1894 Robley's History of Bourbon County, Kansas



30HISTORY OF BOURBON COUNTY.[1854

CHAPTER V.

THE MILL OF THE GODS.

WE have now brought up the salient points of national history from the time when the United States acquired title to the domain lying west of the Mississippi river, insofar as they affect, directly or indirectly, the soon to be formed Territory of Kansas. We have noted especially the features affecting or bearing on the question of Slave Territory or Free Soil, and endeavored to mark out, like the "blaze" on trees through a forest for a new road, the many conflicting impulses which dominated the passions and prejudices of a great people.

It may be said that all this is unnecessary and uncalled for in the history of the local happenings of a single county. We do not think so. These local happenings, in fact the entire history of this county, was essentially and peculiarly political, brought about, controlled and "happened" as the resulting consequence of national politics. The history of counties in the old States might be written without so much extraneous detail. But those counties had no ancestors. They were progenitors. Bourbon County is their child. Its history cannot be truly and fairly written


1854]THE MILL OF THE GODS.31

without going back to the base-line and bringing up the field notes.

The Louisiana Purchase was the base-line. The agitation of the slavery question began almost with that purchase. Slow at first, but gradually increasing, like the dread disease of consumption, until in the beginning of 1854, it had become the fevered and hectic topic of discussion in the Northern homestead and in the "big house on the lawn."

The National Legislature at that time was composed of the best minds of the country. The ward politician had not yet broken into Congress. The august Senate contained no resultant mouse from the parturition of local class sentiment, and no man of questionable personal honor had yet gained a seat. They were naturally and necessarily strong partisans; the men from the South were becoming bitterly so. There was an underlying feeling that the North was growing up to be the dominant power. They realized that, however distasteful, their candidate for the presidency must come from the North. Charles Sumner had enunciated the axiom, "Freedom is National; slavery is sectional;" the Northern press was using the license of printer's ink; the mud-sills were talking. All this angered them. Free speech and free press they no longer tolerated. They struck out, like a blinded rattlesnake, at every sound. Whom the gods would destroy they first make intolerant. Henceforth concessions were to be thrown to the winds; hereafter the policy was to be aggression. The Fugitive Slave Law was not enough. The Missouri Compromise—their own child, proposed


32HISTORY OF BOURBON COUNTY.[1854

by them, passed by them, and approved by President Monroe and his cabinet, of which John C. Calhoun was one—now stood in their road and must be swept away. The protesting hands of their Clays and Bentons were raised against such action, but were struck down by the spirit of Preston Brooks. The mills of the gods grind slow, but they grind exceeding fine.

Tools were necessary for the work in hand, and, like their Presidents, they also must come from the North.

KANSAS-NEBRASKA BILL.

On the 23rd of January, 1854, Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, introduced a bill for the organization of the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska. This is known in history as the Kansas-Nebraska bill. The important features of the bill, affecting the Territory of Kansas, are copied from Sec. 32, and are as follows:

"That the constitution and all the laws of the United States which are not locally inapplicable, shall have the same force and effect within the said Territory of Kansas as elsewhere within the United States, except the eighth section of the Act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union, approved March 6th, 1820, which, being inconsistent with the principle of non-intervention by Congress with slavery in the States and Territories, as recognized by the legislation of 1850, commonly called the compromise measures, is hereby declared inoperative and void; it being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their


1854]KANSAS-NEBRASKA BILL.33

own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to revive and put in force any law or regulation which may have existed prior to the Act of the 6th of March, 1820, either protecting, establishing, prohibiting or abolishing slavery."

And on this Mr. Douglas addressed the Senate, outlining and advocating what he called the "great principles of squatter sovereignty, or non-intervention."

On the 3rd of March following, the Act passed the Senate by 37 to 14, and on May 22d it passed the House by 91 to 44, and President Pierce signed it on the 30th day of May.

The South had chosen her path. "Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell." This was the high-water mark of the slave power. The solemn compact that had stood for thirty-four years was swept away like a "rope of sand." The converging lines of the irrepressible conflict were being drawn closer and closer until the culminating point was reached at Appomattox.

KANSAS TERRITORY ORGANIZED.

Kansas at last had a place on the map. It had been partly surveyed and the boundary lines designated and described. A governor and other Territorial officers were soon after appointed, and this experiment of non-intervention—this child of Squatter Sovereignty—was set adrift, to be buffeted, smitten, disgraced, in the confident hope that she would acquiesce in the demand of that force which instantly jumped at her throat, and quietly submit to be "sealed" to the South.

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Transcribed from History of Bourbon County, Kansas : to the close of 1865 by T. F. Robley. Fort Scott, Kan.: Press of the Monitor Book & Print. Co., 1894.


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