|1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS||Chapter 26||Part 1|
The meetings of the pioneers leading up to the "Peoples Convention" have already been noticed. That at Lawrence on the 15th of August and the Big Springs Convention made the Topeka meeting a part of the Free-State program. And, forgetting past views and differences on the subject, the Free-State people stood loyally and undivided behind the Topeka or Statehood movement. It was without precedent, and, considering that there already existed in the Territory a government set up by the United States, and the fact that that government had been denounced and defied - the acts of the Legislature so oppressive and reprehensible that they were to be resisted to a "bloody issue," the Topeka Movement was in reality an insurrection. For the proclamations giving notice of it recited the oppressions of the Territorial Government side by side with the invasion of the Missourians and their conduct at the polls. That it escaped the usual fate of the insurrection, rested in the fact that to have suppressed it with a ruthless hand by the military would have brought upon the Federal Government the combined wrath of the Free States of the Union.
The Topeka Movement resulted finally in an appeal to force. Considering the political complexion of Congress its failure was a foregone conclusion. As a novel plan of keeping Kansas uppermost in the public mind, it served a very useful purpose. On the whole, its benefit to Kansas Territory and the Free-State cause far exceeded the troubles which followed in its wake.
The "Peoples Convention" met at Topeka on the 19th of September, 1855, pursuant to the various calls already noticed. William Y. Roberts was made President. The Vice-presidents were J. A. Wakefield, P. C. Schuyler, L. P. Lincoln, Joel K. Goodin, S. N. Latta, and R. H. Phelan. Secretaries, E. D. Ladd, J. H. Nesbit, and M. W. Delahay. A Business Committee consisting of fifteen members were appointed. On motion of J. H. Lane a resolution was adopted appointing a committee of eighteen to issue an address to the people of the Territory "and to the Civilized World, setting forth our grievances, the policy we have been compelled to adopt, and which we have determined at all hazards to carry out." Colonel Lane was made Chairman of the committee.
The future course of the Free-State party, so far as it should be bound by the movement, and a plan for the movement itself appeared in the report of the Business Committee, which it is necessary to set out at length, as follows:
WHEREAS, The Constitution of the United States guarantees to the people of this Republic the right of assembling together in a peaceable manner for the common good, to "Establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to themselves and their posterity, and
WHEREAS, The Citizens of Kansas Territory were prevented from electing members of the Legislative Assembly in pursuance with the Proclamation of Gov. Reeder on the 30th of March last, by invading forces from foreign States coming into the Territory and forcing upon the people a Legislature of non-residents and others inimical to the people of Kansas Territory, defeating the object of the organic act, in consequence of which the Territorial Government became a perfect failure, and the people were left without any legal Government until their patience has become exhausted, and endurance ceases to be a virtue, and they are compelled to resort to the only remedy left, that of forming a government for themselves. Therefore,
Resolved, by the people of Kansas Territory in Delegate Convention assembled, That an election should be held in the several election precincts of this Territory on the Second Tuesday of October next, under the regulations and restrictions herein after imposed, for members of a Convention to form a Constitution, adopt a Bill of Rights for the people of Kansas and take all needful measures for organizing a State Government preparatory to the admission of Kansas into the Union as a State.
Resolved, That the apportionment of said Delegates shall be as follows: Two Delegates for each Representative to which the people were entitled in the Legislative Assembly by Proclamation of Gov. Reeder of date 10th March, 1865.
Resolved, That a committee of seven be appointed by the chair, who shall organize by the appointment of a Chairman and Secretary. They shall keep a record of their proceedings, and shall have the general superintendence of the affairs of the Territory so far as the organization of a State Government, which committee shall be styled the "Executive Committee of Kansas Territory."
Resolved, That it shall be the duty of the "Executive Committee of Kansas Territory" to advertise said election at least fifteen days before the second Tuesday in October next, and to appoint three Judges thereof for each Precinct, and the said Judges of each Precinct shall appoint their Clerks, all of whom shall be duly sworn or affirmed to discharge the duties of their respective offices impartially, and with fidelity, and they shall have power to administer the oath or affirmation to each other; and the said Judges shall open said election at 10 o'clock A. M. at the place designated in each precinct by said Executive Committee and close the same at 4 o'clock P. M.; and in case any of the officers appointed fail to attend, the officer or officers in attendance shall supply the vacancy or vacancies; in the event of them all failing to attend, ten qualified voters shall supply their places; and the said Judges shall make out duplicate returns of said election, seal up and transmit one copy of the same within five days to the Chairman of the Executive Committee to be laid before the Convention; and they shall within ten days seal up and hand the other to some member of the Executive Committee.
Resolved, That the "Executive Committee of Kansas Territory" shall announce by Proclamation the names of the persons elected Delegates to said Convention, and in case the returns from any precinct should not be completed by that day, as soon thereafter as practicable, and in case of a tie a new election shall be ordered by the "Executive Committee" giving five days' notice thereof, by the same officers who officiated at the first election.
Resolved, That a majority of said Convention shall constitute a quorum, and that the said Convention shall determine upon the returns and qualifications of its members, and shall have and exercise all the rights, privileges and immunities incident to such bodies, and may adopt such rules and regulations for its government as a majority thereof may direct. If a majority of said Convention do not assemble on the day appointed therefor, a less number is hereby authorized to adjourn from day to day.
Resolved, That in case of the death, resignation, or non-attendance of any Delegate chosen from any District of the Territory, the President of the Convention shall issue his writ ordering a new election on five days' notice, to be conducted as heretofore directed.
Resolved, That all white male inhabitants, citizens of the United States, above the age of twenty-one years, who have had a bona fide residence in the Territory of Kansas for the space of thirty days immediately preceding the day of election, shall be entitled to vote for Delegates to said Convention, and all white male inhabitants, citizens of the United States, above the age of twenty-one years, who have resided in the Territory of Kansas for the space of three months immediately preceding the day of election, shall be eligible as Delegates to said Convention.
Resolved, That if, at the time of holding said election, it shall be inconvenient, on account of Indian hostilities, or any other cause whatever, that would disturb or prevent the voters of any election precinct in the Territory from the free and peaceable exercise of the elective franchise, the officers are hereby authorized to adjourn said election into any other Precinct in the Territory, and to any other day they may see proper, of the necessity of which they shall be the exclusive Judges, at which time and place the qualified voters may cast their votes.
Resolved, That no person shall be entitled to a seat in the Convention, at its organization, except the members whose names are contained in the Proclamation of the Chairman of the Executive Committee. But after the Convention is organized, seats may be contested in the usual way.
Resolved, That the members of the Convention shall receive as a compensation for their services the sum of Three Dollars per day, and Three Dollars for every twenty miles travel to and from the same, and that Congress be respectfully requested to appropriate a sufficient sum to defray the necessary expenses of said Convention.
Resolved, That on the adoption of a Constitution for the State of Kansas, the President of the Convention shall transmit an authenticated copy thereof, to the President of the United States, to the President of the Senate, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to each member of Congress, and to the Governor of each of the several States of the Union, and adopt such other measures as will secure to the people of Kansas the rights and privileges of a Sovereign State.
The Executive Committee of Kansas Territory was appointed. It was composed of J. H. Lane, C. K. Holliday, M. J. Parrott, P. C. Schuyler, G. W. Smith, G. W. Brown, and J. K. Goodin. The convention then adjourned.
On the following day at 5 o'clock, P. M., the Executive Committee met in Topeka, at the house of E. C. K. Garvey and organized for work by electing James H. Lane as Chairman and Joel K. Goodin as Secretary. On the 21st of September the Committee met at the house of Dr. Robinson, at Lawrence to consider the work to be done. The Territory was divided into four districts for "canvassing purposes." Meetings were appointed for these districts beginning September 27th and running to October 8th. Speakers, the most prominent men in the Territory, were assigned for the meetings.
The Proclamation calling an election for delegates to the Constitutional Convention was issued on the 22d. It named the "Second Tuesday" of October next" as the date of the election, and set the date for the meeting of the Convention on the "4th Tuesday of October next" at Topeka. Polling places were specified, instructions to Judges of Election formulated, an apportionment of delegates made, and qualifications for voters set out.
The election was held on the 9th of October. Except at Leavenworth there was no interference by Missourians. Andrew H. Reeder was chosen Delegate to Congress on the same day and at the same election. The total vote cast by the Free-State party for delegates to the Constitutional Convention was 2,710. The vote for Reeder was 2,849. These figures would indicate that there was on the 9th day of October, 1855, a Free-State population in Kansas Territory of at least 15,000. The Pro-Slavery population could not have been more than 5,000. To show the distribution of the Free-State population the vote cast for Reeder is here tabulated.
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