Sam Clemens Reports On The Second Session Of TheNevada Territorial Legislature.

Territorial Enterprise, November 1862

The second session of the Nevada Legislature is in full blast. It met on the 11th of November at Carson City, in the County Buildings, formerly the Great Basin Hotel — the rooms for the accommodation of the two Houses having been fitted up in princely style. There were, as represented, a large number of office-seekers, log-rollers and lobbyists, ready to serve themselves and their country in attendance.
The number of councilmen having been increased to thirteen, at the last session, a question arose as to the right of the President of the last session to assume the chair, which was arranged by its vacation by Mr. Van Bokkelen, the former President, and the Council then proceeded to effect an organization, which took some considerable time to accomplish. There were three aspirants for the office — Van Bokkelen, Judge Hall, of Carson and Dr. Pugh, of Esmeralda, who were put in nomination by their respective friends, and, on the fifty-fifth ballot, the latter was declared elected, having received seven votes out of twelve, one council-man having been absent.
G. W. Hopkins, of Carson, was elected Secretary, on the second ballot, and George Palmer was elected assistant Secretary, by acclamation. For Sergeant-at-arms, four men were put in nomination, and fifteen unsuccessful ballots were taken, when Col. Madeira was nominated and elected, on the seventeenth ballot. He is said to be a cousin of Gov. Sam Medary, of Ohio, who, as alleged, does not know how to spell his name correctly. D. R. Hawkins was elected messenger, on the fourth ballot, and H. Lewis, page, by acclamation.

The House of Representatives organized with but little delay. John H. Mills, of Storey county, was elected Speaker, unanimously; W. M. Gillespie, Chief Clerk; Charles King, Assistant Clerk; John Bowman, Sergeant-at-arms; Charles Carter, Messenger; Chas. Craduck, Page; James H. Boyd, Fireman; and Rev. Mr. White, Chaplain. For most of the offices there were several aspirants.
The House passed a resolution, instructing the Sergeant-at-arms to furnish each member with three daily newspapers, such as they might make choice of respectively.

The Message of Governor Nye was not delivered until Thursday the 13th, when the two houses met in joint session, for the purpose of receiving it, and which his Excellency is said to have read, in good style. It is a very lengthy document, in which the Gov. reviews the history of the war during the present year, says the rebellion has not yet been suppressed, but avers, that the series of Federal victories, from the reduction of Fort Henry, to the expulsion of the Confederates from Maryland, and the more recent battles in Virginia, indicate the ability of the Volunteers to perform what has been undertaken, and that with the new levies of troops, and the “execution of the Emancipation set of Congress, in accordance with the President’s Proclamation,” there is all reason to expect that the campaign of 1863 will terminate the war. He reviews also the history of the Territory, and recommends the passage of a few laws, and the amendment of others, one of which “concerning crimes and punishments” providing that no black or mulatto person, or Indian, or Chinese, shall be permitted to give evidence in favor of or against any white person — a disability which the Gov. thinks should be removed. A majority of the people of that Territory think differently, and take offense at the suggestion; but otherwise, consider the message a sound document.

Governor Nye, true to the office-holder’s creed, recommends that the salaries of the Federal Judges shall be increased by a draft on the Territorial Treasury to the sum of five or six thousand dollars, annually, as with a less sum they cannot support themselves and their families, and states that the pay they now receive from government, is reduced very materially — nearly one half, in being converted into cash.

Dr. Pugh, on taking the chair as President of the Council, made a short speech, in which he favored a short session. He said:
“There is, in my judgment, no good reason why we may not close this session in twenty days rather than allow it to extend through the entire term of forty days, allowed by law. Excessive legislation is an evil more to be feared than legislative neglect, and I hope we shall not at this session cumber our statute books with any enactments which the interests of our constituents do not require. I venture the assertion that all the good we are capable of doing for the people of this Territory may as well be done within twenty days as in a longer period.”
Judging, however, from the amount of bills presented up to the latest date, there is no probability of the session being terminated till it shall expire, by limitation. After the organization had been completed, the first thing introduced was a bill to increase the pay of the members ten dollars per week, out of the Territorial Treasury.

Speaker Mills, in his speech on taking the chair, recommended the assumption by the Territory of the entire expenses of the government thereof, executive, legislative and judicial, thus contributing to the Federal treasury the annual amount appropriated by Congress, during the continuance of the war, at least; a measure which will probably be adopted. A bill was introduced by Mr. Howard on the 17th, providing, that in consideration of the enormous outlay of Government for putting down the rebellion, and its kindness in allowing the inhabitants of the Territory to appropriate its mineral wealth, the entire expenses of the civil Administration shall be assumed by the Territory, and the Federal Government forever released therefrom; that the salaries of the Governor and each of the Justices of the Supreme Court shall be $6,000 per annum; of the Secretary, Attorney General and Marshall of the Territory, each $1,000; of the members of the Legislature, $10 per day and $5 for each twenty miles travel each way; all to be paid out of the Territorial Treasury on the Auditor’s warrants, and that if said warrants be not paid on presentation, to draw interest at twenty per cent. per annum, and all to date from the commencement of the present session.

Should the bill become a law, the Territorial scrip of Nevada may be expected shortly to be current at about ninety per cent discount. It is now said to be fifty, the effects of but one year’s extravagant expenditure.
It is stated that in point of talent, the present Legislature is far superior to the last, and has in it a greater proportion of the “fighting element” which began to be made manifest before the wheels of Legislation got fairly in motion.
Aside from matters and things connected with the Legislature there does not appear to be much of interest transpiring in and about Washoe.

Mr. Roop, member of the Council from Honey Lake, has been telling some horrid stories concerning the conduct of the Indians in that region, who, he reports, have recently massacred some white men and mutilated their bodies by tearing out their entrails, cutting their mouths from ear to ear, dissevering their limbs, and chopping up the bodies of some of them. It was reported last spring that the same individual, commonly known as “Gov. Roop,” reported stories in San Francisco, and other places in California concerning Indian depredations at Honey Lake, in order to get up an excitement, which were subsequently ascertained to have had no foundation in truth. It is believed by some that he has a great gift for misrepresentation and exaggeration. The same individual, on the 19th ult., presented in the Legislative Council a petition signed by a woman well known in this city, praying for a divorce, containing less of truth than any similar document ever known to have been spread upon Legislative or Judicial records. If he was not the author of the petition, he was, of course, considered by the interested party a proper person to make presentation. The petition and accompanying bill were reported on adversely by the Judiciary committee, to which they were referred.
A communication from Susanville to the Sacramento Union, dated Nov. 12th, complains bitterly of Indian depredations in that vicinity, and of the inattention to the matter manifested by Gen. Wright and Governors Stanford and Nye. The object seems to be to procure, if possible the establishment of a military post at that point.

Reprinting in the Salt Lake Deseret of December 3, 1862 titled “From Nevada.”

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