1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 19 Part 1

CHAPTER XIX

GOVERNOR REEDER

THE LIMITATIONS OF THIS WORK MAKES IT NECESSARY TO CONSIDER MOVEMENTS RATHER THAN INCIDENTS IN KANSAS HISTORY. ONLY SUCH ANNALS WILL BE RECORDED AS ARE BELIEVED INDISPENSABLE TO THE PROPER ELABORATION OF THE GREAT PRINCIPLES UNDERLYING THE HISTORY OF KANSAS TERRITORY. LOCAL INCIDENTS WHICH OCCURRED DURING THAT PERIOD WILL NOT APPEAR IN THESE PAGES UNLESS THEY COME UNDER THE ABOVE RULE.

The inauguration of local government for Kansas Territory devolved upon the Administration of President Franklin Pierce. It was necessary for him to appoint Territorial officers, whose duty it would be to set up a government in Kansas under the provisions of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. For Territorial Governor, Andrew H. Reeder, of Easton, Pennsylvania, was appointed, June 29, 1854. On the 7th of July the oath of office was administered to him at Washington, by Peter V. Daniel, one of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. The salary of Governor Reeder was $2,500 per annum.

Daniel Woodson, of Lynchburg, Virginia, was appointed Territorial Secretary on the 29th of June. His salary was $2,000 per annum.

Israel B. Donalson, of Illinois, was appointed United States Marshal for the Territory, with a salary of $300 per annum and fees.

Justices were appointed as follows: Chief Justice, Madison Brown, of Maryland. Mr. Brown declined to serve, when the President appointed Samuel D. Lecompte of Maryland, on the 3d of October, as Chief Justice of Kansas Territory. His salary was $2,000 per annum. The Associate Justices were Saunders W. Johnston and Rush Elmore. Johnston was from Ohio and Elmore from Alabama. Each drew a salary of $2,000 per annum.

The United States District Attorney for the Territory was Andrew J. Isacks, of Louisiana.


GOV. ANDREW H. REEDER
[Copy by Willard of Portrait
in Library of Kansas
State Historical Society]

Governor Reeder was born at Easton, Pennsylvania, July 12, 1807. He received an academic education. He read law in the office of Peter Iksie, of North Hampton, and was admitted to practice at the North Hampton bar in 1828. At the time of his appointment as Governor of Kansas Territory, he was held as one of the ablest lawyers in Pennsylvania. In politics he had always been a Democrat, and was an enthusiastic supporter of the doctrine of Squatter Sovereignty, and the principles of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. He had had no experience in politics, and no practical experience in the administration of government. He was a man of correct principles, but deficient in that sturdy combativeness requisite for the position to which he had been appointed. He was described as somewhat corpulent, deliberate of action and speech, medium of stature, iron-gray hair, full blue eyes, gray mustache, and erect of person. He is pictured in some of the histories of Kansas with side-whiskers.

Governor Reeder seemed to be in no hurry to reach his field of labor, delaying his arrival in Kansas until the 7th of October, 1854, Upon which day he arrived at Leavenworth on the steamer Polar Star. The people had been expecting the Governor for some time, and were impatient at his delay. The issues raised in Kansas were entirely different from the issues raised by the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, as has already been noted. Governor Reeder came to Kansas prepared to set up a government and direct the administration of it, as provided in the Kansas-Nebraska bill. He was entirely ignorant of the new issues precipitated in Kansas during the discussion of that bill and after its passage.

The people about Fort Leavenworth assembled immediately upon receipt of the intelligence that the Governor had arrived, and tendered him a reception. As the speeches delivered upon that occasion may be taken to represent the views of Governor Reeder and the Democratic party outside the Territory, they are here set out, taken from the issue of the Kansas Weekly Herald, October 13, 1854.

On Saturday last Gov. Reeder, with Mr. C. A. Williams, his private secretary, and Andrew J. Isack, Esq., United States Attorney for Kansas, arrived at Fort Leavenworth by the Polar Star. His landing was greeted by the officers of the fort with the national salute, and he became the guest of the commandant, Capt. F. E. Hunt.

At 3 o'clock in the evening, the citizens of Kansas, from Leavenworth, Salt Creek and the country for miles around, gathered at the fort to pay their respects to Gov. Reeder. The concourse was large and highly respectable, and most enthusiastic in their gratification at his arrival. Our citizens in a body called upon the Governor at the quarters of Capt. Hunt, and a general introduction took place, during which many kindly expressions of welcome were indulged on the part of the people, and reciprocated by the Governor with the republican frankness and honest cordiality so agreeable to Western men. After a general interchange of courtesies, Dr. Charles Leib addressed the Governor as follows:

GOV. REEDER:

In behalf of my fellow-citizens, permit me to welcome you to the West and to the young and beautiful Territory whose Executive you are.

It is but a few months since the passage of the Kansas and Nebraska bill; it is but a few months since the people of the West were told by one of their distinguished Senators, "the Indians have retreated; go over and possess the goodly land," and to-day Kansas is teeming with hardy, industrious, enterprising, strong armed men, with noble hearts and willing hands, who have come here to till the soil and to enjoy the fruits of their industry, to pursue their different callings and to assist in building up a State which will ere long be knocking at the door of Congress for admission into the confederacy, and which I trust will be recognized as the thirty-second in the bright constellation which graces the flag of our Union.

Gov. Reeder, we are rejoiced at your coming, rejoiced that you are among us, because we believe it will be your pride and pleasure, not only as the Executive, but as a citizen, to assist in giving Kansas a place in the front rank of the Territories.

You will, sir, find men here from every section of this Union, who have come to find homes, to assist in filling up our broad and beautiful prairies and our valleys, rich as that of the Nile. In your own language, they know that this is "the pathway to the Pacific;" they know that the vast frontier, New Mexico and California trade, which now flows into the lap of Missouri, legitimately belongs to Kansas; they know and feel that they have the energy to build up a State which will command the trade, and it will not be long until they will have accomplished their object.

We doubt not that in coming here you have sacrificed much; that you have left behind those to whom you are bound by the ties of consanguinity, affection and love; that you have left tried friends, personal and political, in whose hearts you have a place; that you have left a community to which you were attached by a residence of long years among them, but when duty called, like Cincinnatus, you obeyed.

As a Pennsylvanian, one who loves the hills and valleys, the rivers and plains of the noble old Keystone State, but who, in heart and interest, is a Western man, I, in common with my fellow-citizens, am rejoiced at your appointment, because we believe you will administer the affairs of this government upon strictly republican principles, because we know your antecedents; because we know that Pennsylvania, the home of Rittenhouse, of Fulton, of Franklin and of the able and accomplished Buchanan, "who has graced our annals abroad and done us honor in Kings' courts," and who is a statesman of the school of the fathers, would not send us a son unworthy of herself; because we believe that under your administration Kansas will grow and flourish; that her resources, agricultural and mineral, will be developed; that her commercial importance will be acknowledged by the whole nation; that her hardy sons will prosper, and will make this the garden spot of the Mississippi Valley.

We, sir, meet here on common ground. The men of Maine and Mississippi, of Massachusetts and Missouri, aye, and those who cross the blue waters of the broad Atlantic, who turn their backs upon the tyrants of the old world and place themselves under the protection of the flag of our Union, may enjoy the blessed privileges of free speech, dare think, do and act for themselves. This is true Republicanism and cannot fail to meet the approval of all who are truly American at heart. But a few months since the red man alone occupied this Territory; they roamed undisputed masters of the soil; but to-day in all parts of it, the hum of industry is heard, the progress of the age demanded its settlement, and, by the hearths and firesides of our hardy pioneers is to be joy, peace and happiness, and a determination to maintain, at all hazards, the supremacy of the law.

In conclusion, Gov. Reeder, let me again welcome you to Kansas, and express the hope, nay, the sincere wish, that our relation as Governor and governed may be of such a character that when it shall be severed, we can always revert to it as the happiest period of our lives, though it commenced when trampling down the nettles and thistles of Kansas and preparing it for its high destiny.

To which Gov. Reeder replied:

I thank you, sir, and those whom you represent on this occasion, for the cordial manner in which you have welcomed me to your Territory, and for the encomiums which you have so eloquently bestowed - encomiums which I must be allowed to say are attributable more to your own courtesy and partiality than to any merit of mine. Coming, as I do come, into a position of high and solemn responsibility in a strange land, to exercise most important functions among men who as yet know me not, you may well imagine that I am cheered and encouraged by the foreshadowing of confidence and kindness exhibited in this our first interview. I am sensible of the difficulties that may beset my official career, and I must rely on the friendship and kindly feeling which you have professed, for indulgence to my deficiencies. But, whilst I shall now claim in advance your leniency for my inexperience of your country and your people, for my shortcomings in wisdom and ability, I claim no margin, and ask for no indulgence, in respect to the earnestness and sincerity of my efforts, to make the great good of the Territory and the advancement of its substantial prosperity and welfare, the chief end of my official action.

It shall be my pride and pleasure, always to keep in view that single end, despite all sinister considerations or adverse circumstances. Our Territory is indeed a land of great interest and of glorious promise, and, although, now a frontier country demanding at our hands strong continued effort and no small privations, yet, we are cheered on by the conviction that another frontier is approaching us from the Pacific, and that when the inevitable destiny of this Union shall have filled up its limits with civilized population and thrifty enterprise, Kansas will be territorially the very heart of the Republic, and in the highway of its trade. Much of its progress, its prosperity and its future destiny will depend upon the impress that we shall make upon its early developments. That we shall have difficulties to meet and overcome, varied in their character and formidable in their number and extent, it were worse than folly to deny and conceal. Whatever they may be, however there is no fear that they cannot all be solved by prudent care, - by tolerance and charity for difference of opinion among ourselves - by calm but unquailing moral courage in asserting our own rights of action or opinion - and by the most scrupulous care to avoid encroachment on the rights of others. First of all, Kansas must, and with God 's help it shall be, a country of law and order. No man must be allowed to cast contempt upon the law - to unsettle the foundations of society, to mar our future destinies - to cause us to be shunned and avoided by good citizens - and to turn us upon the retrograde path toward barbarism, by substituting his own unbridled passions for the administration of justice, and by redressing his real and imaginary wrongs by the red and cowardly hand of assassination or the ruffianism of the outlaw. So far as it shall come within my province to deal with this spirit, I pledge you that I will crush it out or sacrifice myself in the effort. Every one of our millions of fellow-citizens who may choose to exercise his unquestionable right to plant himself, his family and his property on our soil, to swell its strength and develop its resources, must feel that the broad aegis of the law shelters him and his from outrage, and that its sword is keen and ready to punish him summarily and unfailingly, for outrage of the rights of others. We must, too, do our duty in cementing and preserving our glorious Union, by the strictest adherence to our constitutional and legal obligations, and a constant readiness to aid our fellow-citizens of other States, in securing to them all the rights which that constitution and those laws have sacredly guaranteed to them for the management of their own affairs, whilst at the same time, we must, with the most vigorous and determined firmness, preserve unimpaired and unquestioned, to every citizen of our Territory, freedom of opinion in the regulation of our own. The principle of the bill for erecting our Territory, I need scarcely tell you has my hearty approval. Fiercely as it has been assailed, it has its foundation deep in the doctrine of true republicanism. Under these doctrines the whole Union, North, South, East and West, has invited us to come here and mold our own institution, as to us it shall seem good. We have accepted the invitation, and with "POPULI VOCE NATA" On our banner, we are prepared to give one more proof of the ability of our people for self-government, by going to the ballot-box - there conceding to each other the right of free discussion and opinion which we claim for ourselves, and sacrificing to the all-powerful will of the majority, all our interests and feelings and prejudices whatever question may be involved in the decision. Thus and thus only can we discharge our duty to ourselves - show our appreciation of the principle of our Territorial bill, and contribute to its permanency as a means of easy solution, for all future time, of a dangerous and exciting question in our National Councils.

Thus, with law and order reigning in our midst, mutual tolerance strengthening our hands and accelerating our progress - fanaticism disarmed and the Union sustained by a cheerful and determined observance of the constitution that binds it together - by preserving unimpaired the purity of the ballot-box and deciding there as freemen should, the questions which the nation has properly referred to it, each man calmly, fearlessly and dispassionately expressing his opinion and casting his vote in conformity to the dictates of his conscience and understanding and by bowing submissively to the will of the majority when properly ascertained, we shall have done our whole duty and may expect to reap its pleasant fruits.

Governor Reeder immediately opened the Executive offices at Fort Leavenworth, after which he proceeded in his duties in a deliberate manner. He seems to have taken no one completely into his confidence. It had been the expectations of the Pro-Slavery men that he would immediately call an election for members of the Territorial Legislature. The Governor saw no need for haste in that matter. He decided first to make a tour of the Territory. In view of what later developed it is certain that he intended at that time to make his future home in Kansas. He had accepted the position of Territorial Governor believing it would give him an opportunity to make profitable investments for himself and his Pennsylvania friends Kersey Coates, of Chester County, that State, was already located at Kansas City. He was a fine business man, and was long one of the principal citizens of his adopted town. Robert T. Van Horn, another Pennsylvanian, had founded the Kansas City Journal. There were other Pennsylvanians at the mouth of the Kansas River, and it is more than probable that Governor Reeder consulted them as to his procedure in Kansas. And it was but natural that he should wish to explore the territory to some extent before he committed himself on many of the issues which were sure to arise. Of this period of his administration he later made a statement to the special Congressional Committee appointed to investigate the Kansas troubles in 1856. His experience between the date of his arrival and the date of this statement, no doubt influenced his review of the whole of his administration.

I landed at Fort Leavenworth on Saturday, the 7th day of October (1854), and made it my first business to obtain information of the geography, settlements, population and general condition of the Territory, with a view to its division into districts; the defining of their boundaries; the ascertainment of suitable and central places for elections, and the full names of men in each district for election officers, persons to take the census, Justices of the Peace, and Constables. In a very few days, I discovered that the procurement of this knowledge, in consequence of the newness of the population, was utterly impossible, by any other means than by a tour through the Territory. I found that, unlike most new Territories, the settlements of which cluster along a single line, the small population of Kansas was sparsely distributed over a surface of about 20,000 square miles. With some trouble, arising from the want of traveling facilities, I made the necessary arrangements, and, on the 14th of October, I left, with two of the Territorial Judges, Messrs. Elmore and Johnson, the District Attorney, Mr. Isaacs, the United States Marshal, Mr. Donaldson, and my private Secretary, Mr. Williams, for a trip into the interior, to procure the requisite information. The Secretary and Chief Justice had not then arrived in the Territory. I took in the route the payments of the Pottawatomie and Kansas Indians, where a large number of whites as well as Indians were assembled; and, having made full notes of all the information procured from Indians and whites, I completed my trip, and arrived at Fort Leavenworth on the 7th of November. I then saw that if the election for delegate to Congress (which required no previous census), should be postponed till an election could be had for legislature, with its preliminary census and apportionments the greater part of the session, which would terminate on the 4th of March, would expire before our congressional delegate could reach Washington; and I deemed it best to order an election for a delegate to Congress as early as possible, and to postpone the taking of the census till after that election. I was more convinced of the propriety of this course, by the fact that the common law and many of the United States Statutes, were in force over the Territory, and could well be administered through the courts established by Congress, and the Justices whom I was authorized to appoint; and by the additional fact that whilst the citizens of Missouri were vehemently urging an immediate election of the legislature, the citizens of the Territory were generally of the opinion that no immediate necessity for it existed. I prepared, without delay, a division of the Territory into election districts, defined by natural boundaries, easily understood and known, fixed a place of election in each, appointed election officers for each poll, and ordered an election for congressional delegate, to take place on the 29th of November, 1854, and by the 15th of November my proclamations were issued, containing a description of the districts, with all the necessary information and forms.

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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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