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Special Message

April 19, 1852

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

I invite the attention of Congress to the state of affairs in the Territory of Oregon, growing out of a conflict of opinion among the authorities of that Territory in regard to a proper construction of the acts of Congress approved the 14th August, 1848, and 11th June, 1850, the former entitled "An act to establish a Territorial government of Oregon," and the latter entitled "An act to make further appropriations for public buildings in the Territories of Minnesota and Oregon." In order to enable Congress to understand the controversy and apply such remedy with a view to adjust it as may be deemed expedient, I transmit--

1. An act of the legislative assembly of that Territory, passed February 1, 1851, entitled "An act to provide for the selection of places for the location and erection of public buildings of the Territory of Oregon."

2. Governor Gaines's message to the legislative assembly of the 3d February, 1851.

3. The opinion of the Attorney-General of the United States of 23d April, in regard to the act of the legislative assembly of the 1st February, 1851.

4. The opinion of the supreme court of Oregon, pronounced on the 9th December, 1851.

5. A letter of Judge Pratt of the 15th December, 1851, dissenting from that opinion.

6. Governor Gaines's letter to the President of the 1st January, 1852.

7. Report of the Attorney-General of the United States on that letter, dated 22d March, 1852.

If it should be the sense of Congress that the seat of government of Oregon has not already been established by the local authorities pursuant to the law of the United States for the organization of that Territory, or, if so established, should be deemed objectionable, in order to appease the strife upon the subject which seems to have arisen in that Territory I recommend that the seat of government be either permanently or temporarily ordained by act of Congress, and that that body should in the same manner express its approval or disapproval of such laws as may have been enacted in the Territory at the place alleged to be its seat of government, and which may be so enacted until intelligence of the decision of Congress shall reach there.


Millard Fillmore, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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