Beebe's Administration.The story of Gov. Beebe's administration is soon told. When Gov. Medary went to Ohio on Sept. 11, 1860, Mr. Beebe became acting governor and served as such until Nov. 25, when the governor returned. The records do not show that much of a stratling or unusual nature occurred during this period. For some time there had been trouble between the free-state and pro-slavery settlers in Linn and Bourbon counties, and about the middle of November, fearing another outbreak of hostilities, Mr. Beebe ordered Adjt.-Gen. StrickIcr, on the 19th, "to take immediate steps to ascertain what force of infantry, if any, either of the militia of the territory or of volunteer companies, can he put into service, if necessary, within one week from the date hereof."
On the same day he wrote to Gen. Harney, at St. Louis, asking that the 200 infantry at Fort Leavenworth be placed subject to the order of the governor of the territory. After the return of Gov. Medary, Mr. Beebe wrote to President Buchanan, under date of Nov. 26, giving an account of the recent disturbance in Bourbon county. "These men," said he, "under the lead of a notorious offender, one James Montgomery, assisted by a desperate character named Jennison, threatened to break up a special term of the United States district court called to meet at Fort Scott on the 19th inst. for the trial of certain of their number, charged with offenses against the United States, and kill Presiding Justice Williams, the marshal and his deputies, and all interposing resistance, and destroy the town of Fort Scott."
Upon learning of these threats, Mr. Beebe, accompanied by Adjt.-Gen. Strickler, had visited Fort Scott and found that Judge Williams had abandoned the idea of trying to hold the special term of court. In his letter to the president Beebe states that he met Montgomery and Jennison, who finally agreed to disband their men, but a few days later they were at their old tricks. He suggested that the governor issue a proclamation declaring martial law in that part of the territory, and that a force of at least 300 dragoons should be sent there to maintain order.
When Gov. Medary resigned on Dec. 17, 1860, Mr. Beebe again became acting governor. On the 21st he wrote to the president: "The legislative assembly of this territory convenes on the 7th prox. If it is the purpose of your excellency to appoint a successor to Gov. Medary, I would respectfully request that you cause me to be so advised, as in such event I do not desire to occupy any time in preparing, in an executive capacity, for the coming legislature."
The Wyandotte constitution, in defining the boundaries of the proposed State of Kansas, had cut off all that portion of the territory lying west of the 102nd meridian of longitude. The country west of that meridian was known as the "Pike's Peak region," and Mr. Beebe requested the president that, in the event of the admission of Kansas and the establishment of a new territory farther west, to appoint him to the same position in that territory he then held in Kansas.
The legislature met at Lecompton on Jan. 7, 1861. W. W. Updegraff was for a third time chosen president of the council, and John W. Scott was elected speaker of the house. On the 8th both houses voted to adjourn to Lawrence, where they met on the next day. As no successor to Gov. Medary had been appointed, it devolved upon Mr. Beebe to submit a message to the assembly, which he did on the 10th. His message is interesting, in that it presents some figures relating to the property values and financial condition of the territory. He reported the territorial indebtedness as being $96,143.58, while the resources from taxes due and unpaid amounted to about $104,000, though he expressed the opinion that not more than $30,000 of this could be collected "without some special and direct action taken for the express purpose." The value of the taxable property of the territory he estimated at $28,000,000.
Mr. Beebe pointed out, in a rather laconic manner, the folly of incorporating so many town companies. He stated that in 38 counties there were 135,328 town lots, or more than two for each inhabitant, and significantly asks: "May not a reasonable apprehension be entertained, unless something be soon done to stop this mania for town speculation, that there will, ere long, be no lands left for farms in the territory?"
Mr. Beebe recommended a revision of the election laws, especially the registry provisions; the repeal of the law abolishing slavery in the territory; some thorough system of organizing counties and townships; and the repeal of the law regulating the sale of intoxicating liquors, or the enactment of a law of that character that would be intelligible.
After dwelling at length upon the discord between the North and South on the question of slavery, he closed his message by saying: "But if nothing can be doneif this worst must comehaving been made the wand with which the magicians of Evil have aroused the elements, it may not be expected Kansas can stand an idle watcher of the storm. Intimately identified as her interests are with the perpetuity, progress and prosperity of that Union of States into which she has hoped soon to enter and take her equal placewhile she could not witness a dissolution with feelings other than of deepest anguishif God, in His wrath, shall tolerate the worst portent of this tempest of passion, now so fiercely raging, Kansas ought, and I trust willdeclining identification with either branch of a contending family, tendering to each alike the olive offeringestablish, under a constitution of her own creation, a government to be separate and independent among the nations."
This was the last session of the territorial legislature. Few important laws were passed, the most noteworthy being the acts fixing the number of employees of each house of the legislature and their salaries, and declaring illegal the bonds issued in payment of claims for losses sustained during the border war. The acts of this legislature were afterward declared valid by the state courts. (See Robinson's Administration.) On Feb. 2, 1861, the assembly adjourned, and just a week later the state government was inaugurated.Pages 165-167 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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