Early Oregon Land Law II
Bill Long 7/22/06
The Revised Oregon Organic Act of 1845
The following Revised Act was approved by the Oregon voters on July 26, 1845 by 203 votes, according to the footnote in Matthew Deady's General Laws of Oregon 1845-1864, p. 58, n. 1. It is in three articles, with the land law actually appearing as Article III. Since this appears nowhere else online, I provide the entire text here.
OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF OREGON
We, the people of the Oregon territory, for purposes of mutual protection, and to secure peace and prosperity among ourselves, agree to adopt the following laws and regulations, until such time as the United States of America extend their jurisdiction over us:
BE IT ENACTED, THEREFORE, BY THE FREE CITIZENS OF OREGON TERRITORY,
That the said territory, for the purposes of temporary government, be divided into not less than three nor more than five districts, subject to be extended to a greater number when an increase of population shall require.
For the purpose of fixing the principles of civil and religous liberty, as the basis of all laws and constitutions of government, that may herafter be adopted,--
BE IT ENACTED,--That the following articles be considered articles of compact among the free citizens of this territory:
Sec. 1. No person demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner, shall ever be molested upon account of his mode of worship, or religous sentiments.
Sec. 2. The inhabitants of said territory shall always be entitled to the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus and trial by jury, of a proportionate representation of the people in the legislature, and of judicial proceedings, according to the course of common law. All persons shall be bailable, unless for capital offences, where the proof shall be evident, or the presumption great. All fines shall be moderate, and no cruel or unusual punishments inflicted. No man shall be deprived of his liberty, but by the judgment of his peers or the law of the land; and should the public exigencies make it necessary for the common preeservation, to take any person's property, or to demand his particular services, full compensation shall be made for the same; and in the just preservation of rights and property, it is understood and declared, that no law ought ever to be made, or have force in said territory, that shall, in any manner whatever, interfere with or affect private contracts or engagements, bona fide and without fraud, previously formed.
Sec. 3. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged. The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and in their property, rights and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars, authorized by the representatives of the people; but laws founded in justice and humanity, shall, from time to time, be made for preventing injustice being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.
Sec. 4. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in said territory, otherwise than for the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.
Sec. 5. No person shall be deprived of the right of bearing arms in his own defense; no unreasonable seaches or seizures shall be granted; the freedom of the press shall not be restrained; no person shall be twice tried for the same offence; nor the people deprived of the right of peaceably assembling and discussing any matter they may think proper; nor shall the right of petition ever be denied.
Sec. 6. The powers of the government shall be divided into three distinct departments:--the legislative, executive, and judicial; and no person or persons belonging to one of these department, shall exercise any of the powers properly belonging to either of the others, except in cases herein directed or permitted.
Article II is in the next essay.
Copyright © 2004-2008 William R. Long