JAMES HENRY LANE GRAVESTONE PHOTO
Daily Conservative, Thursday, July 12, 1866
Died: July 11, 1866
“THE LAST OF EARTH.”
Death of Senator James H. Lane!
He Remains Unconscious to the
His Life and Public Services.
His Rank as an Orator, Soldier,
Politician and Citizen.
Review of His Personal and
Hon. James H. Lane, a Senator of the United States from the State of Kansas, died at the residence of his brother-in-law, near this city, yesterday at eleven o’clock and fifty-five minutes a. m.
The people of the State and Nation have doubtless been pretty well prepared for this mournful announcement, yet the sad intelligence will be received with general, we had almost said, universal sorrow.
The deceased commenced sinking rapidly on Tuesday morning, and from that time no hope of his recovery was indulged. It seems that the favorable symptoms-the transient consciousness---the renewed strength---the partial power of speech, and the generally encouraging indications; were all deceptive. Whatever medical skill could do to avert the result was done, but the ailment was beyond the physician’s art.
The bedside of the dying Senator was attended by a loving family---whom may God pity; console and protect!---by attached personal friends, and by physicians whose ministrations had been skillful, faithful and unwearying. He passed away from earth easily, with no sign of consciousness. The faint gasps for breath foretold the mortal struggle; and opening his hitherto closed eyes, as though athwart his beclouded mental vision a glimpse of the Great Unknown had flitted; he immediately closed them forever, and breathed his last quietly.
A full notice of the funeral will be found in another column. We are glad to be able to state that the remains of the distinguished dead will be interred near his late home in Lawrence. It will be gratifying to every Kansan to know that his ashes are to repose in the midst of a people whom he loved so well, and for whom he labored so faithfully.
We have prepared a hurried sketch of the principal incidents in the life of Gen. Lane, with an imperfect review of his public and personal character, for which we bespeak the careful attention of our readers.
BIOGRAPHY OF SENATOR LANE---HIS BIRTH
James Henry Lane was born at Lawrenceburg, Ind., June 22d, 1814, and was therefore, at the time of his death, a little over fifty-two years of age. His father was the Hon. Amos Lane, in his time one of the most noted of the public men of Indiana. Before the Territory of Indiana was organized into a State government, he represented it in the lower House of Congress, and continued to do so for several years after the admission of the State into the Union. He was an ardent personal and political friend of Gen. Jackson, and strongly attached to the Democratic party. The subject of this sketch drew from him his first political teachings, and became imbued with the same restless fondness for political life, and the excitement incident thereto, which were characteristic of the father. His mother was a woman of very superior qualities and qualifications. With fine intellectual abilities, and an exquisite moral nature, she was widely known and universally esteemed. The eminent son never forgot the sacred teachings of that noble mother, but to his latest days referred to her with the final affection of a child.
HIS EARLY EDUCATION.
Senator Lane received, at the hands of his parents, an excellent English education. We believe that he never enjoyed the advantages of a collegiate course, and that he never familiarized himself, to any great extent, with the classics, but with all the elementary principles, with all that goes to constitute a practical education, one adapted to the necessities of every day life, he was thoroughly conversant. It was the design of his pious, now sainted mother---obedient to the holy instincts which so notably pervaded her whole nature---that her son should embrace the ministry as a profession. This design, however, was wholly repugnant to the mental organization and ambitious projects of the youth, and his own tastes and predilections naturally inclined him to the law. For this profession he qualified himself by arduous study and was admitted to proactive in the year 1840.
FIRST APPEARANCE IN POLITICS.
About this time Gen. Lane became prominent in the local politics of the section of the State in which he resided. He was a man who would make himself felt in whatever position he might be placed. In the primary meetings and local elections of that early day he took and active part, and exhibited the untiring energy, political sagacity, and fertility of resource, which have since so signally marked his eventful career. The first office he ever held was that of Postmaster of Lawrenceburg, under the administration of Martin Van Buren, who was striving for a re-election to the Presidency against William Henry Harrison, the Whig candidate. During this canvass he traversed the entire State of Indiana from north to south and from east to west, and though his favorite was defeated, and Mr. Harrison was chosen as his successor after a campaign of unsurpassed excitement. Gen. Lane succeeded in establishing for himself the reputation of being one of the most effective of the political orators of the day, and thenceforth became a tower of strength to the Democracy of Indiana. In 1844 he again took the stump, this time in advocacy of the election of Polk and Dallas, and again rendered signal services to his party.
HIS SERVICES IN MEXICO.
In May, 1846, the General Government made a requisition upon the State of Indiana for volunteers to engage in the war which had then recently broken out between the United States and Mexico. Gen. Lane immediately enrolled himself as a volunteer, and with his accustomed energy and resolution threw himself into the work of raising a regiment. In an incredibly short space of time the regiment was recruited and equipped, and such implicit confidence did the men place in Gen. Lane, he was chosen Colonel by the unanimous suffrage of the regiment. This was the 3d Indiana.
It is not necessary, had we the space to devote to the theme, to recount in detail the services which he rendered to his country in that memorable conflict. The part which he took in the struggle which eventuated so gloriously, and which shed such a luster upon the American arms, is indelibly inscribed upon the page of history, and he is ignorant of his country’s record who is not familiar with the achievement of James H. Lane upon the battle fields of Mexico.
In the most bloody and obstinate of all the battles in Mexico---that of Buena Vista---Col. Lane, with the gallant Third, prominently participated and won unqualified applause from his commanding officers. Gen Wool, in his report of the engagement, says:
“Brigadier General Joseph Lane was very active and prompt in the discharge of his duty, and rendered good service throughout the day. He reports Colonel Lane and the Third Indiana regiment as having done themselves great credit.”
General Joseph Lane, in his report says of him:
“The coolness and bravery displayed by Colonel Lane and the third regiment of my command, have rarely been equaled, never surpassed by any troops at any time. They have done infinite honor to the State and Nation that gave them birth.”
In June, 1847, Lane returned to Indiana, the term of service of his regiment having expired. He at once organized the 5th regiment, and with it again proceeded to Mexico, remaining in the capital of that country until the conclusion of peace. Soon after this he, was the recipient of a magnificent sword, presented by the officers and soldiers of his command, which cost nearly eight hundred dollars. This incident sufficiently illustrates the affirmation in which he was held by those who had participated with him in the hardships and dangers of the Mexican campaigns.
AGAIN IN THE POLITICAL FIELD.
In 1848 Gen. Lane entered the canvass, favoring the election of Cass to the Presidency. In this campaign he made upwards of one hundred speeches, and that his services to his party were appreciated my be inferred from the fact that, in the following year, he was nominated and elected to the office of Lieut. Governor of the State. In the fall of 1852 he was elected to Congress, and also a Presidential Elector, in which latter capacity he assisted in casting the vote of Indiana for Pierce and King.
Gen Lane was in Congress during the great struggle over the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and consistently acted, as he had previously done, with his Democratic party. He was inclined to oppose the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, but, yielding to the solicitation of the party friends, the rigor of party discipline, and the quasi instruction from his constituents, finally voted for it. He did so, believing that the principles of the bill would be faithfully carried out, and that the people who might emigrate to Kansas would be left “perfectly free” to control the question of slavery. Himself strongly in favor of freedom, he believed that the law of climate, and the preponderance of Northern emigration would settle the question in favor of that principle.
Up to this time, as we have said, Gen. Lane had acted consistently with the Democratic party, but when it became evident that that party had placed itself wholly in the interest of the slave power, and was bound to establish slavery in Kansas, regardless of the wishes of the people, he renounced his allegiance to it.
REMOVES TO KANSAS.
Gen. Lane removed to Kansas in April, 1855, and settled on the place where he has since resided. He became at once a leading spirit in the Free State organization, and was foremost in maturing and carrying into effect measures of resistance to the Pro-Slavery party. In the first organized movement of the Free State men---that which resulted in the Topeka Constitution and a State Government under it---he was an acknowledged leader, and when the Convention assembled to frame the Constitution, he was chosen its President, and actively participated in all its deliberations.
IN COMMAND OF THE FREE STATE FORCES.
The Border Ruffians from Missouri invaded Kansas in the winter of 1855-6, and besieged the town of Lawrence then the principal center of anti-slavery sentiment. Gen. Lane was elected commander of the defensive forces, and by the shrewd and active policy which he maintained secured the defeat of the ruffians, and their expulsion from the State, without coming in actual collision with the Government, which was then strongly favoring the pro-slavery interest.
In March, 1856, Gen. Lane and Gov. A. H. Reeder were elected Senators under the Topeka organization, and went to Washington to aid in securing the admission of the State. The history of that protracted and exciting struggle in Congress is too well known throughout the country to need repetition here. In that contest the issue was tried, which, failing for the time, merged and consolidated the anti-slavery elements of the country into the great Republican party, which has since achieved such signal successes, and accomplished the over throw of slavery. Throughout this contest Gen. Lane displayed marked ability, and won the respect and confidence of the champions of Freedom on the floor of the Senate.
THE FIGHT TRANSFERRED TO THE FIELD.
While in Washington, Gen. Lane received intelligence of the sacking of Lawrence, which occurred on the 21st of May, 1856. He at once adopted practical measures for the relief of Kansas. By his impassioned and soul-stirring speeches he incited that heavy emigration from the Northern States, which, coming to Kansas during that year, doubtless saved her to Freedom. He himself marched several companies of men across the State of Iowa—the Missouri river being blockaded by the ruffians---organized and consolidated them in Nebraska, and entered the Territory early in August.
The brilliant successes which, under his leadership, crowned the efforts of the Free State men, and the utter discomfiture which (**) the pro-slavery party, belong not only to the history of Kansas, but to the whole country. They stirred the hearts of the Freedom-loving people of the Nation to their very depths, and the gallant men of Kansas, with their brave and capable leader, were the theme of universal applause.
THE LEAVENWORTH CONVENTION.
In the spring of 1858, the Leavenworth Constitutional Convention met, and Gen. Lane was among the members, and was elected President. In this arena he displayed the same brilliant qualities which had made him famous, and which pointed him out as the guiding spirit of our politics. The Constitution framed by this Convention was, in many respects, a model one, but the effort to secure the sanction of Congress proved abortive.
THE KILLING OF JENKINS.
In May or June of the same year (1858) an event occurred in the history of Gen. Lane, which he always remembered with poignant regret. We refer to the killing of Gaius Jenkins. There was a dispute between the two as to the ownership of a claim now belonging to the estate of Gen. Lane, both claiming it. It seems that Lane, regarding Jenkins as a trespasser, had forbidden him to draw water from a well on the premises Jenkins persisted in doing so, and approaching, on one occasion, in a hostile attitude, Lane shot him, producing a wound which resulted in death. The case underwent a thorough examination in the Justice’s court, and Lane was discharged on the ground of self-defence. Subsequent attempts to procure his indictment by a grand jury signally failed. Although Gen. Lane’s right to the land in question was fully established---the Interior Department deciding every point in his favor---we have reason to know that he never ceased to regret the melancholy occurrence.
KANSAS A STATE AND LANE A SENATOR.
On the 20th of January, 1861, the President approved the act admitting Kansas into the Union as a State. On the 26th of March following the Legislature was convened pursuant to the Governor’s proclamation, and on the 4th of April Gen. Lane and Samuel C. Pomeroy were chosen United States Senators. This election under the circumstances was the greatest triumph of Lane’s life. He was poor, and without means to make a canvass. The opposition to him, headed by the then Governor of Kansas, was bitter and unrelenting. But his friends stood firmly by him amid his discouragements. No species of allurement could draw them away from the man to whom Kansas and the anti-slavery sentiment of the country were so deeply indebted.
HIS SERVICES DURING THE REBELLION.
Gen Lane was in Washington just prior to, and at the time of the outbreak of the rebellion. He was in command of the “Frontier Guard, “ an organization deputed to keep guard over the Presidential mansion and it’s illustrious occupant. His relations with President Lincoln were intimate and confidential---relations which were sustained up to the hour of the tragic and (**) death of the venerated statesman and patriot.
In July and August of that year Gen. Lane recruited three regiments of volunteers, and was commissioned a Brigadier General, but did not regularly muster into the service of the United States. He, however, had personal command of the troops during that campaign, and won easy victories in a number of minor contests, gaining the entire confidence of his men, and defending the State from invasion.
In the following year General Lane was confirmed a Brigadier General by the Senate, but did not accept the commission, and resumed his seat in the Senate. This circumstance gave rise to a contest---the Governor of Kansas having appointed a Senator to succeed General Lane---in which, though a majority of the Judiciary Committee reported against the occupant of the seal, he was sustained by a handsome majority of the Senate.
In 1863, Gen. Lane was authorized by the Secretary of War to recruit troops in the Department of Kansas. In pursuance of this authority, and by his personal popularity and arduous personal exertions, he succeeded in raising five regiments of infantry, one of them the famous 1st Kansas colored---the first Negro regiment raised directly by authority of the Federal Government. Gen Lane took an advanced position on the subject of enrolling Negro troops in our armies, and his views on this theme were widely circulated and commended.
On the 21st of August, 1863, the infamous guerilla Quantrell, with his band of outlaws and murderers, entered the city of Lawrence at break of day, butchering nearly two hundred of its citizens, laying the best portion of it in ashes, and perpetrating acts of brutal atrocity which thrilled the whole country with horror and indignation. From this fearful massacre Gen. Lane barely escaped. The anxiety to ascertain the locality of his residence, and the terrible threats of vengeance which were uttered against him, showed conclusively the hatred that was borne towards him by the enemies of the Government and myrmidons of slavery. His residence being in the out skirts of town, he was enabled to escape through the adjacent fields. His one dwelling was burned, with nearly all that it contained. Gen Lane advocated measures of severe retaliation, and but for the interposition of the Government, it is probable that Missouri would have experienced a severe, but just retribution.
In the fall of 1864 he again took the field as as volunteer Aid-de-camp to Maj. Gen Curtis, whose forces were arrayed against the advance of the rebel Gen. Sterling Price. He participated in all the engagements of this brief but stirring campaign, and acquitted himself with credit.
In January, 1865, Gen. Lane was re-elected United States Senator for six years from the 4th of March following for him this was another brilliant triumph. A powerful opposition was rallied against him but the eminent usefulness with which he had served the State, the vast material good which he had accomplished, justly gave him the victory.
We have thus with considerable care, grouped together the principal incidents in the somewhat remarkable career of the distinguished dead, and it now only remains for us to consider this too lengthy sketch with a brief summary of
HIS PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS
Gen. Lane’s political views were known to all who knew or read of him. He had no concealments but expressed and enforced his sentiments with an energy of utterance and force of logic which almost amounted to demonstration. He was an earnest, outspoken man, devoted to radical ideas, and maintained a defiant and unremitting opposition to the party and men who favored the perpetuation of slavery, and encouraged rebellion. In this faith he never wavered to the day of his death. The latest incidents in his political career have given rise to severe censure and unmeasured abuse. He separated from his party upon but one occasion---the final vote upon the Civil Rights Bill---and his motive for such divergence has been variously stated. Duty to the dead demands that justice should be done. The writer was on terms of intimacy with him at this time, and his means of information are the best that can exist.
Gen. Lane had very grave apprehensions of the future of the Republican party. He sincerely believed that, unless the difference between the President and Congress was amiably adjusted, utter defeat was inevitable. Devotedly attached to the party for which he had done so much, and in whose behalf he had been so furiously maligned by its foes, his solicitude led him to hope that some accommodation might be made, through the influence of himself and others, by which the President might at least be induced to adhere to the Republican organization, and the party saved from disaster. We know that he saw and felt keenly the mistake he had made. Nor was this consciousness the result of the general disapproval of his action on the part of his constituents. On the very day the vote was given, handing the writer a telegram from the editors of the Chicago Tribune, which advised him to vote for the bill, and warning him that he would make the mistake of his life should he vote against it, he exclaimed, “Ah! The mistake has been made; I would give $50,000 if it were undone.”
As President Johnson evinced no disposition to harmonize existing differences, Gen. Lane voted steadily with his party. He earnestly advocated the Congressional plan of Reconstruction, but not without hope that the President would approve it. Had his life been spared and his health restored, Gen Lane designed to canvass the State on that issue; and when the message of the President appeared, disapproving of the settlement, he expressed his determination to denounce him from one end of the State to the other.
Now that the death of Senator Lane has to some extent removed the obligation of (**), it is due to his (**), to this people, and to truth, that these facts should be made known.
GEN. LANE AS AN ORATOR
In that peculiar style of ready energetic and forcible oratory Gen. Lane had no superiors. He had none of the graces of finished location, no profound learning to enrich, no poetry to adorn, his public efforts; but with great poser of logic, wonderful earnestness of utterance and impassioned fervor of manner, he never failed to attract or entertain an audience. With rare powers of wit and sarcasm, particularly happy in the argumentum (**) (**) formidable opponent on the stump; and so far as his qualifications are concerned, we may not hope to see his like again. In the debates of the Senator he took an active and prominent part, but his prepared speeches inck the fire and vigor of his extemporaneous efforts.
AS A POLITICIAN.
Gen. Lane was, (**) (**), a politician. Fertile in expedients, resolute in action, untiring in the product of a canvass, with popular qualities and great power over the minds of men, his success was a foregone conclusion. Frequently under a cloud—his star, obscured by the thick atmosphere of personal and patrician defamation---he ever emerged from the gloom with augmented forces, and scattered his opponents as with the bedlam of destruction. He adhered to his friends with the tenacity of a brother, and knew well the secret of humiliating his enemies. As a politician, in the accepted definition of that tem, we believe he was without a superior in this or any other country.
HIS HABITS AND PERSONAL RELATIONS.
Sobriety was a characteristic of Gen. Lanes’ life. He rarely indulged in stimulants, never to excess. He was a strong influential and liberal friend of the Methodist Church, and those pioneers of religious civilization who constitute the membership of that church will feel a peculiar sorrow at his lamentable decease.
In his personal relations Gen. Lane was genial, courteous and agreeable. His political likes and dislikes never intruded into the social circle. No man was beneath his notice he had a kindly word for all. Reckless of his pecuniary interests, prodigal of money, he gave with an unsparing hand. He was brave as a lion, but never quarrelsome. True valor is chary of offence, and he had true valor. He never sought a quarrel, and never was the first to retire from one. He was strong in his own defence, and thus commanded respect.
Physically, Gen. Lane was tall, slightly built, but wiry and muscular in an unusual degree. He had a constitution of iron, and the labors which he has performed, and the hardships he has endured, would have killed most men. When any object was to be accomplished, he acknowledged no fatigue, and stopped for no storm. He never allowed a political canvass to go by default, but threw into it all his energies, often traveling night and day to fill his appointments. The immense vitality which he possessed prolonged his life for days after the infliction of the mortal wound, which would, in almost any other case, have proved immediately fatal.
A LAST WORD.
The death of no man ever furnished a more suitable opportunity for the application of that hackneyed Latin maxim,”(**) (**) (**) (**)”---Speak nothing but good of the dead. No man has had warmer friends, none more bitter enemies. His friends clung to him with a friendship that amounted to affection, and his enemies pursued him with merciless vindictiveness. He had his faults, but who has them not? “Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.” At his grave let party spirit be hushed. Remembering only the good that he has done---the triumphs of his energy and eloquence---let us, friend and foe, gather around his (**)---bury with his remains the feuds and animosities of the past, and in the silence of unuttered sorrow bid farewell to the mighty spirit that has departed.
(**)- Means unreadable on original microfilm.
Tombstone photos and obituary donated by Robert Collins