|1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS||Chapter 29||Part 2|
At the solicitation of many friends, I will commence the organization of a
company of one hundred men to proceed to Kansas about the last of March.
This pioneer hand needs the aid of our moneyed citizens. They go to a far-off country for the purpose of securing homes, and at the same time to defend Southern institutions. They appeal to their native State for aid, with the hope that their appeal will not be in vain.
Others raised companies in South Carolina, among them Colonel Warren D. Wilkes. To aid in this movement, D. R. Atchison, Silas Woodson, B. E'. Stringfellow, and other citizens of Missouri made a tour of the South. Atchison had already written a letter which was widely published by Southern papers.
We are in a constant state of excitement here (Platte City). The "Border
Ruffians" have access to my rooms day and night. The very air is full of rumors.
We wish to keep ourselves right before the world, and we are provoked and
aggravated beyond sufferance. Our persons and property are not for a moment
safe, and yet we are forced by the respect we owe our friends elsewhere, by
respect for the cause in which we are engaged, to forbear. This state of things
can not last. You are authorized to publish the whole or part of what I have
written. But if Georgia intends to do anything, or can do anything for us, let
it be done speedily.
Let your young men come forth to Missouri and Kansas. Let them come well armed, with money enough to support them for twelve months, and determined to see this thing out. One hundred true men would be an acquisition; the more the better. I do not see how we are to avoid civil war; come it will. Twelve months will not elapse before war - civil war of the fiercest kind - will be upon us. We are arming and preparing for it. Indeed, we of the border counties are prepared. We must have the support of the South. We are fighting the battles of the South. Our institutions are at stake. You far Southern men are now out of the nave of the war; but if we fail it will reach your own doors, perhaps your hearths. We want men - armed men. We want money - not for ourselves, but to support our friends when they come from a distance. I have now in this house two gallant young men from Charleston, South Carolina. They are citizens of Kansas, and will remain so until her destiny is fixed.
P. S. I would not be astonished if this day laid the ground work for a guerrilla war in Kansas. I have heard of rumors of strife and battle at Leavenworth, seven miles from this place; but the ice is running in the Missouri River and I have nothing definite. I was a peacemaker in the difficulty lately settled by Governor Shannon. I counseled the ruffians to forbearance, but I will never again counsel peace.
The correspondent of the Missouri Republican, writing from Westport on April 29, 1856, announced the arrival of Major Buford and his men. The communication appeared in the issue for the 6th of May.
|WESTPORT, APRIL 29, 1856.|
Hurrah for Georgia! Hurrah for Alabama! Hurrah for South Carolina and Tennessee! And why hurrah for them? Because they are doing their duty. Now there are in this vicinity, lately landed from boats, over five hundred, perhaps more, emigrants from these four States. There never was such a crowded country; every hotel is more than running over. There are not half enough public houses to entertain them, and the citizens of this place have turned out to get the emigrants comfortable places for lodging. All the vacant houses and tenantless rooms of every description have been furnished Major Buford, for it is the bulk of his company that, at this time, makes the crowd. Add to all this that today the F. X. Aubry arrived with a large number more of Southerners, and that they are likewise landing in great numbers at Leavenworth and Atchison, and you can see what the South is doing. If these things continue long, there will be no struggle at all; for the South is now several hundred ahead of the North in regard to this Spring's emigration, while, at the same time, the South is increasing every day, and the North falling off. Today, the Yankee hotel at Kansas City looked somewhat like a "banquet hall deserted," none of the Southerners, scarcely, stop there. The healthy reaction that seems to be taking place in the North, is stopping to a certain extent the flood of Abolitionism that threatened to over-run Kansas.
Major Buford's company will outfit here, and in a few days set out for the Territory. They are a fine looking set of young men, and if they make as good settlers as they are doubtless good fighters, Kansas will be greatly indebted to the originator of the expedition. Three weeks ago, when the principal travel to the Territory appeared to be from the wrong source, the Free Soilers as soon as they got into Kansas, would be so insolent and insulting as to make it very unpleasant to travel the same road with them. But they are getting very quiet.
The correspondent of the same paper writing from Palermo on the 5th of May has this to say of the promoted emigration of the South:
|Some thousand Southerners have arrived within the last week or two, and these barbarities at Lawrence have determined most of them to settle at and around that town. A spirit is up and a determination is manifested everywhere to maintain the law in future. Its guardians will be everywhere. The people of Lawrence will henceforth have eyes about them, to detect the perpetrators of these desperate crimes and the arm of the law will have sufficient strength to punish them.|
This Southern emigration settled at various points in Kansas Territory. The South Carolinians went to Atchison; those from Georgia and Alabama settled about Lawrence. Some Georgians went as far south as the Pottawatomie, in what is now Franklin and Miami counties. In Douglas County they were to be found at Lecompton, and at Fort Saunders, which was on Washington Creek, some twelve miles southwest of Lawrence. A company had gathered around the house of Colonel Titus, which was near the Kansas River, below Lecompton. A goodly number of them stopped at Westport, and made raids into Kansas from that Missouri town. Arrangements had been made for the settlement of a contingent in the Wyandot Reserve, now Kansas City, Kansas. A few of them were stationed there. but they found it an inconvenient location. Very few of this Southern promoted emigration took claims. They lived about the towns. When any of them went into the country to remain for a time, lived in fortified camps. Most of them were young men violently in favor of making Kansas a slave state, and while some of them were of good families, a great many were loafers from the larger cities. They robbed Major Buford of a considerable sum of money while on the steamboat between St. Louis and Kansas City. At Kansas City Major Buford assembled those coming with him, and made a very peculiar address to them, a sort of prayer. They had signed a business contract before setting out for Kansas. The terms of this contract were made public at Kansas City, and upon discussing it among themselves, the emigrants were greatly dissatisfied, and claimed that they had been deceived. It is not likely that any misrepresentation had been made to them, and the better element among them was probably as well satisfied as emigrants ever are upon arrival in a new country. The reception of the company is described in the Missouri Republican, May 6, 1856:
|I forgot, in my last letter, to mention the handsome manner in which Major Buford's Company were received. On their arrival at Kansas City they were met by a delegation from Westport, headed by a brass band, a fine company of sprightly young men, and welcomed by Gen. G. W. Clark, who was responded to by Major Buford. This took place on the wharf. Afterwards the crowd assembled in front of the "American," and called out several gentlemen for speeches. First your correspondent was called for, when he appeared on the steps, began to speak, and further deponent says nothing at this time. Then came Dr. Weibley and Mr. J. D. Pennybaker, who entertained the excited assembly agreeably, for a few minutes. After some stirring music, most of the crowd adjourned to the Farmer's Hotel, where the Westport delegation and Company No. 3, Capt. Jones, were hospitably entertained by Milton McGee, Esq., or in our popular phrase, "Coon" McGee, who may he set down and considered by "all the world and the rest of mankind," as an entire team.|
On the 3d of May the Republican correspondent had this:
|Major Buford's Company have all gone into the Territory. Yesterday morning, before leaving here, they were very eloquently addressed by Mr. A. Baker, of Alabama, and Col. A. Anderson of Lexington, Mo., and at the close of the speaking the Major was presented with a fine horse, bridle and saddle. The horse was given by Mr. Samuel L. McKenney, of Westport, a gentleman of wealth and high standing. The horse is a spirited and well made sorrel, which cost one hundred and fifty dollars. The saddle, for which forty dollars was paid, was bought by subscription, and the bridle was presented by Mr. Dillon of this place. The presentation was made as a testimonial of Major Buford's "services in behalf of the South and the cause of Slavery for Kansas."|
The South Carolina contingent arrested Mr. Josiah Miller, editor of the Kansas Free State. Mr. Miller was a native of South Carolina, and these Ruffians tried him on the charge of treason to his native State. It was with some difficulty that he escaped with his life, after losing his horse and his money. A few members of this Southern promoted emigration remained in Kansas and became good citizens. The writer knows that three or four of them volunteered in the Kansas regiments in the Civil War and fought for the Union. Robberies and murders were common in the communities where these Southerners had their camps, and these robberies were imputed to them. They all gathered at the sacking of Lawrence. Their influence in Kansas was no greater than was the influence of the promoted emigration from the North; in fact it was not so great. Many very excellent citizens came under the auspices of the Emigrant Aid Company, and, as has been already noted, they were active in meetings, and did much of the writing on the early history of Kansas.
In the House of the 34th Congress, no party had a majority. The troubles in Kansas had their influence in Washington. It was with difficulty that the house was organized. At the end of nine weeks, N. P. Banks was elected by the fusion of elements believed to be opposed to the Free-State party in Kansas. Mr. Whitfield did not appear at the bar of the House as the member from Kansas Territory until the 4th of February, when he took the oath of office. Mr. Reeder, who had been chosen at the election called by the Free-State people pursuant to the action of the Big Springs Convention, gave notice that he would contest the seat of Mr. Whitfield. On the 19th of March the House appointed a Committee to proceed to Kansas and investigate the conditions prevailing in the Territory. John Sherman, of Ohio; William A. Howard, of Michigan; and Mordecai Oliver, of Missouri, were appointed the Committee. The sum of $10,000 had been appropriated to pay the expenses of the Committee; which was allowed four clerks, a reporter and three sergeants-at-arms. The Committee was empowered to hold investigations at such places and at such times as they might deem advisable. Their duties were stated principally in the following resolutions of the act appointing them:
|Resolved, That a committee of three of the members of this House to be appointed by the Speaker, shall proceed to inquire into and collect evidence in regard to the troubles in Kansas generally, and particularly in regard to any fraud or force attempted or practiced, in reference to any elections which have taken place in said Territory, either under the law organizing said Territory, or under any pretended law which may be alleged to have taken effect therein since. That they shall fully investigate and take proof of all violent and tumultuous proceedings in said Territory at any time since the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska act, whether engaged in by residents of said Territory, or by any person or persons from elsewhere, going into said Territory, and doing or encouraging others to do ally act of violence or public disturbance against the laws of the United States, or the rights, peace and safety of the residents of said Territory, and for that purpose said committee shall have full power to send for and examine and take copies of all such papers, public records and proceedings as in their judgment shall be useful in the premises; and, also. to send for persons and examine them on oath or affirmation as to matters within their knowledge touching the matters of said investigation; and said committee, by their chairman, shall have power to administer all necessary oaths or affirmations connected with their aforesaid duties.|
The capital of Kansas Territory had been lawfully established at Lecompton, and at that town the Committee first held meetings, having arrived there on the 18th of April. The work at Lecompton was principally that of making copies of official documents. On the 23rd of April they went to Lawrence and began taking depositions. Later they went to Tecumseh, Leavenworth, Westport, returned to Lawrence, thence to Detroit, New York and Washington. They were engaged in this work for more than four months. They took three hundred and twenty-three depositions. The report made by the committee was published in a large octavo volume, containing 1,206 pages. It is one of the most valuable public documents ever issued by the United States Government. It preserves the particulars of all the troubles in Kansas up to the time of the discharge of the Committee. In no other state has there ever been so complete an investigation of the Territorial period. The report is the foundation of the Territorial history of Kansas. The Committee made two reports. The majority report is as follows:
Your committee report the following facts and conclusions as established by the
First. That each election in the Territory, held under the organic or alleged Territorial law, has been carried by organized invasion from the State of Missouri, by which the people of the Territory have been prevented from exercising the rights secured to them by the organic law.
Fourth. That the election under which the sitting delegate, John W. Whitfield, holds his seat, was not held in pursuance of any valid law, and that it should be regarded only as the expression of the choice of those resident citizens who voted for him.
Fifth. That the election, under which the contesting delegate, Andrew H. Reeder, claims his seat, was not held in pursuance of law, and that it should be regarded only as the expression of the resident citizens who voted for him.
Seventh. That in the present condition of the Territory a fair election cannot be held without a new census, a stringent and well-guarded election law, the selection of impartial judges, and the presence of United States troops at every p]ace of election.
Eighth. That the various elections held by the people of the Territory preliminary to the formation of the State government, have been as regular as the disturbed condition of the Territory would allow; and that the constitution passed by the convention, held in pursuance of said elections, embodies the will of a majority of the people.
This is the minority report, submitted by Mr. Oliver:
In conclusion, the undersigned begs to report the following facts and
conclusions, as he believes, established by the testimony and sanctioned by the
First. That at the first election, held in the Territory under the organic act, for delegate to Congress, Gen. John W. Whitfield received a plurality of the legal votes cast, and was duly elected such delegate, as stated in the majority report.
Fifth. That as said Whitfield, at said election, received a large number of legal votes without opposition, he was duly elected as a delegate to this body, and is entitled to a seat on this floor as such.
Sixth. That the election under which the contesting delegate, Andrew H. Reeder, claims his seat, was not held under any law, but in contemptuous disregard of all law; and that it should only be regarded as the expression of a band of malcontents and revolutionists, and consequently should be wholly disregarded by the House.
Seventh. As to whether or not Andrew H. Reeder received a greater number of votes of resident citizens on the 9th than J. W. Whitfield did on the 1st of October, 1855, no testimony was taken by the committee, so far as the undersigned knows, nor is it material to the issue.
Acting on this report, the Committee on Contested Elections brought in a resolution to deprive Mr. Whitfield of his seat and to admit Mr. Reeder. This measure was lost by a vote of 196 nays to 3 yeas. The question was then divided. On August 4th, the vote to oust Whitfield was passed by 110 to 92. The resolution to admit Mr. Reeder failed by a vote of 113 to 88. Thus, neither of the contestants gained the seat.
The taking of the testimony in Kansas by the Committee, created an intense feeling in Pro-Slavery circles. The suppressed excitement came near breaking forth into open hostilities upon more than one occasion.
The Free-State Legislature, was, as has been seen, in session at Topeka during the winter. It was the directing body of the Free-State cause, and was at all times well informed as to the movements of the Missourians in the border counties. The presence of armed parties in the inhabited parts of the Territory, and the preparations being carried forward in the border counties of Missouri, kept the Free-State men disturbed and uneasy. They regarded it as inevitable that an invasion of Kansas would be undertaken by the Border-Ruffians as soon as the weather would permit, should nothing be interposed to prevent it. Wishing to remain unmolested and to carry forward their work in peace, they appealed to President Pierce. They informed him of their fears of an invasion, and requested him to use the United States troops to prevent it. Here is the appeal:
|LAWRENCE, K. T, JAN. 21, 1856.|
Sir: We have authentic information that an overwhelming force of the citizens of Missouri are organizing upon our border, amply supplied with artillery, for the avowed purpose of invading this Territory, demoralizing our towns and butchering our unoffending Free State citizens. We respectfully demand, on behalf of the citizens of Kansas, that the commandant of the United States troops in this vicinity be immediately instructed to interfere to prevent such an inhuman outrage.
Two days later another communication was forwarded to President Pierce, as follows:
|LAWRENCE CITY, JAN. 23, 1856.|
Sir: We notified you that an overwhelming force, supplied with artillery, was organizing upon our borders for the avowed purpose of invading Kansas, demoralizing the towns and butchering the unoffending Free State citizens, they constituting fourteen-twentieths of the entire population. In addition to the relief respectfully demanded in that notice, we earnestly request you to issue your proclamation immediately, forbidding the invasion. We trust there may be no delay in taking so important a step to prevent an outrage which, if carried out as planned, will stand forth without a parallel in the world's history.
In response to these appeals the President issued a proclamation. This proclamation was against all persons who were doing anything against the public tranquillity and the supremacy of law in Kansas Territory. It affirmed that there were combinations within the Territory endeavoring to induce individual states of the Union to interfere in the affairs thereof. The President pronounced this insurrection. He warned all persons engaged in these unlawful combinations against the constituted authority of the Territory of Kansas or of the United States to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective places of abode. The citizens of adjoining states and of distant states were called on to abstain from intermeddling in the local concerns of the Territory. His proclamation was aimed as much at the Free-State men as at the Pro-Slavery men.
On the 16th of February, W. L. Marcy, Secretary of State, sent a communication to Governor Shannon in which he said that the President was unwilling to believe that it would be necessary to call in the aid of the United States troops, but if it should become indispensable in order to execute the laws and to preserve the peace, he was authorized by the President to make requisition upon the officers commanding at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley. It was enjoined on him that he have the proclamation of the President publicly read before taking any action to invoke the military.
Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War, sent an order to the officers at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley, directing them to respond to any requisition for troops made on them by Governor Shannon.
In this appeal to the President, the Free-State party gained nothing and strengthened the hands of the Governor. Their condition was rendered worse, rather than made better. It caused the Government to arm the Pro-Slavery forces with authority to use the military. The circumstances under which troops were to be used was left to the discretion of Governor Shannon. His position was well known. He had lost ground in the estimation of the Border-Ruffians by his action at Lawrence when he negotiated the peace in the early days of December. It was to be expected that he would be a more pliant instrument in the hands of the Border-Ruffians in order to reinstate himself in their good graces. This is exactly what did develop. The attempt of the Free-State men to ameliorate their condition by an appeal to Federal authorities, making representation of the conditions existing on the border, had resulted much to their detriment.
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