In the troubles of 1855, Messrs, William Eoss and Wemple, the brother
Addresses before the Society. 135
and brother-in-law of ex-Senator Ross, brought to Lawrence a free colored man
from Shelby county, Missouri, and with them a white Missourian as a farm hand,
who professed free-state principles. The pro-slavery men sought difficulties,
and wanted to investigate the negro and the "negro thieves." Dave Evans, the
free-state Missourian, took it up, resisted them, and, armed to the teeth with
knives and revolvers, drove a half-dozen of them off. He was known as " Buck-
skin," because he wore a buckskin suit. Lane heard of him and his prowess,
and hired him at $15 a month "just to stand around and accommodate ruffians
spoiling for a fight." They gave "BuSkskin" a wide berth, shied away from
him, and for a long time he was a terror to them all.
Hon. Walter N. Allen could tell you the story of Lane's defense of the hog
thieves at Oskaloosa. Mr. Allen was the prosecuting attorney, and had had
three or four free-state men arrested for stealing pro-slavery men's hogs
on the Delaware Indian reserve. He had all his evidence ready, was sure
there was no defense, and expected a plea of guilty, and an appeal to the court
for mercy. To his surprise, when the court met in the morning an affidavit
was offered by the defendants, setting forth that they had been unable to pro-
cure an attorney, and asking for a postponement until 7 o'clock in the evening.
The court granted the time, and attorney Allen, surprised that there could be
any defense, retired to his hotel for rest and recuperation. South of Oska-
loosa there was a long slope of prairie, a smooth, beautiful ridge, a grand view
for seven or eight miles. Sitting on the porch of his hotel near the middle of
the afternoon, Mr. Allen observed an object far away, which he soon saw was
moving, and slowly advancing towards him; again he saw the object was a
man on foot, and as it neared him he recognized General Lane. Then it
dawned upon him that Lane was the attorney for the hog thieves. But what
conceivable defense he could have Mr. Allen could not imagine. Soon men
were coming to the trial from all directions; and when the court met, the
house was full. The accused had quietly whispered around among their
friends that Lane would speak that night. Lane had examined the poll-lists
of the March election, 1855, at Lawrence, and found the accusers' names on the
lists, and copied them.
Allen produced his witnesses, and the evidence was clear and indisputable.
Lane had no questions to ask. He said the court was bound to take judicial
notice of two things: one, that he held in his hand a copy of the poll-list
showing that these men voted at Lawrence, and in this trial they have sworn
they then lived in Missouri, and emigrated to Kansas afterwards. He said
that men who would thus stuff ballot-boxes, overrun elections and drive voters
from the polls ought to be thankful that they were not hung. Another point
of which the court must take judicial notice was, that this pretended offense
was committed on an Indian reservation, which was no part of the territory
of Kansas, over which the court had no jurisdiction. He then turned his
face from the court and denounced these men as ballot stuff ers; as belonging
to a party of murderers and thieves, who had no rights in Kansas, nor any
place else outside of the penitentiary. He so stirred that audience that the
court jumped out of the window, Allen retired in good order to the hotel; the
prosecutors fled in all directions; Lane then turned to the arrested men, and
said: "Where, oh, where are thine accusers?" Attorney, court, jurors, ac-
cusers, were all gone.
Allen, in telling the story, told me Lane came to the hotel, and undertook
to speak to him. Allen repulsed him; told him to go away; he would have
nothing to do with a man who would incite a mob against him in a trial. But,
136 Kansas State Historical Society.
after much persuasion, and winning good nature on the part oi! Lane, Allen
condescended to hear him, "Now, Walter," said Lane, "you know what kind
of a case I had." "Yes, I know you had no case at all." But he listened fur-
ther, as Lane proceeded: "Walter, you know, if I could have borrowed or
hired a horse on credit for the trip, I would not have walked here and back,
over 40 miles. These men deposited a |20 gold piece in the bank of Lawrence,
which 1 am to have when I get there. Walter, if you are as poor as I am, T
hope you got your fee. I had not a dollar, and I have been refused credit for
a loaf oi bread in Lawrence, and my family have not even the necessaries of
life. Let us be friends, Walter. My clients are cleared, and yours have
cleared out for Platte county. I hope your friends will find a ferry, and none
of them be drowned in swimming the Missouri river." And after this, Mr.
Allen said: "Speer, I declare to you that before he left I was the best friend
he had in Oskaloosa."
I have thus far complied with the desire expressed by members of this
Society that I should present some incidents on the humorous side of early
Kansas life. I will now give some statements of fact within my own knowl-
edge which relate to an important political epoch in Kansas history.
THE LEAVENWORTH CONSTITUTION.
The situation in Kansas when General Denver was sent here, to be governor
of the territory, in December, 1857, was precarious to the advocates of slavery.
General Lane had become so formidable a factor in Kansas public affairs that
President Buchanan had, in a special message to congress, three columns in
length, personally denounced him as a "turbulent and dangerous military
leader." Lane was the only man of military renown among us. Our neighbors,
the Missourians, knew him. Colonel Doniphan, his compeer in the Mexican
war, knew him and respected him for his gallantry, and Doniphan's soldiers de-
precated him as brave soldiers always deprecate conflict with a gallant comrade.
They hated his cause, but admired his daring.
Three governors — already sent as messengers to plant slavery on Kansas soil —
had been thwarted and failed, and in desperation the administration had sought
a man of tried blood, of whose position there seemed no doubt, as a devotee of
the institution they were attempting to establish. Denver was the man chosen.
The people had the legislature at last. The Lecompton constitution had been
assailed by the legislature. That legislature had given up no hopeful resort, to
meeting the charges of Buchanan's administration against the Topeka consti-
tution, that it originated in a mere public meeting and lacked the elements of a
non-partizan document, originating from legislative authority. And this not-
withstanding the fact that it had passed the popular branch of congress.
Devoted as the people were to that "blood-stained banner," the Topeka
constitution, their representatives were considering the propriety, the strategy
rather, of passing a law by the legislature, then in session, for another con-
vention, the idea being with many to make it a mere re-enactment of that
document so dear to many hearts. The proposition was soon presented to the
legislature. To say that the whole power of the federal administration was
against this Leavenworth constitutional movement is but asserting a fact
demonstrated by the shrewd, strategic, opposition of the few adherents of
pro-slavery in the territory, backed by Governor Denver, who was but fulfill-
ing his mission. His last attempt was to thwart it by what was called
"pocketing" the bill. To do this he decided the legal question of when a
Addresses before the Society. 137
legislature expired, and retained the bill, and pertinaciously declared that it
In an address made before the old settler's meeting, at Bismarck Grove, Law-
rence, September 3, 188i, Ex-Governor Denver, a guest at that meeting, said of
the Leavenworth constitution:
"Well, after the constitution came around, it turned out that it was to be
submitted to a vote of the people, and the returns were to be made to the gov-
ernor and three others, and one of the provisions of the constitution was that
there was to be 'universal suffrage:' that every man, woman and child, every
horse, every cow, everything that had life in it, should have the right to vote in
Kansas. Well, that was only an illustration of the wildness of the times. Stand-
ing here as the representative of the general government, taking no part in any
of these excitements, it was my place to look at these things calmly and weigh
them properly, and act for the good of the people." [See Kan. Hist. Col., vol. Ill,
p. 3.59, for the address of Governor Denver here quoted.]
To show how "calm" Governor Denver was, it is but necessary to quote
section one of article two of the suffrage article in the Leavenworth constitution,
to wit :
"Article II, Section 1. In all elections not otherwise provided for by this
constitution, every male citizen of the United States, of the age of 21 years or
upwards, who shall have resided in the state six months next preceding such
election, and 10 days in the precinct in which he may offer to vote, and every
male person of foreign birth, of the age of 21 years or upwards, who shall have
resided in the United States one year, in this state six months, and in the
precinct in which he may offer to vote 10 days next preceding such election,
and who shall have declared his intentions to become a citizen of the United
States, conformably to the laws of the United States, 10 days preceding such
election, shall be deemed a qualified elector."
The objection which struck most effectively against this article was that
it had not the word "white" in it, and the pro-slavery leaders were exceed-
ingly bitter on that. If, however, Denver meant his "horse-and-cow" theory
of voting as irony, it was a flat failure; if he meant it as a fact, it was flatter
as a false statement, unworthy of a man experienced in statesmanship. But
the Lecompton constitution lacked the same word. (See Wilder's "Annals,"
page 183.) It said "every male citizen of the United States above the age of
21 years," and so forth, could vote. Lines were then well marked between
slavery and freedom. The Dred Scott decision had just declared that negroes
were not citizens, but "chattels." The men of the one convention recognized
them as men; of the other as things. Lane said: "A man has to be educated
up to man's rights of equality," and he accepted the distinction. The senti-
ment of the two was as widely distinct as freedom is from slavery.
I have no purpose to detract from the character of Goveimor Denver, nor from
his ability. He was the fourth governor who had been selected by the slave power
to svibdue Kansas. Kansas in the end was the political "grave of six governors."
He came providly, as the last resort of the hopes of an oligarchy which had ruled
the nation almost from its foundation. He had a hard task to fulfil if he suc-
ceeded in turning the tide which Lincoln declared, in his great debate v/ith,
Douglas, was to make this country "all slave or all free." If successful, Denver
was immortalized ; nothing short of shearing the slave oligarchy of power covild
have kept him out of the presidency. He would have been the hero of the period.
The great controversy of right and wrong came on the question of his " pocket-
ing" the bill for a constitutional convention — the one under which was framed
what was called the Leavenworth constitution.
138 Kansas Slate Historical Society.
"On the 12th day of January, 1858, Mr. [John] Speer introduced bill No. 41,
entitled ' An act to provide for the election of delegates to a convention to frame
a state constitution.' " There had been two years of persevering adherence to the
Topeka constitution. The people had rallied to it as to an ark of safety. They
had resolved, and even sworn to svipport it to the end. Many lives had been
sacrificed to sustain it. The people were loth to give it up.
Still, tired of a state of war, the opposition in the East declaring that its in-
formality was the special reason why it could not prevail, and that such an
instrument, instead of originating in a mass-meeting of the people, and a conven-
tion of delegates afterwards, although adopted by a fair vote of the people, was
so informal and so contrary to precedent as to make it indefensible. All these
considerations well weighed by its author, and approved as he believed by the
wisest councils, the bill was drawn and presented in the honest hope that it
might restore quiet, and produce alike peace and success. It would have done
all this, had this been a question alone for the people to be governed by ; but
it was a national question, forced upon our people. The repeal of the Mis-
souri compromise was forced upon the people of the union by an oligarchy which
seemed indomitable. The slave power had forced the Dred Scott decision, which
practically made slavery national, and one of its champions had defiantly de-
clared that he " would yet call the roll of his slaves tinder Bunker Hill monu-
ment." This bill, therefore, brought out all the opposition of the national
administration, and every artifice was adroitly used to delay its passage in the
house and in the council.
The bill finally passed both houses and was presented to Mr. Walsh, the
governor's private secretary, at the governor's table, at 10 minutes before 11
o'clock on the 9th day of March, 1858,which was three full days of 24 hours
and 1 hour and 10 minutes over three days before the 40 days' limit of the leg-
islative session by the organic act of congress had expired. The legislature,
however, remained in session one day longer. Whether that v^^as legal was
immaterial. The organic act provided that a bill held by the governor for
more than three days, unless the legislature adjourned before such three days
had expired, should become a law without his signature; and he held that the
life of the legislature expired in less than three days after he received the
bill, and held it, and that thus it failed of passage.
On the contrary, Mr. H. Rees Whiting, a clerk of the house, in which the
bill originated, made a sworn statement to the facts which I have stated, and
such sworn statement was ordered entered upon the journal. And, on motion
of Mr. Speer, a resolution was passed declaring that the bill had passed and
was in the possession of the governor for more than three days before the legal
expiration of the session of the legislature; and directing that the president
of the council and speaker of the house be empowered to certify such fact upon
the bill, instructing the superintendent of public printing to publish it with
the laws of that session, and declaring that it was a law of Kansas territory.
The journal of the house of representatives shows this fact.
On the 20th of February following, Governor Denver published an article
in the "Herald of Freedom," in which he denied the passage of the bill before
the expiration of 40 days, and said:
"Being quite unwell that evening, I told Mr. Walsh, my private secretary, to
give information of that fact, and that it was my intention to retire. Shortly
after he left the room the house adjourned, and after his return I retired, leaving
him and Mr. R. S. Stevens engaged in writing in my room. They were the only
persons who had been there for two or three hours before. This was after 11
Addresses hefore the Society. 139
o'clock, and if Mr. Whiting was there it was after that time, and after the house
had adjourned for the night."
This was an article of some length, but the quotation gives the gist of it.
To this I replied in the Lawrence " Republican " of February 25, saying:
" It may be a query how the governor knew who was in his room for more than
three hours, and also that the house (more than a block away) had adjourned
during the same period; and it strikes me that sensible men will come to the
conclusion that the 'rumor' was concerning the adjournment, and that the sworn
statement of Mr. Whiting, which is a matter of record, is worthy of at least as
much credit as the governor's opinion, especially if he was sick and asleep. Mr.
Whiting's statement is corroborated by Caleb S. Pratt,* enrolling clerk of the
council, who was at the door of the executive chamber with other bills. Mr.
Whiting also says: ' Perry Fuller, Esq., of Ceutropolis, Franklin county, went
with me from the house, and was by when I knocked at the door. Mr. Walsh,
private secretary to Governor Denver, came to the door, and I offered the con-
vention bill with the others to him. He said the governor had retired, and he
could not receive any more bills that evening. I looked at my watch (which I
had set by Governor Denver's) and found that it was exactly 10 minutes to 11
o'clock. Mr. Pratt also looked at his watch, and by it, it was 11 o'clock pre-
cisely.' This ought to be sufficient wide-awake testimony to overcome the
opinion a sick man asleep. The fact was, that these active men had all their
senses awakened in the idea that that bill might be ' pocketed. ' They knew
that every strategy known to the enemies of freedom would be exhausted to de-
feat it. I had prepared the bill, watched it at every turn with intense interest,
put it personally in the hands of Whiting, and saw him start for the door of the
governor's office before 11 o'clock. The next day I went to the governor's room
on other business, and he said to me: 'Mr. Speer, I have heard that you said I
was avoiding bills to prevent their passage.' I replied quickly: 'T said no such
thing. On the contrary, I said precisely that I had no reason to believe you
would do so, but General Jackson had 'pocketed' a bill, and I did not know
whether you were a better man than General Jackson or not, but I would give
no man the opportunity with a bill of mine if I could help it.' He said: 'I am
glad to hear it.' "
Governor Denver was invited to be present at the old settlers' meeting, in
Bismarck Grove near Lawrence, in September, 1884, and delivered an address.
In that address he said, in reference to this bill :
"Well, I concluded I wovild not approve that bill for calling a convention to
frame a new constitution. Several committees were appointed by the legislature
to call upon me, begging me, if I would not approve it, to return it to them
that they might act upon it. I told them no, that I had made up my mind, and
that I was not to be moved; that I thought we had had constitutions enough,
and that I had an absolute veto in that case, and that I proposed to exercise it,
which I did.
"The next night, after 12 o'clock, a bill was brought to me purporting to be
a bill calling a convention for a new constitution, and indorsed on it that it had
been returned by the governor and passed by a two-thirds vote, notwithstanding
these objections. That was signed by the four officers, the presiding officers of
each house, the secretary of the council, and the clerk of the assembly. I immedi-
ately sent for them, and told them that while that act of theirs, if I was disposed
to act upon it, gave me power to do something much to their disadvantage, I did
* Caleb S. Pratt was a brave lieutenant killed at the battle of Wilson Creek, in whose honor
Pratt county was named.
140 Kansas State Historical Society.
not desire to do it, because I did not want any trouble or disturbance in the
territory; that that act was all wrong on their part; that they certified to that
which was not true; that that paper had never been before the governor; that
the bill sent to him had never been out of his possesion, and consequently the
whole statement was false.
"Mr. Currier had the bill in his hands. He asked me what I wanted them
to do. I told him I wanted them to do one of two things. To give me a certifi-
cate of the fact that that had never been acted upon by the legislature at all, or
else to destroy it there in my presence. They said that that would be pretty
rough. Currier said that he would not put his name to any such paper as that,
and said he: 'What shall we do with it? ' Deitzler said: 'Destroy it.' He said:
'All right,' and tore it up and stuck it in the stove. That was the last of that
"Now, a resolution was passed after 12 o'clock and the legal term of the legis-
lature had absolutely closed — a resolution was passed delaring that that bill had
been properly passed by the legislature, and they resolved that they would go on
and hold the convention. Notwithstanding all that had occurred and the failure
of the bill to become a law, they decided to hold the convention."
I have been thus exact in stating facts, because this was the turning point of
the " crime against Kansas." The " pocketing " of a bill of that magnitude was
an act of tyranny unparalleled in the history of republican government. We had
arrived at a stage when almost the whole population of the territory was ready to
battle to the death to make Kansas free. The enemy had made a constitution
but a few months before, by a convention sustained by President Buchanan and
his secretary of war, with tents and camp-fires around it, and the tread of soldiers
on guard, and marshaled battalions all around; and it was against that that this
free constitution had to battle. Without the troops no such convention could
have been held. The passage of this law was by the following vote:
"Ayes: Messrs. Appleman, Barry, Brock, Bassett, Curtis, Columbia, Cooper,
Danford, Elliott of Leavenworth, Hanna, Hatterscheidt, Jameson, Jenkins, Kel-
ler, Lockhart, Morrill, Moore, McClure, Mitchell, Owens, Orr, Pennock, Reynard,
Speer, Still, Stewart, Shannon, Stratton, Wheeler, Zinn, and Mr. Speaker. 31.
"Every member present voting in the affirmative."
And then the same men made the following record :
"Mr. Hanna offered the following concurrent resolution, which was adopted,
and council notified :
"Resolved, by the house of representatives (the council concurring), that we
do hereby, for the last time, solemnly protest against the admission of Kansas into
the union under the Lecompton constitution.
"That we hurl back with scorn the libelous charge contained in the president's
message accompanying the Lecompton constitution to congress, to the effect that
the freemen of Kansas are a ' lawless people.' "
"That, relying upon the justice of our cause, we do hereby, in behalf of the
people we represent, solemnly pledge to each other, to our friends in congress and
in the states, our lives, our fortunes and sacred honor, to resist the Lecompton
constitution and government by the force of arms, if necessary.
"That, in this perilous hour of our history, we appeal to the civilized world
for the rectitude of our position, and call upon the friends of freedom everywhere
to array themselves against this last act of oppression in the Kansas drama.
"Resolved, That the governor be requested to immediately transmit certified
copies of these resolutions to the president of the United States, speaker of the
Addressea before the Societi/. 141
house of representatives, and president of the senate, and to our delegate in con-
gress, and that the same be presented to the congress of the United States."
I can know nothing about what Messrs. Deitzier and Currier may have said.
Their actions I do know. The former presided over the house all the next day,
and participated in and signed the proceedings as speaker; and the latter, acting
as clerk, made and signed them; and when Mr. Walsh, the governor's private
secretary, sent a message to the house, stating that the members must appear
and sign the pay-roll, or he would leave for Lecompton, the speaker, sitting in
his chair, very coolly remarked, that Mr. Walsh had his permission to leave at
his earliest convenience.
I thus give my testimony on the Leavenworth constitution.
MEMOIR OF PROF. ISAAC T. GOODNOW.
Prepared by Rev. Hugh D. Fisher, D. D.
The subject of this memoir may be properly compared, in many-sided life,
unto Abraham, the friend of God and man, who, by faith, went out, not knowing
whither he went or what would be the result of his living influence and example.
Hon. Isaac T. Goodnow was born of puritanic parents, in Whittingham, Vt.,
January 17, 1814, and was a good specimen of the real gentleman and Yankee.
He departed this life, in his home in Manhattan, Kas., March 20, 1894. The
time elapsing between the beginning and ending of his life was replete with in-
structive incidents of great value, especially to the young.
At the age of 14 occurred the crucial incident of his active, vigorous and suc-