1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 16

CHAPTER XVI

KANSAS TERRITORY

The Kansas-Nebraska bill was approved by President Pierce, May 30, 1854.

Kansas Territory had its inception in the old idea of admitting two states at the same time - one a free state and the other a slave state - in order that the political balance should be maintained in the United States Senate. But for this idea, there would have been only Nebraska Territory organized west of the States of Missouri and Iowa. Kansas Territory might have been later organized from a portion of the greater territory so established. The plan to set up the two territories rather than one was evidently worked out by Senators Atchison and Douglas.

There is no record to show who brought forward the name Kansas for the new territory. There is little doubt, however, that Senator Douglas left this matter to Atchison. The new territory was watered principally by the Kansas River. That fact, it is reasonable to believe, suggested Kansas as the most fitting and appropriate name for Kansas Territory. It was in accordance with the name for the Northern territory which had always been called Nebraska, for the Nebraska or Platte River.

The evidence that the slave power expected to have Kansas come into the Union a slave state, and Nebraska a free state, developed later, when the effort to force slavery into Kansas was made. At a meeting held at Independence, Missouri, this sentiment was embodied in a series of resolutions, one of which is inserted here.

Resolved, That we, without distinction of party, desire to act in accordance with what is right and due, not only to interests of the South, but likewise to interests of the North, and though knowing that the North, through certain fanatics, has endeavored to dictate to the South, we yet wish to meet them as brothers and friends, and only ask our rights as compromise, viz.:

That we, the South, be permitted peaceably to possess Kansas, while the North, on same privilege, be permitted to possess Nebraska Territory.

Many expressions embodying the same sentiments are to be found in the public prints of Missouri immediately following the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill.

That portion of the Kansas-Nebraska bill erecting Kansas Territory, began with Section 19 and ended with Section 37. The Territory was bounded as follows:

Beginning at a point on the western boundary of the State of Missouri, where the thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude crosses the same; thence west on said parallel to the eastern boundary of New Mexico, thence north on said boundary to latitude thirty-eight; thence following said boundary westward to the east boundary of the Territory of Utah, on the summit of the Rocky Mountains; thence northward on said summit to the fortieth parallel of latitude; thence east on said parallel to the western boundary of the State of Missouri; thence south with the western boundary of said State, to the place of beginning.

After defining the boundaries of the new territory it was enacted as follows: "And the same is hereby created into a temporary government by the name of the Territory of Kansas, and when admitted as a State or States, the said Territory, or any portion of the same, shall be received into the Union with or without slavery, as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission."

The enabling act provided for a Governor and various other officers, to be appointed by the President of the United States. The Governor was to hold his office for a term of four years, unless sooner removed by the President. It was required that he should reside within the territory. The legislative power was composed of the Governor, and the Legislative Assembly - a Council and a House of Representatives. The Council was to consist of thirteen members having the qualifications of voters. The number of members of the Assembly might be increased with the increase of the population of the Territory. The Governor was required to take a census of the inhabitants and qualified voters of the Territory before calling any election therein. The election for members of the Council and House of Representatives was to be called by the Governor, who was to declare in his proclamation the number of members of the Council and of the House each district was entitled to. The Governor was to pass on the returns and make the declaration as to who was elected. His basis for such declaration was embraced in the phrase, "the person having received the highest number of legal votes." If a tie should result in any case, a new election was to be called. The Governor was to select the time and place for the first meeting of the Legislative Assembly, the term of which was limited to forty days in any one year, except the first session, when a term of sixty days was permitted. The qualifications for voters were as follows: '

Every free white male inhabitant above the age of twenty-one years, who shall be an actual resident of said Territory, and the qualifications hereinafter prescribed, shall be entitled to vote at the first election, and shall be eligible to any office within the said Territory; but the qualifications of voters and for holding office at all subsequent elections shall be such as shall be prescribed by the Legislative Assembly; Provided, that the right of suffrage and of holding office shall be exercised only by citizens of the United States and those who have declared, on oath, their intention to become such, and shall have taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the provisions of this act; And provided further, that no officer, soldier, seaman or marine, or others attached to troops in the service of the United States, shall be allowed to vote or hold office in said Territory by reason of being on service therein.

If it had been the desire of Congress to formulate a provision which would prove vexatious and troublesome to the inhabitants of Kansas Territory, no better paragraph could have been drawn.

The Judicial power of the Territory was vested in a Supreme Court, District Courts, Probate Courts and Justices of the Peace. The Supreme Court was to consist of a Chief Justice and two Associate Justices. They were to hold their offices four years, and they were required to hold, at the seat of Government, a term of court each year.

The Fugitive Slave law of 1850 was declared to be in full force in Kansas Territory.

It was provided that there should be appointed an Attorney for the Territory, and the appointment of a Marshal was also authorized. They were to serve terms of four years, but they could be removed by the President at any time.

The temporary seat of government was located at Ft. Leavenworth, and it was ordered that such public buildings there as were not in actual use and not required for military purposes might be occupied by the Territorial officers by direction of the Governor and Legislative Assembly.

A Delegate to the House of Representatives of the United States was to be elected. It was not necessary that he should be a resident of Kansas Territory; the only qualification appearing in the act being as follows: "Who shall be a citizen of the United States."

In Section 32 was found the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise in the language already shown in a previous chapter. The final section provided that all treaties, laws, and other engagements with the Indian tribes in the Territory, should remain in full force and be rigidly observed.

These sections comprised the enabling act - the fundamental law of Kansas Territory. They were to the Territory what a constitution is to a State. And they had been formulated with the design of giving slavery every advantage.

The white population of Kansas Territory consisted, first, of some seven hundred soldiers of the United States, who were not voters, as they were not legal residents of the territory. They were expressly disqualified for suffrage in the enabling act.

Soldiers were found at Fort Leavenworth, where there were two companies, consisting of thirteen officers and one hundred and fifty-eight men. There were also at that fort about seventy servants and members of the families of officers. Fort Riley was then in the course of construction. At that post there were four companies, consisting of sixteen officers and two hundred and twenty-eight men. There was one company, consisting of two officers and seventy-five men, at Walnut Creek, on the Upper Arkansas.

White settlers were found at Council Grove, where there were six trading establishments, with two blacksmith shops, and the Kansas Indian Mission. It is estimated that there were altogether thirty white people at Council Grove.

Isaac Munday lived at the Delaware Crossing - where the military road between Fort Leavenworth and Fort Scott crossed the Kansas River. At that point there was a post office. Munday was the blacksmith for the Delaware Indians, and there were some ten or twelve white people around him.

Attached to the Missions of the various churches among the Indian tribes were numerous white people, as there were at the trading posts. In the Wyandot Nation, in what is now Wyandotte County, there were a number of white men and women. Some of these were members of the tribe, and probably not citizens of the Territory under a strict construction of the law. They numbered about fifty persons. In the Shawnee reservation there was the Shawnee Mission of the M. E. Church, South, the Shawnee Baptist Mission and Labor School, and the Quaker Shawnee Labor School. There were possibly forty-five white people connected with these institutions. There were Catholic Missions among the Pottawatomies and the Osages. About these missions were some forty white persons. At the missions of the Iowa and Sac and Fox Indians in Doniphan County, and at the Indian Agency near, it is supposed there were forty or fifty white residents. The trading point of most importance was at Uniontown on the Kansas River. This was in the west line of what is now Shawnee County. Many of the Indians were paid their annuities there, and in 1854 there were probably twelve families living in that vicinity. There were other white people in the Territory, some of whom lived at Fort Scott. There was a trading post on the Grasshopper and one on the Blue. At both of these there were white families. At posts on the Oregon Trail whites were to be found who were in the service of stage lines and freighting companies. This is true also of the Santa Fe Trail. There were always to be found in every Indian community some white men. All the white residents of the Territory, when the act for its erection was signed, numbered less than fifteen hundred, counting the military. Whether any of these whites were legally inhabitants of Kansas Territory at the time of its establishment, depended upon their attitude and intentions. If they decided to remain and become citizens of the Territory, they would be entitled to vote. If it was their intentions to return to some point in the states, they were not to be counted as citizens.

In 1853, when it was apparent that the country west of Missouri would be given some form of territorial government, it was decided that the Indian titles to the lands in that country must be extinguished. The Commissioner of Indian affairs, George W. Manypenny, was sent out to induce the Indians to enter into treaties surrendering their lands to the United States. In 1854 treaties were made with most of the tribes whose reservations adjoined the State of Missouri. The treaties were concluded at Washington, to which city the chiefs and principal men of the various tribes had been summoned. Knowledge of the terms of these treaties was withheld for a time from the general public, and it was charged that this was done in the interest of the people living along the western border of Missouri, and who were supposed to favor the institution of slavery.

The Missouri counties adjoining the east border of Kansas Territory contained a population of about eighty thousand whites, as shown by the Census of 1850. They owned some twelve thousand slaves. The population of the entire State of Missouri was composed of five hundred and ninety-two thousand whites, eighty-seven thousand slaves, and twenty-six hundred free negroes. The western counties were the most populous counties of the State. With the exception of those employed in the freighting and stage service over the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, the population of Missouri was composed largely of farmers and small tradesmen. They were principally of Southern ancestry. Kentucky and Tennessee had furnished the greater number of the pioneer settlers, and emigration from those states to Missouri always exceeded that from any other section of the Union. Their forefathers had conquered the wilderness west of Virginia and North Carolina. These first settlers of Missouri understood perfectly the processes of subduing a new country, and of developing a civilization therein. By experience, inherited traits, and characteristics, and by proximity to the uninhabited lands, the people of Missouri were better fitted for the settlement of this new country than were the people of any other portion of the United States. Next to these in suitability for pioneers for Kansas Territory, were the people of Ohio; West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and the western portion of Pennsylvania. All these people understood the manner in which a new country would have to be settled and developed. They were self-reliant and could secure a cabin of logs and plant such crops as were suitable to a new country. They were skilled in the arts of home-manufacture. In the homes of Western Missouri at that time, were to be found the spinning wheel, the hand cards for cotton and wool, the warping-bars and the loom. Many households manufactured their own shoes as well as their cloth.

A point which has been overlooked by the historians of both Missouri and Kansas, is this; in Missouri there was a large element utterly opposed to slavery. The same is true of the states of Kentucky and Tennessee, at that time. Missourians moved into Kansas Territory in greater numbers than did people from any other state, and a large portion of those Missourians were in favor of making Kansas a free state. It should be remembered in reading the following pages that the majority of the Missourians who made so much trouble in Kansas were not those who had taken up a permanent residence in the Territory.

The Missourians who became the Border-Ruffians were the followers of Senator Atchison. No justification of their course can ever be made. In opposing the organization of Nebraska Territory, Senator Atchison often addressed the people of Platte County and other counties in Western Missouri. In a speech which he made early in 1853, from a dry-goods boy, in the City of Weston, he defined his position on Nebraska Territory as connected with slavery.

He would oppose the admission of Nebraska into the Union as a Free State with the last drop of his blood; he would oppose the Missouri Compromise to his last breath; he would have that odious Missouri Compromise repealed, which made men either give up their negroes, or give to _____ Northern cattle the finest farms in Nebraska. American citizens should be privileged to go where they pleased and carry their property with them, whether that property was furniture, mules or niggers. On that question, when it should come up, he pledged himself to be faithful; that the Missouri Compromise should be repealed. What will you do if the Missouri Compromise is not repealed? Will you sit down here at home, and permit the nigger thieves, the cattle, the vermin of the North to come into Nebraska and take up those fertile prairies, run off your negroes and depreciate the value of your slaves here? I know you well; I know what you will do; you know how to protect your own interests; your own rifles will free you from such neighbors and secure your property. You will go in there if necessary with bayonets and with blood. But we will repeal the Compromise. I would sooner see the whole of Nebraska in the bottom of hell than see it a Free State.

This was the language which made Border-Ruffians. Senator Atchison continued his rabid harangues after the organization of Kansas Territory in his efforts to have slavery prevail. His utterances on this subject were always of this same nature. His followers were often instigated by his inflammatory speeches to perpetuate outrages on the citizens of Kansas. They especially delighted to vent their wrath on any former citizen of Missouri favoring a free state whom they found living in Kansas.

In proof of what is here said concerning the Missouri people and their sentiments toward slavery, it is only necessary to remember that the followers of Benton were almost unanimously opposed to slavery. His faction of the democracy diminished in power and numbers with his successive defeats, it is true, but a great body of that faction remained loyal to the Union and opposed slavery. They became the rallying point for the supporters of the Federal Union. Among them were Hon. Frank P. Blair, who organized the forces at St. Louis in favor of the Union, and, with Ceneral Lyon, did save Missouri to the United States. In support of this position it may be said also that not more than 45,000 Missourians ever enlisted in the Confederate Army, while more than 200,000 were enrolled in the army of the United States. Most of these were militia, but in the matter of enlisted volunteers there were more Union than Confederate soldiers.

Additional proof of the conditions existing in Missouri in 1854 is shown in the following extract from a letter written by the leader of the pioneer party sent out by the Emigrant Aid Company. It was dated, St. Louis, Steamer "Polar Star," July 24, 1854:

Nowhere has the Party been more kindly received than in St. Louis. We are visited daily by intelligent citizens, who express a warm interest in the movement. We are assured that throughout the State the great bulk of the honest inhabitants desire just such a neighbor State as an encouraged emigration from the respectable inhabitants of the North would make of Kansas. The Jackson and Platte County resolutions are denounced in the strongest terms, and you will see that already the back track is taken, and that some of the papers in that section of the State are endeavoring to put a very harmless construction upon them, and one altogether different from the obvious meaning. We are told that at another meeting, held in one of the border counties quite recently, similar resolutions against Northern emigration were voted down, eight to one. We apprehend no trouble. Popular sentiment has been too decidedly manifested against the fanaticism of the late Jackson County meeting.1


1 The letter will be found at page 22, of Organization, Objects, and Plan of Operation of the Emigrant Aid Company. Third edition, Boston, 1854. It is signed "Charlestown," and was probably written by Charles H. Branscomb, an agent of the Company.

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A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans , written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 1998.

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