Montana Territorial Legislative Assembly (9th: 1876) records, 1876

Overview of the Collection

Montana. Legislative Assembly.
Montana Territorial Legislative Assembly (9th: 1876) records
1876 (inclusive)
.1 linear feet of shelf space
Collection Number
LR-Terr 9
Collection contains records of the Montana Territorial Legislative Assembly (9th: 1876) including correspondence with Governor Benjamin Potts; committee reports; and petitions.
Montana Historical Society, Library & Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
Telephone: 4064442681
Fax: 4064445297
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

The 1864 Organic Act created Montana Territory and provided a basic government structure for the new territory, including a territorial governor, secretary and three judges appointed by the president of the United States, and a territorial legislature and non-voting representative to the U.S. House of Representatives elected by eligible voters in the territory. The act called for the legislature to meet annually for 40 days, except for the first legislature, which was granted a 60 day session. The territorial governor was to decide the date and places of the first election, apportion the members of the two houses and choose the date and place for the first legislature to meet. Thereafter, the legislature itself was to decide dates for future elections and legislative sessions and apportion seats.

After conducting a census of the territory, which he used to apportion the 7 seats of the Territorial Council and 13 seats of the House of Representatives, Territorial Governor Sidney Edgerton held the first territorial election on October 24, 1864. The first territorial legislature met from December 12, 1864 through February 9, 1865. They passed nearly 100 bills, but did not apportion seats in the legislature for future elections. The legislature contained an even distribution of Republicans and Democrats. Edgerton, a Republican, insisted that members of legislature swear to the "Iron Clad Oath," which included a statement that they had never borne arms against the U.S. Government. J. H. Rogers could not swear to the oath and was forced to resign his seat, creating immediate tension between Edgerton and the members of the legislature.

Sources: Margery H. Brown, "Metamorphosis and Revision: A Sketch of Constitution Writing in Montana," Montana: The Magazine of Western History Vol. 20 No. 4 (Fall 1970), pp 2-17; James McClellan Hamilton, History of Montana: from Wilderness to Statehood, (Portland, Oregon, Binfords and Mort : c1970); Michael P. Malone, Richard B. Roeder and William L. Lang, Montana: A History of Two Centuries, Revised Ed. (Seattle: Univeristy of Washington Press, 1991); Robert G. Athearn, "The Civil War and Montana Gold: The Great War Muddies the Mountain Waters," Montana: The Magazine of Western History Vol. 12 No. 2 (Spring 1962), pp. 62-73.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Collection includes correspondence with Governor Benjamin Potts and others; committee reports; and petitions (re county seats and boundaries, Sunday closing laws, aid to railroads, etc.).

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The Montana Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library before any reproduction use. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

[item description and date]. Montana Territorial Legislative Assembly (9th: 1876) records, 1876. Legislative Records-Terr. 9. [box and folder number]. Montana Historical Society Research Center. Archives. Helena, Montana.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The collection is organized into two series, House of Representatives and Council and Miscellany. The series House of Representatives and Council is further organized into two subseries, Incoming Correspondence and Reports.

Location of Collection


Acquisition Information

Acquisition information available upon request.

Processing Note

Connie Geiger reprocessed the collection in 1994

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

House of Representatives and CouncilReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Incoming Correspondence:
1 / 1
Communications from Governor Benjamin Potts
1 / 2
re Chaplain to the Council
1 / 3
Committee Reports

MiscellanyReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 4
Petitions (re county seats and boundaries, Sunday closings, and aid to railroads)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Bills, Legislative--Montana.
  • Legislative bodies--Montana--Committees.

Geographical Names

  • Montana--Politics and government.