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named governor, and a free-soil legislature was elected. The con-
gress of the United States was now formally requested to admit
the territory of Kansas to the Union as a free state. 43

41. Thomas H. Webb to Charles Robinson, May 8, 1855, Isely, "Sharps Rifle," loc. cit.,
pp. 552, 553; Lawrence, Amos A. Lawrence, pp. 97, 98. See, also, W. O. Smith, The Sharps
Rifle: Its History, Development and Operation (New York, 1943), pp. 11-16.

42. Amos A. Lawrence to Charles Robinson, July 20, 1855, Lawrence to Dr. Webb,
July 20, 1855, Lawrence to President Pierce, July 15, 1855, "Amos A. Lawrence Letter-
book," v. 3. See, also, Lawrence to Professor Packard, July 13, 1855, ibid.

43. Charles Robinson to Salmon P. Chase, February 22, 1856, "Diary and Correspond-
ence of Salmon P. Chase," Annual Report of the American Historical Association, 1902,
Washington, v. 2, pp. 475, 476. See James C. Malin, "The Topeka Statehood Movement
Reconsidered," Territorial Kansas, pp. 33-69, for a recent reappraisal of the complex factors
which went to make up the demand for statehood.


The question had been thrown back into the collective lap of
official Washington to decide. Which was the lawful government
of Kansas? Which votes were legitimate and which were fraudu-
lent? Who should make the final decision? These questions tied
the federal lawmakers into knots. President Pierce denounced the
free-soilers, Senator Douglas denounced the President, and the
congress was not certain whom to denounce. By the spring of
1856, tempers had been brought to a white-hot heat and the furious
debates on the Kansas issue reached their climax with the famous
attack upon Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts by Congress-
man Brooks of South Carolina.

Events in Kansas, however, were not to quietly await the de-
cision of Washington. Even as the debates in the halls of congress
had reached their celebrated crisis, the situation among the fac-
tions in Kansas had degenerated from the opposition of legislatures
and constitutions to the crack of rifle fire and the thud of bowie
knives. The day before Sumner was sent crashing to the floor
of the senate, a Proslavery "posse" of about a thousand men came
riding into the "Boston abolition town" of Lawrence, Kan., to
arrest "treasonous" Free-State leaders and sack the town. Three
days later, a "ranger" named John Brown struck at Pottawatomie
creek, cutting down five Proslavery settlers to avenge the five free
men already killed. The lid was off, and the "little civil war" was
on. 44

Quite obviously the conservative members of the Emigrant Aid
Company, "hunkers" like Amos A. Lawrence and J. Carter Brown,
would have preferred to avoid violence and bloodshed alto-
gether. 45 As a matter of fact, Lawrence had been hoping that a
political compromise could be worked out so that the Kansas issue
would be removed from the area of political conflict as well. Ap-
palled at the swift rise of the Republican party which had come
in the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska act, Lawrence saw a political
quid pro quo as the only effective means of checking the progress
of this new "sectional" party. Kansas should either be admitted
to the Union right away, or the issues compromised to the satis-
faction of both sides as soon as possible. If this could be accom-

44. See James C. Malin, John Brown and the Legend of Fifty-six (Philadelphia, 1942),
for the most exhaustive historical analysis of the operations of John Brown in 1856.

45. Amos A. Lawrence to Charles Robinson, July 10, 1855, Lawrence to Giles Richards,
December 15, 1855, "Amos A. Lawrence Letterbook," v. 3. Also, see Lawrence to Sen.
John Crittenden, May 24, 1856, ibid., for an expression of Lawrence's desire for mutual con-
cessions between the North and the South even after the attack by Brooks upon Senator
Sumner of Massachusetts.


plished, the Republicans would no longer have any distinctive
platform upon which to campaign. 46

Much to Lawrence's disgust and discouragement, no political
compromise was forthcoming, as congressmen showed more interest
in feathering their own political nests and 'laying down grand
principles" with one eye on the coming elections of 1856, than in
working out a solution to a grave national crisis. 47

With compromise an impossibility, and the situation in Kansas
having erupted into fierce and ruthless civil war by the summer
of 1856, there seemed only one thing left to do. The backers of
the freedom struggle back in Boston shipped out more rifles, wrote
more checks, called for more action and gave only one final
warning: avoid trouble with the federal authorities! Kick Cal-
houn "and his adherents" out of the territory, "put an end to their
operations at once," don't let your "boys" permit a "handful of
scoundrels" to embarrass the government and breed ill will through-
out the country, urged Mr. Lawrence from Boston. But and this
was a large "but" this violence must be employed by "volunteers"
who have no connection with the Free-State government; and
never, under any circumstances, must it be directed against the
federal authorities. Lawrence repeated this point again and again
in his personal correspondence with "Governor" Robinson. "We
would be pleased to hear of their expulsion in any informal way,"
he wrote the Free-State leader. "But it is very important that they
should be the action of independent corps of men and not of the
free state Government or any of its members." Lawrence seemed
resigned to sanction any activity as long as it did not impugn "the
direct authority of the Federal Government." For this eventuality,
Lawrence could see no excuse or apology. Any attempt to weaken
the national government would only destroy the "moral force of
the party or organization which favors it," he warned Robinson,
and pleaded with the doctor to use "prudence, forbearance and
decision" in planning his strategy. 48

So obvious had this program become that Governor Shannon
reported to Washington in April, 1856, that he found himself faced
with "a more systematic and dangerous organization to defeat and

46. Lawrence to Robinson, November 4, 1854, Lawrence to S. G. Haven, April 7, 1856,
Lawrence to John Carter Brown, April or May (undated), 1856, ibid., vols. 2, 3.

47. Lawrence to Robinson, July 24, 1856, Lawrence to S. N. Simpson, August 7, 1856,
Lawrence to S. G. Haven, October 10, 1856, Lawrence to G. W. Brown, December 11, 1856,
ibid., v. 3.

48. Lawrence to Robinson, August 16, December 17, 1857, January 2, 29, February 3,
1858, "Robinson Manuscripts," archives, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Folder 3.


baffle the due execution of the "Territorial laws" than at any time
in the past. Whenever an officer, whether United States marshal,
sheriff, or constable, attempted to execute a writ or process, if he
were aided by a posse of United States troops he would be "evaded,
but not openly resisted." If a similar attempt were made without
United States troops, Shannon observed, he would be "resisted by
force at all hazards." It would seem that a great number of the
free-soilers in Kansas were following the same distinction between
federal troops and territorial forces as the directors of the company
back in Boston. 49

The only danger that Lawrence could see in this respect was
the unpredictable and irresponsible actions of John Brown, whose
campaign of terror had made him notorious, and he warned Rob-
inson to keep a close watch on this "ranger." These two men had
met about 12 years earlier, when Brown was a wool merchant and
young Lawrence was still traveling around learning the textile
business under the guidance of his father and his uncle. When
Brown's four sons later sent for their father to join them in Kan-
sas, Brown sought out Lawrence, who was then a prominent busi-
ness man and treasurer of the Emigrant Aid Company. 50

Lawrence was held in a spell of almost hypnotic fascination by
the old warrior whom he called the "Miles Standish" of Kansas;
and he constantly praised his heroism, his puritanism and his res-
olute determination in the cause of freedom. At the same time,
however, the Yankee was shrewd enough to realize that when he
was "aroused," this old man became a "dreadful foe"; and when
Robinson reported that Brown would just as soon shoot down a
United States officer as a border ruffian, Lawrence's worst sus-
picions were confirmed. Make sure that Brown reports to you
regularly, the New Englander cautioned Robinson. "It is bad
policy to have a ranger like him with money and arms at his dis-
posal and only accountable to people here." John Brown, to be
sure, would be useful to the cause of freedom in Kansas, but
needed "some controlling power near him." 51

Even in the midst of bloodshed and civil war, Amos A. Law-
rence continued to cling steadfastly to the strict constitutionality

49. Correspondence of Governor Geary, Collections of the Kansas State Historical So-
ciety, v. 4 (1886-1888), pp. 404-408, cited in Malin, John Brown, pp. 79, 80.

50. Lawrence, Amos A. Lawrence, p. 122.

51. Amos A. Lawrence to Charles Robinson, March 31, August 16, 1857, "Robinson
Mss.," Folder 3. Also, see Lawrence, Amos A. Lawrence, pp. 123-125. John Brown had no
official connections with the Emigrant Aid Company. "On the contrary," says Professor
Malin, "it would appear that he was taking his own line . . . and telling Thayer about
it afterwards." See Malin, John Brown, p. 64.


of the true Whig position as he saw it. A man was free to act
on slavery in the territories, as long as he did not transgress the
authority of the national government or infringe upon the rights
of the Southern states where they were protected by the consti-
tution. It was the only way to obey the letter of the Compromise
of 1850 and still prevent the territorial expansion of slavery. This
was a supreme effort to make freedom in Kansas consistent with
the national unity of the states. 52 It was in this same spirit that
William M. Evarts of New York contributed one thousand dollars
to the Emigrant Aid Company. A well-known "Hunker Whig"
lawyer who, like Lawrence, had struggled to maintain the Fugitive-
Slave Law during the early 1850's, Evarts now thanked Eli Thayer
for the opportunity "to contend successfully against slavery without

violating the laws or sacrificing the Constitution and the Union.

The final constitutional threat to the "Cotton Whig" position
came after the election of James Buchanan, in the fall of 1856.
Anxious to quiet the fearful Kansas uproar, President Buchanan
appointed Robert J. Walker of Mississippi governor of Kansas, and
Walker immediately made an appeal to both factions for a bi-
partisan constitutional convention. When the suspicious free-soil-
ers abstained, the Proslavery group was able to formulate what
became known as the Lecompton constitution, which gave legal
recognition to slavery but permitted a vote on its further extension.

"Cotton Whigs" in the East were loud in their condemnation
of the Lecompton "fraud" which they said had been perpetrated
by "renegades," and Walker himself had to be recalled because
of his open denunciation of "a base counterfeit and a wretched
device to prevent people from voting." While President Buchanan
continued to insist on the Lecompton constitution as the final settle-
ment of the Kansas question, Senator Douglas broke with the ad-
ministration and openly denounced the President's position as a
flagrant violation of the principle of popular sovereignty. Con-
servatives applauded his stand and that of Senator Crittenden
who labeled the constitution as a "gross violation of principle and
good faith." 54

52. See James C. Malin, On the Nature of History (Lawrence, 1954), p. 201. Amos A.
Lawrence, writes Professor Malin, "understood the issue of federal nationalism and advised
the free state men repeatedly against any course in Kansas that would compromise their posi-
tion of loyalty to federal nationalism."

53. Thayer, op. cit., pp. 203, 204.

54. Amos A. Lawrence to John W. Geary, March 19, 1857, Lawrence to Sen. John J.
Crittenden, May 4, 1858, "Amos A. Lawrence Letterbook," v. 4; Lawrence to Charles Robin-
son, January 2, 29, February 3, 1858, "Robinson Mss.," Folder 3.


The deadlock that followed was broken only by a house-senate
compromise known as the English bill, which called for a new
vote on the Lecompton constitution. If a majority accepted it,
Kansas would enter the Union immediately; if not, Kansas would
have to wait until her population was large enough to justify ad-
mission. The obvious expectation was that the Kansas voters
would be so desirous of Union status that they would swallow
the otherwise unpalatable features of the document but this
did not prove true. In August, 1858, Kansas overwhelmingly re-
jected the compromise and voted to remain a territory. Although
slavery continued to be legal for the time being, the free-soilers
held control of the legislature and it was apparent to all that slav-
ery would be abolished as soon as Kansas achieved statehood on
its own terms. 55

For all practical purposes, the battle for Kansas had been won,
and the "Cotton Whigs" of New England congratulated themselves
upon the fact that by their prompt action they had made a signifi-
cant contribution to a complete moral and political victory in the
territories without either impugning the authority of the federal
government or infringing upon the constitutional rights of the South-
ern states.

The leading participants in the struggle to make Kansas free
were fully convinced that they had done more than any other
party or organization to preserve the Union through the agency
of their Emigrant Aid Company. Eli Thayer was fond of recalling
a meeting with Congressman Henry J. Blow in 1862 when the
Missourian introduced himself and enthusiastically hailed the con-
sequences of the battle for Kansas. "Your success in making Kan-
sas a free state has kept Missouri in the Union," said Blow, pump-
ing the New Englander's hand. "If she had seceded, Kentucky
and Tennessee would have gone also. . . . Your Kansas work
has made it possible to save the Union!" 56

In reviewing the success of the free-state movement, Gov.
Charles Robinson claimed that "the people of Kansas almost made
the Republican party. They have furnished most of the material
to make it what it is now. . . ." Robinson was especially ex-
pansive in his praise of the role of Amos A. Lawrence, without

55. Amos A. Lawrence to Charles Robinson, May 3, 4, 6, 1858, ibid.; John C. Under-
wood to Eli Thayer, "Thayer Manuscripts," v. 1, John Hay Library, Brown University,
Providence, R. I.

56. Undated manuscript, ibid.


whose name "the Emigrant Aid Company would have been a
cipher." 57

Lawrence, too, felt confident that the crisis of the Union was
over and that the work for which the Republican party had been
formed had already been "effectually accomplished" by his Emi-
grant Aid Company. As Lawrence saw it, Robinson, Thayer, and
all the other Free-State leaders in the Kansas crusade had "in
reality carried off the day, and all real danger of the extension of
slavery had passed." 58 From now on, all Kansas politics was
strictly of local interest and the "great question" was finally settled.
"Now," said Lawrence, "we must be magnanimous to the South." 59

In terms of the political and constitutional development of Amer-
ican thought, the involvement of the "Cotton Whigs" in the Kansas
crusade is worthy of more attention than it has hitherto received.
This was not merely an off-hand, emotional gesture of futile anger
by Northern business men protesting against the activities of
Douglas and his Southern supporters. This was a well-planned
and seriously organized attempt by political conservatives to stop
the spread of slavery into the territories without causing the dis-
ruption of the Union.

The Kansas crusade was a great experiment as far as the "Cotton
Whigs" were concerned. It was an attempt to maintain the Com-
promise of 1850 by continuing to uphold the constitutional privilege
of slavery but making its actual expansion a practical impossibility.
In this respect, the "Cotton Whigs" continued to adhere rigidly
to the political tenets of the old Whig party. They did not turn
"abolitionist," for they constantly assured their correspondents that
they had no intention of interfering with slavery in the Southern
states. Neither did they turn Republican for they insisted upon
regarding their actions as entirely extra-political. Leaders like
Amos A. Lawrence were adamant in their refusal to permit anti-
slavery planks or policies (even concerning the territories) to be
written into the platform of the Whig party. 60

The "Cotton Whigs" did not feel that in sponsoring the Emigrant
Aid Society they had altered their fundamental constitutional prin-

57. Speech by Gov. Charles Robinson of Kansas in favor of the election of Hon. Eli
Thayer, delivered in Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Mass., November 3, 1860, ibid.; Lawrence,
Amos A. Lawrence, pp. 112, 113.

58. Speech of Amos A. Lawrence in support of the election of Eli Thayer, November,
1860. Written half in pencil and half in ink, this manuscript is in the archives of the Amer-
ican Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.

59. Amos A. Lawrence to the Rev. E. Nute, July 18, 1857, "Amos A. Lawrence
Letterbook." v. 4.

60. Amos A. Lawrence to Moses G. Cobb, July 8, 1857, Lawrence to Charles Robinson,
August 1, 1858, ibid.; Robinson to Lawrence, August 16, 1858, "Amos A. Lawrence
Letters," v. 17; Winthrop, op. cit., p. 173.


ciples one iota. They were not infringing upon the rights or
privileges of the South because they were operating only within
territorial limits. They were not impugning the authority of the
federal government because they were abiding by the letter of
the Kansas-Nebraska act and assiduously avoiding all contact
with forces of the United States government. In short, the "Cotton
Whigs" considered themselves completely free to act in what ap-
peared to be a political no man's land free to follow any action
which did not violate the constitution, the rights of the South
or the prerogatives of the national government. And by 1858
these men rejoiced that their great experiment had succeeded
the Union had been saved.

Some Notes on the Comanche Cattle Pool



For several years following the Civil War, Texas cattle dom-
inated the American meat-packing industry. In those days it was easy
enough to sell the tough, half-wild, longhorn steers to a meat-starved
Eastern market. Within a few years, however, some of the more per-
ceptive cattlemen and promoters realized that as soon as the Eastern
buyer received an ample quantity of meat he would begin demanding
an improved quality. Improving the quality meant the establishment
of ranches for fattening and cross breeding programs for improved

Many early Kansas ranches were stocked with Texas longhorns. It
is a seldom-noted fact that of all the cattle trailed north from the Lone
Star state, only about 25 per cent were immediately shipped to Eastern
markets. The remainder were kept in Kansas or driven on to states
north and west to stock new ranches. Range cattle in Kansas num-
bered only 93,455 in 1860; 373,967 in 1870, but jumped to 1,533,133
by 1880.

The men who owned these new ranches were generally old trail
drovers, Eastern farmer-stockmen, or complete newcomers to the cattle
business. In a sense they were all novices, for operating a cattle
ranch was entirely different from trailing herds and raising farm cattle.
It was a new industry in nearly every state outside of Texas. While
most owners had past experience with cattle, the business of grazing
them on a fixed range presented many new problems with which they
were on the whole unfamiliar. For instance, being largely unattended,
range cattle were more susceptible to predatory animals, thieves, prairie
fires, etc. The Eastern cattleman found that Kansas ranching some-
times required four to six times the amount of land needed to graze each
head adequately as it did in, say, Missouri. As breeds improved, their
adaptability to climatic extremes decreased. Hence for protection and
care the ranchers found they needed large ranges, big crews, and, of
course, large sums of money.

It wasn't long before many ranchers realized that these problems
could be more profitably overcome through co-operative effort. Not
only could expenses be cut but protection could be increased. The re-
sult was the formation of a cattle pool.

In forming a pool, several local ranchers would combine and agree
to graze their herds communally. They would hire pool cowboys, a
foreman, and an accountant, and share all expenses according to their
holdings. The pools were conducted along the line of joint stock com-
panies, each head of cattle being one share of stock. The unusual thing,

MRS. RALPH (MARY) EINSEL, who attended the University of Wichita, now lives
a ranch near Coldwater, in former Comanche pool territory.



however, was that most pools allowed each member only one vote at
business meetings no matter how much stock he held. Generally a gov-
erning board of directors, consisting of a president, secretary, and
treasurer, was elected to serve without pay. The board was empowered
to act for the company between quarterly and semiannual meetings of the
pool. Major decisions were made at general meetings.

The only property actually owned by the pools, besides a small
quantity of land, were horses, wagons, and equippage. All the cattle on a
pool's range were the individual property of members who were respon-
sible for their own purchases and sales.

While some of the grazing land was deeded to the pool, most of it was
public domain open range. Though no one had authority to monopo-
lize public domain, local residents generally recognized certain areas as
the exclusive range of such-and-such a pool, and avoided it as though
it were private property.

In Kansas, one of the first and possibly the largest of the pools was the
Comanche County Cattle Pool. Formed in April, 1880, it covered parts
of Barber county and the Cherokee strip as well as most of Comanche
county. Business offices were maintained in Medicine Lodge and operat-
ing headquarters at Evansville, a now extinct settlement in southeast
Comanche county.

In the five years of its Kansas operation the Comanche pool had re-
markable success in lowering the per capita cost of producing beef. At
the end of its days the cost was only 71 cents to graze one head a whole
year. It was a leader in experimentation with cross breeding, its members
purchasing fine Black Galloway, Hereford, Durham, Polled Angus, and
Shorthorn bulls for inclusion with the herd. It indirectly fostered the
growth of cities and it made rich men out of many of its members. But
the Comanche County Cattle Pool was destined to an early end; it could
not exist in a land given over to grangers.

Beginning in 1884 a series of setbacks plagued the pool. In May, E.
W. Payne, one of the leading members of the pool and its perennial treas-
urer, was shot and killed in the attempted holdup of the Medicine Valley
bank at Medicine Lodge. Payne, the bank's president, was shot while
defending his trust against a small gang led by Henry N. Brown, the city
marshal of Caldwell, on leave!

About this same time market prices began to drop and profits fell off
sharply. In 1884-1885 a worse than usual winter preceded the terrible
blizzards of 1886. Snow, cold, sleet, and winds covered the buffalo grass,
drifted cattle, and finally froze them. In some areas near the pool range
losses were as high as 42 per cent. But the fracturing straw was the rapid
settlement of the range area in 1884 and 1885.

At a semiannual meeting of the pool in April, 1885, the members de-
cided to evacuate the Kansas area of operations. Though some of the
members voted to continue in the Cherokee strip on land leased from the
Cherokee nation, many returned to small ranching or dropped from the
business entirely. Headquarters were moved from Evansville to a site
on the Red fork in the Indian territory. All the bulls were sold off and
only she cattle kept on the southern range. Pool land was to be divided
among the members according to the holdings of each.


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