William Henry Seward.

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extravagance of emigrants, in Missouri, on the way to that territory ?'

Such is the president's second defense, so far as it presents new
matter in avoidance of the accusation of the new state of Kansas.

I proceed, in the third place, to establish the truth of the accusations.
Of what sort must the proofs be ? Manifestly only such as the circum-
stances of the case permit to exist. Not engrossed documents, authen-
ticated by executive, judicial or legislative of&cers. The transactions-
occurred in an unorganized country. All the authorities subse-
q[uently established in the territory are implicated, all the complain-
ants disfranchised.' Only presumptive evidence, derived from the-
cotemporaneous statements and actions of the parties concerned,
can be required.

Such presumptive evidence is derived from the nature and charac-
ter of the president's defenses. "Why did the president plead at all
on the thirty-first of December last, when the new state of Kansas
was yet unorganized, and could not appear here tg prefer her accu-
sations until the twenty-third of March ? Why, if he must answer-
so prematurely, did he nc5t plead a general and direct denial ? If he
must plead specially, why did he not set forth the facts, instead of
withholding all actual information concerning the case? Why,
since, instead of defending himself, he must implead his accuser, did
he not state at least the ground on which that accuser claimed to-
justify the conduct of which he complained ? Why did he threaten
" to overcome and suppress " the people of Kansas as insurrectionists,
if he did not mean to terrify them and to prevent their appearing,
here, or at least to prejudice their cause ? Why did he niiock them,
with a promise of protection thereafter against interference by citi-


zens of other states, if they should deport themselves peacefully and
submissively to the territorial authorities, if no cause for apprehend-
ing such interference had already been given by previous invasion.'?
Why did he labor to embarrass his accuser by identifying her cause
with the subject of abolition of slavery, and stigmatize her support-
ers with opprobrious epithets, and impute to them depraved and
seditious motives ? Why did he interpose the false and impertinent
issue, whether one state could intervene by its laws or by force to
abolish slavery in another state ? Why did he distort the constitu-
tion, and present it as expressly guarantying the perpetuity of slavery ?
Why did he arraign so unnecessarily and so unjustly, not one, but
all of the original northern states? Why did he drag into this case,
where only Kansas is concerned, a studied, partial and prejudicial
history of the past enlargements of the national domain, and of the
past contests between the slave states and the free states in their
rivalry for the balance of power ?

Why did not the,president rest content with one such attack on
the character and conduct of the new state of Kansas, in anticipating
her coming, if he felt assured that she really had no merit on which
to stand ? Why did he submit a second plea in advance ? Why in
this plea does he deplore the delays which prevented the. Missouri
borderers from effecting the conquest of Kansas, and the establish-
men,t of slavery therein, at the time of the congressional election
held in November, 1854, in fraud of the Kansas law and of justice
and humanity ? Why, without reason or authority of public or of
national law, does he denounce Massachusetts, her emigrant aid
society and her emigrants ? If "propagandist" emigrations must be
denounced, why does he spare the Platte County Self-Defensive Asso-
ciation ? Why does he charge Governor Eeeder with " failing to
put forth all his energies to prevent or counteract the tendencies to
illegality which are found to exist in all imperfectly organized and
newly associated countries," if, indeed, no "illegality " has, occurred
there? While thus, by implication, admitting that such illegality
has occurred in Kansas, why does he not tell us its nature and
extent ? Why, when Governor Eeeder was implicated in personal
conduct, not criminal, but incongruous with his official relations, did
the president retain him in office until after he had proclaimed at
Easton that Kansas had been subjugated by the borderers of Mis-
souri, and why, after he had done so, and had denounced the legis-


lature, did the president remove him for the same preexisting cause
only ? Why does the president admit that the election for the legis-
lative bodies of Kansas was held under circumstances inauspicious
to a truthful and legal result, if, nevertheless, the result attained was
indeed a truthful and legal one ? On what evidence does the presi-
dent ground his statement, that, after that election, there weremiiittaZ
complaints of usurpation, fraud and violence, when we hear from no
other quarter of such complaints made by the party that prevailed ?
If there were such mutual accusations, and even if they rested on
probable grounds, would that fact abate the right of the people of
Kansas to a government of their own, securing a safe and well
ordered freedom ? Why does the president argue that the governor
[Mr. Eeedee] alone had the power to receive and consider the
returns of the election of the legislative bodies, and that he certified
those returns in fifteen out of the twenty-two districts, when he
knows that the governor, being his own agent, gave the certificates,
on the ground that the returns were technically correct, and that the
illegality complained of was in the conduct of the elections, and in
the making up of the returns by the judges, and that the terror of
the armed invasion prevented all complaints of this kind from being
presented to the governor ? Why does the pi-esident repose on the
fact that the governor, on the ground of informality in the returns,
rejected the members who were chosen in the seven other districts,
and ordered new elections therein, and certified in favor of the per-
sons then chosen, when he knows that the majority, elected in the
fifteen districts, expelled at once the persons chosen at such second
elections, and admitted those originally returned as elected in these
seven districts, on the ground that the governor's rejection of them,
and the second elections which he ordered, were unauthorized and
illegal ? Why does the president, although omitting to mention this
last fact, nevertheless justify the expulsion of these newly elected
members, on the ground that it was authorized by parliamentary law,
when he knows that there was no parliamentary or other law exist-
ing in the territory, but the organic act of congress, which conferred
no such power on the legislature? Why was Governor Reeder
replaced by Mr. Shannon, who immediately proclaimed that the
legislative bodies which his predecessor had denounced, were the
legitimate legislature of the territory ? Why does the president
plead that the subject of the alleged Missourian usurpation and


tyranny in Kansas, was one which, by its nature, appertained exclu-
sively to the jurisdiction of the local authorities of the territory,'
when, if the charges were true, there were no legitimate local autho-
rities within the territory ? Is a foreign usurpation in a defenseless
territory of the United States to be tolerated, if only it be successful ?
And is the government de facto, by whomsoever usurped, and with
whatever tyranny exercised, entitled to demand obedience from the
people, and to be recognized by the president of the United States ?
Why does he plead that " whatever irregularities may have occurred,
it is now too late to raise the question ?" Is there nothing left but
endurance to citizens of the United States, constituting a whole
political community of men, women and children — an incipient
American state — subjugated and oppressed? Must they sit down in
peace, abandoned, contented and despised? Why does he plead that
" at least it is a question as to which, neither now nor at any previ-
ous time, has the least possible legal authority been possessed by the
president of the United States ?" Did any magistrate ever before
make such an exhibition of ambitious imbecility ? Cannot congress
clothe him with power to act, and is it not his duty to ask power to
remove usurpation and subvert tyranny in a territory of the United
States ? Are these the tone, the tenor, and the staple of a defense,
where the accused is guiltless aad the crimes charged were never
committed? The president virtually confesses all the transactions
charged, by thus presenting a connected system of maxims and prin>'
ciples, invented to justify them.

I proceed, however, to clinch conviction by direct and positive
proofs ; First, the statements of the party which has been overborne.
General Pomeroy and his associates, in behalf of the state of Kansas,
make this representation concerning the congressional election held
in the territory on the 30th November, 1854:

" The first ballot-box that was opened upon our virgin soil, was closed to us
by overpowering numbers and impending force. So bold and reckless were our
invaders, that they oared not to conceal their attack. They came upon us, not in
the guise of voters to steal away our franchise, but boldly and openly to snatch it
with a strong hand. They came directly from their own homes, and in compact
and organized bands, with arms in hand and provisions for the expedition, marched
to our polls, and, when their work was done, returned whence they came. It is
unnecessary to enter into the details ; it is enough to say that in three districts in
which, by the most irrefragable evidence, there were not one hundred and fifty
voters, most of whom refused to participate in the mockery of the elective fran-
diise, these invaders polled over a thousand votes.


In regard to tlie election of the 30th of March, 1855, the same
party states:

" They (the Missourians) arrived at their several destinations the night before
the election, and, having pitched their camps and placed their sentries, waited for
the coming day. Baggage wagons were there, with arms and ammunition enough
for a protracted fight, and among them two brass field pieces, ready charged.
They came with drums beating and flags flying, and their leaders were of the
most prominent and conspicuous men of their respective states. In the morning
they surrounded the polls, armed with guns, bowie-knives and revolvers, and
declared their determination to vote at all hazards and in spite of all consequences.
If the judges could be made to subserve their purposes and receive their votes
and if no obstacle was cast in their way, their leaders exerted themselves to pre-
serve peace and order in the conduct of the election^ but at the same time did not
hesitate to declare, that if not allowed to vote, they would proceed to any extre-
mity in destruction of property and life. If the control of the polls could not be
had otherwise, the judges were by intimidation, and, if necessary, by violence
prevented from performing their duty, or, if unyielding in this respect, were driven
from their post, and the vacancy filled in form by the persons on the ground; and
whenever by any means they had obtained the control of the board, the foreign
vote was promiscuously poured in, without discrimination or reserve, or the slight-
est care to conceal its nefarious illegality. At one of the polls, two of the judges
having manfully stood up in the face of the armed mob, and declared thgy would
do their duty, one portion of the mob commenced to tear down the house, another
proceeded to break in the door of the judges' room, whilst others, with drawn
knives, posted themselves at the window, with the proclaimed purpose of killing
any voter who would allow himself to be'sworn. Voters were dragged from the
window, because they would not show their tickets, or vote at the dictation of the
mob ; and the invaders declared openly at the polls that they would cut the throats
of the judges if they did not receive their votes without requiring an oath as to-
their residence. The room was finally forced, and the judges, surrounded by an
armed and excited crowd, were ofiered the alternative of resignation or death, and
five minutes were allowed for their decision. The ballot-box was seized, and,
amid shouts of ' hurrah for Missouri,' was carried into the mob. The two menaced!
judges then left the ground, together with all the resident citizens, except a few
who acted in the outrage, because the result expected from it corresponded to^
their own views.

" When an excess of the foreign force was found to be had at one poU, detach-
ments were sent to the others. * * * * ^ minister of the gospel, who
refiised to accede to the demands of a similar mob of some four hundred armed
and organized men, was driven by violence from his post, arid the vacancy filled
by themselves. * * * * Another clergyman, for the expression of his
opinion, was assaulted and beaten. * * * * Tj^g inhabitants of the district,
powerless to resist the abundant supply of arms and ammunition, organized pre-
paration, and overwhelming numbers of the foreigners left the polls without
voting^ * * * jjj tiie Lawrence district,' one voter was fired at, as he was
driven from the election ground. » * * Finding they had a greater force
than was necessary for that poll, some two hundred men were drafted from tlie

Vol. IV. 63


number, and sent off untler the proper officers to anoiher district, after which they
still polled from this camp seven hundred votes. * * * In the fourth and
seventh districts, the invaders came together in an armed and organized body,
■with trains of fifty wagons, besides horsemen, and, the night before election,
pitched their camps in the vicinity of the polls, and having appointed their own
judges, in place of those who, from intimidation or otlierwise, failed to attend,
they voted without any proof of residence. In these two election districts, where
the census shows one hundred voters, there were polled three hundred and
fourteen votes, and last fall seven hundred and sixty-five votes, although a large
part of the actual residents did not vote on either occasion. *****
From a careful examination of the returns, we are satisfied that over three thou-
sand votes were thus cast by the citizens and residents of the states."

I place in opposition to these statements of the party that was
overborne, the statements of the party that prevailed, beginning
with signals of the attack, and ending with celebrations of the vic-

General Stringfellow addressed the invaders in Missouri, on the
eve of the election of March 30, 1855, thus :

" To those who have qualms of conscience as to violating laws, state or national,
the time has come when such impositions must be disregarded, as your rights and
property are in danger ; and I advise you, one and all, to enter every election dis-
trict in Kansas, in defiance of Eeeder and his vile myrmidons, and vote at the
point of the bowie-knife and revolver. Neither give i:or take quarter, as our cause
demands it. It is enough .that the slaveholding interest wills it, from which there
is no appea]. What right has Grovemor Eeeder to rule Missourians in Kansas?
His proclamation and prescribed oath must be repudiated. It is your interest to
do so. Mind that slavery is established where it is not prohibited."

The Kansas Herald, an organ of both the administration and the
pro-slavery party, announced the result of the legislative election in
the territory immediately afterwards, as follows :

" Yesterday was a proud and glorious day for the friends of southern rights.
The triumph of the pro-slavery party is complete and overwhelming. Come
on, southern men! Bring your slaves, and fiU up the territory! Kansas is
saved !"

The Squatter Sovereign, published in Missouri, thus announced
the result of the election the day after it closed :

" Independence, March 31, 1855.

" Several hundred emigrants from Kansas have just entered our city. They

were preceded by the Westport and Independence brass bands. They came in

*t the west side of the public square, and proceeded entirely around it, the bands

cheering us with fine music, and the emigrants with good news. Immediately


following the bands were about two hundred horsemen in regular order ; follow-
ing these were one hundred and fifty wagons, carriages, &c. They gave repeated
cheers for Kansas and Missouri. They report that not an anti-slavery man will
be in the legislature of Kansas. We have made a clean sweep."

A letter written at Brunswick, in Missouri, dated April 20th, 1855,
and published in the N"ew York Herald, a pro-slavery journal, says :

" From five to seven thousand men started from Missouri to attend the elec-
tion, some to remove, but the most to return to their families, with an inten-
tion, if they liked the territory, to make it their permanent abode, at the earliest
moment practicable. But they intended to vote. The Missourians were, many
of them, Douglas men. There were one hundred and fifl;y voters fi'om this
county,. one hundred and seventy-five from Howard, one hundred from Oooper.
Indeed, every county furnished its quota ; and when they set out it looked like
an army. * * They were armed. * * * And, as there were no houses
in the territory, they carried tents. Their mission was a peaceable one — to vote,
and to drive dov^n stakes for their fiiture homes. After the election, some one
thousand five hundred of the voters sent a committee to Mr. Eeeder, to ascertain
if it was his purpose to ratify the election. He answered that it was, and said
the majority at an election must carry the day. But it is not to be denied that
the one thousand five hundred, apprehending that the governor might attempt
to play the tyrant — since his conduct had already been insidious and unjust —
wore on their hats bunches of hemp. They were resolved, if a tyrant attempted
to trample upon the rights of the sovereign people, to hang him."

On the 29th of May, 1855,' the Squatter Sovereign, an organ of
the invasion in Missouri, thus gave utterance to its spirit :.

" From reports now received of Eeeder, he never intends returning to our bor-
ders. Should he do so, we, without hesitation, say that our people ought to hang
him by the neck, like a traitorous dog as he is, so soon as he puts his unhallowed
feet upon our shores. Vindicate your characters and the territory ; and, should
the ungrateful dog dare to come among us again, hang him to the first rotten
tree. A military force to protect the ballot-box I Let President Pierce or Grover-
nor Reeder, or any other power, attempt such a course, in this or any portion of
the Union, and that day will never be forgotten."

Governor Eeeder, "at Easton, in Pennsylvania, on his first return
to that place after the elections, declared the same result in frank
and candid words, which cost him his of&ce, namely :

" It was indeed too true that Kansas had been invaded, conquered, subjugated,
by an armed force from beyond her borders, led on by a fanatical 'spirit, trampling
under foot the principles of thie Kansas bill and the right of suffrage." ••

David E. Atchison, a direct and out-spoken man, who never
shrinks from responsibility, and who is confessedly eminent at once


as a political leader in Missouri, and as a leader of tlie pro-slavery
movement therein directed against Kansas, in a speech reported as
having been made to his fellow citizens, and which, so far as I know,.
has not been disavowed, said :

" I saw it with my own eyes. These men came with the avowed purpose of
driving or expelling you from the territory. What did I advise you to do ? Why,
meet them at their own game. When the first election came ofiF, I told you to-
go over and vote. You did so, and heat them. We, our party in Kansas, nomi-
nated General Whitfield. They, the abolitionists, nominated Flenniken; not
Planegan, for Manegan was a good, honest man, but Flenniken. Well, the next
day after the election, that same Plenniken, with three hundred of his voters, left
the territory, and has never returned — ^no, never returned ! Well, what next ?
Why, an election for members of the legislature, to organize the territory, must
be held. What did I advise you to do then? Why, meet them on their own
ground, and beat them at their own game again ; and, cold and inclement as the
weather was, I went over with a company of men. My object in going was not
to vote ; I had not a right to vote, unless I had disfranchised myself in Missouri.
I was not within tveo miles of a voting place. My object in going was not to
vote, but to settle a difficulty between two of our candidates ; and abolitionists of
the north said and published it abroad that Atchison was there with bowie-knife
and revolver, and by God 'twas true. I never did go into that territory, I never
intended to go into that territory, without being prepared for all such kind of
cattle. Well, we beat them ; and Governor Eeeder gave certificates to a majority
of all the members of both houses; and then, after they were organized, as every-
body will admit, they were the only competent persons to say who were and
who were not members of the same."

A tree is known by its fruits. If Missourians voted in Kansas, it
would be expected that the ballots deposited would exceed the num-
ber of electors. Just so it was. We have seen that it was so
asserted. The executive journal, recently obtained, proves that in
four districts, where the results were not contested, two thousand
nine hundred and sixty-four votes were cast on the 30th of March,
although only one thousand three hundred and sixty-five voters
were there, as ascertained by the census. Again : The legislature,
chosen on the 30th of March, 1855, withdrew from the interior of
the territory to a place inconvenient to its citizens, and on the bor-
der of Missouri. There that legislature enacted laws to this effect,
namely : Forbidding the speaking, writing, or printing, or publish-
ing of anything, in any form, calculated to disaSect slaves, or induce
them to escape, under pain of not less than five years' imprison-
ment with hard labor ; and forbidding free persons from maintaining
by speech, writing, or printing, or publishing, that slaves cannot


lawfully be held in tlie territory, under pain of imprisonment and
liard la,bor two years.

- The legislature further enacted, that no persons " conscientiously
opposed to holding slaves," or entertaining doubts of the legal exis-
tence of slavery in Kansas, shall sit as a juror in the trial of any
cause founded on a breach of the laws which I have described.
They further provided, that all officers and attorneys should be
sworn, not only to support the constitution of the United States, but
aJso to support and sustain the organic law of ike territory, and the
fugitive slave law ; and that any persons offering to vote shall be
presumed to be entitled to vote until the contrary is shown ; and if
any one, when required, shall refuse to take an oath to sustain the
fugitive slave law, he shall not be permitted to vote. Although
they passed a law that none but an inhabitant who had paid a tax
should vote, yet they made no fome of residence necessary, and pro-
vided for the immediate payment of a poll tax ; so virtually declar-
ing that on the eve of an election the people of a neighboring state
can come in, in unlimited numbers, and by taking up a residence of
a day or an hour, pay a poll tax, and thus become legal voters, and
then, after voting, return to their own state. They thus, in practi-
cal effect, provided for the people of Missouri to control future elec-
tions at their pleasure, and permitted such only of the real inhabi-
tants of the territory to vote as are friendly to the holding of slaves.
They permitted no election of any of the. officers in the territory to
be made by the people thereof, but created the offices, and filled
them, or appointed officers to fill them, for long periods. They
provided that the next annual election should be held in October,
1856, and the assembly should meet in January, 1857 ; so that none
of these laws could be changed until the lower house might be
changed, in 1856 ; but the council, which is elected for two years,

Online LibraryWilliam Henry SewardThe works of William H. Seward → online text (page 52 of 74)