|1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS||Chapter 17||Part 2|
When Kansas had been thus settled and developed, other states both new and old, were to be put through the same course. Writing of this plan thirty years later, Mr. Thayer said:
|That we should put a cordon of Free States from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, and stop the forming of Slave States. After that we should colonize the northern border Slave States and exterminate Slavery. That our work was not to make women and children cry in anti-slavery conventions, by sentimental appeals, BUT TO GO AND PUT AN END TO SLAVERY.6|
If evidence were required, beyond the report brought in by Mr Thayer, as already set out, to stamp the whole plan as absurd, this latter language of Mr. Thayer would answer that purpose. As an example of how one of the expectations of Mr. Thayer was realized, it is only necessary to say that instead of there being one hundred thousand people from Massachusetts in Kansas, as there would have been had his twenty thousand per annum materialized, there were in Kansas, in 1860, only twelve hundred and eighty-two people from Massachusetts.
The report of Mr. Thayer was published broadcast. It appeared in the New York Tribune, May 20, 1854. Mr. Greeley was enthusiastic in his approval of the plan, as his editorials at that time sufficiently testify. Other papers, both in the North and the South, contained Mr. Thayer's report, and comments thereon. Knowledge of the Emigrant Aid Company, and its intentions, was, in a short time, as extensive as that of the Kansas-Nebraska bill.
The effect of the formation of emigration companies and societies in the North, alarmed the South. - Slavery had just triumphed in the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. The question as to whether Kansas should be a free or slave state, had by that bill, been referred to the people who might make the first constitution of the State. That form of dealing with the slave question was known as "Squatter Sovereignty." When it was known that certain Northern states intended to combat this form of that settlement, in Kansas Territory, and try to secure Kansas to freedom by sectional emigration, there was nothing left for the South to do but to meet the conditions with counter organizations, if the contest was to be continued. It came early to be the belief of the South, that the friends of a free state in Kansas did not intend to abide by the terms of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. The victory for slavery had been won in the halls of Congress, and the fact that it was not accepted as conclusive, was a surprise to the slavery leaders. They immediately assumed this position: Granted that the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was wrong, it was equally wrong to attempt to nullify the Repeal by violence, which the organization of sectional emigration societies was held to be. In the South, many of those who had opposed the Repeal, were, by the acts of the North, thrown into the ranks of the pro-slavery element. The passions of the South were aroused by the formation of these political, sectional emigration societies to the same point to which the Northern people had been stirred by the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. No other event so angered the South as the formation of these societies. Every resource was to be drawn upon to effect a plan to offset the work of the societies.7
The feeling on the western border of Missouri can be adequately described only by calling it a frenzy against all anti-slavery people and movements. They supposed the twenty thousand persons from Massachusetts might arrive in Kansas at any time. They determined to go over into the Territory at once and stake out their claims preparatory to permanent settlement, whether the Indian titles had been extinguished or not. There had long been secret orders in the South for the regulation and control of slaves. Their functions had been principally to execute local police regulations and furnish patrols for plantations. These societies were now reorganized. They were changed in purpose and strengthened for new duties. Perhaps some new orders were instituted. They were given other names, and they held frequent meetings. The new names of some of these societies were: "The Blue Lodge," "The Social Band," "Friend's Society," and "The Sons of the South." There were many others, but these were the principal ones in existence in Missouri. They were the basis of the organization to counteract the societies in the interest of free state.8
During the month of May, much of the Indian land, in what is now Leavenworth County, had been staked out as squatter claims. There had been no survey of the lands of Kansas Territory and there were no legal descriptions of parcels of lands on which to lay these claims. They were taken under the pre-emption law, entitling a citizen of the United States to one hundred and sixty acres of land for a homestead, but the land had to be purchased from the United States after a home had been established upon it. There was at that time no homestead law as later known. The squatters staked out their claims as nearly in accordance with these conditions as possible. They marked their claims by putting up a rude cabin, or by bringing timber or logs for such a cabin, or, in some instances, by placing four logs upon the ground as a foundation for the future cabin. By the treaties negotiated with the Indian tribes, it was provided that much of the land should be sold by the Government to settlers. In many instances land of this character was settled upon by the squatters. On the 10th of June, 1854, the squatters held a meeting in the Salt Creek Valley, west of the City of Leavenworth. At that meeting a Squatter's Claim Association was formed and the following declarations and resolutions were adopted:
WHEREAS, We the citizens of Kansas Territory, and many other citizens of the
adjoining State of Missouri, contemplating a squatter's home on the plains
of said Territory, are assembled at Salt Creek Valley for the purpose of taking
such steps as will secure safety and fairness in the location and preservation
of claims; therefore be it
Resolved (1) That we are in favor of a bona fide Squatter Sovereignty, and acknowledge the right of any citizens of the United States to make a claim in Kansas Territory, ultimately with the view of occupying it.
(2) That such claim, when made, shall be held inviolate so long as a bona fide intention of occupying is apparent, and for the purpose of defending and protecting such claim, we agree to act in concert, if necessary, to expel intruders.
(3) That every person of lawful age who may be at the head of a family, who shall mark out his claim of 160 acres, so that it may be apparent how the same lies, and proceed with reasonable diligence to erect thereon a cabin or tent, shall be deemed to have made a proper claim.
(4) That any person marking out his claim shall be deemed to have forfeited it unless he commences his cabin, or pitches his tent within two weeks thereafter, unless the same be on lands which prohibit it by military or Indian reservations.
(7) That a citizen of the Territory be appointed as register of claims, who shall keep a book in which he shall register the name and description of all squatters, and their claims, and the dates of making the same, for which registration he shall be allowed the sum of fifty cents, to be paid by the claimant.
(10) That a "Vigilance Committee" of thirteen be appointed by the Chairman to decide upon all disputes in relation to claims, and to protect the rightful party; and for that purpose shall have power to call together the entire "Squatter's Association."
|LEWIS BURNES, President.|
At Weston, in Platt County, a meeting adopted the following resolution:
|Resolved, That this association will, whenever called upon by any of the citizens of Kansas Territory, hold itself in readiness together to assist and remove any and all emigrants who go there under the auspices of the Emigrant Aid Societies.|
At Liberty, the county seat of Clay County, there was held a large meeting. The following declaration and resolution were passed:
|Therefore, we, the citizens of Clay County, believing self-preservation to be the first law of nature, and learning that organizations have been effected in the Northern States for the purpose of colonizing the Territory of Kansas with such fanatical persons as composed the recent disgraceful mob in the city of Boston, where a United States officer, for simply attempting to obtain justice for a Southern citizen, was shot down in the streets; and learning, too, that these organizations have for their object the colonization of said Territory with "eastern and foreign paupers," with a view of excluding citizens of slave-holding States, and especially citizens of Missouri, from settling there with their property: and, further, to establish a trunk of the under-ground railroad, connecting with the same line, where thousands of our slaves shall be stolen from us in thwarting their attempts upon our rights, we do|
On the 28th of June, 1854, the correspondent of the Baltimore Sun, sent his paper an abstract of the above resolutions:
|According to these resolutions abolitionists or free-soilers would do well not to stop in Kansas Territory, but to keep on up the Missouri River until they reach Nebraska Territory, where they can peacefully make claims and establish their abolition and free-soil notions for if they do, they will be respectfully notified that but one day's grace will be allowed for them to take up their bed and baggage and walk.|
As showing the state of feeling of the citizens of the State of Missouri, the following extracts from public prints of that day are set out.
Democratic Platform, Liberty, Mo., June 8, 1854:
|We learn from a gentleman lately from the Territory of Kansas that a great many Missourians have already set their meg in that country, and are making arrangements to "darken the atmosphere" with their negroes. This is right. Let every man that owns a negro go there and settle, and our northern brethren will be compelled to hunt further north for a location.|
June 27, it said:
|We are in favor of making Kansas a "Slave State" if it should require half the citizens of Missouri musket in hand, to emigrate there, and even sacrifice their lives in accomplishing so desirable an end.|
The Liberty Platform expressed itself in these words:
|Shall we allow such cut-throats and murderers, as the people of Massachusetts are, to settle in the territory adjoining our own State? No! If popular opinion will not keep them back, we should see what virtue there is in the force of arms.|
The Platte City Argus:
We are advised that the abolition societies of New England are shipping their
tools, at the public expense as Mormons, ostensibly for Salt Lake, but
that it is the real design of these worthies to stop in Kansas Territory
for the purpose of voting to establish a free State and an underground
railroad. We say, let the Mormons go their way in peace to Utah, but if they
remain in Kansas to inflict the blighting curse of their principles upon
the future policy of the country - let a Mormon war be declared
Citizens of the West, of the South and Illinois! Stake out your claims, and woe be to the abolitionist or Mormon who shall intrude upon it, or come within reach of your long and true rifles, or within point blank shot of your revolvers. Keep a sharp lookout, lest some dark night you shall see the flames curling from your houses or the midnight philanthropist hurrying off your faithful servant.
Later it said:
|The abolitionists will probably not be interrupted if they settle north of the fortieth parallel of north latitude, but south of that line, and within Kansas Territory they need not set foot. It is decreed by the people who live adjacent that their institutions are to be established, and candor compels us to advise accordingly.|
A meeting held at Westport passed the following resolutions:
|Resolved, That we will carry with us into the new Territory of Kansas every species of property, including slaves, and that we will hold and enjoy the same. That we desire to do so peacefully, and deprecate the necessity for resorting to violence in support of our just and lawful rights. Yet, (in no spirit of bravado and with the strongest wish for peace), apprehensive of interference with our private and domestic concerns by certain organized bands, who are to be precipitated upon us, we notify all such that our purpose is firm to enjoy all our rights, and to meet with the last argument all who shall in any way infringe upon them.|
9In the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, the South had secured what she termed Southern constitutional rights. She had triumphed. Her national victory was won. It is probable that she would have made an effort to dissolve the Union had she failed to secure the equal rights for slavery gained in the Repeal. But having obtained all she contended for, that crisis was passed.
What had the South done in the repeal of the Missouri Compromise?
She had voluntarily surrendered the national phase of slavery and accepted in lieu thereof the local phase of slavery - Squatter Sovereignty. The nation should notshould say whether slavery should exist in its bounds.
The extension of slavery, after the Repeal, was a local question - not a national question.
While the South had seemingly triumphed, she had in fact insured her own defeat. For the repeal of the Missouri Compromise would have destroyed slavery peaceably in another generation. The foundation for its destruction had been laid in the development of a national sentiment against it by the Repeal.
But for sectional emigration the South would have lost Kansas peaceably - and would have accepted that result without war - there would have been no solidified Southern sentiment to sustain an appeal to the sword. The Union sentiment in the South would have been able to assert itself. It would have pointed out that the South had lost through following her own plans. The slavery propagandists would thereafter have been a radical faction devoted to a losing cause, and would have disappeared, as have radical factions standing for the agitation of a settled issue in all ages.
Flaring maps in many histories show the vast extent of the Great Northwest thrown open to slavery by the Repeal. The South could not have gone there. Slave labor was profitable in the production of cotton. To have made it profitable in other industries would have required more time than the South could have given. For all that country was unsettled - a virgin wilderness. Slavery could not have seated itself in that country, even if unopposed, in one generation. The climatic theory of Webster would not have materialized. It has long been proven that the negro can live in comfort in any climate a white man can stand.
So, in summarization we find this:
The South demanded the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise as an act of justice.
She would have dissolved the Union if she had not secured the Repeal.
The Repeal was the end of the struggle as a national matter. The crisis was passed. The cause for secession no longer existed.
The extension of slavery was made a local issue. It became such when the South voluntarily accepted Squatter Sovereignty.
Slavery, instead of gaining by the Repeal, really destroyed itself by enacting that measure.
For it shocked and aroused the moral sense of the Union, which would have swept away slavery by peaceful means.
Slavery was revived as a national issue by the organization of sectional emigration to Kansas.
This organization was as great a crime as was the Repeal.
It changed the form of the extinction of slavery from a moral to a political contest - from a battle of moral principle to one of arms - force.
The Civil War did not result from the aggressions of slavery after the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, but
It was the result of the new issue raised in Kansas - sectional emigration - followed to its logical conclusion.
Once the issue came up for final settlement - once the issue came to be freedom or slavery, bondage or liberty - there was but one course. Then, it did not matter how the issue had been raised. Loyalty and patriotism, moral sense and justice, demanded that slavery be destroyed and liberty enthroned. And that made Kansas the battle-ground and her people immortal.
For Kansas won, and her victory saved the Union.
Thus, were sown the dragon-teeth which were sure to germinate and bear bountiful harvests of malice, intolerance, suspicion, strife, bloodshed, and civil war. In Kansas the South lost, and the history of the Territory and the State has been written by the victors - those founding a Free State through much tribulation. No dispassionate account of the actions of Northern emigration organizations has been written. But the time has come to set down the truth, even if it should prove that ardent friends of liberty and of free Kansas were carried beyond the bounds of right by their devotion to freedom. If the spirit of freedom was commercialized - sold for gain - the man base enough to do it should be singled out. For war and death followed his act, and innocent blood lay at his door. And if a historian has not the courage to record the facts, even though these facts are sometimes to the disparagement of those laboring on the side of right, then he should lay down the pen. For, man is, after all, but man laboring under the weaknesses common to mankind. There is no perfection. Zeal even for the right may carry the best beyond due bounds. When the passions are moved to the depths, human nature does not always see the signal marking good from evil. So, were set here in this primal land the final lines between Freedom and Slavery. Far flung were the battle-lines. Whether by right or by wrong - there they stood. Would that they had been set in good will - as they might have been. Henceforth the murky night would be lighted up by the red glare, and blood was to cry to heaven for vengeance in the earth.
6This reference is to the hatred
borne by Mr. Thayer to William Lloyd Garrison. Mr. Thayer and his friends never
tired of abusing Mr. Garrison and accusing him of having above everything else.
a desire to destroy the Union. The Abolitionists were denounced by Mr. Thayer to
the end of his life. It was always the plan of Mr. Thayer and his associates to
assume a superior air, together with a "holier than thou" attitude, and pretend
to superior achievements. Their manner of establishing their claims to
superiority consisted in violent abuse and unmeasured denunciation of other
people. As instances confirming this statement it is only necessary to call
attention to the writings of Mr. Thayer, Charles Robinson, G. W. Brown, and
later hired writings of their friends.
7 This reference is to the hatred If the element of sectional promoted emigration could have been left out of the Kansas situation, there would have been little serious trouble in Kansas. There might have been, possibly, a few blustering forays into the Territory by Mr. Atchison and his followers. These would not have had a solid Southern sentiment behind them. They would have accomplished nothing. The issue between freedom and slavery would have been settled peaceably at the polls, and freedom would have triumphed in Kansas without any great struggle.
8 There is no justification for the action of the South, especially those of the people of Missouri, about the formation of the New England Emigrant Aid Company. Little effort has been made, even in Missouri, to condone those actions. No successful effort for that purpose ever can be made. No excuse can ever be made for the course slavery had pursued for the previous thirty years. No valid excuse can be offered for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. It was reactionary and in the interest of barbarism. It was another link in the chain by which slavery was destroying itself. The time was near at hand when the moral sense of the people of the Union would have destroyed it because of such aggressive actions. There was no more excuse for sectional emigration in Kansas, than there had been for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. The result of each was to embitter people and inspire them with hatred against one another. Two wrongs never yet made a right.
9 The first mistake made in connection with the settlement of Kansas after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, was the organization of the societies for the promotion of emigration into the territory on political and sectional lines. The contest was by that act revived as a national issue and at once precipitated. This contest developed into a Civil War. Without the baneful influence of these societies and the actions they promoted, Kansas would have become a free state without outrage, and the Union would have been saved without bloodshed.
The views expressed here are not new. These principles were recognized by many in Kansas Territory from the coming of Reeder to the admission of the State into the Union. In a report to the Legislature of Kansas Territory, Special Session, 1860, the Chairman of the committee appointed to investigate the losses in the Territory during the border wars, had this to say:
"It had been demonstrated to the satisfaction of all, that most of the outrages complained of had been perpetrated and property taken and destroyed by a class of irresponsible and reckless desperadoes, drawn hither through the excitement and appliances of a political campaign and the intervention of parties and partizans outside of the Territory; that many of these desperadoes who came here were governed by self-interest instead of political principles and that they, to a great extent, participated in the warfare, some on one side and some on the other - in fact, that outside intervention in Territorial affairs, contrary to the wishes and interests of the real settlers of Kansas, caused and continued the prolonged strife. But for such intervention on either side, the real settlers would soon have settled their political differences in a legal and peaceable manner, provided the General Government had afforded them the protection and 'fair play' guaranteed them by the Constitution. Time and the ballot-box were all that were necessary to demonstrate and establish whatever the people of Kansas might deem for their best interests."
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