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MMEDIATELY after Oregon was organized as a territory it began to aspire to statehood. In fact, at the very first session of the new territorial legislature the formation of a constitution for a state was proposed, and in the following ten years, that covered the life of the territory, the question of statehood was voted upon by the people several times.
The territorial government had begun to function immediately upon the arrival at Oregon City of General Joseph Lane, of Indiana, who had been appointed by President Polk as governor, and who had traveled to Oregon in company with Joseph Meek, the newly appointed United States marshal. Polk's administration, which was to end on the inauguration of his successor, March 4, 1849, was entitled to the credit of having settled the long pending Oregon Question, and of having negotiated with success the boundary treaty with Great Britain. It was during this administration that the bill organizing Oregon territory had been passed, after bitter and protracted debates, and the new officers owed their appointments to President Polk. Lane very earnestly desired to effect the change from the provisional government to the territory while Polk was still president, and in spite of delays incident to the long journey by way of Leavenworth and the Santa Fe trail to California, and thence to the Columbia river by ship, he had the satisfaction of reaching his destination in time to issue his proclamation and to assume the duties of the new government on the last day of Polk's presidency, March 3, 1849.
The first news of the action taken by congress creating the territory had reached Oregon early in February by way of the Sandwich Islands, and was announced by Governor Abernethy to the legislative assembly of the provisional government in his message of February 5, 1849. That body had met for an adjourned session, after failure in the December preceding to secure a quorum for the transaction of business,
*The substance of this paper was given in an address at the annual meeting of the Oregon Historical Society, October 24, 1925.