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more than the 16th section for the support of common schools; and the late Nathan Dane, L. L. D., had labored long before he succeeded in inducing the government to appropriate that portion of the public lands. It will not then be thought strange that during a considerable time, the policy of adding the 36th section to an endowment already supposed to be munificent, was met by a resistance which threatened to be very grave, if not fatal to success. In my efforts to neutralize this hostility, and to meet the objections of honest and candid gentlemen, I was often made to feel that I required greater resources of prudence, knowledge and wisdom than I possessed. But I succeeded at length in bringing to the support of my measure the industry, patriotism and influence of such gentlemen as Hon. Mr. Vinton, of Ohio, and of Hon. Horace Mann, of Massachusetts, who seconded my efforts in such a manner that all serious oppo
sition gave way before their logic and eloquence.
Daniel Webster once said in one of his great speeches that he would rather go down to posterity as the recognized author of the policy of appropriating the 16th section of the public lands to the support of common schools, than to com. mit his name and same to all else by which he would be known in the history of his country. And I will frankly admit that when to this section of the public lands, the 36th was added by the passage of the bill, the thought that Provdence had permitted me to be the instrument of conferring so great a boon upon posterity, filled my heart with emotions as pure as can be experienced by man. So, also, when I confess that I could not, and indeed, did not, wish to shut out from my mind the thought that when I rested from my life’s toils and responsibilities, and had bequeathed my name to the generations my labor herein had blessed, I might be recognized as a benefactor and friend of my race, other reasons than those I have mentioned, will be seen why it was that I regar ed the time of the passage of this bill as the supreme moment of my life. And as if to enhance my enjoyment of the event, such gentlemen as the Hon. Horace Mann, of Massachusetts, and Hon. Mr. Vinton and Corwin, of Ohio, and Collamer, of Vermont, together with other large hearted gentlemen came clustering about me and most cordially congratulated me upon the success of a measure to which they had so largely contributed, but for which in the warmth of their friendship and the outgushings of their sympathy they so generously gave me all the credit and unselfishly commended me for successful efforts springing from a vehement desire to greatly enlarge the means of enlightenment to those who
would else wander in darkness.
General Jo. Lane having been appointed by President Polk, Governor under the Act of Congress of August 14th, 1848, arrived at Oregon City on the 3d of the following March, and at once issued a proclamation inaugurating the Territorial Government; and thus the Provisional Government surrounded with many. pleasant and honorable memories passed into history and became a thing that was; the Oregon pioneers as such, having then yielded up to stranger hands the civil institutions they had reared on foundations as deep as the principles of natural justice and as broad as the common law. .
Of the Oregon pioneers whose mutual trials and labors in establishing the institutions of society, civil government and Christianity on the Pacific Coast, bearing together the burthen and heat of the day, comparatively few now remain, the greater number having made their last remove and gone to that land from whose bourne no traveller returns; but those who yet wait in old age and infirmity for their time also to come, may look back through the vista of the years that are gone, and surveying the institutions their hands have assisted to build up in this our goodly heritage, may with honest pride and pure pleasure, exclaim : “This is in part my work.”
On the title page of this pamphlet there is what purports to be the Seal of the Provisional Government. This is an error which the printer might well have made under the circumstances. My recollection is, that the Seal of the Provisional Government was simply a beaver; Legend, Territory of Oregon. The Seal which appears on the title page was devised and procured by me in the city of New York, in the year 1848, and it was by me offered to Gov. Lane in 1849, who declined to receive it. In 1850, I offered it to Gov. Gaines and Secretary Hamilton who thought it so much more suitable for Oregon than the one they brought with them, that they at once accepted it, and it then continued to be the Great Seal until June 2d, 1859. In note 3, General Laws of Oregon, page 496, Hon. Matthew P. Deady, the compiler, says: “By an Act of January 18, 1854, the description of this Seal was directed to be deposited and recorded in the office of the Secretary, to remain a public record; but so far as can be ascertained, the same was never done. The description of this Seal was as follows: In the center, a shield, two compartments. Lower compartment—in the foreground, a plow; in the distance, mountains. In the upper compartment—a ship under full sail. The crest, a beaver. The sinister supporter—an Indian with bow and arrows, and a mantle of skins over his shoulder. The dexter supporter, an eagle, with wings displayed. The motto—asis volat propriis–I fly with my own wings. Field of the lower compartment, argent; of the upper, blue. It is to be regretted that this Seal was not continued as the Seal of the State, by simply substituting, “the State of Oregon” for “the Territory of Oregon.” In design and propriety, it is in every way superior to the obscure and meaningless one of the State—particularly is the loss of the sagacious beaver to be regretted, the most appropriate symbol of the history and people of Oregon that could have been selected from the treasury of heraldry. It is to be hoped that the Legislative Assembly will yet restore him to his proper place in our coat of arms.” J. QUINN THORNTON.
NOTE BY THE PUBLISHING COMMITTEE.—It will be seen, by reference to the cover and title page, that no special mention is made of the “History of the Provisional Government.” Both were printed before the Committee had concluded to solicit that paper from Judge Thornton. Having been compelled to write it during leisure hours when not engaged in professional duties, the publication of this pamphlet has been unavoidably delayed several weeks. It will be found valuable and interesting.
WILLARD H. REES, .
E. N. COOKE, SALEM, April 20, 1875. J. B. MCCLANE,
S. F. CHADWICK.