no authoritative mandate to the judges of election on this subject, or control
their decision, he says:
"The territory of Kansas is in a peculiar condition. By your statement,
and possessing, as you do, the best means of information, your views, in the
opinion of the President, are entitled to great weight — it is in a state of in-
cipient rebellion, with an organized military force prepared to resist the
authority of the United States.
"It may, therefore, become necessary to use the troops placed at your
disposal, not only to aid as a 'posse comitatus' in executing the laws, but also
to suppress an insurrection. Surely, under these circumstances, if the ex-
pression of an opinion in advance of his action, and it may be instead of it,
which the President honestly entertains, will have a direct effort in prevent-
ing a civil war in Kansas, he cannot be justly censured for attempting, by
such an expression of opinion, to avert the calamitous result.
"The danger you anticipate arises, as you observe, from the apprehension
of a portion of the citizens of Kansas that they will be excluded from the
privilege of voting because they have not paid a territorial tax. Now, the
President, as well as every member of his cabinet, concurs in opinion with you
that the payment of such tax is not required as a qualification to vote. He
and they entertain not a doubt that the fifth section of the act of February
20, ■'857, is complete in itself, and prescribes all the qualiflcations required
of a voter; and among these the payment of a territorial tax is not included.
They are also firmly convinced that no person whatever not possessing these
qualifications, notwithstanding they may possess the qualifications pre-
scribed for voters by the organic act of Congress of May 30, 1854, has any just
claim to the elective franchise."
It will be observed, then, that in view of the deplorable condition of Kansas
Governor Walker's Administration. 397
for the last three years, and the civil war which has so long raged in this
territory, and the imminent danger of a renewal of that conflict, growing out
of conflicting views as to the qualifications of voters at the ensuing election,
the President and his cabinet have deemed the occasion sufiiciently solemn
aiAl important to express their full, unanimous and entire concurrence in
the views as to the qualifications of electors at the October election, on those
points set forth by me in this address, and previously communicated by me
to the secretary of state.
it is obvious that the territorial government of Kansas must be main-
tained, either by a superior physical force, or, as in all other states and terri-
tories, by the majority of qualified voters at the election.
I never contemplated the use of the military force but in aid of the execu-
tion of the laws, to protect the citizens in the exercise of their legal rights,
as a "posse comitatus" to arrest offenders, where the civil authority might
prove incompetent without such aid, and where the law authorized military
power to suppress insurrection or rebellion. Physical force and the bayonet
constitute the real power in nearly all monarchies and despotic governments,
but here it is the will of the majority of the people qualified to vote under
the constitution or under the laws which is to govern; and the sooner all such
que&tions are decided by a full and fair vote of the qualified electors at the
polls the better; and then, and not till then, shall we have peace and repose
in Kansas. Unless force is to be substituted for the elective franchise, unless
despotic and monarchical principles are making here insensible progress,
sooner or later the question must be decided, and the sooner the better, not
only for the true interests of this territory, but for the security of the union
and the cause of self-government here and throughout the world.
Tiie eyes of our country and the world are now directed with intense inter-
est to the coming election in Kansas in October next. Whether the people of
thic? territory are, indeed, capable of self-government; whether the scenes
which have disgraced Kansas and our country for the last three years are to
be renewed indefinitely; whether violence, injustice, or insurrection, on one
or both sides, for the moment, and for the moment only, are to decide the
question; or whether our political differences are to be settled here, as in all
other states and territories, (under the provisions of our organic law,) by
the full, free and fair exercise of the elective franchise, are the momentous
questions to which you must all now soon answer. The test oath is expressly
repealed as a qualification for voters by an act of the territorial legislature
of the 17th of February, 1857.
The people of Kansas have now, therefore, an opportunity, in conformity
with the constitution of the United States, the organic act of Congress, and
the laws of this territory, to decide, by the elective franchise, the choice of
their delegates to Congress, their territorial legislature, and all their county
The troops at my disposal, which are fully competent to the task, will, at
the request of citizens of both parties, be stationed at the points Avhere
violence has been threatened or anticipated, not for the purpose of overawing
the people, or of interfering in any way with the elections, or of influencing
them in any respect whatever, but, by their mere presence, guarding the
polls against any attempt at insurrection or violence, from the mere
knowledge of the fact that it can and will be suppressed, but, if necessary,
also to protect and secure by lawful means all the just rights of the citizen in
exercising the elective franchise under the decision of the proper authorities.
Kansas State Historical Society.
and to act as a '-posse comitatus" for the arrest of offenders. I should have
greatly preferred, as expressed In my letter of acceptance of the office of
governor of this territory, never to have heen required to call out the troops
even as a precautionary measure. As it is, not a drop of blood has been shed;
and insurrection has been suppressed, until it recently reappeared in a com-
pulsory tax law by the insurgent government at Lawrence, and in conflagra-
tion of dwellings and expulsion of peaceable citizens in its vicinage, after it
was known the troops were ordered to Utah, and when it was falsely supposed
that they would not be replaced by others. Indeed, if the revolutionary gov-
ernment of Lawrence had not been encountered by the immediate movement
of troops there, it is now clear that similar insurrectionary local govern-
ments, based on my presumed acquiescence, would have been organized
throughout Kansas, in open defiance of the laws of Congress and of this terri-
tory, and rendered a peaceful settlement impossible. It will be remem.bered
that, in open defiance of the laws of Congress and of this territory, and after
the refusal of the so-called Topeka state legislature to grant them a charter,
they nevertheless organized a city government, clothed with all the usual
powers — legislative, executive, and judicial. It will be recollected, also, that
after my proclamation of the loth of July last, and the simultaneous move-
ment of the troops there as a precautionary measure, to maintain the author-
ity of the government and arrest the spread of the insurrection throughout
the territory, they then professed, through their organs, that what they had
called a government, and to which they had given all the powers of a govern-
ment, was a mere "voluntary association" for the removal of nuisances from
the streets, &c. But now, when it was erroneously believed by them that
the troops would all be removed to Utah, and not replaced by others, they
have thrown off the mask, and carried out their original insurrectionary
purpose by passing a compulsory tax law, both a poll and property tax, re-
quiring its assessment and collection by the seizure and sale of property, and
exacting by their charter from executive officers, who are to carry out these
acts, an oath to perform all these duties, the violation of which oath, if these
duties are not performed, would be perjury. At the same time they seemed
to have believed that this precautionary movement of mine and proclamation
were disapproved by the President of the United States, whereas they were
both most cordially sustained by him in the dispatch to me from the secretary
of state of the 25th of July last, as also in the published letter of President
Buchanan to Professor Silliman and others, of the 15th of August last. An
overwhelming majority of the press and people of the United States have
condemned this insurgent movement. The example has not been adopted
by any other locality in Kansas, contrary to the expectations of its authors;
it failed to receive any sanction from the general territorial convention of their
own party of the 26th ultimo, and now stands without a precedent in our
country — a solitary monument of revolutionary violence and incipient trea-
son. So soon as the overt act now threatened is consummated, this rebellion
will be suppressed by the lawful use, if necessary, of all the troops under my
control, acting in aid of the civil authorities designated by Congress. It is
hoped, however, especially as I trust we shall have a fair and peaceful elec-
tion, when, whichever party shall prevail, all semblance of excuse for this
insurgent movement will have ceased, that the majority of the people of
Lawrence will abandon their reckless leaders, suppress this insurrection them-
selves, and relieve our territory and country from the disgrace of an insur-
rectionary government, based now only on undisguised revolution, and an
Governor Walker\'i Administration. 399
open overthrow, not merely of the territorial laws, but of the laws also of the
United States. The honor and character of the country, and my sworn duty
as chief magistrate of Kansas, require that this first actual example of
organized rebellion as a government against the authority of Congress should
be suppressed, as it must be; and the sooner it is done by the people of Law-
rence themselves, the better for the sake of their own true interests and
reputation. Dangerous and unjustifiable as was the Topeka state movement,
it differed widely from the Lawrence insurrection in this: that the latter not
only passed laws, but required, by seizure and sale of property, their com-
pulsory execution, tinder the requisition of an oath; whereas, the so-called
Topeka state government proposed, on the face of their late proceedings, to
wait until they received, as they profess to hope, the recognition of Congress.
As the troops of the United States now subject to my orders are sufficient to
protect the polls and preserve the peace of Kansas, it is hoped that the forces
raised professedly for that purpose, without authority of law, will be at once
From authentic information communicated to me from many quarters
of this territory, and from many citizens of both parties, that the presence
of the troops is essential to preserve the peace of the territory, to prevent
the forcible seizure of the polls, and to suppress insurrection, I feel con-
strained, although most reluctantly, by a solemn sense of dtity, and by a most
serious apprehension of the consequences which otherwise would follow, to
place the troops at proper points, not for war, but for peace, in accordance
with the views and purposes before stated.
In conclusion, permit me to say, with all the seriousness and sincerity de-
manded by the solemnity of the occasion, that it now is, and always has been,
my most ardent desire, as the chief magistrate of this territory, by all lawful
and constitutional means, to sectire and protect the just rights of every citizen,
and especially in performing my sworn dtity of supporting the constittition of
the United States, and taking care that the laws be faithfully executed; to
see that the great fundamental principle which lies at the basis of our American
institutions, secured by the federal compact and guaranteed by our organic act
of Congress, should be maintained, viz.: That the people of Kansas, in the true
meaning of that act, free from all violence, injustice, or foreign interference,
should make their own laws and control their own government. This has
been the great principle, the just and faithful execution of our organic law,
which has controlled all my acts in Kansas, and to which I shall adhere, re-
gardless of menace, calumny, or assailment, either from within or beyond our
limits. I am made by law the chief executive officer in Kansas, for the pro-
tection, to the extent of my legal atithority, of the whole people of Kansas, and
not of a part — of every county and district, and not of a portion of them only.
And however solicitous I may be about the result of the present most import-
ant election, however most anxious that those views of public policy which I
have entertained and expressed at all times from my youth upwards to the
present period, and especially as regards the equilibrium of our government,
and the constittitional rights and equality of the states, shotild now triumph
here in October, yet I cannot and will not do any act, or countenance or sustain
any act, the effect of which wotild be to deprive the people of Kansas of any
rights secured to them by the federal compact, by our organic act, or by the
laws of this territory. A victory thus secured by violence or injustice would
be worse than a defeat, and could only in the end destroy all hope of the ulti-
mate success of conservative principles and constitutional liberty in Kansas.
400 Kansas State Historical Society.
Inasmuch as our ensuing election on the first Monday in October next is of
momentous consequence to this territory and to our whole country, as the two
parties of Kansas, it is hoped, will first measure their strength now, not as in
former eleccions, at different times and places, or upon the field of battle, but
at the same times and places, in giving in their votes, as in other states and
territories; and as it is of the utmost importance that this election should be
free from everything which would lead to excitement or commotion,! most ear-
nestly reiiuest the chief officers of our different towns, cities and municipali-
ties to resort to those means which have so often in similar cases proved effi-
cacious, by removing for that day all causes which would interfere with a calm
and dispassionate election.
And now, may that overruling Providence, who has crowned our beloved
country with so many blessings and benefits, including the inestimable privi-
lege of self-government, and without whose aid we cannot look for success in
any enterprise, enable us so to conduct this contest as to insure His sanction
and the approval of our own conscience, is the fervent hope of your fellow
citizen, R. J. WALKER,
Governor of Kansas Territory.
MR. WALKF:R to MR. CASS.
Fort Leavenworth, K. T., October 10, 1857.
Sir: We have heard from all the points where the troops were stationed,
and the election has been entirely peaceful. This is due mainly to the address
issued by me in regard to the qualification of voters, aided as it was by the
concurring opinion of the President and all his cabinet. So far as we have
learned, the .judges of election, at all the precincts, acted upon the views set
forth in that address, although complaints are made that, at some points, in
the absence of challengers at the polls, illegal votes were given. In effecting,
for the first time in Kansas, an election so quiet and peaceful, we are greatly
aided by the moral influence of the presence of the troops stationed at various
points where tum\ilt was apprehended and the good judgment evinced by the
officers in command. T cannot speak with certainty as to the result of the elec-
tion, bi.t the returns received are supposed to indicate the success of the repub-
lican candidate as delegate to Congress and a probable democratic majority in
the territorial legislature.
I transmit herewith copies of communications between General Harney
and layself as to the disposition of the troops now in Kansas, and respectfully
request that the suggestions there made may be carried into effect by the gov-
It is proper that I should now express my great obligations to General Har-
ney for judicious advice, at all times, as to the location of the troops, a prompt
and cordial cooperation, and a just and patriotic appreciation of the serious
difliculties by which the territory has been surrounded.
To Capt. Alfred Pleasonton of the second dragoons, assistant adjutant-
general, my thanks are due for wise counsels in connection with the location of
the troops, and prompt action on all occasions, greatly increasing his labors at
To my military aids, Capt. William S. Walker and Lieut. Eugene A. Carr,
both of the First cavalry, I am greatly indebted for good advice, ready and
cheerful cooperation, and arduous and important service. Indeed, it is de-
manded by truth and justice, that I should express in the strongest terms my
Governor Walker^s Administration. 401
high appreciation of the firm and forbearing, yet prudent and discreet course
pursued during the past five months by all the officers serving in Kansas.
I still entertain the opinion, always heretofore expressed by me, that the
constitution will be submitted by the convention to the vote of the people.
When this is done, and the slavery question thus settled in accordance with the
meaning of the Kansas and Nebraska bill, we may anticipate a thorough union
of all conservatives here, and a final triumph of sound constitutional princi-
ples in Kansas. No one absent from the territory can fully appreciate all the
dangers and difficulties by which it has been environed during the last five
months, especially by the threatened Topeka state organization, the Lawrence
Insurrection, and the perilous tax qualification question. That measures at
once just and firm, but conciliatory, have contributed somewhat to this result,
is the opinion of all impartial men in Kansas. But, over and above all, now
and at all times, my reliance has been and still is on that overruling Provi-
dence whose guardian care has so often saved and protected our beloved coun-
try; who cannot abdicate the moral government of the universe, and whose
aid, w^hen invoked in a proper spirit and in a just cause, will not be withheld.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant, R. J. WALKER,
Governor of Kansas Territory.
Hon. Lewis Cass, Secretary of State.
[For letters of Gen. Harney to Gov. Walker of date Oct. 9, 1857, and the re-
ply of Gov. Walker dated Oct. 10, 1857, see page 314.]
MR. WALKER TO MR. CASS.
Fort Leavenworth, K. T., October 10, 1857.
Sir: I respectfully request from the President of the United States leave
of absence from this territory during the ensuing month of November.
The condition of my private affairs and of my family render this short
absence of vital importance to me.
Please reply by return mail to my address at Lecompton, as also by dupli-
cate at Leavenworth city.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. J. WALKER,
Governor of Kansas Territory.
Hon. Lewis Cass, Secretary of State.
MR. CASS TO MR. WALKER.
Department of State,
Washington, October 21, 1857.
Sir: Your letters of the 10th instant have been received and submitted to
The President is gratified to find that the election in Kansas has taken
place without any disturbance of the public peace, and that the authority of
the law is fully established.
Under these circumstances, he sees no objection to the leave of absence
which you request at the close of the session of the convention, and at that
time, should no occurrence take place requiring you to continue in the terri-
tory, you are authorized to be absent for the term of a month. I am, &c.,
His Excellency, Robert J. Walker, Governor of Kansas, Fort Leavenworth.
402 Kansas State Historical Society.
MR. WALKER TO MR. CASS.
Executive Office, Lecompton, Kansas Territory, November 3, 1857.
Sir: Inclosed j^ou will find copies of the following oflicial papers: First.
The proclamation of the governor and secretary of Kansas, of the 19th Oc-
tober, 1857, rejecting the spurious, fictitious and illegal papers, purporting
to be "returns" of the recent election at the Oxford precinct, in Johnson
county, in this territory. Second. The proclamation of the governor and
secretary of Kansas, of the 22d October, 1857, rejecting the spurious, fictitious
and illegal papers, purporting to be "returns" of the recent election in Mc-
Gee county, in this territory. Third. The writ of mandamus from the judge
of the second judicial district of this territory, requiring said governor and
secretary to issue certain certificates of election, and their answer to said
You will perceive, on reference to the aforesaid proclamations, that we have
never proposed to go behind genuine, legal and valid returns, to purge the
polls, or judge of the qualifications of voters, but that we have rejected the pa-
pers therein referred to, because they are not "returns" in the language of the
law, and because they are spurious and fictitious.
Siijce the publication of these several proclamations, it is not contended by
a single individual, so far as my knowledge extends, that these so-called re-
turns are genuine; on the contrary, by universal admission they are spurious
If, under these circumstances, these pretended votes had been counted by
us, and the certificates given accordingly, we should have violated the law and
our duty; we should have made ourselves accomplices in a most disgraceful
fraud; we should have committed a gross outrage upon the elective franchise
and the sacred rights of the people of this territory, immediate revolution
would have followed throughout Kansas, and the pacification of the territory
have been indefinitely postponed.
On the morning of the 19th ot October last, the constitutional convention re-
assembled at Lecompton pursuant to adjournment. For some days prior to
that date intense excitement had pervaded the territory in consequence of in-
telligence in relation to these election frauds, and a popular revolution was
generally believed to be inevitable.
A large meeting was assembled on Saturday, the 17th of October, at Law-
rence, and violent measures were threatened by some of the speakers. A more
conservative course, however, was advocated by others; and upon its being an-
nounced by them that the governor and secretary would reject the fraudulent
election papers, we both became satisfied that, if this were done, the constitu-
tional convention would not be disturbed in its deliberations.
The troops were therefore not then ordered from Lawrence to Lecompton,
inasmuch as T did not desire to place the convention in the attitude of being
unable to conduct its proceedings except under the protection of the troops of
the United States. As, however, the meeting opposed to the proceedings of the
convention did resolve to assemble at Lecompton on the morning of the 19th
of October, the proclamation of that date, rejecting the fraudulent election pa-
pers, was printed and circulated at an early hour that day among the crowd;
by whom also the reading of the paper was demanded from their speakers.
The proclamation was received by the people with great enthusiasm ; and from
that moment it was obvious that no violence would be comiuitted, but that the
opposition to the convention would be confined, as it was, to the adoption of de-
nunciatory resolutions. Prior, however, to the happening of these last events,
Governor Walker's Administration. 403
early on the morning of the 19th of October, an urgent written call was made
noon me by the sheriff of the county, who is also a member of the constitu-
tional convention, to bring troops forthwith for its protection to this place.
Under these peculiar circumstances, the troops under Major Sherman were im-
mediately ordered to Lecompton by me, and arrived there the evening of the
19th of October. Before their arrival, however, the crowd assembled at Le-
compton had quietly dispersed, and all apprehension of any immediate popular
commotion had subsided.
It ia now nearly two weeks since the mandamus was served upon the sec-
retary and myself; and no further steps being taken, we presume that all pro-
ceedings under that extraordinary process have been abandoned. As the issu-