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Old 03-28-2012, 01:04 PM
 
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
4,891 posts, read 5,771,999 times
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I have passed the display about the history of our state constitution in the state capitol building thousands of times, but never really stopped to look at it.

Today I did and saw some of the quotes, and to be honest, their bearing on todays events at the supreme court in Washington were erilly similar, but at the same time so funny because they are such a reflection on our state and country from the beginning.

The Second appointed governor to the Montana Territory was Thomas Francis Meagher.
Thomas Francis Meagher - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Sidney Edgerton a judge from Ohio was the first, but wasn't notified of the position, so never really served as governor. However, 25 years later he travelled to Washington DC from the territorial capitol in Bannock in the dead of winter with a poke of gold estimated to be worth over $100,00.00 donated by wealthy merchants and miners, "to show how rich Montana was". He met with the House and Senate leaders, and soon Montana was admitted to the Union. )

Meagher (an Irishman), had been condemed to death, (to be Hung Drawn and Quartered for treason) for plotting the assasination of Queen Victoria. The sentence was commuted and he was sent to the Austrailian penal colony, where he quickly gained a visa to travel to Tasmania by promising to not escape.

He promptly escaped and went to New York where he became part of the Irish Political Machine. When the Civil War broke out he raised a brigade of Irish soldiers for the Union, Called the Irish Brigade. They were decimated at Antitum, the battle of the Sunken Road. He had fainted during the battle and had to be carried from the field.

With the brigade destroyed, his part as a general was somewhat limited, but he had a lot of political muscle. Abraham Lincoln had to do something with him, so sending him to Montana Territory as territorial governor to get him out of the way made a lot of sense.

Meagher had a lot of political ambitions and wrote a constitution for the Territory of Montana in 1866. No original copies of the document still exist as the one sent to St. Louis for printing mysteriously was lost.

I found a lot of humor in the way the Virginia City newspaper of the day, The Montana Post, described the new constitution written by Meagher.

"Sired by the acting one (Meagher), and damned by the people, having been helped along by a number of proclimations, it, (the new constitution) is finally born".

Meagher conveniently fell overboard from a steamship later in 1866 and dissapeared. No body was ever found.

In 1884 the territory tried again as a constitution was required for statehood, but it wasn't until 1889 a constitution was adopted and ratifed ushering in Montana for Statehood.

Yeah, we got another one in 1973, not nearly as good as the 1889 Constitution, but my point through all of this is that politics have not changed much in the last 144 years have they? Especially if you look at the current case in front of the US supreme court, many parallels can be drawn.

Just as an aside, I have heard several times from various authoritative people, mostly from the Montana Historical Society, that the first time Montana tried to hold a Legislative Assembly there were an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, so both sides picked up and went home because they could do no business together.

The more things change, the more they stay the same...
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Old 03-28-2012, 03:45 PM
 
1,078 posts, read 2,282,879 times
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While I was an aide in our school, I sat in on the History classes and the History teacher told of Meagher's elaborate escapades. Very funny and it kept the attention of the History Class.
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