1901 History of Republic County Kansas


History of Republic County. 5

INTRODUCTORY HISTORY.


EARLY EXPLORATIONS — LOUISIANA PURCHASE — KANSAS AND NEBRASKA BILL — BORDER RUFFIAN WAR — TOPEKA AND WYANDOTTE CONSTITUTIONS — ADMISSION OF KANSAS AS A FREE STATE.

The Spaniards were the first white people who made explorations here. As early as 1540 Coronado, a Spaniard, commanding an expedition which marched from Mexico northward in search of gold, silver and precious stones, explored the region of the Colorado, examined the country now known as New Mexico, and penetrated as far east as Kansas, which he named Quivira, and northward to the 40th degree of latitude, the northern boundary of the state. Finding no gold, which seems to have been the leading object of the expedition, he returned to Mexico, leaving Kansas early in the year 1542. On his return to Mexico he reported that the regions through which he passed were not fit to be colonized. This expedition made the first explorations in Kansas of which we have any record. Forty years later the Spaniards, after conquering the natives, colonized New Mexico. In April, 1682, La Salle, a French discoverer, took formal possession of the mouth of the Mississippi river, for the King of France, and the country on the banks of the river received the name of Louisiana, in honor of King Louis XIV, then at the height of his power. Louisiana was understood to embrace all the country drained by the waters emptying either directly or indirectly into the Mississippi river. This made Kansas a possession of France.

November 3, 1762, France cedes Louisiana to Spain. This cession made Kansas Spanish. In 1769 the Spanish troops took possession of Louisiana, and the dominion of Spain begins, and continues until 1802, when, almost without consideration, she, by secret treaty, retrocedes Louisiana to France, and Kansas again becomes French territory.

6 History of Republic County.

April 30, 1803, a treaty was concluded between the United States and the French Republic, by which France concedes Louisiana to the United States. The treaty was negotiated, on the part of France, by Barbe-Marbois, the French minister, and by Robert R. Livingstone and James Monroe on the part of the United States, and Kansas becomes the property of Uncle Sam. The above, briefly, stated, is the chain of title. By this the United States acquired 1,160,577 square miles of territory, or 742,769,280 acres of land. The purchase price was fifteen millions of dollars, or a fraction over two cents per acre. This purchase was made during the administration of Thomas Jefferson, and was approved by the entire nation as an act of the greatest importance, as it doubled the area of the United States and placed the whole valley of the Mississippi within the territory of the Republic. Congress at once divided this great region into two territories, the territory of Orleans, corresponding to the present state of Louisiana, and the district of Louisiana, comprising the remainder of the purchase. On the 22d of May, 1854, the House passed the Kansas-Nebraska bill, providing for the organization of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. The Senate passed the same bill on the 24th, and it was signed by President Pierce on the 30th. The passage of this act opened the door to a bloody and bitter conflict in Kansas between slavery and free labor, which continued with almost unabated fury until the admission of Kansas into the Union as a free state. On the 29th of June, 1854, Andrew H. Reeder, of Pennsylvania, was appointed by President Pierce Governor of Kansas, and November 29 of the same year an election was held for choosing a delegate to Congress, which resulted in the election of J. W. Whitfield, the pro-slavery candidate, he receiving 2,258 votes to 574 votes for free state candidates. Whitfield took his seat and held it until March 3, 1855, the close of the 33d Congress. He was re-elected October 1, 1855, receiving 2,721 votes, the free state men not voting. The first election

History of Republic County.

for members of the Territorial Legislature was held by districts, March 30, 1855, thirteen members of the Council and twenty-six members of the House, resulting in the choice of the pro-slavery candidates by large majorities. This Legislature convened, by order of the Governor, at Pawnee, near Ft. Riley, nearly one hundred miles from the border, and supposed to be far enough away to be free from intimidation by the Missourians. Pawnee was a retired and quiet place, and the members, no doubt, frequently called to mind that passage of Scripture which reads something like this: "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but this Kansas Legislature has not a peg to hang its hat on." The executive office was also established at Pawnee. On the 6th of July both branches of the Legislature passed, over the Governor's veto, an act removing the seat of government from Pawnee to the Shawnee Manual Labor School, in Johnson county, near the Missouri border. August 8th, the Legislature, in joint session, voted to establish the permanent seat of government at Lecompton. Upon re-assembling at Shawnee the Legislature proceeded to adopt the laws of Missouri as the laws of Kansas, and to frame a series of laws designedly cruel and oppressive to the free state men. Nearly all the acts of this Legislature took effect as soon as passed. They made a volume of 1,058 pages, and were commonly called the "Bogus Laws." Under these laws none but pro-slavery men could hold office, and every officer, whether elected or appointed, was compelled to take an oath to support the Fugitive Slave Law. This was also the oath administered to every attorney admitted to practice in the courts. Under these laws any person found with a New York Tribune in his pocket was deemed guilty of felony, the punishment being imprisonment at hard labor for two years. These laws were vetoed by Governor Reeder, but passed by a nearly unanimous vote over his head. Governor Reeder, being odious to the pro-slavery party and to the administration at Washington, was removed August 16 and Wilson

8 History of Republic County.

Shannon, of Ohio, appointed in his stead. In the meantime the free soil settlers had increased so rapidly that they outnumbered the pro slavery settlers. They now felt themselves strong enough to resist the outrages of the Missourians, and accordingly, on the 5th of September, 1855, held a convention at Big Springs, formally organized the Free State party, and adopted a platform, in which they distinctly and emphatically repudiated the government that had been forced upon them by men who were not residents of the territory. They announced their intention not to take part in the election of a delegate to Congress, which the territorial authorities had ordered to be held on the first of October, and called upon the actual residents of the territory to send delegates to a convention to be held at Topeka on the 19th of September. This convention ordered an election to be held for the purpose of choosing a delegate to Congress. On the 23d of October the convention adopted a Free State constitution, known as the Topeka constitution. An election for state officers, under this constitution, was held January 15, 1856, and Charles Robinson was chosen Governor, receiving 1,296 votes, the pro-slavery party not voting. The struggle for the possession of the territory now passed out of politics. The outrages of the pro slavery men had forced the free state men into an attitude of direct and uncompromising resistance, and after the action of the latter at Topeka, the struggle, which had hitherto been comparatively bloodless, changed its character, and became an open and sanguinary war between the two parties, in which the pro-slavery men were the aggressors. Bands of men, armed and regularly organized into companies and regiments, came into the territory from South Carolina, Georgia and the extreme southern states, with the avowed design of making Kansas a slave-holding state at all hazards.

May 21st, 1856, under the pretext of aiding the United States Marshal to serve certain processes upon the citi-

History of Republic County. 9

zens of Lawrence, they captured and sacked that town, burned several houses, killed several of its citizens and inflicted a property loss upon it amounting to $150,000. From this time the war went on in a series of desultory but bloody encounters, in nearly all of which John Brown took an active and prominent part, some of which assumed the proportions of battles. The Free State Legislature met at Topeka, March 4th, received the message of Governor Robinson, appointed three commissioners to prepare a code of laws, elected James H. Lane and Andrew H. Reeder United States Senators, prepared a memorial to Congress asking admission into the Union under the Topeka constitution, and adjourned to meet July 4th, having been in session four days. This memorial was presented to Congress by Lewis Cass, of Michigan, in the Senate, and by Representative Mace, of Indiana, in the House. July 3d, the House passed Grow's bill for the admission of Kansas under the Topeka constitution, but the Senate, being pro-slavery, refused to concur. The Free State Legislature met at Topeka, July 4th, pursuant to adjournment. Col. Sumner, of the First Cavalry, appears in the House, and then in the Senate, and orders each body to disperse. He was acting under orders from Acting Governor Woodson and President Pierce. The Legislature obeys the order. Governor Shannon received notice of his removal August 21st, and Acting Governor Woodson calls out the militia and declares the territory in a state of open insurrection and rebellion. This was the darkest day during the whole struggle for the Free State men, and large numbers of them left Kansas.

January 6th, 1857, the Free State Legislature again met at Topeka. Governor Robinson and Lieutenant Governor Roberts are absent, and there is no quorum. Reassembled on the 8th with quorum present, organize and appoint a committee to again memorialize Congress to admit Kansas under the Topeka constitution. After adjournment a dozen or more of the members were arrested by a

10 History of Republic County.

United States marshal and sent as prisoners to Tecumseh. Met again on the 8th without presiding officers and without quorum, the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House being prisoners at Tecumseh It appears to have been the tactics of the pro-slavery party, backed by the administration at Washington, to arrest a sufficient number of members to break a quorum, and thus prevent legislation. Late in July John W. Geary was appointed Governor in place of Wilson Shannon, removed. The second session of the Territorial Legislature met at Lecompton, January 12th, 1857, to enact more "bogus laws." The Free State men had no part in the election of this House, and the whole Legislature remained pro-slavery. All bills vetoed by Governor Geary were promptly passed over his head, in accordance with a secret agreement at the commencement of the session. Governor Geary exerted himself honestly to restore peace, freedom of speech and of the press, and asked the repeal of many of the bogus laws; but finding himself powerless, and fearing assassination from the pro-slavery party, he secretly left Kansas, March 10th, as Governor Reeder had done before him.

President Buchanan appointed as successor to Governor Geary, Robert J. Walker, of Mississippi, a man of eminence and ability, who sincerely desired to effect a settlement of the quarrel, and who succeeded in inducing the Free State party to vote, at the coming election, for members of the Territorial Legislature and a delegate to Congress, assuring the people that the election should be fair and free. The election was held October 5th, 1857, which resulted in the election of a large majority of Free State men to the Legislature, and of M. J. Parrott, Free State candidate for delegate to Congress, by a majority of over 4,000. This was the first free and fair election held in the territory. Governor Walker resigned December 17th, and James W. Denver was appointed in his stead. Denver acted as Governor until October, 1858, when he in turn resigned, and Samuel Medary, of Ohio, was appointed No-


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From A history of Republic County, Kansas : embracing a full and complete account of all the leading events in its history, from its first settlement down to June 1, '01 ... Also the topography of the County ... and other valuable information never before published. by I. O. Savage.; Illustrated. Published by Jones & Chubbic, Beloit, KS : 1901. 321 p. ill., plates, ports., fold. map ; 23 cm. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward, July 2006.


Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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