Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nov 14: Second Territorial Legislature

Hawley: “The second session of the Territorial Legislature was convened at Lewiston on Monday, November 14, 1864, and remained in session until December 23, 1864.”

Earlier in the year (March 17), Congress split Montana Territory off from Idaho, which required some modification in the remaining legislative and council districts. During that process, the Territorial Council was increased from 7 to 11 members and the House of Representatives from 13 to 22.

As noted in the blog for October 31, the first Idaho Governor, William H. Wallace, had run for and been elected Territorial delegate to Congress. To replace him, President Lincoln appointed Caleb Lyon, a New Yorker who became known for much “bombast and fustian” in his public utterances. (Wallace ran again for delegate, but lost.) (Caleb Lyon photo: Library of Congress.)

During the first Territorial legislative session, southern legislators had tried to move the capital to Boise. They cited 1863 census numbers that showed over 16 thousand people in Boise County versus fewer than 2 thousand in Nez Perce and Shoshone counties combined. Northerners beat back that attempt.

The census enumerated after the creation of Montana Territory showed that the imbalance had grown. Thus, on November 23, Henry C. Riggs introduced legislation to move the capital. The bill passed handily, but only after much heated debate. Despite a diversion into the courts, the third session of the legislature met in Boise City, where it’s been every since.

James H. Hawley, History of Idaho : The Gem of the Mountains, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago (1920).

Reference Series Nos. 129 and 130
, Idaho State Historical Society.

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