1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 20 Part 1

CHAPTER XX

ELECTION OF THE LEGISLATURE

Governor Reeder was much disappointed by the course of affairs up to the election of the Delegate to Congress. After that election it was plain to him that he would not be able to satisfy his own conscience and the Pro-Slavery element of his own party in the administration of affairs in Kansas Territory. It is to his credit that he was not swerved from his course in the performance of his duties by what had taken place. He began to make plans for the election of the Territorial Legislature, and these plans revealed the fact that he had not, at that time, given up the idea of making his home in Kansas.

It was necessary to secure a census of the actual settlers in the Territory as a basis of apportionment for members of the Legislature. This enumeration. of the inhabitants of the Territory was made during the months of January and February. An abstract of the census returns is here given:

CENSUS OF KANSAS TERRITORY - JANUARY AND FEBRUARY, 1855
No. of
District
By Whom Taken Males Females Voters Minors Natives of
United
States
Foreign
born
Negroes Slaves Total
1 C. W. Babcock 633 339 269 459 887 75 7 ... 962
2 O. H. Brown 316 203 199 237 56 19 1 7 519
3 T. W. Hayes 161 91 101 112 215 12 ... 6 252
4 O. B. Donaldson 106 71 47 97 169 2 1 1 177
5 William Barbee 824 583 442 724 1,385 22 27 26 1,401
6 William Barbee 492 318 253 418 791 12 11 11 810
7 J. B. McClure 82 36 53 50 117 1 1 1 118
8 J. B. McClure 56 27 39 28 76 7 13 10 83
9 M. F. Conway 61 25 36 31 66 12 14 3 86
10 M. F. Conway 97 54 63 61 108 23 ... ... 151
11 B. H. Twombly 33 3 24 5 30 6 ... ... 36
12 B. H. Twombly 104 40 78 35 109 37 1 7 144
13 H. B. Jolly 168 116 96 145 273 9 14 14 284
14 Albert Weed 655 512 334 ... 301 46 1 35 1,167
15 H. B. Jolly 492 381 308 448 846 16 15 15 873
16 Charles Leib 708 475 385 514 1,042 104 48 33 1,183
17 Alexander O. Johnson 91 59 50 54 143 5 4 23 159
18 B. H. Towmbly 59 40 28 51 97 1 ... ... 99









Totals 5,128 3,383 2,905 3,469 7,161 408 151 192 8,601

The winter of 1864-55 was unusually mild and pleasant. There was little rain or snow. The sun shown brilliantly day after day. The people began to speak of the Territory as "Sunny Kansas," a name which still clings to the State. Settlers came into the Territory by wagon all winter. Those who had previously arrived, engaged themselves in fencing their claims, building their cabins and making preparations to plant crops the coming year.

It will be seen that there had been a remarkable growth of population in the Territory. The census was completed and tabulated in less than a year after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. It has already been noted that at that time there were not to exceed fifteen hundred white people in Kansas Territory, including soldiers. There had come in during the first ten months more than eight thousand people, all of whom intended to make Kansas their future home. This census was taken by the districts which Governor Reeder had created before the election for Delegate to Congress. The members of the two branches of the Legislature were to be apportioned to these districts. The upper house of the Legislature, the Council, was to be composed of thirteen members. The House of Representatives was to have twenty-six members - the two houses constituting the Legislative Assembly provided in the Enabling Act. Reference to the table will show that there were two thousand nine hundred and five voters in the Territory, and the ratio of representation was two hundred and twenty-three votes to a councilman and one hundred and eleven votes to a member of the House of Representatives.

The Council Districts, as set up by Governor Reeder, were as follows:

The First, Fourth and Seventeenth Election Districts, containing four hundred and sixty-six voters, shall constitute the First Council District, and elect two members of the Council.

The Second Election District and so much of the Thirteenth as is embraced in the Kansas Half-breed lands, containing two hundred and twelve voters, will constitute the Second Council District, and elect one member of Council; and the voters thus detached from the Thirteenth will vote at the place of election fixed for the Second Election District.

The Third, Seventh and Eighth Election Districts, containing one hundred and ninety-three voters, will constitute the Third Council District, and elect one member of Council.

The Fifth Election District, containing four hundred and forty-two voters, will constitute the Fourth Council District, and elect two members of Council.

The Sixth Election District, containing two hundred and fifty-three voters, will constitute the Fifth Council District, and elect one member of Council.

The Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Election Districts containing two hundred and one voters, will constitute the Sixth Council District, and elect one member of Council.

The Wolf River precinct and Doniphan precinct, of the Fourteenth, the whole of the Eighteenth, and so much of the Fifteenth Election District as lies north of Walnut creek and its main branch and a due west line from its source, containing two hundred and forty-seven voters, shall constitute the Seventh Council District, and elect one member of Council; and the voters who are thus detached from the Fifteenth will vote at the Doniphan precinct.

The Burr Oak precinct, of the Fourteenth District, containing two hundred and fifteen voters, will constitute the Eighth Council District, and elect one member of Council.

The residue of the Fifteenth Election District, containing two hundred and eight voters, will constitute the Ninth Council District, and elect one member of Council.

The Sixteenth and residue of the Thirteenth Election Districts, containing four hundred and sixty-eight voters, will constitute the Tenth Council District, and elect two members of Council.

REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICTS

The Seventeenth and Fourth Election Districts, containing ninety-seven voters, shall constitute the First Representative District, and elect one member.

The First Election District, containing three hundred and sixty-nine voters, shall be the Second Representative District, and elect three members.

The Second Council District shall be the Third Representative District, and elect two members.

The Third Election District, containing one hundred and one voters shall be the Fourth Representative District, and elect one member.

The Seventh and Eighth Election Districts, containing ninety-two voters, shall be the Fifth Representative District, and elect one member.

The Sixth Election District shall be the Sixth Representative District, and elect two members.

The Fifth Election District shall be the Seventh Representative District, and elect four members.

The Ninth and Tenth Election Districts, containing ninety-nine voters, shall be the Eighth Representative District, and elect one member.

The residue of the Thirteenth Election District, containing eighty-three voters, shall be the Tenth Representative District, and elect one member.

The Seventh Council District shall be the Eleventh Representative District, and elect two members.

The Eighth Council District shall be the Twelfth Representative District, and elect two members.

The Sixteenth Election District, containing three hundred and eighty-five voters, shall be the Fourteenth Representative District, and elect three members.

Witness my hand and the seal of the said Territory this eighth day of March, A. D. 1855.

A. H. REEDER, Governor, etc.
Attest: DANL. WOODSON, Secretary.

The Governor established two new election districts. The seventeenth district was composed of a small area about the Shawnee Mission. It extended from the Kansas River south along the State-line about twelve miles. It was a narrow strip off the east end of what is now Shawnee township in Wyandotte County, together with a small tract out of the northeastern corner of what is now Johnson County.

The eighteenth district was taken from the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth election districts, and defined as follows: "Commencing on the Vermillion Branch of the Blue River, at the crossing of the military road from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Kearney; thence due north to the line of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Election Districts to the aforesaid military road; and thence, by the middle of said road, to the place of beginning."

There had been some modification of the tenth and the eleventh election districts, but these did not affect the apportionment of members of

the Legislature. On the 26th of February, 1855, Governor Reeder issued a proclamation defining and setting up the Judicial districts of the Territory. He also assigned the Justices to these districts and fixed the times and places of holding terms of court.

First Judicial District. - Composed of the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth and eighteenth election districts. Chief Justice Samuel D. Lecompte was assigned to this district. Courts were to be held at Leavenworth on the third Monday of April and the third Monday of October of each year. A special term was to begin on the 19th of March to dispose of the business which might have accumulated to that time.

Second Judicial District. - Composed of the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventeenth election districts, and assigned to Justice Rush Elmore. Courts were to be held at Tecumseh on the second Monday after the third Monday of April, and the second Monday after the third Monday of October. To care for the accumulated business, a special term was appointed to begin March 26th.

Third Judicial District. - This district was composed of the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth election districts, and was assigned to Justice Saunders W. Johnston. Courts were to be held at Pawnee on the fourth Monday after the third Monday of April and the fourth Monday after the third Monday of October. The special term was to begin on the second day of April.

Governor Reeder issued his proclamation fixing the election of the Territorial Legislature on the 30th day of March, 1855. The qualifications of voters were the same as at the previous election.

The movements of Governor Reeder and the Pro-Slavery people had been antagonistic so far in establishing a government in Kansas Territory, and had been in a way preliminary to this election. It had been a sparring for advantage, with the Governor all the time on the defensive and giving ground. The first election had encouraged them. On the 22nd of January a large and enthusiastic meeting was held at Liberty, Missouri, at which it was resolved that Kansas and Nebraska should both become slave states. Each party knew that this election would be the most important preliminary event affecting the Territory. The Pro-Slavery party had been impatient at the delay of Governor Reeder in calling this election. His failure to call it immediately upon his arrival in the Territory was one of the charges brought against him by the Missourians when they demanded his removal. It was claimed that he held the election for the Territorial Legislature in abeyance in the interests of the Emigrant Aid Company, giving that Company time to import additional abolitionists into the Territory, thus putting the Pro-Slavery men at a disadvantage. The Missourians knew that they must win the Legislature, or fail in Kansas. The preparations made for the election of a Delegate to Congress were insignificant as compared to those made for the election of the Legislature. Companies were made up as far east in Missouri as Jefferson City for the purpose of voting in Kansas. A depot of supplies was said to have been established in Lawrence for some companies. Each company carried provisions and arms. These were transported by wagons. Whiskey formed a part of the cargo of a good many of the companies. Some bands arrived as much as two days before the election, and camped in the vicinity of the polling places. Everything had been reduced to a system. Each company had been assigned a certain voting district. It was their intention to have enough Missourians at each polling place to cast a majority of the votes even if all the legal voters persisted in voting, and this, it was not their intention to permit. On the morning of the election, these alien voters swarmed about the polls. At some points they intimidated the Judges and Clerks of election, causing them to resign. Violence was resorted to, but not in every election district. The account of the election at Lawrence, published in the Kansas Free State on the 7th of April is conservative and is here set out.

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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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