Walsh's Administration.As stated in the preceding article, Mr. Walsh was appointed secretary of the territory in the spring of 1858, and entered upon his duties as such on May 12. On July 3 Gov. Denver left Kansas for Washington, leaving Mr. Walsh as acting governor until the 30th of the same month. But little of moment occurred during that period, and aside from issuing a number of commissions to county and township officers he had but slight opportunity to display his executive ability.
On Oct. 10, 1858, when Gov. Denver resigned, Mr. Walsh again became acting governor and served until the arrival of Gov. Medary on Dec. 18. Probably the most significant occurrence in this second period of his administration was the Democratic territorial convention at Leavenworth on Nov. 23. This convention adopted resolutions declaring "the causes which have hitherto divided and estranged the people of Kansas no longer exist;" urging upon Congress "the justice and propriety of selling a quarter-section of land to every actual settler who shall remain upon and cultivate the land for three consecutive years;" favoring legislation to encourage the establishment of free schools, and demanding of the legislature "the immediate revision of the present representative appointment, so that the people may he fully and fairly represented in that body."
During the fall of 1858 the free-state men under Montgomery and John Brown continued to "regulate" affairs in southeastern Kansas, particularly in Linn and Bourbon counties. (See Denver's Administration.) On Nov. 19 Walsh wrote to Gen. Cass, Buchanan's secretary of state, suggesting a reward of $300 for Montgomery and $500 for John Brown, and expressing the opinion that this would "break up their organization or drive them from the territory." The reward was not offered at that time, and in the latter part of November the governor's office was almost deluged with correspondence relating to the unsettled conditions and outrages committed in the stricken district. Among those who wrote to the governor were C. M. Daniels, sheriff of Linn county; R. B. Mitchell, a member of the legislature; Joseph Williams, associate justice in the 3d judicial district; and J. E. Jones, editor of the Fort Scott Democrat. To show the administration at Washington the condition of affairs in Kansas, Mr. Walsh, on Dec. 9, sent copies of several of these letters, with some of his replies, to Gen. Cass.
From his letter it would appear that he had changed his opinion concerning the offering of a reward for the apprehension of Montgomery, as he says: "I have had a proposition from one of Marshal Fain's deputies to take Montgomery, but without a prison to keep him in, it would be useless, in case he should be unable to give bail and if he could give the required bail he would be at the same kind of work the next day."
At that time the arrival of Gov. Medary was daily expected, and with regard to the deputy marshal's proposition Mr. Walsh said: "I shall wait for Gov. Medary's arrival, and let him lay his plans before the governor, with the hope that he may have the means to renumerate him for so hazardous an enterprise," etc.
From Aug. 1 to Sept. 15, 1859, during a temporary absence of Gov. Medary from the territory, Mr. Walsh was for a third time called upon to discharge the duties of governor. The most important events during this time were probably the political conventions to nominate candidates for delegates to Congress. On Aug. 3 the Republicans met at Lawrence and renominated Marcus J. Parrott for another term, and on the 17th the Democrats met at Topeka and nominated Saunders W. Johnston, one of the early territorial judges. On Sept. 12 James M. Winchell and John A. Martin, who had respectively served as president and secretary of the Wyandotte constitutional convention, issued a proclamation calling an election for Oct. 4, when the people would vote for or against that constitution. Before the day of the election arrived Gov. Medary returned and assumed the functions of the executive office.
William C. Mathias, a member of the legislature, wrote to President Buchanan on March 3, 1860, inclosing a petition from the Democratic members of that body, complaining of Mr. Walsh's official conduct. In his letter Mr. Mathias said: "For some time past there seems to be an 'irrepressible conflict' going on between Gov. Medary and Sec. Walsh, to the detriment of our party organization, and when the late legislature met it was apparent, but the Democratic members refrained from taking sides. At the close of the session, however, Mr. Walsh acted in bad faith (as we think) toward our party, and we therefore resolved to address you in the accompanying letter; and we now request a removal of Mr. Walsh. Our reasons are as follows: When the session before the last (1859) adjourned, Mr. Walsh stated that he had no money to pay off the members, but they were told to call on a certain banker in Lawrence, K. T., (Mr. Babcock) and that he (Babcock) would pay them; but when they did so a discount of five per cent. was demanded, which was properly refused.
"At the close of the late session, at which those whom I now represent and myself were members, we were told by Mr. Walsh that he had no money, but if we would call on Mr. Babcock, the banker, he (Babcock) would take an order drawn on him (Walsh) and he (Walsh) would accept the same. We called as requested, and Mr. Babcock again demanded five per cent. discount for currency, which we promptly refused. . . These facts alone have tended to a considerable degree to depreciate the administration in Kansas Territory, and unless he (Walsh) is removed we fear further harm to our already crippled party."
George M. Beebe, a member of the legislature, was recommended by Mr. Mathias and the petitioners as a suitable person to succeed Mr. Walsh, and this recommendation was indorsed by Gov. Medary. On April 21 a remonstrance against the removal of Mr. Walsh was sent to President Buchanan. It was signed by John Martin; F. B. Smith, clerk of the Shawnee county district court; C. C. Kellum, postmaster at Topeka; James Gordon, postmaster at Tecumseh; and Cyrus K. Holliday. This remonstrance was presented to the president by Mr. Fitzpatrick of Alabama, and was indorsed by Albert G. Brown, one of the senators from Mississippi, who suggested to the president that it would be well to examine the inclosed papers before final action was taken on the question of Beebe's nomination. Mr. Beebe was appointed, however, on May 1, and on the 17th Walsh wrote to Senator Brown, inclosing a statement of his account with the government and charging Gov. Medary with being a "Douglas man." At that time he was acting governor of the territory, having assumed the duties of the office on April 15.
On June 14, still acting as governor, Walsh wrote a long letter to Gen. Cass explaining the situation in Kansas and the causes of the strained relations between him and the governor. "It is now nearly two months," said he, "since I became aware that Gov. Medary, working through other parties, was endeavoring to effect my removal from office. As no charges have been made officially known to which I could make answer, I have been left to conjecture the ground on which my removal was asked."
The writer then goes on to account for his failure to pay the members of the legislature, and says he informed the comptroller on the day of the adjournment that the funds for that purpose had not yet arrived. After calling attention to the fact that his relations with Govs. Stanton, Walker and Denver had always been pleasant, he added: "It was left for Gov. Medary to ascertain and make the charge of incompatibility of temper which renders it necessary for himself or me to get out of office."
Mr. Walsh then charges the governor with having issued bonds contrary to law upon warrants issued by H. J. Strickler, territorial auditor, and expresses the opinion that the governor "committed a grave error, if not worse, in signing, sealing and approving certain territorial bonds contrary to law, and against the advice of good legal authority and my earnest protestation."
But Mr. Walsh's greatest anxiety seems to have been for the welfare of the party. "If my past action as a Democrat and conduct as an officer," said he, "cannot save me from humiliation for the gratification of Gov. Medary without an exposure of these transactions, I trust the knowledge now imparted of the motive which impels his action is certainly deserving of some consideration, and its effects upon the party obviated, by at least not removing an officer who has done his whole duty as far as opportunity applied, and endeavored to prevent the violation of law and the disgrace of the party and the administration by others."
Two days after this letter was written Mr. Walsh decided it was useless to make any further efforts to retain his position, and retired from the office, thus bringing his administration abruptly to an end.Pages 872-875 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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