Medary's Administration.Samuel Medary was appointed governor of Kansas Territory on Nov. 19, 1858. He took the oath of office before Roger B. Taney, chief justice of the United States supreme court, on Dec. 1, and assumed the duties of the office on the 18th of the same month. At that time there was considerable excitement in the southeastern part of the territory over the operations of Capt. Montgomery's company of free-state men. (See Montgomery, James.) The day after Gov. Medary entered upon his executive functions he received a communication from Fort Scott, signed by Charles Bull, the sheriff of Bourbon county; William T. Campbell, a deputy United States marshal; and J. E. Jones, editor of the Fort Scott Democrat, notifying him of an attack on that place "by 100 armed men," and asking him to take such action as would protect the people of that section from these raids,
Judging from the reports, the governor proceeded in a somewhat leisurely fashion to grant the request of the petitioners. On the 20th he sent his private secretary, Samuel A. Medary, to Fort Leavenworth, "to ascertain the number and character of the troops at the disposal of the commandant." On the 24th a mass meeting at Paola appointed H. M. Hughes, J. M. Breeding and G. W. Miller a committee to appeal to the governor for aid, as Montgomery, John Brown and others, with from 100 to 200 armed men were moving toward that town. Apparently, the governor was still unwilling to resort to extreme measures, but on the 25th he wrote Capt. Arnold Elzey, commanding at Fort Leavenworth, that he had received confirmatory information concerning the outrages in Linn and Bourbon counties, and suggesting that "If it he possible for you to call upon me without delay, you will confer a favor, and assist me materially in the confirmation and execution of such plans as must be adopted. If it is impossible for you to leave your post, I would request the presence of Lieut. Jones with such powers to speak for you as you may be able to confer."
A week had elapsed since the call for help from Fort Scott, but the governor had not yet perfected his plans. On the 28th he telegraphed to President Buchanan, requesting the secretary of war "to order the issuing of 600 rifled muskets, with the necessary accouterments, from the St. Louis arsenal; also that the officer commanding at the arsenal be instructed to issue ammunition (ball and cartridge) upon the requisition of Capt. A. J. Weaver, of Linn county, the quantity not to exceed 10,000 rounds."
Another communication of the same date was addressed to Maj. John Sedgwick, commanding at Fort Riley, and requested four companies of cavalry to assist in the execution of writs held by the sheriffs of Linn, Lykins and Bourbon counties. Maj. Sedgwick replied on the 31st that he had only two companies of cavalry available, and these, under command of Capt. W. S. Walker, had been ordered to report to the governor for instructions. While all these preparations were under way, the situation in southeastern Kansas had become more quiet and the troops were not used at that time.
On Jan. 3, 1859, the legislature met at Lecompton and organized by the election of C. W. Babcock as president of the council, and A. Larzalere as speaker of the house. At the evening session of that date Gov. Medary submitted his message, in which he said: "As the subject of forming a state constitution, and asking admission into the Union has been extensively agitated, it might be expected that I should allude to it in this place. In doing so, I shall speak of it only in a practical senseit has no political connection. The territorial condition is certainly not desirable for a large and wealthy communityit is a transition from youth to manhoodfrom weakness to strength. It is a question with the people of Kansas, whether they are prepared to assume the weighty responsibilities of a state government. Personal ambition should not be permitted to step in between them and their true interests. The question should be discussed in all its bearings, and brought to a decision favorable to the interests of the whole people. Population has much to do with the question, it is true; but to the people of Kansas, who have the expense of government to pay out of their own pockets, their ability to do so is of deep interest to them, and should not be overlooked."
The governor then announced that he had "received by mail, from the secretary of the interior, authority to offer a reward of $250 each for the apprehension of Capts. Montgomery and Brown." He next discussed at some length the troubles in Linn and Bourbon counties, but refrained from any analysis of "the differences of opinion growing out of past political strife," though he intimated that Montgomery was responsible for most of the unsettled conditions in that portion of the territory.
"Kansas," said he, "has long enough been made the scapegoat of political parties and political demagogues outside the territory. She has a character of her own to makeshe has interests of her own to subserveshe has rights to wield through her own intelligence, and on her own responsibility, without gratuities by way of advice from those who have enough to do, if they would look after their own affairs. Thousands are looking to these broad prairies, rich beyond estimate in their agricultural abilities, with a climate healthful and invigorating, for homes for themselves and their children. Millions of capital is ready to be invested in our midst, confident of abundant returns. But without quiet and protection, all other blessings will not avail."
As soon as the message was read and referred, each house adopted a resolution to adjourn at noon on the 4th to meet at Lawrence on the 7th, "for lack of suitable rooms, hotel accommodations and other conveniences." The remainder of the session was therefore held at Lawrence.
The committee to which was referred the governor's message made two reports. The majority report, signed by John W. Wright, James L. McDowell, T. R. Roberts and W. Spriggs, all free-state men, recounted in detail the massacre of a number of free-state men on the Marais des Cygnes by Capt. Hamelton, and recommended that all armed bands should be dispersed, in order that the law might be sustained and the people permitted to pursue their peaceful vocations without fear of molestation.
"Kansas has too long suffered in her good name," says this majority report, "from the acts of lawless men and from the corruption of Federal officers. The committee believe the government possesses sufficient power to suppress outrages and would enforce the law; but unfortunately now, as in the past time, the officers at Washington interfere and direct a policy that only adds to the power of bad men, and paralyzes the efforts of those who wish to sustain the law. The policy of the general government, of offering a reward of $500 for Capts. Montgomery and Brown, will not succeed. The man of Kansas that would, for a reward, deliver up a man to the general government, would sink into the grave of an Arnold or a Judas. While such is public sentiment, we believe a large portion of our people would march under the flag of their country to arrest Montgomery or other violators of law; but such have been the acts of the general government in this territory, that public sentiment will not permit any person to receive the gold of the general government as a bribe to do a duty."
The majority also reported a bill extending the criminal jurisdiction of Douglas county over certain counties where the trouble existed; recommended to President Buchanan the removal of the United States marshal and the "appointment of a man of nerve, if he has any of that kind of stock on hand;" and closed the report with a resolution to sustain the governor in all proper efforts to enforce the law and maintain peace.
The minority report, which was signed by H. J. Canniff, George Graham and S. S. Vaile, recommended the appointment of a committee of three members of the house to visit Linn and Bourbon counties on a tour of investigation, and an appropriation of $250 to defray the expenses of such visit.
The legislature adjourned on Feb. 11, after repealing the acts of the legislative sessions of 1855 and 1857 and establishing in their stead codes of civil and criminal procedure. Other acts authorized the governor to employ counsel for Dr. John Doy, who was accused of freeing slaves; provided for the appointment by the governor of a territorial auditor and treasurer, and made a new apportionment for members of the legislature.
On Feb. 9 Gov. Medary approved the bill providing for the formation of a state constitution and government. By the provisions of this measure the people were to vote on the fourth Monday in March, 1859, on the question of holding a constitutional convention. If a majority decided in favor of the convention fifty-two delegates were to be elected on the first Tuesday in June; the convention was to meet on the first Tuesday in July; the constitution was to be submitted to the people on the first Tuesday in October, and if ratified state officers were to be elected on the first Tuesday in December. It was the convention thus provided for that framed the Wyandotte constitution, the one under which Kansas was finally admitted. (See Constitutions.)
Near the close of the session the governor approved a bill to establish peace in Kansas. It provided "That no criminal offense heretofore committed in the counties of Lykins, Linn, Bourbon, McGee, Allen and Anderson, growing out of any political differences of opinion, or arising, in any way, from such political differences of opinion, shall be subject to any prosecution, on any complaint or indictment, in any court whatsoever in this territory, and all criminal actions now commenced, growing out of political differences of opinion, shall be dismissed."
On the day of adjournment the legislature adopted a joint resolution requesting the governor to issue a proclamation to the people, publishing this act. Gov. Medary issued the proclamation the same day, and just before the final adjournment announced the appointment of Hiram J. Strickler as territorial auditor, and Robert B. Mitchell as territorial treasurer.
One of the most important political conventions ever held in Kansas assembled at Osawatomie on May 18, 1859, and organized the Republican party in and for the territory. Among the distinguished visitors present was Horace Greeley, who addressed the convention. The declaration of principles enunciated:
"That, while we declare our submission to the constitution and laws of the United States, and disclaim all control over slavery in the states in which it exists, we hold that the constitution does not carry slavery into the territories, but that it is the creature of special enactment, and has existence only where supported by it; and we reprobate and condemn the perversion of the power of the supreme court of the United States to sectional demands and party purposes.
"That, with the founders of the republic, we believe that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and that it is proper that the people of an organized territory should be permitted to elect their own officers and enact their own laws, free from Congressional and executive control.
"That freedom is national, and slavery sectional, and that we are inflexibly opposed to the extension of slavery to soil now free.
"That we condemn the administration for its feebleness and impotency in the enforcement of the law prohibiting the importation of African slaves into the United States, and demand such further legislation by Congress as will forever suppress the inhuman traffic.
"That the Wyandotte constitutional convention be requested to incorporate in the bill of rights in the constitution a provision that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in Kansas, except in punishment of crime.
"That the passage of a liberal homestead bill, giving 160 acres of land to every citizen who will settle upon and improve it, would be a measure just in principle, sound in policy, and productive of the greatest good to the people of the nation; and that we regard the defeat of Mr. Grow's bill in the senate by the Democratic party, as a direct blow at the laboring classes of the country, and as unworthy of the liberality of a great government."
With the formation of the Republican party the old free-state organization disappeared, and the names "free-state" and "pro-slavery," as used to distinguish political parties or factions, also disappeared, the names "Republican" and "Democrat" taking their places. The first contest between the parties under the new names was for the election of delegates to the Wyandotte convention in June, 1859, and resulted in the choice of 35 Republicans and 17 Democrats. (See Constitutional Conventions.)
By the ratification of the Wyandotte constitution by the people on Oct. 4, it became necessary, in order to carry out the provisions of the act authorizing the formation of a state government, to elect state officers on the first Tuesday in December. On Oct, 12 a Republican convention met at Topeka and nominated the following candidates: Governor, Charles Robinson; lieutenant-governor, Joseph P. Root; secretary of state, John W. Robinson; auditor, George S. Hillyer; treasurer, William Tholen; attorney-general, Benjamin F. Simpson; superintendent of public instruction, W. R. Griffith; chief justice, Thomas Ewing, Jr.; associate justices, Samuel A. Kingman and Lawrence D. Bailey; representative in Congress, Martin F. Conway.
The Democratic nominating convention met at Lawrence on Oct. 25 Samuel Medary, the territorial governor, was selected as the candidate of the party for governor; John P. Slough was nominated for lieutenant-governor; A. P. Walker, for secretary of state; Joel K. Goodin, for auditor; R. L. Pease, for treasurer; Orlin Thurston, for attorney-general; J. S. McGill, for superintendent of public instruction; Joseph Williams, for chief justice; Samuel A. Stinson and Robert B. Mitchell, for associate justices; and John A. Halderman, for representative in Congress.
At the election on Dec. 6 Robinson received 7,908 votes, and Medary, 5,395, the remainder of the Republican ticket being elected by substantially the same majority. In the meantime an election for delegate to Congress had been held on Nov. 8, when Marcus J. Parrott, the Republican candidate, defeated Saunders W. Johnston, Democrat, by a vote of 9,708 to 7,232.
On Jan. 2, 1860, the legislature was convened in regular session at Lecompton. W. W. Updegraff was elected president of the council, and G. A. Colton was chosen speaker of the house. In his message, which was presented on the 3d, Gov. Medary recommended the passage of a law to abolish the boards of county supervisors and substitute therefor a board of three commissioners in each county. He also recommended a law regulating the rate of interest, and made a virulent attack upon the registry law passed by the preceding session, which law, according to the governor, had "deprived many of our citizens of the elective franchise;" it was "crude and mischievous," and he thought its total repeal would "add much to the relief of the taxpayers."
A resolution to adjourn to Lawrence was passed in both houses on the 4th, but it was vetoed by the governor, because the completion of a large, new hotel at Lecompton, "making four very good hotels," afforded ample accommodations at the seat of government. The resolution was then passed over the veto by a vote of 9 to 4 in the council and 22 to 7 in the house, and on the 7th the legislature reassembled in Lawrence. Gov. Medary and Sec. Walsh remained at Lecompton. They asked the United States attorney-general for an opinion as to the legality of the removal, and refused to recognize the acts of the assembly. Consequently, on Jan. 18, the legislature adjourned, but on the same day the governor issued a proclamation calling a special session, to meet at Lecompton on the 19th.
The assembly met pursuant to the call, elected the same officers, and on the 20th received another message from the governor, in which he called attention to the reports of the territorial auditor and treasurer, recommended a revision of the election laws, and called attention to the fact that the last session failed to provide for sessions of the supreme court. Immediately after the reading of the message, the legislature again voted to adjourn to Lawrence, and again the proposition was vetoed by the governor. By a vote similar to that of the 4th, the measure was passed over the veto, and the assembly met at Lawrence on the 21st. This time Gov. Medary accepted the situation with as much complaisance as could be expected under the circumstances. The general laws passed during this session made a volume of 264 pages.
The greatest interest of the session centered upon the bill abolishing and prohibiting slavery in the territory, which was vetoed by Gov. Medary on Feb. 20. In his veto message he said: "This bill appears to be more political than practicalmore for the purpose of obtaining men's opinions than for any benefit or injury it can be to any one. I am the more fully convinced of this from the articles which have appeared in the organs of the Republican party in this territory, which, it is proper to presume, speak by authority of those they represent. Two of the papers before me call upon you to pass the bill, to see what I may say, and compel me to act in the premises."
Then, after quoting from some of the newspapers referred to and giving an exhaustive review of the slavery question, he said: "You merely enact into a law, the provisions of the Wyandotte constitution. It is merely declaratory. You give no notice to the owner of the slaveyou take 'snap judgment' on him; but are careful to impose no penalty if he should laugh at your sudden interference, and pursue the even tenor of his way."
The governor also called attention to the provisions of the organic act, giving the people the power to regulate their own institutions. "You claim," said he, "under this declaration of the organic act, the right to prohibit slavery in the Territory of Kansas. By so doing, you mistake both the words and the meaning, and misconceive the true spirit of the text."
And yet, in spite of this caustic criticism from the governor, the members of the legislature felt that they were exercising the same power as that exercised by the "bogus" legislature of 1855, when they passed the notorious "black laws," and construed the organic act in such a way as to force slavery into the territory. With this view, the legislature passed the bill over the veto by a vote of 29 to 8 in the house and 9 to 4 in the council. Judge Pettit of the territorial supreme court later held the act to be unconstitutional.
A census of the territory, reported to the governor early in the year 1860, showed a population of 71,770. As this was not equal to the number required to secure a representative in Congress, the legislature feared a delay in the admission of Kansas as a state, and appointed a committee to take another enumeration. This committee reported a population of 97,570, and the Federal census, taken June 1, showed a population of 109,401 within the limits as defined by the Wyandotte constitution, or about 16,000 more than the population of the average Congressional district.
In anticipation of speedy admission to statehood, both the political parties held conventions to select delegates to the national conventions. The Democratic convention assembled at Atchison on March 27, and selected as delegates to the Charleston convention, John A. Halderman, Isaac E. Eaton, John P. Slough, H. M. Moore, George M. Beebe, Charles W. Blair, James Christian, Charles Sims, William Weer, R. B. Mitchell, Robert Wilson and Cyrus K. Holliday. The convention adopted resolutions denouncing the law prohibiting slavery passed by the last session of the legislature, and commending Gov. Medary for his veto.
The Republican convention met at Lawrence on April 11. A. C. Wilder, John A. Martin, W. W. Ross, William A. Phillips, A. G. Proctor and John P. Hatterscheidt were elected as delegates to the national convention at Chicago, and T. D. Thacher, R. Gilpatrick and C. B. Lines were nominated for presidential electors. The resolutions adopted by the convention denounced "certain territorial bonds and warrants issued for claims allowed under the commission created by the legislature of 1859," and charged the territorial officials with "palpable perversions of duty in giving these evidences of territorial indebtedness."
The great drought of 1860 (See Droughts) caused intense suffering in all parts of the territory. Gov. Medary was importuned to call a special session of the legislature, in the hope that it might be able to devise some means of relief, but he declined to do so, and traveled over the territory to ascertain the conditions. On Sept. 10 he wrote to Gen. Cass, the United States secretary of state, asking for leave of absence to visit the United States fair at Cincinnati and the Ohio state fair at Dayton, "to correct false impressions that may be started to our injuries, while at the same time state the facts just as they are," etc. Leave was granted, but the governor remained so long in Ohio that, toward the latter part of the month, Gen. Cass ordered him to return immediately to Kansas. This order was evidently not to Gov. Medary's liking, for in his reply, dated Sept. 25, he said: "On my return to Kansas, I will endeavor to satisfy the department that I am not justly chargeable with frequent and unnecessary absence from duty. I am now nearly sixty years of age, and yours is the first imputation ever cast upon me from my youth up of 'neglect of duty,' in any capacity of a public character I ever held."
Gov. Medary did not return at once, however, and on Nov. 22 he telegraphed Gen. Cass from Columbus, Ohio, as follows: "I have just received alarming news from Fort Scott, K. T., of which you are by this time apprised. From the fact of my salary being withheld, I had determined to resign my office; but from the horrible news from Kansas I shall leave on the first train tonight for that afflicted territory. I will be at Leavenworth on next Sunday, where dispatches can reach me."
Obviously, the relations between Gov. Medary and the state department did not improve, and on Dec. 17, 1860, he tendered his resignation, to take effect on Jan. 1, 1861. He did not wait until that time, however, to relinquish the office, as a letter from George M. Beebe, territorial secretary, to President Buchanan, dated Dec. 21, 1860, says: "The resignation of Gov. Medary temporarily devolves the duties of executive on me." The records of the territory show that Mr. Beebe became acting governor on that date.Pages 252-259 from volume II 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 July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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