Upon these great rights of individual action and of public decision rests
the foundation of American institutions, and if they are faithfully secured to
the people of Kansas, the political condition of the country will soon become
Governor Walker's Administration. 328
quiet and satisfactory. The institutions of Kansas should be established by
the votes of the people of Kansas, unawed and uninterrupted by force or fraud.
And foreign voters must be excluded, come whence they may, and every at-
tempt to overawe or interrupt the free exercise of the right of voting must be
promptly repelled and punished. Freedom and safety for the legal voter,
and exclusion and punishment for the illegal one â€” these should be great prin-
ciples of your administration.
The regular legislature of the territory having authorized the assembling
of a convention to frame a constitution to be accepted or rejected by Congress
under the provisions of the federal constitution, the people of Kansas have the
right to be protected in the peaceful election of delegates for such a purpose,
under such authority, and the convention itself has a right to similar protec-
tion in the opportunity for tranquil and undisturbed deliberation. When such
a constitution shall be submitted to the people of the territory, they must be
protected in the exercise of their right of voting for or against that instrument,
and the fair expression of the popular will must not be interrupted by fraud or
The President concurs in the hope expressed by you, that the intervention
of the military force will not be necessary; but should this just expectation be
disappointed, he refers you for the measures you must adopt and for the nec-
essary authority in that emergency to the instructions heretofore given by
the president of the United States and by this department to your predecessors.
Copies of these instructions accompany this communication, and also cop-
ies of the instructions heretofore issued by the war department, and of those
issued by the present secretary of war, respecting the employment of the
troops of the United States, upon your requisition.
You will communicate freely with this department from time to time, so
that the president may be kept informed as to the true state of things in Kan-
sas. I am, etc., LEWIS CASS.
Robert .T. Walker, Esq.
MR. CASS TO MR. STANTON.
Department of State, Washington, March 31, 1857.
Sir: You have been appointed secretary of the territory of Kansas. Your
commission has been sent to the secretary of the treasury, from whom you will
receive it, when you shall have given security, as required by law, for the dis-
bursement of the public money which may be intrusted to you; and you will
herewith receive a letter addressed to Mr. Woodson, the present secretary, and
who will be superseded upon your taking the oath of ofhce, informing him of
As you are aware, no dissatisfaction with the course of Mr. Woodson has
led to the change; on the contrary, the president approves his course. But it
is due to the new governor, Mr. Walker, that he should have for his secretary
a gentleman known to him, and in whom he has confidence, and your selection
is desired by him.
A copy of the instructions to Mr. Walker, as governor, you will receive with
this letter. The duties of that office, when he is not in the territory, will de-
volve upon you, and the president desires that you proceed thither with-
out unnecessary delay, and take upon yourself the execution of those duties.
These instructions make known tne views of the president. They provide also
324 Kansas State Historical Society.
for placing such force at your disposition as the security of the public peace
and the enforcement of the law may render necessary. I am, sir, &c.,
F. P. Stanton, Esq., Washington.
MR. STANTON TO MR. CASS.
Executive OflBce, Lecompton, K. T., April 17, 1857.
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that I arrived here night before
last, and yesterday morning presented your letter of the 31st ultimo to Mr.
Wodson, late secretary, and immediately entered upon the duties of my office.
My first official act was to issue a brief address to the people of Kansas, of
which I inclose a printed copy.
It affords me great satisfaction to advise you that, so far as I have yet
learned, the people of the territory are entirely peaceable and quiet, and ex-
hibit every disposition to remain so.
In order to encourage this good disposition, I suggest for your consideration
the propriety of directing the United States attorney for this territory to dis-
continue all the prosecutions which have been commenced against persons of
any party, for offenses arising out of the late political disturbances. If the
President should agree with me as to the propriety of this policy, and should
make a brief proclamation stating the reasons for this act of executive clem-
ency, I think it would have a happy effect in promoting future harmony.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
FRED. P. STANTON.
Hon. Lewis Cass, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
ADDRESS OP ACTING GOVERNOR STANTON.
To the People of the Territory of Kansas: Fellow Citizens â€” The Hon.
Robert J. Walker, present governor of the territory, accepted his appointment
from the President upon condition that he should not be required to leave
Washington until the 11th of May next. Circumstances beyond his control
rendered it impossible for him to start before that day. He may, therefore,
be expected here about the middle of next month, and will then assume the
executive authoritj^ of the territory.
During the absence of the governor, by the organic law of the territory,
the whole duties and responsibilities of the executive are devolved upon me,
by virtue of my commission as secretary. In assuming to exercise the func-
tions of this high office, at this critical juncture in the affairs of the territory,
it is not inappropriate that I should briefly indicate the course which I shall
feel it my duty to pursue.
The government of the United States recognizes the authority of the terri-
torial government in all matters which are within the scope of the organic
act of Congress and consistent with the federal constitution. I hold that there
can be no other rightful authority exercised within the limits of Kansas, and
I shall proceed to the faithful and impartial execution of the laws of the terri-
tory, by the use of all the means placed in my power and which may be
necessary to that end.
The government especially recognizes the territorial act which provides
for assembling a convention to form a constitution, with a view to making
application to Congress for admission as a state into the union. That act is
Governor Walker^s Administration. 325
regarded as presenting the only test of the qualification of voters for delegates
to the convention, and all preceding repugnant restrictions are thereby re-
pealed. In this light, the act must be allowed to have provided for a full and
fair expression of the will of the people through the delegates who may be
chosen to represent them in the constitutional convention. I do not doubt,
however, that, in order to avoid all pretext for resistance to the peaceful
operation of this law, the convention itself will, in some form, provide for
submitting the great distracting question regarding their social institution,
which has so long agitated the people of Kansas, to a fair vote of all the actual
bona fide residents of the territory, with every possible security against fraud
and violence. If the constitution be thus framed, and the question of differ-
ence thus submitted to the decision of the people, I believe that Kansas will
be admitted by Congress without delay as one of the sovereign states of the
American union, and the territorial authorities will be immediately with-
I need scarcely say that all the power of the territorial executive will be
exerted, with entire impartiality, to prevent fraud, to suppress violence, and
to secure to every citizen a fair opportunity for the safe and peaceful exercise
of his elective privilege. It will be no less the duty than the earnest desire
and great pleasure of the governor or acting governor of the territory to carry
out, in good faith, the policy avowed by the President of the United States in
his recent inaugural address, in which he declares it to be "the imperative
and indispensable duty of the government of the United States to secure
to every resident inhabitant the free and independent expression of his opin-
ion by his vote. This sacred right of each individual must be preserved,"
and, "that being accomplished, nothing can be fairer than to leave the people
of a territory fi-ee from all foreign interference to decide their own destiny
for themselves, subject only to the constitution of the United States."
Nothing is wanting but to secure the confidence of the people of all parties
in the sincerity of the declared intention of the territorial executive to carry
out these principles in good faith, in order to induce the cooperation of all
good men in the pending measures for adopting a state constitution. The
principles themselves cannot fail to be acceptable to the sober judgment of
the people; and I ardently hope, for the sake of the paramount interests in-
volved, that the necessary confidence will not be withheld.
The deplorable events which have marked the history of the territory up
to this have doubtless left their natural results of enmity and heart-burnings
among the people, also upon the criminal records of the territorial courts.
Indictments have been found against many of those who acted in a military
capacity under the authority of the territorial government for acts and ex-
cesses alleged to be wholly illegal and unjustifiable. On the other hand,
similar prosecutions have been instituted against those who resisted the terri-
torial authorities and who undertook to retaliate for the alleged wrongs
committed against them. It is my deliberate opinion that, in order to pro-
mote peace and harmony and to secure the future repose of the people, there
ought to be a general amnesty in reference to all those acts, on both sides,
which grew out of the political contest, and which were not corruptly and
feloniously committed for personal gain and to gratify individual malignity.
This measure, if adopted at all, ought to be adopted generously, without any
consideration of the origin of the difficulty, and without question as to the
party which may be responsible for the wrong. It will involve no concession
or advantage to either party, but will be merely an act of clemency, designed
326 Kansas State Historical Society.
to obliterate, as far as possible, from the hearts of the people all memory of
the disastrous and lamentable contest, which has heretofore desolated this
unhappy territory. If it shall have that effect, though it may pardon some
instances of gross wrong and outrage, it will tend to calm the excited passions
of the people and lo prevent similar occurrences in the future. It will be a
measure of conciliation and peace, and will leave the people free from appre-
hension in the future, so that they can securely devote themselves to those
important labors which are destined to make this territory a great, prosperous
and happy state.
FRED. P. STANTON, Secretary and Acting Governor.
Lecompton, April 17, 1S57.
MR. CASS TO MR. STANTON.
Department of State, Washington, May 6, 1857.
Sir: Your letter of the 17th ult., with its accompaniment, has been re-
ceived. The intelligence which it conveys in regard to the disposition of the
people of Kansas is gratifying. Your suggestion in regard to the expediency
of discontinuing certain prosecutions in the territory is under consideration,
and it is probable that the views of the President in regard to the measure
will be made known to Governor Walker prior to his departure for the terri-
tory. I am, sir, &c., LEWIS CASS.
Frederick P. Stanton, Esq., Acting Governor of Kansas, Lecompton.
MR. WALKER TO MR. CASS.
Washington City, May 9, 1857.
Sir: Having accepted the office of governor of the territory of Kansas,
1 herewith inclose you a copy of my official oath, taken before Chief Justice
The commission was duly received, and, in compliance with your request,
I slate that I was born in the village and county of Northumberland, in the
state of Pennsylvania.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, R. J. WALKER.
lion. Lewis Cass, Secretary of State.
Before me, Roger B. Taney, chief justice of the supreme court of the United
States, personally appeared Robert J. Walker, governor of the territory of
Kansas, who being by me first duly sworn, deposeth and saith, that he will
f iitlifully discharge the duties of said office and support the constitution of
the United States. R. J. WALKER.
Sworn and subscribed this 9th May, 1857, Washington.â€” R. B. TANEY.
True copy from the original. â€” R. J. WALKER.
MR. WALKER TO MR. CASS.
Lecompton, Kansas Territory, June 2, 1857.
Sir: Herewith you will find inclosed several copies, in pamphlet form, of
my inaugural address, delivered at Lecompton, the seat of government of this
territory, on the 27th day of May last. These are the first corrected copies
I have been enabled to obtain, and you will oblige me by placing them on the
files of the department in place of the proof-sheets heretofore transmitted.
There has been no newspaper issued here for several weeks, and the difficulty
and delay attending the procuring of pamphlet copies of my address, correctly
printed, have been very great.
Governor Walker's Administration. 827
My inaugural was extremely well received by the people here, and, so
far as I can learn, it seems quite probable that it will be approved by a veiy
large majority of the people of this territory. On one point the sentiment
of the people is almost unanimous: that the constitution must be submitted
for ratification or rejection to a vote of the people who shall be bona fide
residents of the territory next fall.
The difficulties in this territory are not yet adjusted, and, without the
submission of the constitution to the people, a peaceful settlement is entirely
impracticable. There is still a considerable party in Kansas who will resisi
the adoption of the constitution, however framed, upon the ground so long
occupied by them, that the territorial legislature which called this convention
was elected by voters from another state (as they allege), and not by the
])eopie of Kansas.
llesistance to the territorial laws is still threatened. Yesterday resolu-
tions were adopted by a public meeting at Lawrence to resist the assessment
for a territorial tax. An actual collision, it is feared, will follow. As I was
very respectfully received in Lawrence, it is my intention immediately to
repair there, with a view to endeavor by argument and persuasion, without
the employment of any military force, unless found indispensably necessary,
to induce there quiet submission to the laws. Similar difficulties are threat-
ened at other points in the territory, where I shall repair in person at the
eaiiiest practicable period. The most alarming movement, however, pro-
ceeds from the assembling on the 9th of June of the so-called Topeka legisla-
ture, with a view to the enactment of an entire code of laws. Of course it
will be my endeavor to prevent such a result, as it would lead to inevitable
and disastrous collision, and, in fact, renew the civil war in Kansas. I shall
resort to peaceful means in the first instance, but at the same time apprise
all parties that any attempt to put such laws in force will be resisted by the
government; and that, in the last resort, recourse will be had to the military
force subject to my order.
Notwithstanding the menacing condition of affairs at this time, my hope
is that no such laws will be passed, or if so, that no serious effort will be
made to put them in execution.
This is a region of great beauty and fertility, but up to this period of time
the weather has been extremely cold. Indeed, when I contrast the climate
with that of St. Loviis, through which I passed nearly two weeks since, the
thermometer must range many degrees higher there than in this territory.
On the whole, although there is, as yet, great discontent in the territory,
and serious threats of resisting the territorial laws, yet I think a soothing
effect has already been produced upon the people by the positions assumed
in my address, and I indulge strong hopes of a peaceful settlement of this
question. You may rest satisfied, however, that unless the people had been
assured that the constitution should be submitted, as far as our power ex-
tended, for ratification or rejection by all the actual bona fide resident
settlers, a most disastrous civil war here would have been inevitable.
I Shall endeavor to keep you advised, from time to time, of the progress
of events in this territory.
Be pleased to present my most respectful acknowledgments to the
President and all your colleagues in the cabinet, and receive for yourself
as'jurances of my distinguished consideration. R. J. WALKER.
Hon. Lewis Cass, Secretary of State.
328 Kansas State Historical Society.
GOVERNOR WALKER'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS.
Lecompton, Kansas Territory, May 27, 1857.
Fellow Citizens of Kansas: At, the earnest request of the President of
the United States, I have accepted the position of governor of the territory
of Kansas. The President, with the cordial concurrence of all his cabinet,
expressed to me the conviction that the condition of Kansas was fraught with
imminent peril to the union, and asked me to undertake the settlement of
that momentous question which has introduced discord and civil war through-
out your borders, and threatens to involve you and our country in the same
common ruin. This was a duty thus presented, the performance of which I
could not decline consistently with my view of the sacred obligations which
every citizen owes to his country.
The mode of adjustment is provided in the act oi'ganizing your territory,
namely, by the people of Kansas, who, by a majority of their own votes, must
decide this question for themselves in forming their state constitution.
Under our practice, the preliminary act of framing a state constitution is
uniformly performed through the instrumentality of a convention of dele-
gates chosen by the people themselves. That convention is now about to be
elected by you, under the call of the territorial legislature, created and still
recognized by the authority of Congress, and clothed by it, in the compre-
hensive language of the organic law, with full power to make such an enact-
ment. The territorial legislature, then, in assembling this convention, were
fully sustained by the act of Congress, and the authority of the convention
is distinctly recognized in my instructions from the President of the United
States. Those who oppose this course cannot aver the alleged irregularity
of the territorial legislature, whose laws in town and city elections, in
corporate franchises, and on all other subjects but slavery, they acknowledge
by their votes and aecquiesence. If that legislature was invalid, then are we
without law or order in Kansas â€” without town, city, or county organization-
all legal and judicial transactions are void â€” all titles null, and anarchy reigns
throughout our borders.
It is my duty, in seeing that all constitutional laws are fairly executed,
to take care, as far as practicable, that this election of delegates to the con-
vention shall be free from fraud and violence, and that they shall be protected
in their deliberations.
The people of Kansas, then, are invited by the highest authority known
to the constitution to participate freely and fairly in the election of delegates
to frame a constitution and state government. The law has performed its
entire appropriate function when it extends to the people the right of suffrage,
but it cannot compel the performance of that duty. Throughout our whole
union, however, and wherever free government prevails, those who abstain
from the exercise of the right of suffrage authorize those who do vote to act
for them in that contingency, and the absentees are as much bound under
the law and constitution, where there is no fraud or violence, by the act of
the majority of those who do vote, as if all had participated in the election.
Otherwise, as voting must be voluntary, self-government would be imprac-
ticable, and monarchy or despotism would remain as the only alternative.
You should not console yourselves, my fellow citizens, with the reflection
that you may, by a subsequent vote, defeat the ratification of the constitution.
Although most anxious to secure to you the exercise of that great constitu-
tional right, and believing that the convention is the servant, and not the
master of the people, yet I have no power to dictate the proceedings of that
Governor Wall^crs Administration. 329
body. I cannot doubt, however, the course they will adopt on this subject.
But why incur the hazard of the preliminary formation of a constitution
by a minority, as alleged by you, when a majority, by their own votes, could
control the forming of that instrument?
But it is said that the convention is not legally called, and that the election
will not be freely and fairly conducted. The territorial legislature is the
power ordained for this purpose by the Congress of the United States; and
in opposing it you resist the authority of the federal government. That
legislature was called into being by the Congress of 1854, and is recognized
in the very latest congressional legislation. It is recognized by the present
chief magistrate of the union, just chosen by the American people, and many
of its acts are now in operation here by universal assent. As the governor of
the territory of Kansas, I must support the laws and the constitution; and I
have no other alternative under my oath, but to see that all constitutional
laws are fully and fairly executed.
I see in this act calling the convention no improper or unconstitutional
restrictions upon the right of suffrage. I see in it no test oath or other
similar provisions objected to in relation to previous laws, but clearly repealed
as repugnant to the provisions of this act, so far as regards the election of
delegates to this convention. It is said that a fair and full vote will not be
taken. Who can safely predict such a result? Nor is it just for a majority,
as they allege, to throw the power into the hands of a minority, from a mere
apprehension â€” (I trust entirely unfounded) â€” that they will not be permitted
to exercise the right of suffrage. If, by fraud or violence, a majority should
noi be permitted to vote, there is a remedy, it is hoped, in the wisdom and
justice of the convention itself, acting under the obligations of an oath, and
a proper responsibility to the tribunal of public opinion. There is a, remedy,
also, if such facts can be demonstrated, in the refusal of Congress to admit
a state into the union under a constitution imposed by a minority upon a
majority by fraud or violence. Indeed, I cannot doubt that the convention,
after having framed a state constitution, will submit it for ratification or
rejection, by a majority of the then actual bona fide resident settlers of
With these views, well known to the President and cabinet, and approved
by them, I accepted the appointment of governor of Kansas. My instructions
from the President, through the secretary of state, under date of the 30th of
March last, sustain "the regular legislature of the territory" in "assembling
a convention to form a constitution," and they express the opinion of the
President, that "when such a constitution shall be submitted to the people
of tiie territory, Ihey must be protected in the exercise of their right of voting
for or against that instrument, and the fair expression of the popular will
must not be interrupted by fraud or violence."
I repeat, then, ;)s my clear conviction, that unless the convention submit
the constitution to the vote of all the actual resident settlers of Kansas, and
the election be fairly and justly conducted, the constitution will be, and ought
to be, rejected by Congress.
There are other important reasons why you should participate in the elec-
tion of delegates to this convention. Kansas is to become a new state, created
out of the public domain, and will designate her boundaries in the funda-