and held its session at Lawrence. The legislature at this session passed a
bill abolishing slavery in Kansas. Mr. Beebe as a member of a committee to
which the bill was referred made a minority report, as follows: "Having
found that there is now invested in this territory between one-fourth and
one-half million of dollars' worth of property in slaves, and believing that
the immediate prohibition of an existing right of property in any given
article is beyond either the legislative power of the states or territories, as
contravening the letter and spirit of articles four and five of the amendments
to the federal constitution, the minority recommends the indefinite postpone-
ment of the bill."
The bill passed the council by a vote of nine to four. This is the bill which
was vetoed by Governor Medary and passed over the veto. May 1 following,
Mr. Beebe was appointed secretary of the territory, in the place of Hugh S.
Walsh, and entered upon the office July 1. December 17, 1861, Governor
Medary having resigned, Secretary Beebe became acting governor. In a mes-
sage to the legislature, January 10, in which he referred to the opening events
of the War of the Rebellion, which were' then transpiring, he advocated neu-
trality on the part of Kansas. He continued in office as acting governor until
February 9, 1861, at which time notice of the admission of Kansas into the
union was received, and Charles Robinson took the oath of office as governor
of the state of Kansas. In 1863 he removed to Nevada territory. He was
there appointed collector of revenue, but declined the position. He returned
to Monticeilo, N. Y., and edited the "Republican Watchman." He was presi-
dent of the democratic state conventions of New York in 1873 and 1874. He
was elected to the Forty-fourth congress as a democrat, and re-elected to the
Governor Reedcr's Administration. IfiB
GOVERNOK REEDEE'S ADMINISTRATION.
[ The papers relating to the administrations of Secretaries and Acting Governors Woodson,
Stanton, Denver, Walsh, and Beebe, are included with tne papers under the heads of the Gov-
ernors under whom they served as Secretaries, and in place of whom they from time to time, by
virtue of office, served as Governor.]
The following papers pertaining to Grovernor Reeder's administra-
tion were omitted from the third volume of collections, which con-
tain the executive minutes of Governor Reeder's administration:
To His Excellency, A. H. Reeder, Governor of Kansas: Dear Sirâ€” Having
been informed that you were waited on a few days since by a committee of per-
sons, acting by authority of a meeting held at the town of Leavenworth, on the
15th inst., to urge upon you the necessity of an immediate election for members
for a territorial legislature; and that a correspondence upon that subject of a
nature extremely interesting to all citizens of Kansas has taken place between
you and said committee, we respectfully solicit of you a copy of the same for
publication. Very respectfully, yours, &c., J. C. THOMPSON.
ROBT. H. HIGGINS.
Fort Leavenworth, K. T., November 22, 1854. M. Â¥. CONWAY.
Gentlemen: Yours of to-day is received. As the correspondence to which
you refer is one that had its origin in a public meeting, relates to public affairs,
and was carried on with me as a public officer, I have no hesitation in furnishing
the inclosed copy for publication, if you deem proper so to use it. Very respect-
fully yours, A. H. REEDER.
To J. C. Thompson, Robt. H. Higgins, M. F. Conway, Esqs.
Fort Leavenworth, November 22, 1854.
Fort Leavenworth, K. T., November 21, 1854.
Gentlemen : On the 16th inst. you called on me in the capacity of a commit-
tee, claiming to represent and speak for a meeting of citizens of Kansas Territory,
held the preceding day at Leavenworth city, and presented me your memorial
on behalf of that meeting.
The memorial commences with the statement that you are acting under a
resolution of such meeting, and ends by "urgently pressing" me to "comply
with the wishes of those by whom you were appointed."
Finding that you did not come as individual citizens, acting for yourselves,
but as the representatives of others, I took the ground that it was necessary and
proper for me to know whom you represented, and that I must have a copy of
the proceedings of the meeting which appointed you. Your chairman seemed at
first to think that was unnecessary. I replied that it was very obviously
necessary I should know, by the only authentic evidence, that you had been
appointed, and by whom ; and further stated, that unless the proceedings were
furnished I should not consider myself bound to notice your memorial. You
164 Kansas State Historical Society.
then agreed to furnish them. I waited their coming until last evening, when I
received from the post-ofHce a communication from you, dated the 17th inst., but
with no postmark to inform me when it was mailed. This communication
declines to furnish the proceedings of the meeting â€” professes to give reasons for
the refusal â€” contains a very deliberate enunciation of some inherent rights of
the people of Kansas, which no one would ever think of questioning, and some
other propositions which must, in a confusion of correspondence, have got into
that letter by mistake, as I have been utterly unable to discover how they were
connected with the subject of discussion ; and again requests that my answer to
your memorial be made known to you and those "whose organ you have the
honor to be."
The reasons you give may be very briefly stated : First, you say, that some of
you, at least, are "recognized inhabitants" of Kansas; and asserting your own
character as honorable men, you claim that I should have indorsed your own
opinion on that head by taking your allegations of the facts, instead of asking
for the usual and natural evidence of them; secondly, that the people of Kansas
have a right to make known their wishes to the executive without putting them
in writing, or organizing any meeting for that purpose. To the latter, I have
only to say, that I admit cheerfully the proposition that it contains; but I am at
a loss to understand what possible bearing it has upon the question whether I
am entitled to have a copy of the proceedings of this meeting which has been held
and an extract fi-om which you profess to give. As to the first reason, passing
over the indelicacy of gentlemen putting their personal character unnecessarily
and improperly in issue, and demanding of me, who never impugned or im-
peached it, that I should dispense with the forms and vouchers which the occa-
sion demanded, by adopting, in lieu thereof, any estimate of that character
whatever, and especially one made by yourselves, as the basis of my official
action, I beg leave to remind you that you are requiring even more than this,
and, with signal modesty, demand that I should surrender my judgment to yours,
and if you should be of opinion that the meeting who sent you was composed of
"citizens of Kansas," I should take for granted that you are infallible, adopt
your conclusions, and consider it unnecessary to judge for myself. Doubtless
this would save a vast deal of trouble; and if I could take your infallibility for
granted, it would leave me little to do but to register your decrees. That, how-
ever, is not my mode of doing business; and although I seek the opinions and
suggestions of others, I prefer to judge for myself.
There is another very singular aspect of this reason of yours. Without in-
quiring of me what I intended to do in relation to an election of members of the
legislature, you attract public attention by assembling a meeting, and after a
speech appropriate to the design of the meeting, a committee is formally ap-
pointed to prepare a grave and diplomatic memorial to quicken me in the per-
formance of my official duty ; and when you have made the affair thus public,
precise, and ceremonious, as far as it is calculated to cast censure on my judg-
ment and fidelity, you modestly insist that all the residue of the proceedings
shall be as informal as you choose to make them, and that whilst you, by your
actions, are censuring me, I shall be required in the same transaction to recog-
nize you as men who cannot possibly err in motive or judgment. These rules of
logic and equity I have never learned ; and I think, gentlemen, that to you be-
longs the merit of their discovery.
Your reasons being thus disposed of, allow me to repeat : You come to me as
the agent of others, who you allege are citizens of Kansas, and therefore entitled
to a reply. I ask for a copy of the proceedings, in order that I may be satisfied
Governor Reeder's Administration. 165
as to that fact. You peremptorily refuse to give them. By all the rules of com-
mon sense, common courtesy, and common justice, I would be justified in refus-
ing to notice your communication, as I had once resolved to do. I have, however,
changed my mind, and will proceed to state some facts within the knowledge of
the whole public in this vicinity â€” who will decide between us, if we disagree â€”
and which I should have proven almost entirely by your own evidence, had you
not, from the pinching exigencies of the case, been compelled to refuse a copy of
The meeting was not of the "citizens of Kansas," as your proceedings will
show, if you will produce them. It was a meeting composed mainly of citizens
of Missouri, and a few of the citizens of Kansas. Your own body, whom I am
now addressing, contains two undoubted residents of Missouri, one of whom is
your chairman, who resides with his family in the town of Liberty, Mo., as he
has done for years, and whose only attempt at a residence in Kansas consists of a
card nailed to a tree, upon ground long since occupied by other settlers
who have built and lived upon the claim. The president of your meeting was
Maj. John Dougherty, a resident and large landholder in Clay county, Missouri,
as he has stated to me since the meeting, and will not hesitate to state again, as
he is a high-minded and honorable man, above all concealment or disguise. The
gentlemen principally composing your meeting came from across the river, throng-
ing the road from the ferry to the town, on horseback and in wagons, in numbers
variously estimated by different persons at from 200 to 300 ; and after the meeting
was over they returned to their homes in the state of Missouri. These are facts
as notorious here as any public occurrence can be ; and every man who had eyes
to see and ears to hear, is cognizant them.
They were the subjects of much remark and the cause of deep dissatisfaction;
and even on the ground in the meeting, and in reply to the speech of your chair-
man, who was chief spokesman of the occasion, this invasion of our territory was
loudly complained of by some of the outnumbered citizens of Kansas, and has
frequently since been made the subject of indignant complaint to me. Such is
the meeting from which you derive your authority, and such the title by which
you assume to interfere in the regulation of our affairs. Few men, with all the
facts before them, would be hardy enough to say that the assumption is entitled
to any respect. The law guarantees to us the right to manage our own affairs.
It is the great, much-discussed feature of our territorial government, and one
which our people highly prize â€” under the pledges of which the inhabitants of
the territory have come and staked their future fortunes on our own soil.
The pledges of that law must be redeemed ; and it were a poor and pitiless
boon to have escaped from the domination of congress, if we are only to pass under
the hands of another set of self-constituted rulers, foreign to our soil, and sharing
none of our burdens, no matter what may be their virtues or their worth as men
and citizens at home. It may be very desirable for gentlemen to live among the
comforts of the states, with all the accumulated conveniences and luxuries of an
old hoiue, and make an occasional expedition into our territory, to arrange our
affairs â€” instruct our people and public officei-s, and control our government;
but it does not suit us, and I much mistake the people of this territory if they
snbmit to it. One thing I am certain of, that having sworn to perform the duties
of the offtee of governor with fidelity, I shall denounce and resist it in friend or
foe, and without regard to the locality, the party, the faction, or the "ism"
from which it comes.
J: This much the citizens of Kansas have a right to demand at my hands, and
to fail in it would be the baldest dereliction of official duty. We believe that we
166 Kansas State Historical Society.
are competent to govern ourselves; and as we must bear the consequences of our
own errors, and reap the fruit of our own decisions, we must decline any gratui-
tous help in making them.
We shall always be glad to see our neighbors across the river as friends and
visitors among us, and will endeavor to treat them with kindness and hospitality.
We shall be still more pleased, if they will abandon their present homes and dot
our beautiful country with their residences, to contribute to our wealth and
progress; but until they do the latter, we must respectfully, but determinedly,
decline to allow them any participation in regulating our affairs.
When that is to be done, we insist that they shall stand aside and permit us
to do the work ourselves.
This, gentlemen, with due respect for you personally, is the only reply I shall
give to the suggestions in behalf of your meeting relative to the time and manner
of taking our census and holding our election.
Your obedient servant, A. H. EEEDER.
To F. Gwinner, D. A. N. Grover, Eobt. C. Miller, Wm. F. Dyer, and Alfred
Jones, Esqs., committee.
[ "Herald of Freedom," January 6, 185.^>.]
[Letter from Governor Reader.]
Shawnee Mission, January 22, 1855.
B. H. Twombly, Esq.: Dear Sirâ€” Yours of the 19th is received, making
some inquiries as to the subject-matter of my letter to J. S. Emery, Esq.,
under date of the 28th December. That letter was written with little care,
in great haste, and was only intended to state conclusions without the pro-
cess of deducing them; and as it has excited more interest and attention than
I at all anticipated, I gladly avail myself of the opportunity to state with more
precision and fullness the opinions contained in it, and at the same time to
give the reasons on which those opinions are based; and in so doing I shall
necessarily answer your Inquiries.
Without discussing the law of preemption generally, I shall confine myself
to the question of preemption on unsurveyed lands in this territory, and
shall be as brief as the subject will admit. The act of September 4. 1841,
superseding the previous legislation on the subject, and the act of July 22.
1S54, are the only acts of Congress necessary to an understanding of the point
involved. The former provided that citizens of the United States, or declar-
ants, being either heads of families, widows, or single men over 21 years of
age, who shall make a settlement in person on public lands which have been
surveyed, and to which the Indian title had been extinguished, and shall
erect a dwelling-house and inhabit and improve the land, shall have a right
of preemption, etc. With the disabilities arising from previous preemption,
etc., we have nothing to do in this discussion. It also requires that within
30 days after settlement he shall file with the register his description and
claim, and within 12 months shall make certain affidavits and enter and pay
for the land, anil provides that, when two or more persons shall settle on
the same quarter-section, the first settler shall have the whole.
The act of July 22, 1854, provides that all the lands to which the Indian
title is or shall be extinguished in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska
dhall be subject to the operation of the act of 1841.
Governor Reedet^s Administration. 167
This language alone, without anything more, extends the preemption sys-
tem to our unsurveyed lands, for the following reasons: None of our lands
at the date of this act were surveyed. One of the cardinal rules of law for
the construction of statutes is, that they shall not be so construed as to make
them nugatory or unmeaning; and when any proposed construction brings
us to such a conclusion, it is an infallible test by which we may know that
the construction is erroneous; for we are not to charge upon a legislature the
folly of passing laws which have no purpose or meaning. Now, if the act of
1854 is only to apply to the surveyed lands of our territory, it is of no more
effect than a blank paper; for the act of 1841, being generally applicable to
all the public lands wheresoever situate, did not need the act of 1854 to extend
it to this territory, and we should thus charge upon Congress that they
gravely and solemnly enacted a statute which had not a particle of effect,
and which only left the law as it had been before.
Again, the act of 1841 required that the land which may be preempted
shall have two properties, to wit: That the Indian title shall be extinguished,
and that it shall be surveyed. The act of 1854 provides that all the land to
which the Indian title is extinguished shall be subject, etc., but is silent as
to the survey. Here we are met by another rule of construction, conveyed
in the well-known law maxim, "Unius expressio alterius est exclusio" â€” the
mention of but one is an exclusion of the other. We are driven then to read
this act as applicable to all the lands to which the Indian title has been
extinguished, whether surveyed or unsurveyed. This will satisfy every rule
of construction, and arrive at the obvious meaning and purpose of the law.
But to preclude all doubt, the act has this proviso, "that where unsurveyed
lands are claimed by preemption, notice of the specific tract claimed shall be
filed within three months after survey made in the field," thus clearly
recognizing the construction I have contended for, legalizing a settlement
before survey, and requiring the filing of a claim and description after sur-
vey. Here, then, we have one point established â€” that a man may commence
his preemption on unsurveyed lands.
Let us follow up the argument. Preemption may be correctly defined to be,
the right of purchasing before others. Under the law applicable to this terri-
tory, it is a right not resulting from a single act of the government or the settler,
but gradually maturing through successive steps or stages, to wit: Personal set-
tlement, erecting a dwelling-house, inhabiting the land, official survey, filing
claim and description, making and filing the necessary affidavits, entry in the
register's office, payment of the purchase-money, which, under the act of 1854,
must be before the first day of sale, and granting the patent. Some of these
are to be done by the settler, and others by the government. The government
has covenanted and agreed, through the solemn medium of an act of congress,
that they will perform their portion of them if the settler will perform his; and
if the latter does so perform the acts prescribed by the law to him, the officers of
the government had no choice but to complete the title to him. No man can
step in between the preemptor and his final right to a patent.
His right before the granting of the patent is what is called an inchoate title
â€” a term familiar to every lawyer. It is a title commenced but not completed,
and may be assimilated to the case of a purchaser who has taken possesssion
under articles of agreement, has paid a part of his purchase-money, and is wait-
ing for the day to pay the balance and take his deed. The patent, though con-
clusive evidence of the consummation of title, is not the only medium by which
the settler's rights accrue. The entry and the patent would both be illegal if
168 Kansas State Historical Society.
made in the absence of the preceding steps ; for a register cannot allow an entry,
nor a receiver take the purchase-money and deliver the patent, without the pre-
requisites which give these acts of his validity and force. Each of these preced-
ing steps contributes its share to make up the title. They are all ingredients
going to make up the whole. The rights which were vested in the preemptor
before his last act of payment were contingent and defeasible, it is true, by his
own delinquency; but the patent, when obtained, proves that the title has fully
matured, and that he has been in possession from the beginning, not as an in-
truder, but by right. As each step or stage in the acquisition contributes its
share to that acquisition, neither one alone can claim that the title was acquired
at the moment of its performance : the final consummation gives a retrospective
sanction to the whole, and relates back to its first inception. Indeed, this prin-
ciple is so familiar that, had I been writing only for those learned in the law, I
should not have entered into this elementary analysis of it.
Here, then, we have two more points established : that a preemptor who com-
plies with the requirements of the acts of congress cannot be prevented from ob-
taining his title ; and that, when finally consummated, it relates back to its
If so, he is to be considered and treated as having been the owner of the land
from that time, and of course may then sue and recover for any trespasses com-
mitted at any time after his first personal settlement, and will take as his own,
without compensation, any houses or other improvements which intruders may
have placed on his land.
This should teach intruders, on the one hand, the folly of throwing away their
labor, and making themselves subject to suits ; and, on the other hand, should
teach rightful and original preemptors the folly of going out with axes and revolv-
ers to cut down their own houses and drive off men who are kind enough to im-
prove their land. Better far assist them in the task, and encourage them to build
Even should the intruder be strong enough to drive off the rightful original
settler, the latter may repose upon the law. He will not lose his land except by
his own neglect. The law declares that it shall go to the first settler ; and it
will never allow an intruder, first, by force to prevent him from complying with
the act ; and afterward to claim the land because he did not comply. The law
does no such unjust and foolish thing as this. It says most determinedly that
"no man shall take advantage of his own wrong;" and if the first settler will
only be careful to do everything which the law requires of him, except that which
the intruder prevents him from doing, and preserves the proof of all the facts, he
will get the land at last, with all the intruder's improvements upon it.
With another remark or two I shall close this opinion, already much longer
than I expected. Some persons strangely discover a conflict between these
opinions and the letter of Chief Justice Lecompte. This is a misapprehension.
I contend that when a preemptor's title is consummated he can sue and recover.
The judge, in a very brief and probably hasty letter, holds that at present he
cannot issue an injunction for him in order to stop the cutting of timber. I can
see no conflict in this, for I am satisfied his decision was correct; and had I
been in his place, I should have decided in this same way. No man would, with
more pleasure than myself, accord to his opinions the deference which his sound
legal knowledge, his careful accuracy and conscientious uprightness have a right
to demand: and I am therefore the more pleased that in this case it is so trans-
parently obvious that no conflict of opinion exists between our letters. He was
Governor Reeders Administration. 169
writing with his whole attention directed to the kind of right necessary to found
a present injunction.
Hoping that this communication may convince our settlers that they may
confidently intrust the redress of all their grievances to the law, I remain,
Very respectfully yours,
A. H. REEDER.
["Herald of Freedom," February 10, 1855,]
GOVERNOR REEDER AT HOME.
We have before us, says the Washington "Union," an extra of the Easton
(Pa.) "Argus," which gives a full and highly interesting account of Governor
Reeder's recent visit to his former residence in that town. Governor Reeder ar-
rived at Easton on Monday last, in the morning train of cars from New York,