Weston Arthur Goodspeed.

The province and the states, a history of the province of Louisiana under France and Spain, and of the territories and states of the United States formed therefrom (Volume 4) online

. (page 12 of 53)
Online LibraryWeston Arthur GoodspeedThe province and the states, a history of the province of Louisiana under France and Spain, and of the territories and states of the United States formed therefrom (Volume 4) → online text (page 12 of 53)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

las reported the l)ill, that he would move, as an amendment tu
it, the abolition of the Missouri barrier, l^onglas then got the
bill referred back to the Committee on Territories, and when
he reported it on January 2t„ a second time, it contained a stipu-
lation repealing the Missouri restriction.

This section of the Ijill recited that "the constitution and all
the laws of the United States which are not locally inai^plicahle
shall have the same force and I'ffect within the said territory
of Kansas as elsewhere within the L'nited States, except the 8tli
section of the act prei^aratory to the admission of Missouri into
the Union, approved March 6, 1820, which, being inconsistent
with the ]:)rincii)le of non-intervention 1)\ (.oiigress with slavery
ill the stales and territories, as reeogni/ed by the legislation of
1850, commonly called the compromise measm-es, is hcreliv
declaUil inoperative and voitl ; it being the true intent and mean-
ing ol diis act not to l<-;dsl:iti- slavery into anv leirilory or slate,
noi 10 , •..ehhle il lben-li-om, bill lo le.ive Ibe people llieaof per-
fecllv free to form and n-iilale their donuslie iii-.|l(nlioiis in



their own way, subject only to the- coiistilulion of tlic LInitcd
States." Hie bill also proviiled for a division of the proposed
Nebraska lerritt)ry, the |)arl soulh of latituile 40 degrees, tliat
state's present northern boundary, to be known as Kansas.

According- to some of his close friends, Douglas's object in
ilividing the territory was to give (miv state to the Nortli and the
other to the South on the ])alancc-i)riservation ])rincii)le of earlier
times, when sla\e .elates and free stales were yoked together in
admission. 'I'his seems to ha\'e been the understanding of Senator
Atchison, Benjamin F. Stringfellow, his brother J. H. Stringfel-
low, and most of the rest of the pro-slavery chieftains of Mis-
souri. They assumed at the outset that Kansas ought to be sur-
rendered to slavery, while Nebraska, for which the South was to
make no contest, was to be allowed to remain free. This will
help to i)artly account for the ])rom])tness and earnestness with
which raiders from Missouri surged across the border into Kan-
sas after the territorial act was signed.

As the bill put into the hands of the residents of the territories
the power to admit or exclude slavery, it gave slavery, in the
Kansas-Nebraska case, an equal chance with freedom in a region
from which it had been shut out by tlie Missouri restriction of
1820. The North was alarmed and angered. Protestations in
the shape of resolutions from most of the legislatures of the free
states, and of memorials from representative citizens of all of
them, against the bill were sent to congress. Speeches were made
by most of the anti-slaverv leaders in congress against it. The
most iniiMes.sive of lluse was b\' a representative of a slave state-
Thomas 11. lienlon, of Missouri, then serving his single term in
the popular branch of congress, after his long career in the senate.

Said a recent historian, in speaking of the great Missourian at
that crisis in his life: "No man in either house of Congress
brought so much intelligence and experience to bear upon his vote
as did Benton. He had come into political life on the Missouri
compromise. His state had kept him in the Senate for thirty
years ; and when the legislature would no longer elect him, he
had appealed to the people of his district and they had sent
him to the House. He was not onlv a statesman of t'xi)erience,
but III' was writing a hislory of llie events in which he had been
an actor and on which he had loolsi-d as a spt-cta(or. Certainly
his ])rote: ! Jiould have been regardtd. lie Sjioke as a statesman
whose III. 1. 101 V and judgiiient were eiilifdilcned by the investiga-
tion .d an lusloriaiK" (Rhodes' History of (he' United Sla(es,
vol. I. ]). .|K,S. )



Bcntuii (leclarcd that the movement for the annulment of the
Missouri compromise had been initiated "without a memorial,
without a petition, without a request from a human beinji^." lie
(lenoimeed Douglas for re-oiienin.jj;- the slavei-y question, and said
that tlie Missouri compact liad l)eeu forced on the North by the
Scjuth, that it was "not a nicrC slalule U> last F.M" a day," but "was
intended f.^r prrpctuitv, and so (Krlarcd ilsdf." 1 Ir said he had
•^lood upon ihc Mivs,)uii comproiiii.se i'or thirty years, and
intended lo .sl;m.l upon it until he died.

This spectacle of Ik'iiton, then seventy-two years of ag-e, the
oldest man in i)oint of service then in national office, a representa-
tive of a slave state, standing- up for freedom when many meiubers
from free states were making concessions to slavery, was one of
the great historic pictures of the age.

Nevertheless, Benton and all the rest of the opponents of the
Kansas-Nebraska bill were beaten at every point in the voting.
That congress (1853-55) consisted of 38 Democrats, 22 Whigs
and 2 Free Soilers in the senate, and 159 Democrats, 71 Whigs
and 4 Free Soilers in the house. David R. Atchison was president
pro tempore of the senate and I^inu V>o)\\ of Kentucky was
speaker of the house. The bill passed the senate on March 3,
1854, by a vote of t^j to 14, all the southern Democrats except
Sam Houston of Texas, and all the southern Whigs except John
Bell of Tennessee, declaring for it. Fourteen northern Demo-
crats also supported the bill. The two Free Soilers, of course,
voted against it. The rest of its opj^onents were northern Whigs
and nortlu'ru Oemocrals. Senatt)r Atchison of Missouri was one
f)f the Ijill's most ardent champions.

In the house, of wdiich Benton was a member, the bill passed
on May 2t,, by a vote of 113 to 100, 69 of the aftirmative votes
(57 Democratic and 12 Whig) being furnished by the South, and
44 (all Democratic) by the North. Ninety-one (44 Whig, 44
Democratic and 3 Imcc Soil) of the 100 votes against the bill were
from the North, and 9 (7 Whig and 2 Democratic) from the
South. The two Democrats from the slave states who set them-
selves against the overwhelmingly predominant sentiment of
their section were John S. Mills(Mi of Virginia and Idiomas H.
Benton of Missouri. Fvery other representative of Missouri —
James j. I.indiey, John G. Miller and Mordecai ( )liver, Whigs, as
well as Allied W. Lamb and John S. 1 'helps, Demc^crats, voted
for the Mi Samuel ( "anillurs, of Iw-edericktown, Whig, was
not ri<oi.l' d in the voting. VVillard 1*. Hall had left congress on


luii. ,-n.)'f ■ V) .1:1'

Riirii.iL ou run Missouri comi'komisi:. xmj

March 4, 1853. rrcsidciit Fierce signed the hill on May 30,

The Kansas- Nehraska act of 1854 was a fatefn! piece of legis-
lation. ]))' puttin,^ the slavery question at the front and driving-
out all other issues it destrn)ed the partisan afliliation between
the South and the West which had existed from the early days of
the government; it started an armed strujfgle in Kansas between
the free and the sla\'e states ft)r the possession of that locality; it
killed the Whig party b}' dri\'ing its southern end, through the
half-way houses of the American (Know Nothing-) party in 1856
and the Constitutional Union party of 1S60, over to the Democ-
racy ; it unitetl the Free Soilers, the old Lil)erty party men, or
political abolitionists, the majority of the northern Whigs, the
majority of the northern Know Nothings and a large element of
the northern Democrats, in a new organization, formed specifi-
cally to fight slavery extension, which quickly ado])te(l the Repub-
lican name; it split the Democrac}', first in the Leconipton consti-
tution fight in Kansas in 1858 and then in the Charleston national
ciinvenlioM of 18(10, thus giving tlu' l\e|)ul)lican i)arly the victory
which si'iit the South into scci'ssion.and this precipitated the civil
war, which overthrew slavery, put a solid North and a solid South
in politics, and kept them there until a very recent day.

\r i:j. Hid ..fi/

.\'.u>v.y\v<, •• i\-

'41!; .'i'' '.iii

i; : 'I'l! V,! 1,
■>i'i f ':,■):■ '-.;;]

7»> ,.'1 c
■Jffi ,^

miL rKoi'iNCii AND run status.

\ ;;'::r:';^i'''Vl- "'''.'• chapter xiii ■

The Struggle for Kansas

THE repeal of the Missouri compromise was a momentous
thing. - To licnton anil many otliers — a few in liis state
' and niilHuns thrinii;liout tlie North — the removal of this

ancient landmark was like the tleath of an old and indispcnsahle
friend. That compact had stocjd guard over the territories so
long that it seemed to he a part of the checks and halances of the
constitution. A generation of men had grown up since its enact-
ment. Even to many of those whose memory went hack beyond
the beginning of the Missouri admission contest it had acquired
an aspect of permanence as one of the establisheil institutions of
the government. To the vast majority of the residents of the
free states and io some of the people oi Mi.ssouri il seemed as if
one of the piojis of (he Union had suddenl\- l)een swei)t away.

Jhit moi-t of the people of Missouri were glad that it had been
removed. Among these were enemies as well as friends of slav-
ery. Each felt that the South had been treated unfairly by the
exclusion of the South's peculiar institution from the country's
common territory. Now, by the removal of what they considered
to be an injustice, each section would be on an equality with the
other in the struggle for the possession of the new lands, and
neither would have any cause for complaint against the govern-
ment for the result, whatever it might be.

Of Missouri's C.Sj.ooo iuhabilanls in 1850, as shown by the
nalitinal census, (S/.ooo were slaves. The sla\e,s were not Iseei)iiig
pace in -o.^wlli wilh tlu- wliiirs, bill out of the .iggrcgale of
i,iH_',(XK) |">|Milalion which was to \)v shown in hSrx), the slaves
Will- to * nliilmlc ii>ooo. Al an avira;;*' vahiation of four
hundred lii ll.-i>. for each slave, tlie amount of pro|)eily whitli Mis-


.st)uri in 1S54 felt would be imperiled by tlie erection of Kansas
into a free state was over thirty-five million dollars. This amount
was small compared with the aggregate value of the property of
the state, and the slaveholders constituted an even smaller propor-
tion of the state's total voting iiopulation. The slavery interest,
however, had a i)Owerful inlluence over the state's politics. More-
over, when tlie contest between the North and the South actually
began for the control of Kansas, and when Missouri's prosperity
and prestige seemed to be imperiL'd, local pride and passion incited
many Missourians to take the pro-slavery side in the fight who
neither owned slaves nor had any sympathy for slavery as an

The counties on or near the Kansas border would be esi)ecially
exposed to adverse inlluences if the Ncnlh should get possession
of that territory. They had a vital concern in making Kansas a
slave state. It was from the western counties that most of the
raiding parties into the territory in 1854-57 were recruited. Flatte
county, on the Kansas line, which had 2,800 slaves out of a total
po].ulation of a lillle less than i/.ooo in 1850, look the leading
l>arl in IIilsc incnr.si.nis. In lliese denninslralions David R. Atchi-
son, a resilient of I'lalte Cit)-, in that county, was the master spirit.
Atchi.son, Missouri's senior senator, president pro tempore of his
branch of congress ; then forty-seven years t)f age and in the height
of his powers, physically and intellec-tually ; able, gi'iu'rcnrs, elo-
quent and magnetic ; an aspirant for the presidential nomination in
185(1, to succeed Pierce, was admirably qualilieil for leadership in
thai cause. At thai parlicular moment he had some of the
asceinlanc)' in his parly in his stale \\\\\c\\ Henhm wielded at an
earlier day, and wdncli he had now lost.

Associated with Atchison in that crusade were Ex-State Attor-
ney Gen. Benjamin F. Stringfellow, his brother Dr. John H.
Stringfellow, James N. Burncs, Col. John W. Reid, a gallant
officer in Doniphan's regiment in the Mexican war ; Claiborne F.
Jackson, sponsor of the resolutions of 1849 which split the Demo-
cratic party of Missouri, who was destined to be governor of the
state at the outbreak of the war of 1861-65; Colonel Boone, a
descendant of the Ivcntucky and Missoin-i pioneer, and others then
or afterward prominent in the state's political or' social affairs.

'J'he organs through which the struggle for the c()uh\)l of Kan-
sas was slai Ud were the banigranl Aid Company on the jiart of
the free A.u men and the I'.lue Lodges on that of the pro-
siaveryil. .• liu- former was founded in Massachusells in March,
185.1, jnsl a: I, r llie K'ansas Nebraska bill was i-assed in the senati-,

'liJ.V.WA jV-'\ >UvV,v\/.YV ■tiWvKu'./A'.t

H'<'.> K

/!<;■• ''Vl


vili.'Ji :.j

: ! ' 1 1

VJi-. ■'


j^ ^j; r'j/j.!^ 11

•I l.ijA-7. Til.-.

i_-2 '////: rh'onxcji .ixn run. sr.niis.

but several weeks before it went through the house, whose lead-
ing spirit was Eli Thayer, an educator and member of the Massa-
chusetts legislature. The genesis of the oj)])osing organization
was given by the congressional committee (Howard of Michigan
and Sherman of Ohio, Republicans, and Oliver of Missouri, a
former Whig, who was then acting with the Democrats) which
investigated the Kansas disturbances in 1856, and which made a
report to the house. According to the committee, before any
election was held in Kansas Territory in 1854 "a secret political
society was formed in the state of Missouri. It was known by
different names, such as 'Social I'and,' 'Friends' Society,' 'Blue
Lodge,' 'The Sons of tlie Scnith.' ... It embraced great
numbers oi the citizens of Missouri, and was extended into otlier
slave states and into the territory. Its avowed purpose was not
only to extend slavery into Kansas, but also into other territories
of the Unitetl States, and to form a union of all the friends of
that institution." The report added that this society "was alto-
gether the most effective instrument in organizing the subsequent
armed invasions and forays."

The o])ject of each side was to get as many men as possitile into
the territory, so as to carry the election for delegate to congress
and for members of the legislature, under the ]>()pular sovereignty,
or sijuatter sovereignty, princijde. Making all reasonable allow-
ance for exaggeration on both sides, each party sometimes vio-
lated the spirit of the law and occasionally its letter. Each sent
many men to the territory who were not bona fide settlers. The
r.lue I.oiiges luidoubledly were the greater offenders in this
respect. Tlieir acts, iiowever, shoukl be tested by the importance
of their stake and by the passions and the standards of the time
and place. This explains their conduct, but, of course, does not
excuse it. The greater part of their work, though, was legitimate.

While the Emigrant Aid Company on the one hand and the
Blue Lodges on the other established in Kansas the lirst settle-
ments of any consequence which were planted in the territory,
affiliated societies took the w<.irk ui)(|uickl), and uunrganized effort
was a powerful factor eventually. This was especially true of
the free state party, which had the entire Ncjrth to draw upon.
The bulk of the work on the slave state side, at the t)Utset at least,
had to be done by INiissouri. At the outset in 185 (, from tlieir
uearnes;, tn the balllegrouiul in tiie case i)i Missouri, the pro-
sl.iveryili li.ul the advantage. The free soil nu'u, however, had
a far lai;;M lield from which ttj gain lecruits, had immeasurably
greater r(M)inces at their c(jmmand, and, what in the long run was


still better, they had the time spirit, civilization, the eternal order
of the universe, on their sidu.

Some prom])t work was done b)' the pro-slavery leaders in Mis-
souri. A speech made by Cjencral Atchison in Weston, Platte
county, in 1854 is thus sumniarizcfl, in i)art, by the J'latte Argus:
"The people of Kansas in their first election would decide the
question whether or not the slaveholder was to be excluded, and
it depended upon a majority of the votes cast at the polls. Now,
if a set of fanatics and demagogues a thousand miles off could
advance their money and exert every nerve to abolitionize the
territory and exclude the slaveholder when they have not the
least personal interest in the matter, what is )\)uv duty ? When
you reside within one day's journey of the territory, and when
your peace, your quiet and your property depend upon your action,
you can, without any exertion, send five hundred of your young
men who will vote in favor of your institutions. Should each
county in the state of Missouri only do its duty the question will
be decided quietly and peaceably at the ballot box. If we are
defeated, then Missouri and the other Southern states will have
shown themselves recreant to their interests and will have
deserved their fate. . . .If these aboliti(jnists steal your
negroes they gain nothing. The nrgrcx/s arc- injured. You are
ruined. So much greater is the motive for activity on your part.
If abolitionism, under its present auspices, is estab-
lished in Kansas, there will b
between Kansas and Missouri.
and a voealion. It will be tin
until they force the slaveholder
it be long until it is done. ... It was not sufficient for the
South to talk, but to act ; to go peacefully and inhabit the terri-
tory, and peacefully to vote and settle the question according
to the principles of the Douglas bill."

Similar exhortations were delivered at many points on or near
the Kansas frontier by Atchison and others. Weston, however,
was the principal radiating center of the aggressive pro-slavery
influences of the time. At a meeting at that point on July "29,
1854, wdiich was addressed by Atchison, B. F. Stringfellow.
linrnes and others, resolutions were jiassed, declaring that all
emigrants sent to Kansas by northern eiuigrant aid societies
should be Uuned back, and the I'latle County Di-fensive Associa-
tion wa i.iHie<l. The Kansas I .eaiMie, a subsidiar\' inslilnlion,
and coi.i,/o-.ed largely of IIk' same persons, was founded about the
same time, lo carry luiu effect that society's di:crees.

:onslant strife and



'gro stealing will be

a principle


oliey of iilnIanlliro|

)ic kna\es,


abandon Missouri.

Nor will


124 Tllli I'UOllNCE AND run STATUS.

But a lart^-o mimbcr of the Missourians even of the western
border were a£;ainst the puriioses of Ateliist^n and his comrades.
On September l, 1854, a law and order nieetinL; was held in
\Ves((in, which protested ai;ain,sl tin- re.solulion.s of the I'latte
Counly Defensive Association, and ])ledi^e(l lo\alt\- U) the govern-
ment and fair play to Kansas. The dec]arali(Hi was signed by
one hundred and thirty-six citizens of I'latte county. This law
abiding element existed in large numbers throughout the whole
of Missouri, but naturally it was the doings oi the other and
aggressive ingredient which attracted the country's attention and
got into the newspapers and the histories.

On June 13, 1854, twt; weeks after Tierce signed the Kansas-
Nebraska bilk at a meeting in Weston, at wdiich General Atchison
was present, thirt} - two pro-slavery men formed an association
wdiich laid out Leavenworth, the first town founded in Kansas.
On July 27 liurnes. Dr. J. il. Stringfcllow and others formed the
association wdiich created Atchison, wdiich was named, of course,
for the leader in the colonizing movement in Missouri. Lawrence,
the first of the towns formed in Kansas by the free state party,
was not established until after these two jM-o-hlavery settlements
were formed, or on July 30. Leavi'nworth, Atchis(jn, Kickapoo,
Lecomi)ton and a few other towns, all eslablislu:d by Missourians,
were the centers of the slavery inlluence in the earl)' days of Kan-
sas. The IMissourians also printed the first newspaper wdiich
appeared in Kansas, the Leavenworth Ucrald, started on Septem-
ber 15, 1854. Doctor Stringfcllow and Robert S. Kelley, a prac-
tical printer from rarkxdlle. Mo., .started a paper in Atchison soon
afterward, the Sqiiallcr Soi.'crc'h^ii. Stringfcllow was one of the
leading residents of iVtchison, and was chosen to the house of
representatives of Kansas' first legislature, becoming speaker of
that body. From the beginning the Missourians have been the
largest single ingredient in the Kansas poi)ulatit)n, until recent
years, when Illinois has gained a slight lead.

On November 29, 1854, on March 30, 1855, and at other times
when territorial delegates to congress, or territorial legislatures
were chosen, large bodies of armed Missourians, generall}' under
the lead of Atchison, L.. F. .Stringfcllow, James N. rUunes, John
W. Reid or others, and often imdrr the direction of several of
these, inviided Kansas and polled rrandulcnl voles, and in some
cases l!u-( ( K-ctioiis were set aside. .Said the eom;i\'ssional inves-
(ii'alin;' ■oinmidee, in its re|>orl in i85ri; '4Aii\ election has bei'ii
controif, d 11. .1 by IIh- actual selll.is, but bv the eiti/.ns of Mis-
souri; and as a roiisi(|nen(e, every ollieer in the lerriioiy, fioin

■.•'■>:. '-J.', M-.i t" in

nn<"'n'.>iA if-


constable to lef^islators, except those appointed by the President,
owe their positions to non-resident voters." Alordecai OUver of
Missouri, liowever, the minority member of the comnittee, dis-
SLiilrd from sijine oi the statements tjf tlie majority rep(;rt. Atclii-
son and Strini; fellow, with many other Rlissourians, were in the
attack on Lawrence on May 21, 1856, in which the iMnij^ranl Aid
Company's hotel, the oflice of the Herald of I'rccdoiii and other
property was destroyed.

r.ut some of the shrewder members of tlie pro-slavery party in
Missouri began to see b\- this time that their cause was lost. Said
the Emij^ration Society of Lafayette county, Mo., in an appeal to
the ^onth issued on March 25, 1856:

"The western counties of Missouri have for the last two years
been heavily taxed, both in money and time, in fighting the battles
of the South. Lafayette county alone has exi)ended more than
one hundred thousand dollars in ir^oney, and as much more in
time. . . . Missouri, we feel coniident, has done her duty,
and will still be found ready and willing to do all she can fairly
and honorably for the maintenance of the integrity of the South.
I'.ut the time has come when she can no longer stand up single-
handed, the lone chami-ion of the South, against the luyrmidous
of the entire North. . . . Settle the terril(;r) with emigrants
from the South. The population of the territory at this tiiue is
about L(pial— as many i.To-slavery sdllers as aljolilioni^ls. .• . .
'J"ho>e who I'amiol rini;;rali- can contribute nionc)- to assist those
who can. . . . The' j^rcU .slrug-K- will conn- olT at llu' next
iKclion, in ( )c1o1kV. l."\^o. .ind unless llie Soulli cm at thai lime
niainlaiu her gromid all will be lost. We repeale it, the crisis
has arrived. . . . We tell _\hui now, and tell you frankly,
that mdess you come quickl\-, and come by thousands, we are
gone. The elections once lo.st are k)St forever."

Idiis told the slor\. It was virtually Missouri against the
entire Norlh, and not all of Missouri was interested in the control
of Kansas. Some of the re-enforcements of selllers from the
South came for wdiich Missouri appealed, but not in anything like
the number which would have been required. The free state men
(luicklv obtained the iireponderance when fair elections began to
be had in the terrilor\-, they increased their ascendancy as time
passed, and Kansas was admitted as a free state on January 29,
lS()i, al'lei a lar-e nuinbei- (.f the sonlbern senaloi's had left con-
gi'i-ss aihl I'liied lb( ir stales in secession.

Meanv.hiie Missouri's Ikjuic i)oliliis weie cyclonic. In the most
exciting congressional contest in the state in 1854 llenton who



ran as an Independent Democrat, was beaten for the honse of
representatives in the St. 1 ouis (hstriet h\' Luther I\l. Kennett,
American. The Whii;- part)' had practically disappearetl as an
orf^anized force in must of the states hy the frdl of 1854, and most

Online LibraryWeston Arthur GoodspeedThe province and the states, a history of the province of Louisiana under France and Spain, and of the territories and states of the United States formed therefrom (Volume 4) → online text (page 12 of 53)