a regularly constituted convention ; each of such conventions memor-
ialized Congress in behalf of the object sought to be achieved.
The first convention was held at Cowlitz Landing, near the
present Toledo, August 29, 1851 and the second at the home of
H. D. Huntington, "Uncle Darby", at Monticello, near the mouth
of the Cowlitz River, on November 25, 1852. No correct valuation
of those two conventions has been made and from that fact has arisen
the confusion of the historians.
There was no newspaper north of the Columbia during the
Cowlitz convention of 1851. However, on September 11, 1852,
Volume I., Number- 1 of The Columbian appeared in Olympia. In
that issue of the first newspaper published north of the Columbia
River, Daniel R. Bigelow's Fourth of July oration was printed
in full. It was eloquent and patriotic and for the rest of his life
Mr. Bigelow was praised as the orator who helped to lay the
foundations of a State. During its first year The Columbian occu-
pied itself with the calling of meetings and advocating the organiza-
tion of a separate territory to be called the Territory of Columbia.
4 Edmond S. Meany
The very name of the paper was a part of the agitation. As stated,
there was no newspaper to print, even tardily, John B. Chapman's
Fourth of July oration of 1851 and no paper to urge attendance
at the Cowlitz convention of that year. The oration is lost and too
little attention has been given to the proceedings and results of the
convention . Both conventions were important but it is high time
that certain errors should be definitely corrected.
In a recent checking of the situation, it was found that Clinton
A. Snowden in his History of Washington, The Rise and Progress
of an American State, Volume III., pages 197-198, 203-206, ignores
the convention following Chapman's oration and puts both con-
ventions in 1852. Hubert Howe Bancroft in his Works, Volume
XXXI, Washington, Idaho and Montana, gives the membership
of the Cowlitz convention of August 29, 1851, and mentions a mem-
orial to Congress, pages 48-49. However, on pages 60-61 of
the same volume, he says that Joseph Lane, Oregon's Delegate to
Congress, immediately on receiving the Monticello memorial, made
his request for the Committee on Terrtories to inquire into the
expediency of dviding Oregon. That was a physical impossbility
at the time which will be shown below. Mr. Bancroft frequently
cites with approval the works of Elwood Evans of Tacoma. That
is well, for Mr. Evans was usually accurate. However, in his
large work, History of Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washing
ton, Volume I., page 337, he gives a very brief mention of John
B. Chapman, says nothing of his Fourth of July oration of 1851 and,
on pages 348-349 of the same volume, he credits Mr. Bigelow with
making the first oraton which led to the Monticello convention, and
caused Delegate Lane to begin the work in Congress. Edmond S.
Meany, History of the State of Washington, pages 156-157, says :
Delegate Lane had acted on the Monticello document. On the first
day of the second session of the Thirty-second Congress, December
6, 1852, Mr. Lane, by suspension of the rules, introduced a resolu-
tion requesting the Committee on Territories to examine into the
expediency of dividing Oregon Territory and reporting by bill or
The physical impossibility of Delegate Lane's acting on the
Monticello memorial is easy to see. The Monticello convention was
held on November 25 and the Delegate introduced his resolution
on December 6, 1852. At that time there was no known way of
sending such a document from Oregon to Washington City in
The Cowlitz Convention 5
eleven days. The Congressional Globe shows that Delegate Lane
introduced his well known resolution on December 6, 1852, and
he must, therefore, have acted on his own volition or upon the initia-
tion of some other source, possibly from the Cowlitz convention of
In discussing the matter with William P. Bonney, of Tacoma,
Secretary of the Washington State Historical Society, it was found
that he had also noticed the puzzle and had found its solution. It is
perfectly natural that Mr. Bonney should be interested. He loves
history, he has lived all his life on the shores of Puget Sound
and on August 17, 1882, he was married to Miss Eva Bigelow, of
Olympia, whose father was the famous Fourth of July orator of
1852. Mr. Bonney concluded that the memorial of the Cowlitz
convention of 1851, though slighted or overlooked by historians,
was really the one used at first in Congress. He wrote to Con-
gressman Albert Johnson to search the records for that document.
It could not be found but Mr. Bonney wrote again and urged that
the papers of Delegate Lane in the Library of Congress be searched.
Congressman Johnson was enthusiastic over the success there
achieved. The manuscript memorial was found and with it were
two Oregon newspapers, The Oregonian, Volume I., No. 42, Sep-
tember 20, 1851 and Oregon Spectator, Volume VI., No. 3, Sep-
tember 23, 1851. Across the top margin of the latter was the
address "Hon. Dan'l Webster." Each of the newspepers contained
on the front page full proceedings of the Cowlitz convention of
August 29, 1851. The proceedings were regularly dated and signed
by the president and two secretaries.
Congressman Johnson had the manscript memorial and the two
newspapers photostated and forwarded to Mr. Bonney, who filed
them in the archives of the Washington State Historical Society,
where they bear the number 2684, 2685 and 2687. These documents
permit a complete readjustment of the initiative leading to the
creation of Washington Territory. They are of sufficient import-
ance to be reproduced in full.
The manuscript memorial has two endorsements: "To Gen'l
J. Lane, Petition to Congress. A Petition to divide Oregon Ter-
ritory. Com. on Territories, Lane;" and "Oregon Territory. The
petition of Citizens and the proceeding of a public Meeting in
Oregon Territory in relation to the division of said territory. Dec.
30, 1851. Referred to the Committee on Territories. Mr. Holli-
6 Edmond S. Meany
day. Gen'l Lane." These endorsements, on two sides of the back
as the document was folded, indicate that the memorial was before
the Committee on Territories one year before Delegate Lane
moved his important resolution of December 6, 1852. There seems
to be no record of the memorial in the Congressional Globe of
December 30, 1851. When the next, or Monticello, memorial
appeared, more than a year later, it was printed in full in that
official publication. This, of course, is another reason for the
The manuscript memorial is as follows :
To the Honorable The Senate and Speaker of the House of Represen-
tatives of the Congress of the United States of America at Washington
The undersigned respectfully beg leave to represent to your Honorable
body. That at a regular constituted Convention of Delegates of the people
of Oregon Territory North of the Columbia River holden on the 29th of
August 1851 (a copy of the proceedings of which convention are here forward-
ed accompaning this memorial and prayed to be considered as a part
thereof) 1 a Resolution passed said Convention Resolving That a seperate
Territorial Government ought to be organized North of Columbia River and
That John B. Chapman, M. T. Simmons & F. S. Balch be appointed a com-
mittee to draw up a suitable memorial td Congress on That subject;
The Committe have had the same under consideration and directed me
to report The following petition to Congress.
That Government and order is contemplated for the convienience and
benefit of the people, and That every community and; settlement of Citizens
participating in the burthens of Government are entitled to its benefits and
protection; and That when ever any portion of That Community, from
locality anid Geographical position are left out of the existing rule & order
in concequence of That Government, It then becomes [Ms. Page 2] the duty
of the Supreme power from which those rules of order emenates to re-
establish those systems of protection and Government, by placing the power
and the means in the ability of this seperated & neglected portion of the
whole community; for the reestablishment and organization of a Govern-
ment, for their own convenience & protection.
They beg leave to further state that the Inhabitants North of the
Columbia River receive no benefit or convenience whatever from the Ter-
ritorial Government of Oregon as now administered. They maintain pos-
itively that it costs more for a citizen in the North of Oregon Territory to
travel to a clerks office or to reach a District Judge than it does for a
man to travel from S. Lewis, Missouri to Boston, Masachussetts and back;
and, much longer;
It is true that Judge Strong, resides on the North Bank of the
Columbia River, but in such a position and obscure situation near Astoria,
that he cannot be reached under any emergency under several days travel
from the interior. The great body of the Indians of Oregon inhabit the
North side of the Columbia River, no Indian agent has ever been known
to be north of the River except Gov. Lane while superintendent.
The Committe further state that the Geographical extent of the Ameri-
can or U. States Territory is too well known by your Honorable body to
require comment by the Committe, but the Committe beg leave to State other
facts in r egard to said Territory which they know [Ms. Page 3] to have been
1 Evidently the same proceedings which appeared in the Oregon Spectator, which will
be reproduced following this document.
The Cowlitz Convention 7
misrepresented, That is the availability of said Territory for civilized and
domestic purposes; The Committe beg leave to State from personal
knowledge that in the forty thousand square miles of Territory beginning
at the British line [an extra stroke is given to the "n" making the word
literally "lime"] North: that one half the whole eare [area?] is good tilable
land, and that the great portion of the other half is valuable Timber Land.
Coal mines, & Gold mines, which have but verry recently been, the least de-
veloped, and what may appear more astonishing to your Honorable body is
no less a fact, that that small extent of Territory North of the Columbia
River has a face of good Sea Board Navigation exceeding one thousand
miles, with not less than twenty five good safe Harbours & Bays, that the
largest Ships can clear from any day, for any part of the whole world, and
that the greater portion of the land bordering on this Sea-Board is as fertile
h productive as any in the United States, containing immense quantities of
Timber of the first qualities for Ships, buildings or Domestic use.
The numerous Rivers and small Streams of Fresh water emptying in
to this extensive Sea Board Navigation affording numerous sites for Hydro-
lie power is conclusive that such a country will admit of a dense population.
But that this whole Country is very thinly settled for so many good qualities
the undersigned admit, and for the best of reason. One of the finest por-
tions of the Country at the very Head ofi "Pugets Sound" is [Ms. Page 4]
claimed by a British Trading Post, known as the Hudson Bay Co. to the
extent of Sixty miles by Thirty all that fair and beautiful region lying
between the Nisqually & Puyallup Rivers, etc., & South & East Six [ty,
Portion of word obliterated in photostat copy.] miles to Mit. Renier, that
Company has never pretended to carry on an agricultural persuit, the rural
part from the Trading post was Stock, Cattle, Horses, & Sheep. The Ameri-
can Settlements from the States was inimical to the grazeing persuit of the
Hudson Bay Co. hence all the emigrants from the States who attempted a
settlement in that region of! Country on Pugets Sound, was compelled to do
it over the heads of that Company like an army Storming a Castle, hence
but fiew was willing to incur the displeasure of a large monieti institution,
and a British Fort at That: and inconcequence of so many being detered
from settlement it caused another verry great reason for the nonsettlement
of the Country. That is, no Wagon Roads have yet been made from the
Columbia or else where, to the interior of the Territory and hence wholy
inaccessable except by water: and all the commerce of the North being
monopolized by the Hudson Bay Co. there was" no inducement for American
Vessels, hence no means of conveyance as the Company Vessels were never
allowed to carry an American Citizen, by this monopoly and influence of
the H. Bay Co. over some U. S. Officers, the Emigrants from the States
have been untill this day, literally excluded from the Northern Territory of
The Committe beg leave to represent and show Congress. That there
is now about three thousand Souls North of the! Columbia. That they have
raised a large amount of produce, Wheat, Oats, potatoes, onions, &c for
exportation, but with the many abuses of their rights [Ms. Page 5] and
neglected condition in their civil immunities as Citizens it is impossible for
them to prosper in commerce, or advance one step in the improvement of
Roads & highways.
The Seat of Government at present is distant about three hundred miles
from the principle Settlements North ; The entire Legislative power is South,
of the Columbia River & from Locality and Geographical position the South
has no interest in common whatever, with the North, and in conciquence of
the immence expensive travel, from Oregon City to the North of Columbia;
Government Officers but seldom if ever visit the North; under the present
condition of things, the rights of Citizens must go unredressed crimes and
Notwithstanding all these inconveniences and obstacles the Emigrant is
8 Bdmond S. Meany
daily surmounting all barriers and settleing in our midst and loudly calls
for the rights and privleges of a citizen, for the protection of himself and
In consideration of the premises and many inconveniences of the pres-
ent inhabitants and in complyance with the resolution of said Convention
The Committe most respectfully request that Congress will pass an act
organizing a seperate Territorial Government North of the Columbia River;
with the immunities & privliges of her [Ms. Page 6] most favoured Terri-
tories, and that Territory be known and designated as "Columbia Territory"
and, That the Seat of said Territorial Government be fixed as near the| cen-
tre of the Territory North and South as convenience and circumstance will
admit of, : All of which is most respectfully submitted for the consideration
J. B. Chapman
and corresponding Com
That document and the accompanying proceedings, familiar
to Delegate Lane froml December, 1851, to December, 1852, are
sufficient to explain his prompt action when the new session opened
on December 6, 1852. Of the two copies of the proceedings that
in the Oregon Spectacular is selected for preproduction, as from
the older of the two papers. The account is checked with that in
the Oregonian and with other sources, corrections being indicated in
brackets. At the top of the article appears the words "For the
Cowmtz, Lewis Co., O. T., )
August 29, 1851. )
The following are the proceedings of a convention of delegates in Ore-
gon Territory, north of the Columbia River,, which was called by a previous
constituted arrangement of the citizens of said district of country, calling
said convention and selecting delegates to attend the same, to take into con-
sideration the propriety of organizing a separate Territorial Government,
and such other purposes as the demands and wants of the people required.
The convention met in compliance with the order of the election of the
delegates, at the Cowlitz, in Lewis county, on the 29th day of August, 1851.
The convention was called to order by Thos. M. Chambers, Esq., when the
following gentlemen came forward and presented their credentials as dele-
gates duly elected from the several precincts in said Territory, and took
upon themselves the duties of members of said convention: Messrs. Catlin,
Burbie, Huntress, Warbass, Jackson, Frazer, Bernier, Bosit [Borst], Della-
braugh, Chapman, Plomondo, Poe, Crosby, Chambers, M. T. Simmons, May-
nard, Brownfield, Broshears, Bradley, Edgar, Balch, Wilson, Saunders, A.
T. [J] Simmons, Cochran, and Ford.
The convention then proceeded to ballot for officers, which resulted in
the unanimous choice of the Hon. Seth Catlin for President, and F. S. Balch,
Esq., and Alonzo Poe, Esq., for Secretaries.
The President, on taking the chair, addressed the convention in an ap-
propriate manner, and stated the object of the convention, then announced
the convention ready for business.
Mr. Jackson then offered the following resolution, which was adopted.
Resolved, That parliamentary rules be observed by this convention for
their government, in so far as the same may not be altered by this convention.
Mr. Chapman introduced the following resolution, which was adopted:
The Cowlitz Convention 9
Resolved, That the following standing committees be appointed by the
1. A committee of five on Territorial Government.
2. A committee of eight on Districts and Counties.
3. A committee of three on the Rights and Privileges of citizens.
4. A committee of three on Internal Improvements.
5. A committee of three on Ways and Means.
Mr. Simmons then moved an adjournment until 10 o'clock, which was
According to adjournment the convention met, when the President
appointed the following gentlemen on the several committees:
Committee on Territorial Government — Messrs. Chapman, Jackson, M.
T. Simmons, Huntress, and Chambers.
Committee on Districts and Counties — Messrs. Brownfield, Wilson,
Crosby, Jackson, Burbie, Plomondo, Edgar, and Warbass.
Committee on Rights an^d Privileges of citizens — Messrs. Huntress, May-
nard, and Chapman.
Committee on Internal Improvements — Messrs. M. T. Simmons, Bur-
bie, and Borst.
Committee on Ways and Means — Messrs. Frazer, A. T. [J.] Simmons,
Mr. Chapman then submitted the following resolution, which was
Resolved, That the Committee ort Territorial Government report to this
convention the propriety of memorializing Congress for the organization of
a Territorial Government north' of the Columbia River, in Oregon Territory.
Mr. Chapman then introduced the following resolution, which was
Resolved, That the committee on Districts and Counties, do report to
this convention the propriety of petitioning the Legislature of Oregon, to
lay out the Northern Territory in suitable boundaries for counties, and that
such boundaries be designated by the committee, ["convention" in Oregonian]
leaving each district and county to organize whenever the citizens of such
districts and counties may think proper.
Mr. Balch submitted the following resolution, which was adopted:
Resolved, That the committee on Internal Improvements, report to this
convention the propriety of memorializing the next Legislature of Oregon,
for constructing a plank road from some point on Puget's Sound to the
Columbia River 1 near the mouth of the Cowlitz River.
Mr. Chapman offered the following:
Resolved, That the committee on the Rights and Privileges of Citizens
are hereby required ["requested" in Oregonian] to report to this convention
for its consideration, a suitable memorial to Congress, requesting that in the
organization of a Territorial Government north of the Columbia River, all
male citizens over the age of 18 years, six months a resident, and 30 days
in the county in which they vote, be allowed the right of suffrage; and
that all natural and naturalized male citizens over the age of 18 years, north
of the Columbia River, be allowed the benefit of the act of Congress donat-
ing land to the people of Oregon.
Mr. M. T. Simmons submitted the following amendment— That after
the words 18 years, "Except Negroes and Indians" to be inserted.
After an exciting debate, in which Messrs. Chapman, Simmons,
Huntress, Balch» Maynar'd, and Wilson, participated, upon the question for
the adoption of the amendment being put, it was adopted. Then upon the
question for the adoption of the resolution as amended, being put, it was
lost: Yeas 7; nays 14.
Mr. Poe moved the adjournment of the convention until Saturday morn-
ing at 8 o'clock, which was adopted.
10 Bdmond S. Meany
Saturday Morning, 8 o'clock
According to adjournment the convention convened. The Secretary
read the proceedings of the preceding day, and the minutes were adopted.
Reports from committees being in order, Mr. Chapman, chairman of
the committee on Territorial Government, offered the following report:
Mr. President — The committee on Territorial Government, to whom
was referred the resolution requiring them to report to this convention the
propriety of organizing a Territorial Government north of the Columbia
River, have had the same under consideration,, and directed me to make the
That the committee are unanimously of the opinion that a Territorial
Government ought to be organized by Congress, north of the Columbia River,
The propriety of such an" organization arises from the demand and necessity
of the occasion. That the Government is contemplated for the benefit of
the people. The vast extent of territory north, well adapted to agriculture,
commerce and manufacturing, the total absence of all municipal law or
civil officers, the great distance from the seat of the present government,
and the isolated situation of this part of the territory therefrom, arid many
other reasons too well known to require repitition, conspire to convince the
committee that there is much propriety in the organization of a separate
territorial government, and that no time ought to be lost in demanding the
same from Congress.
Therefore the committee offers the following resolution for adoption:
Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed by the President of
the convention, to prepare a suitable memorial to Congress on that subject,
and that the same be forwarded to the delegate in congress from Oregon
territory, requesting him to use his influence in procuring the organization
of a separate territorial government.
The question on the adoption of the resolution being put, was unani-
Mr. M. T. Simmons, chairman of the committee on Internal Improve-
ment, presented the report of that committee in> favor of memorializing
Congress to open a territorial road from some point on Puget's Sound
towards Walla Walla ["fort Walla Walla'* in the Oregonian] on the Colum-
bia River, over the Cascade Mountains. Also in favor of the construction
of a plank road from some point on Puget's 1 Sound to the most eligible point
on the Columbia River near the mouth of the Cowlitz river, and the com-
mittee offered the following resolution, for adoption.
That our delegate ["in Congress" — Oregonian] be arid hereby is in-
structed and required to use every exertion possible to procure an appro-
priation of One Hundred Thousand Dollars by Congress, for the opening of
a territorial road from Puget's Sound to the Walla Walla, on the Columbia
River; and that the committee appointed to draft the memorial on a terri-
torial government, also forward a memorial on the subject of said appropri-
ation, which resolution was unanimously adopted.
Mr. Maynard then submitted the following resolution, which was
Resolved, That our representative be and hereby is instructed to use
all honorable means in the next Legislature of Oregon, to obtain a charter
for a plank road from Olympia, on Puget's Sound, to the nearest and most
eligible point on the Columbia river near the mouth of the Cowlitz river.
Mr. Huntress moved an adjournment to half past two, P. M., which was
According to adjournment the convention met: when the President,
as authorized, appointed the following gentlemen to compose the committee
to send a memorial to Congress on the subject of organizing a new terri-
torial government north of the Columbia River: Mr. J. B. Chapman, Mr.
F. S. Balch, and Mr. M. T. Simmons.
The Cowlitz Convention 11
Mr. Brownfield, chairman of the committee on Districts and Counties,
submitted the following report:
Mr. President — The committee on Districts and Counties, to whom was
referred the resolution requiring them to district the territory north of the
Columbia river into suitable county boundaries, have had the same under
consideration, and directed me to make the following report :
That no doubt but much good may result by having the territory prop-
erly bounded, the metes and bounds designated and those districts not suf-
ficiently inhabited for organization can be attached to other counties which
are sufficiently populated. Such regulation is calculated to harmonize set-
tlements and communities. They come to the country knowing what is a
judicious arrangement for future counties. Therefore they have fixed the
following boundaries: 2
1. Whitby's [Whidbey] island, one county.
2. From the Strait of [Juan de] Fuca to the Sinhomas [Snohomish]
River, including all the country north ["south". This error was evidently
in the document, itself, for it is repeated by both the 'Spectator and Ore-
gonian.] of the British line, one county.
3. From the mouth of the Sinhomas River, up the Sourid to the north
side of the Pugallup [Puyallup] River, thence due east to the Cascade Moun-
tain, one county.
4. From the north side of the Pugallup, beginning on the Sound, run-
ning due east with County No. 3, to the Cascade Mountain, thence south
with said Cascade Mountain until the line reaches the dividing ridge be-
tween the waters of the Cowlitz and Nisqually river; thence westwarldly
with said dividing ridge sufficiently far until a line due north will strike
the mouth' of the Nesqually river ; thence west in the channel of the Sound,
sufficiently far to include the islands lying north of Nesqually and west of
the Pugallup river, thence to the place of beginning, at the mouth of Pug-
allup, shall form the bounds of one county.
The 5th county shall be as follows, beginning at the mouth of the Nis-
qually river, running west with the Sound to Poe's point, thence across the
arm of the Sound to the west bank of Btfdd's Inlet, thence up Mud Bay
[Eld Inlet] west fifteen miles, thence southeast to the forks of the road
leading to Yilm [Yelm] and Olympia; thence to the southwest corner of
county No. 4, thence north with said county line No. 4 to the place of begining
at the Sound, to be the bounds of said county.
6. The following bounds to form county No. 6, to wit; beginning at
the north end of Shoal Water [Willapa] Bay, thence up said Bay to Cedar
Cieek, [probably North River] then up said Cedar Creek until a line north
will strike the Wanouchie [Wynoochee] river, then up said river to the
boundary of county No. 5; thence west to the Red Salmon Fishery; thence
south with the shore of the Pacific Ocean to the place of beginning, shall
form one county.
7. The following bounds shall form county No. 7: To include all that
district of country lying between Cape Flattery on the Pacific, and Hood's
Canal, and south to county No. 6, shall form the) bounds of one county.
8. The following bounds shall form county No. 8, to wit: All that
district of country lying east of No. 6, and west of No. 5, to the mouth of
Black river, and west to the dividing ridge between the Ghehalis [Chehalis]
and Columbia rivers.
9. The following bounds shall form the county bounds No. 9, lying
between the mouth of the Black! river, up the Ghehalis river to the east end
of Old Channel at the Land Slip, including all the territory not otherwise ap-
propriated in county No. S, and to the dividing ridge of the waters of Colum-
bia and Ghehalis [Chehalis] rivers.
2 This is the first attempt at designating an adequate subdivision of the large area
into units for local government. It is remarkable to observe how closely the first rough
draft was followed In the subsequent creation of counties.
12 Bdmond S. Meany
10 The county boundaries of No. 10 shall he as follows, to wit:
Beginning at the corners of counties No. 4 and 5, and south with the divid-
ing ridge between the Skucum Chuck! [Skookumchuck] Nowancoon [Newau-
kum] and the waters of Nisqually an)d Cowlitz rivers, until it strikes the
dividing ridge between the Nowancoon [Newaukum] and Cowlitz rivers;
thence along said ridge until a west line will strike the east end of Nowan-
coon plains, thence south to the dividing ridge of the waters of the Gehalis
[Chehalis] river and the Columbia river; thence west with said dividing
ridge until it strikes the boundary of county No. 9; thence with said
county boundary to the place of beginning.
11. That the following bounds form the county No. 11 : Beginning at
the forks of the Cowlitz ; thence up the right hand fork to its source ; thence
north to the head branches of the left-hand fork of the Cowlitz; thence
west and north with the dividing ridge between the waters of the Nesqually,
[Nisqually] Cowlitz and Gehalis [Chehalis] rivers, until it intersects the
eastern boundary of No. 10; thence parallel with said east boundary to the
southwest corner; thence south to the place of beginning, at the forks of
12. That the following bounds constitute county No. 12: Beginning
at the north end of Dear island, on the Columbia river; thence northeast to
the head branches of the right-hand fork of the Cowlitz, intersecting th%
boundary of No. 11; thence down said right-hand fork of Cowlitz to the
forks; thence northwest with line No. 11 ["to the northwest corner of No.
11" — Oregonian] ; thence with the dividing ridge of the Columbia and Gheha-
lis waters to Pacific county; thence with the line of Pacific county to the
Columbia river; thence up the middle of the channel of said river to the
place of beginning, shall constitute the bounds of one county.
Be it further Resolved, That our representative be and he is herebyy
instructed to procure the division of said territory, as above designated ;) and
to organize such districts as may be petitioned for by the inhabitants thereof,
["therein"— Oregonian] and to attach such other districts for judicial pur-
poses to those organized, until such time as they may have sufficient in-
habitants to organize.
Previous to the question of the adoption of the resolution being put,
Mr. Chapman Submitted the following amendment, which was adopted: To
attach to county No. S, all that portion of unappropriated territory not
embraced in the bounds of any county lying between No. S and Hood's
Canal, and that the north line remaining west when it reaches Budd's Bay,
instead of up Mud Bay, [Eld Inlet] to say across Mud Bay.
Mr. Warbass also proposed the following amendment, which was
That the boundaries of County No. 11, be so altered as to include the
whole of county No. 10, and that the said county be known by the name of
Mr. Warbass also proposed the following amendment, which was adop-
That all that portion of territory lying east and south of the main Cow-
litz river, now included in the county No. 11, be known as St. Helen's county.
Upon the question for the adoption of the report as amended, being
put, it was; adopted.
Mr. Balch proposed that county No. 4, be called Strilacoom [Steilacoom]
Mr. Maynard proposed that county No. 5, be called Simmons' county.
Mr. Wilson proposed that county No. 7, be called Clalam [Callam]
Mr. A. J. Simmons moved an adjournment until 8 o'clock in the evening,
which was carried.
The Cowlitz Convention 13
In accordance with the adjournment the convention met, when Mr.
Chapman sumbitted the following resolution, which was unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That our delegate to Congress be instructed to use his in-
fluerice with the Congress of the U. S., that in the organization of said
territorial government to have said territory designated as Columbia Ter-
ritory, and that the name of Columbia Territory is most especially solicited
Mr. Maynard submitted the following resolution, which was adopted:
Resolved, That when this convention does adjourn, it adjourns to meet
on the third Monday in May next, at Olympia, then and there to form a
State constitution, preparatory to asking admission into the Union as one
of the States thereof, provided that Congress has not at that time organized
a territorial government. 3
Mr. Brashears submitted the following preamble and resolution, which
That whereas, ships and foreigners are in the habit of coming into our
seaboard and cutting timber off the 1 unsettled lands, and shipping the timber
away for commerce to foreign ports, to the great detriment of future
settlements of the country; therefore,
Resolved, That our delegate in Congress be instructed to enquire of the
Department at Washington City whether or no the Government cannot take
such measures under the existing laws as to prevent those trespasses by non
settlers, and that the committee on correspondence forward this resolution.
Mr. Warbass offered the following resolution, which was adopted:
Resolved, That the President appoint a committee to request the editors
of the several newspapers of Oregon to publish the proceedings of this con-
Whereupon the President rose and appointed the following gentlemen
as members of said committee : Mr. Warbass. Mr. Jackson, Mr. Frazer.
Mr. Huntress introduced the following resolution, which was adopted.
Resolved, That our representative to the legislature be instructed, and
hereby is so, to use his influence to obtain the enactment of a law for the
appointment of an inspector of flour at Oregon City, and in other places
where Inspectors are needed; and also for a law regulating the weigths of
all kinds; of grain.
A resolution from Mr. Chapman being offered to instruct our delegate
in Congress to use his influence to procure an amendment to the land bill,
so as to take off the restrictions of sale cf any part of said donation, was
Mr. Balch then moved that the convention adjourn, which was carried.
SETH CATLIN, Prest.
F. S. Balch, A. M. Poe, Secretaries.
It is apparent that the committees were, active after the con-
vention adjourned. A copy of the proceedings was sent to Oregon
City for the Oregon Spectator and another copy to Portland for
the Oregonian, the two best vehicles for publicity. At least one
copy each of the papers was sent to Washington City. And the
special committee formulated and forwarded the memorial or peti-
tion to Congress. It is shown in the document that the committee
consisted of John B. Chapman, M. T. Simmons and F. S. Balch,
arid that the committe directed Mr. Chapmen to "report the follow-
ing petition to Congress." The memorial or petition is officially
3 The Hay meeting thus provided for was not held and the agitation was begun anew
after the Fourth of July celebration of 18S2.
14 Edmond S. Meany
signed by J. B. Chapman. In this and in the transactions of
the convention, it is evident that John B. Chapman, who had given
the Fourth of July oration in 1851 and had stirred much enthusiasm
by referring to the proposed new Territory of Columbia, had fol-
lowed the matter up with vigor. For all this he deserves credit. He
seems not to have enjoyed the appreciation of his contemporaries.
Though very prominent in the Cowlitz convention of August 29,
1851, he was not a member of the Monticello convention of Novem-
ber 25, 1852. His unlettered but successful colleague, Michael
T. Simmons, was a member of both conventions.
H. H. Bancroft, (Works, Volume XXXI., page 50) refers to
"the ubiquitous Chapman" and in footnote 19, page 50 of the
same volume he scolds Chapman roundly as follows: "Chapman,
in his autobiography in Livingston's Eminent Americans, Volume
IV, page 436, says that, after much exertion, 'he obtained a
convention of 15 members, but not one parliamentary gentleman
among them, hence the whole business devolved upon him'; that
he 'drew up all the resolutions' and memorial, though other members
offered them in their own names, and so contrived that every name
should appear in the proceedings, to give the appearance of a large
convention ; and that neither of the men on the committee with him
could write his name. Autobiographies should be confirmed by
two credible witnesses. In this instance Chapman has made use of
the circumstance of Simmons' want of education to grossly mis-
represent the intelligence of the community of which such men as
Ebey, whose private correspondence in my possession shows him to
be a man of refined feelings, Goldsborough, Catlin, Warbass, Balch,
Crosby, Wilson and others were members. As to Simmons, al-
though his want of scholarship was an impediment and a morti-
fication, he possessed the real qualities of a leader, which Chapman
lacked; for the latter was never able to achieve either popularity
or position, though he strove hard for both. The census of 1850
for Lewis county gives the total white population at 457, only
six of whom, over twenty years of age, were not able to write.
It is probable that not more than one out of the six was sent to
the convention, and he [Simmons] was appointed on account of
his brain power and consequent influence."
While that is an unfortunate showing for Chapman in history,
it is probable that his failure to acquire popularity and the qualities
of real leadership may account to some degree for the lack of appre-
The Cowlitz Convention 15
ciation for the Cowlitz convention and its memorial to Congress.
Apparently Chapman entered the employ of the British company,
of which his memorial complained, then left Puget Sound
before the new territory was organized. In the Evidence for the
United States in the Matter of the Claim of the Puget Sound
Agricultural Company Before the British and American Commis-
sion, page 140, is the following deposition, under date of November
23, 1866 : "John Butler Chapman, aged 68 years, residence Wash-
ington, D. C, and I am a clerk in the Treasury Department. I
have been in Washington Territory in 1851 and 1852. I made
a survey of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company's [subsidary
of the Hudson's Bay Company] lands."
Whatever may have been the opinions held of Chapman at
the time, we now know that his memorial of the Cowlitz conven-
tion reached Delegate Lane and was by him filed with the Com-
mittee on Territories as early as December 30, 1851, and that Lane
evidently acted on that memorial and the accompanying papers
by introducing his effective resolution on December 6, 1852,, before
it was at all possible for him to know anything of the Monticello
convention of November 25, 1852.
Having adjusted the credit due Mr. Chapman and having shown
the importance of the Cowlitz memorial, it is well to discuss briefly
the better known and more popular Monticello memorial.
Even so careful and so just a man as Arthur A. Denny allowed
his feelings toward the Monticello document to lead him into the
error common among local historians. He was a member of the
Monticello convention and prized a copy of the memorial. When
Congress passed the enabling act to admit Washington Territory
to statehood, the old pioneer sent his copy of the memorial to the
Post-Intelligence on March 22, 1889, with an article in which
he said: "The bill for the formation of Columbia Territory, in
answer to this memorial, was earnestly supported by Delegate Lane."
In truth the memorial was an incident to, rather than the cause
of, the bill mentioned.
There should be little wonder that the Monticello convention
was more popular than its predecessor. It was larger and more
representative. It was suggested, advocated, approved and praised
by the only newspaper north of the Columbia River. It reflected
the popular desires and the people knew all about it.
As already stated, a meeting of citizens followed Mr. Bigelow's
16 Bdmond S. Meany
Fourth of July oration of 1852, but the real impulse came when
The Columbian began publication in Olympia on September 11,
1852. In the first issue Mr. Bigelow's oration was printed. In
the third issue, September 25, there appeared an article "To the
Residents of Northern Oregon," signed "Elis", advocating that,
at the meeting to be held at the home of John R. Jackson on Octo-
ber 25, arrangements should be made for the election of delegates
to a convention to be held at Monticello. In the fifth, sixth and
seventh issues there were printed editorials advocating the proposed
new Territory. In the ninth issue, November 6, there was an edi-
torial article headed: "Prepare! Prepare!" and giving a full ac-
count of the meeting at John R. Jackson's home on October 27
and calling a convention to be held at Monticello on "the last
Thursday of November." In following up this start, The Colum-
bian published urgent editorials under such headings as "Turn Out !
Turn Out !" and "Rally ! Rally !" In the thirteenth issue, December
4, there appears a full account of the Monticello convention of
November 25. In the issue of December 11, there is printed an
address delivered by Quincy A. Brooks, one of the delegates.
These articles in a regularly succeeding series fix the dates
beyond cavil, and yet Historian Bancroft ( Works, Volume XXXI.,
page 52) who frequently cites The Columbian as a source, says the
meeting was held on September 27, instead of October 27 and that
the convention was called for October 25, instead of November 25.
His errors have been often repeated by subsequent writers.
The convention met as urged and adopted a memorial which
was forwarded to Delegate Lane. While it was traveling on its
way across the continent, Delegate Lane acted on the impulse trom
the former documents and got his resoution adopted requesting the
Committee on Territories to report "by bill or otherwise." That
Committee reported by a bill to create Columbia Territory, which
bill was known as "H. R. Number 348." The bill did not come
up for debate in the House until February 8, 1852.
On that day Delegate Lane made a long and earnest speech
in favor of the bill. At its conclusion, Representative Richard
H. Stanton of Kentucky moved to amend the bill by changing the
name from Columbia to Washington as an honor for the "Father
of His Country." The amendment was quickly accepted. During
his speech, Delegate Lane offered a "memorial of sundry citizens
of Northern Oregon, adopted at a convention held near Puget
The Cowlitz Convention 17
Sound." That was the Monticello memorial which made its appear-
ance in Congress eleven weeks after its framing in Monticello
instead of the eleven days indicated in so many local histories.
The clerk read the memorial and it was published in the Con-
gressional Globe. There, however, only the first nine signatures
were printed. In the copy saved by Mr. Denny all the signatures
are given. In that more complete form it is here reproduced :
To the Honorable the Senate and House or Representatives of the United
States,, in Congress Assembled :
The memorial of the undersigned, delegates of the citizens of Northern
Oregon, in convention asembled, respectfully represent to your honorable
bodies that it is the earnest desire of your petitioners, and of said citizens
that all that portion of Oregon Territory lying north of the Columbia river
and west of the great northern branch thereof, should be organized as a
separate territory under the name and style of the Territory of Columbia.
In support of the prayer of this memorial your petitioners would re-
spectfully urge the following among many other reasons, viz :
1. The present territory of Oregon contains an area of 341,000 square
miles, and is entirely too large an extent of territory to be embraced within
the limits of one state.
2. The said territory possesses a seacoast of 650 miles in extent, the
country east of the Cascade mountains is bound to thab on the coast by the
strongest ties of interest; and, inasmuch as your petitioners believe that the
territory must inevitably be divided at no very distant day, they are of
opinion that it would bei unjust that ond state should possess so large a sea-
board to the exclusion of that in the interior.
3. The territory embraced within the boundaries of the "proposed "Terri-
tory of Columbia," containing an area of about 32,000 square! miles, is, in the
opinion of your petitioners, about a fair and just medium of territorial ex-
tent to form one state.
4. The proposed "Territory of Columbia" presents natural resources
capable of supporting a population at least as large as that of any state in
the Onion possessing an equal extent of territory.
5. Those portions of Oregon territory lying respectively north and
south of the Columbia river, must, from their geographical position, always
rival each other in commercial advantages, and their respective citizens must,
as they now are and always have been, be actuated by a spirit of opposition.
6. The southern part of Oregon territory, having a majority of voters,
have controlled the territorial legislature, and Northern Oregon has never
received any benefit from the appropriations made by congress for said ter-
ritory, which were subject to the disposition of said legislature.
7. The seat of the territorial legislature is now situated, by the nearest
practicable route, at a distance of 400 miles from a large portion of the citi-
zens of Northern Oregon.
8. A great part of the legislation suitable to the South is, for local
reasons, opposed to the interests of the North, and inasmuch as the South
has a majority of votes, and representatives are always bound to reflect the
will of their constituents, your petitioners can entertain no reasonable hopes
that their legislative wants, will ever be properly regarded under the present
9. Experience has, in the opinion of your petitioners, well established
the principle, that in states having a moderate sized territory the wants of the
people are more easily made known to their representatives, there is less dan-
ger of a conflict between sectional interests, arid more prompt and adequate
legislation can always be obtained.
Bdmond S. Meany
In conclusion, your petitioners would respectfully represent that North-
ern Oregon, with its great natural resources, presenting such unparalleled
inducements to immigrants and with its present large population constantly
and rapidly increasing by immigration, is of sufficient importance, in a
national point of view, to merit the fostering care of congress, and its inter-
ests are so numerous and so entirely distinct in their character, as to de-
mand the attention of a separate and independent legislature.
Wherefore your petitioners humbly pray that your honorable bodies will,
at an early day, pass a law organizing the district of country before described
under a territorial government, to be named the "Territory of Columbia."
Done in convention assembled at the town of Monticello, Oregon Ter-
ritory, this 25th day of November, A. D., 1852.
C. S. Hathaway,
A. F. Scott,
Wm. N. Beli,,
L,. M. Collins
C. H. Hale,
E. J. Allen,
J. R. Jackson,
F. A. Clarke,
J. N. Low,
A. J. Simmons,
M. T. Simmons,
R. V. White,
L. B. Hastings,
B. C. Armstrong
S. S. Ford,
W. A. L. McCorkle,
E. L. Ferrick,
Q. A. Brooks.
A. A. Denny,
E. H. Winslow,
G. B. Roberts,
L. L. Davis,
S. D. Ruddell,
A. B. Dillinbaugh
G. N. McConaha,
Pres. of the Con.
D. S. Maynard,
C. C. Terry,
H. A. GOLDSBOROUGH,
H. C. Wilson,
H. D. Huntington,
C. F. Porter,
P. W. Crawford,
S. P. Moses.
The bill, with its amended name, passed the House on Feb-
ruary 10 and was sent to the Senate where Stephen A. Douglas,
as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories, offered an
amendment that the name be changed to "Washingtonia" to avoid
confusion in the mails with the name of the National Capital. He
later withdrew the amendment and the bill passed the Senate and
was signed by President Millard Fillmore on March 2, 1853.
Ten days after the Monticello convention the Territorial Legis-
lature of Oregon met at Salem and strongly reflected the sentiments
of the northerners as revealed in their two conventions. The
north had as representatives F. A. Chenoweth and Isaac N. Ebey.
They found their colleagues from the southern counties willing
to adopt Ebey's resolution that Congress be asked to appropriate
money to build a road across the mountains from Steilacoom to
Walla Walla as advocated in the Cowlitz convention. Four new
counties, Island, King, Pierce and Jefferson, were created follow-
ing in the main the boundaries suggested in the Cowlitz convention,
though the names chosen were different from those approved. In
accordance with both the northern conventions, the Legislature
adopted a memorial offered by Mr. Ebey asking for the division
of Oregon Territory as follows
The Cowlitz Convention 19
Your memorialists, the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Oregon,
legally assembled upon the first Monday in December, A. D., 1852, would
respectfully represent unto your honorable body that a period of four years
and six months has elapsed since the establishment of the present Territorial
government over the Territory of Oregon; and that in the mean time the
population of the said Territory has spread from the banks of the Columbia
River north along Puget Sound, Admiralty Inlet, Possession Sound, and
the: surrounding country to the Canal de Arro; and that the people of that
Territory labor under great inconvenience and hardship, by reason of the
great distance to which they are removed from the present Territorial organ-
Those portions of Oregon Territory lying south and north of the Col-
umbia River must from their geographical position, difference in climate
and internal resources, remain in a great degree distinct communities, with
different interests and policies in all that appertains to their domestic leg-
islation, and the various interests that are to be regulated, nourished, and
cherished by it.'
The communication between these two portions of the Territory is dff-
ficult, casual, and uncertain, although time and improvement would in some
measure remove this obstacle, yet it would for a long period in the future
form a serious barrier to the prosperity and well-being of each, so long as
they remain under one government.
The territory north of the Columbia River, and west of the great north-
ern branch of that stream, contains sufficient number of square miles to
form a state, which in point of resources and capacity to maintain a popu-
lation will compare favorably with most of the States of the Union.
Experience has proven that when marked geographical boundaries,
which have been traced byf the hand of nature, have been disregarded in the
formation of local governments, that sectional jealousies and local strifes
have seriously embarassed their prosperity, and characterized their domestic
Your memorialists, for these reasons, and for the benefit of Oregon,
both north and south of the Columbia River, and believing from the reser-
vation of power in the first section of the organic act that Congress then
anticipated that at some future time it would be necessary to establish other
Territorial organizations west of the Rocky Mountains, and believing that
that time has come, would respectfully pray your honorable body to establish
a separate Territorial government for all that portion of Oregon Territory
lying north of the Columbia River and west of the great northern branch
of the same, to be known as the Territory of Columbia. — Journal of the
Oregon House of Representatives, Appendix, pages 34-35.
That cordial and dignified document was adopted in the House
on January 14 and in the Council on January 18, 1853. Judging
from the time it took to transmit the Monticello memorial, the
bill creating Washington Territory would have been passed by
Congress and signed by the President about four weeks before
the Oregon Legislative memorial arrived in Washington City.
However, it is an interesting link in the chain of events leading up
to the creation of an American Commonwealth.
Edmond S. Meany.