1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 19 Part 4

It will be seen that the name of Mr. Coates, of Kansas City, Missouri, appears as one of the committee. The appeal would have been very appropriate in some precinct in Pennsylvania, but was impotent on the frontier in a battle to the death between slavery and Freedom. The supporters of Mr. Flenneken did not know the real condition of affairs, and were at a disadvantage. Those representing the slavery interests knew exactly what they wanted and intended to have. They determined to have none of Mr. Flenneken's help in Kansas. On the 25th of November there appeared in the Kansas Herald a counter-statement signed by the friends of Whitfield, among them F. Gwinner, A. Russell, M. Pierce Rively, H. D. McMeekin, R. M. Deavenport, D. A. N. Grover, James N. Burnes, William F. Dyer, James Brooks, Robert C. Miller, M. Clark, George Perian, C. H. Grover, A. Payne, James W. Rich, Thomas S. Owens, E. G. Booth, A. H. Scott, N. T. Shaler, and Thomas Johnson. It was an appeal "To The Freemen of Kansas" whom it warned, urging voters to be on their guard. The statement charged that Mr. Flenneken was relying upon the Abolition vote of the Wakarusa settlement for his election, which was in a measure true, as he was supported by Dr Charles Robinson, agent of the Emigrant Aid Company. The paper closed with a statement of the qualifications of Whitfield, and its publication ended the chances of Mr. Flenneken for political preferment in Kansas.

In its issue of November 24th, the Kansas Herald contained an account of the visit of John A. Wakefield to Leavenworth. He had delivered an address to the citizens of that town. The account of Mr. Wakefield's visit is given.

Mr. Wakefield arrived in our town yesterday, and, after a short notice, a respectable number of our Citizens assembled to hear him speak. He addressed them in a few remarks, defining his position in favor of changing the Delaware treaty so as to give every man a preemption, and dwelt upon its injustice. He was in favor of liberal appropriations for making roads, and for improving the navigation of the Kansas River, and for creating a liberal fund for education, and for granting a homestead to every settler. He was against agitating the slavery question at this time, as the Delegate could have no vote upon the question. He was born in South Carolina and raised in Kentucky; had lived in free States and been a pioneer all his life; had held many offices of public trust; was acquainted with many of the Western members of Congress, and believed he could exercise an influence with them; that he was in favor of this being a free State; was a free-soiler, and opposed to abolitionism and free negroes settling in this Territory. He said he was an actual resident of the Territory, with his wife and children around him, and doubted whether either Gen. Whitfield or Mr. Flenneken could claim a bona fide residence in Kansas. He said he had canvassed a large portion of the Territory; was satisfied that the race was between him and Gen. Whitfield and that one or the other of them must be elected; that no other person would be in the way. "Now," said he, "choose whom you will have."

This is the substance of the remarks. We have no room for comment. The people now have the opinions of the candidate; they can judge for themselves.

Of the candidates, it may be said, that John W. Whitfield was certain to receive the slavery vote, although he had not, in his speech, raised the slavery issue. Mr. Flenneken had aroused the bitter opposition of the element supporting Whitfield. He was a bolter, refusing to abide by the result of the nominating convention. The slavery vote saw the opportunity to show its opposition to the course of Governor Reeder, who was scourged over the shoulders of Flenneken. Judge John A. Wakefield was a bluff, hearty, honest, frank, out-spoken, anti-slavery man. He was the only candidate taking an honest position, and should have been elected Delegate to Congress. It was not to be expected that the election would be held without some voice being heard from Missouri. In anticipation of what might come to pass in Kansas, Senator Atchison had addressed the people of Platte County, Missouri, at Weston, November 6, 1854. What he said may be taken as an expression of the intentions of the rabid slavery element toward Kansas in the coming election, and thereafter. As reported by the Platte Argus, the speech was as follows:

He would now pass to the settlement of Kansas, its destiny and the effect it was to have upon the State of Missouri.

The organic law of the Territory vests in the people who reside in it the power to form all its municipal regulations. They can either admit or exclude slavery; and this is the only question that materially affects our interests.

Upon this subject it would be unnecessary for him to say one word, if things had been left to their ordinary and natural course. Men heretofore migrated and settled new Territories upon this continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, following the parallels of latitude, and carrying with them their habits, customs and institutions. But now new laws are to govern; new lines, new habits, customs and institutions are to be substituted, and that, too, by the force of money and organization.

The North is to be turned to the South, and all the Territories of the United States to be abolitionized; colonies are to be planted in all places where slavery and slave institutions can best be assailed; and Kansas is now a favorite position, from whence they can now assail Missouri, Arkansas and Texas. Men are being sent from Massachusetts and elsewhere for the avowed purpose of excluding slave-holders from Kansas, and, as a matter of course, to seduce, steal and protect fugitive slaves. The first thing, however, they have to do is to throw into Kansas a majority of votes to control the ballot boxes.

This is the policy of the abolitionists. These means are used by them. Their money and all other influences they can bring to bear are to be exerted for this purpose.

Gen. Atchison said that his mission here today was, if possible, to awaken the people of this county to the danger ahead, and to suggest the means to avoid it. The people of Kansas, in their first elections, would decide the question, whether or not the slaveholder was to be excluded, and it depended upon a majority of the votes cast at the polls. Now, if a set of fanatics and demagogues, a thousand miles off, could afford to advance their money and exert every nerve to abolitionize the Territory and exclude the slave-holder, when they have not the least personal interest in the matter, what is your duty? When you reside within one day's journey of the Territory, and when your peace, your quiet and your property depend upon your action, you can, without an exertion, send 500 of your young men who will vote in favor of your institutions.

Should each county in the State of Missouri only do its duty, the question will be decided quietly and peaceably at the ballot box. If we are defeated, then Missouri, and the other Southern States will have shown themselves recreant to their interests, and will have deserved their fate. The abolitionists will have nothing to gain or lose. It is an abstraction with them. We have much to gain and much to lose.

Said he, "If you burn my barn, I sustain a great loss, but you gain nothing. So it is with the colonizationist societies and the dupes they send to abolitionize Kansas.

"If these abolitionists steal your negroes, they gain nothing. The negroes are injured; you are ruined. So much greater is the motive for activity on your part.

"Fellow citizens, we should not be apathetic when so much is involved. We should be up and doing." He was for meeting organization with organization. He was for meeting those philanthropic knaves peaceably at the ballot-box and outvoting them.

If we cannot do this, it is an omen that the institution of slavery must fall in this and the other Southern States, but it would fall after much strife, civil war and bloodshed.

If abolitionism, under its present auspices, is established in Kansas, there will be constant strife and bloodshed between Kansas and Missouri. Negro stealing will be a principle and a vocation. It will be the policy of philanthropic knaves, until they force the slave-holder to abandon Missouri; nor will it he long until it is done. You cannot watch your stables to prevent thieves from stealing your horses and mules; neither can you watch your negro quarters to prevent your neighbors from seducing away and stealing your negroes.

If Kansas is abolitionized, all men who love peace and quiet will leave us, and all emigration to Missouri from the slave States will cease. We will go either to the North or to the South. For himself, he could gather together his goods and depart as soon as the most active among us. He had neither a wife or child to impede his flight. In a hybrid State we cannot live, we cannot be in a constant quarrel - in a constant state of suspicion of our neighbors. The feeling is entertained by a large portion of mankind everywhere.

Yet, he said, he was willing, notwithstanding his pacific views, to hang negro thieves; he would not punish those who merely entertained abstract opinions; but negro thieves, and persons who stirred up insubordination and insurrection among our slaves, he believed it right to punish, and they could not be punished too severely; he would not punish a man who believed that rape, murder or larceny was abstractly right; yet he would punish the man who committed either.

He said that there were a few men who entertained those opinions in the western part of the State of Missouri, and who, no doubt, practiced upon them, and that when full evidence was obtained, justice should be done them Convincing evidence must be had. He was opposed to violence - indiscriminate violence, but let the punishment fall on the guilty.

Was it not strange to find, in a State so deeply interested in the question of slavery, a portion of the press denouncing such men as Douglas, Cass, Bright and others, and exulting over victories lately obtained by the Abolitionists in the Northern States? Yet, it was so. As to slanders and abuse heaped upon himself, he cared but little. It was the fate of better men. But a day of reckoning will come. There will be a reaction in the Northern States. The people of the North cannot be in favor of dissolving the Union.

He had always had great confidence in the intelligence and virtue of the people, but he acknowledged that this confidence had been somewhat shaken in late years.

He again told the audience that, to succeed in making Kansas a slave Territory, it was not sufficient for the South to talk, but to act; to go peaceably and inhabit the Territory, and peaceably to vote and settle the question according to the principles of the Douglas bill.

In the Western counties of Missouri, preparations were made to invade Kansas and vote at the election. Companies were organized and they came over into Kansas on the 28th of November, bringing with them provisions and camping outfits. It was decided before they left home to what point they should proceed for the purpose of voting. It is established that they appeared at the polls in such numbers that the legal voters of the Territory, as defined and qualified by Governor Reeder, were completely overwhelmed. They took possession of the polls of many of the precincts, selected their own Judges and Clerks of election, and voted unanimously for General Whitfield. The result of the vote was as follows:

Whitfield .....................2,258
Flenneken .....................305
Wakefield .....................248
Seattering.....................22

Total vote.....................2,833

It was entirely unnecessary for the Missourians to invade Kansas to carry this election. There is little doubt that Whitfield would have been elected if they had remained at home. He would have received a majority of the legal vote. This election was the first revelation to the people of the country of what slavery had determined to do in regard to Kansas. It was fully revealed that no violence would be neglected to insure the victory to slavery. Knowledge of the outrageous conduct of the Missourians soon spread all over the United States.

What had been done in Kansas aroused the North. The South had already been aroused over the organization of the Emigrant Aid Society. It was evident that precautions had been taken in the South, the effects of which, appeared at the polls in this election. Governor Reeder was placed in opposition to the policy of his party as that policy was formulated in Western Missouri. It was clear that he would be the object of the wrath of the people of his own party. The Democracy of Pennsylvania did not fit the frontier, being altogether too mild for the work demanded to be done there.

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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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