1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 20 Part 3

The Missourians had elected a Legislature to suit themselves. A majority of the members lived in Missouri and had no intention of making a legal residence in Kansas. The candidates put up by the legal voters had been uniformly defeated. They appealed to Governor Reeder to set aside the election. When it became known that the election might be contested the members having the majority of votes demanded their certificates of election of Governor Reeder. These they desired to procure before formal protest had been filed. The indecision of the Governor caused him further trouble. His hesitation brought him many letters threatening his life, should he set aside the election. The Missouri papers contained incendiary articles for the purpose of intimidating the Governor. The Organic Act gave him full power to declare the election illegal if he should have sufficient grounds and desired to do so. The result of the election and the demands of the Missourians placed him in a dangerous position. His party expected that his official action would be in favor of the establishing of slavery in Kansas. His associates in the Territorial Government favored the actions of the Missourians. Describing his actions in passing upon the returns of this election, Governor Reeder had this to say:

About the time fixed as the return day for that election a majority of the persons returned as elected assembled at Shawnee Mission and Westport holding private caucuses at both places. I had frequent conversations with them, and they strenuously denied my right to go behind the returns made by the judges of the election, or investigate in any way the legality of the election. A committee called upon me and presented me a paper, signed by twenty-three or twenty-four of them, to the same effect. Threats of violence against my person and life were freely afloat in the community; and the same threats were reported to me, as having been made by members elect, in their private caucuses. In consequence of it being reported to me that a number of the members, in their caucuses, in their speeches, had declared they would take my life if I persisted in taking cognizance of the complaints made against the legality of the elections, I made arrangements to assemble a small number of friends for defense, and, on the morning of the 6th of April I proceeded to announce my decision upon the returns. Upon the one side of the room were arrayed the members-elect, nearly, if not quite, all armed; and, on the other side, about fourteen of my friends, who, with myself, were also well armed. My official action upon those election returns was entered on the executive minutes, and is already in the possession of the committee. I was not then aware of the frauds perpetrated in the other districts, which were not set aside, as no complaints had been filed, and the facts had not been communicated to me. Sufficient opportunity to contest the election had been given by the proclamation. The form of complaint was very simple, and full five days, exclusive of the day of the election, were allowed for filing it. The most remote polls were within three days' journey, or less, of my office, which was kept open till midnight of the last day. The reasons why they were not contested had been stated already by other witnesses.

What the Governor did in relation to this election is shown by the executive minutes here set out:

April 6, 1855. - Decision of the Governor upon the returns of election held 30th march, 1855:

First Council District. - Besides the protest filed against the election at Lawrence for importation of votes, there is a defect in the return. The words "lawful resident voters" are stricken out. The Lawrence election is therefore set aside, and a new election must be had for Representatives.

Fourth Election District. - Besides the protest filed in this, there are material omissions in oath and return, purposely made. This must also be set aside.

Seventeenth Election District. - The form of return is correct as prescribed, and no protest for illegal voting. The form of oath differs from that prescribed, but is a searching one, and nearly, if not quite, equivalent to that prescribed, and perhaps ought to be sanctioned. If so, this district will elect Thomas Johnson, Edw. Chapman, Council; A. S. Johnson, Representative. This election is, however, not declared at present, but held under advisement.

Second Council District. - The judges were sworn by G. W. Taylor, who had no authority to administer the oath. In addition, there is a protest complaining of importation of voters, and violent expulsion of the original judges. For want of sufficient oath, the election is set aside, and a new election for Council and Representative ordered.

Third Council District. - Besides the protest for violent expulsion of the judges at the Tecumseh polls and for illegal votes, there are material erasures in the oath, purposely made, return if form prescribed. This is held under advisement for the present, but will probably be set aside, and if so, a new election will be ordered for Representatives.

Seventh Election District. - Besides the protest complaining of a large number of illegal votes, the judges do not appear to have been sworn at all. This poll is therefore set aside.

Eighth Election District. - No protest is filed, and the proceedings in regular prescribed form. A majority of votes for members of the House of Representatives are cast for A. I. Baker, Esq., and he is declared elected in the Fifth Representative District. For Council, the vote is a tie between H. J. Strickler and H. Rice, so that as to Council the result still depends upon the Tecumseh poll.

Fourth Council District. - Of the four precincts, Bull Creek is the only one contested, that from Pottawatomie Creek being withdrawn. Suppose the complaint to be true, if successful it cannot alter the result. The remaining three precincts are uncontested and in form, and gave a majority to A. M. Coffee and David Lykens for Council; W. A. Heiskell, Allen Wilkinson, Henry Younger and Samuel Scott for the House of Representatives, and they are declared elected.

Fifth Council District. - The returns are all in due form, and no protest. William Barbee for Council. Joseph C. Anderson and S. A. Williams for House of Representatives, are declared elected.

Sixth Council District. - The Ninth and Tenth Election Districts are in form as to their returns; no protest. S. D. Houston is declared elected Representative in the Eighth Representative District.

In addition to the protest against the Eleventh Election District (being the poll at Marysville), the returns show a fatal defect. Instead of conducting the election by ballot, it must have been held viva voce, as the manner in which each person voted is recorded at once opposite his name. As the proclamation required the election to be by ballot, and the tickets to be counted after closing the polls, it is impossible to sustain this return. It is accordingly set aside. The residue of the district gives M. F. Conway a majority for Council, and he is declared elected.

In the Ninth Representative District - the Marysville poll being set aside - the returns of St. Marys and Silver Lake give Solomon McCartney, 19; F. J. Marshall, 16; Palmer McCartney, 7; and Solomon McCartney is declared to be elected. It is alleged that there is no such man, and that the vote for him was cast under mistake of the name of Palmer McCartney. A slight difference in name should always be disregarded, to carry out the will of the voter, but the difference here is too great to be reconciled. If these facts are shown as alleged, the vote for Solomon McCartney is a nullity, and the certificate will be granted to Francis J. Marshall.

Seventh Council District. - The returns in form, and no protest. John W. Foreman for Council, J. H. Stringfellow and R. L. Kirk for House of Representatives are declared elected.

Eighth Council District. - The returns in form, and no protest. Joel P. Blair and Thos. W. Watterson for House of Representatives, are declared elected.

Ninth Council District. - Returns in form, and no protest. D. A. N. Grover for Council, H. B. C. Harris and J. Weddle for House of Representatives, are declared elected.

Tenth Council District. - Besides the protest filed against the Leavenworth poll for illegal voting, it appears that the judges purposely struck out a material part of the prescribed form of return, to wit; that the votes were polled "by lawful resident voters." This poll is set aside, and a new election for Representative becomes necessary.

In the Thirteenth Election District, the protest filed has been withdrawn, and the result stands upon the return of the judges who conducted the election, and a counter statement of the judges appointed by the proclamation, who, after having taken the oath and entered upon the performance of their duties, abandoned the polls and left the grounds because, as they say, a large number of non-residents were on the grounds demanding to vote, and obstructing the polls, and because no lawful votes were presented. This is not a protest as provided for in the proclamation, and even if regarded as a report or return by them, relative to the performance of their official duties, does not disclose sufficient reason for vacating their posts. They were not drawn away by force. If illegal votes were offered, it was their duty to remain and reject them. If the polls were obstructed, it was their business at least to endeavor to clear them, and at all events to endeavor to remain at their posts in the performance of their duty until the time for closing the polls, unless driven away by violence. The place they left was filled by other judges appointed according to the proclamation, and their return, which is in form, and no protest before me, shows a majority for L. J. Eastin and R. R. Rees for Council, W. H. Tebbs for House of Representatives, who are accordingly declared elected.

Governor Reeder, it will be seen, set aside the election in the first, second, third, seventh, eighth and sixteenth districts. To the persons having received the highest number of votes in all the other districts, he issued certificates of election. In the districts where the election was set aside, he called an election to fill vacancies, to be held the 22nd of May. He also fixed the time of the meeting of the Legislature for the first Monday in July. It was to meet at the town of Pawnee, where a Capitol building was in course of erection. This town was on the present Military Reservation of Fort Riley. Governor Reeder left the Territory on the 17th of April to visit his home at Pennsylvania, "for the purpose of taking out my family and attending to private business, as well as for the purpose of consulting with the President in regard to the state of things in the Territory." He did not return until the last of June.

The election called for the 22nd of May was not attended by the Missourians, except in the precinct of Leavenworth. It was their plan to ignore this election, as the action of Governor Reeder had given them a large majority of the Legislature. They knew that they could unseat any members elected at this supplementary election, which resulted in the choice of six Free-State members of the House, and two Free-State members of the Council. The House members were, Philip P. Fowler, John Hutchinson and Erastus D. Ladd, of Lawrence; Augustus Wattles, William P. Jesse, of Douglas, and Cyrus K. Holliday of Tecumseh precinct, which included Topeka. To the Council were elected John A. Wakefield and Jesse D. Wood.

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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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