Open main menu

Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/248

This page needs to be proofread.

240 W. C. WOODWARD and the September session was not held, though an abortive attempt was made to organize the session, on the part of the Opposition members. Hence, the Territorial legislature which had been elected in June as a precautionary measure, at the same time that the state assembly was elected, was called to meet in December. The same question relative to the protection of slave prop- erty, that had embroiled the session of the preceding year, was now again introduced. A comparison of the discussions of the two sessions is interesting as showing the advanced ground which had been taken by certain Democrats in the interim relative to the rights of slavery in the Territories. The "petitions of several citizens of Oregon praying for the passage of a law for the protection of slave property in Ore- gon" 1 were referred to the judiciary committee of the house. The majority report, signed by W. W. Chapman, chairman, and W. G. T'Vault, held that the Constitution guaranteed equal rights to all property holders in the Territories, includ- ing slave owners. And further, that "when Congress does organize a Territorial government that the Constitution guar- antees to the inhabitants the right to legislate, and regulate the manner how any person shall have his property protected." 2 Hence the committee introduced r bill containing the follow- ing provisions : First, that those wiio had brought slaves into the Territory, should have all the rights and remedies in the several courts of the Territory, which were allowed for the protection and recovery of any other personal property of like value. Second, that those knowingly harboring or employing a slave without consent of the owner should be subject to a forfeit of five dollars per day to the owner. Third, that slaves should be rated and assessed to owners like any other prop- erty. Fourth, that any master or owner of a boat carrying a slave out of the Territory or to any point in the Territory without the consent of the owner, should forfeit the value of the same to the latter. i Proceedings, Oregonian, Jan. 22, 1859. 2lbid., Jan. 15.