1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 39 Part 1

CHAPTER XXXIX

THE STATE OF KANSAS

The bill for the admission of Kansas under the Wyandotte Constitution passed the Senate January 21, 1861. The vote was thirty-six to sixteen. This bill passed the House of Representatives on the 28th of January by a vote of one hundred and seventeen to forty-two. It was signed by President Buchanan on the 29th of January, 1861. The act is set out in full in Wilder's Annals and in various national and state publications. Marcus J. Parrott sent a telegram from Washington to the Leavenworth Conservative, then edited by D.W. Wilder, announcing that Kansas had been admitted into the Union. The Conservative printed an extra, copies of which were carried to Lawrence by D.R. Anthony. The Legislature thanked the Conservative for its enterprise. Captain Frank B. Swift, James C. Horton, Edward D. Thompson, and Caleb S. Pratt, led a large company from Lawrence to the Bickerton farm, where "Old Sacramento" - a cannon captured by Colonel Doniphan at the battle of Sacramento, brought by the Border-Ruffians into Kansas, and from them captured by the Free-State men-was buried. They dug up this cannon and carried it to Lawrence, where it was fired all night in honor of the admission of Kansas.

In Kansas the victory of freedom over slavery was won. The conflict was often spoken of as a struggle between free labor and slave labor. In a sense this is true, but there was a moral side to the question which that view does not include. The victory was in fact as much in the interest of the South as it was the North, but the South would not then see it so. As has been pointed out in this work, there was a large element of the Southern people in favor of the abolition of slavery. John Brown put the question on its true basis and merits. He contended that it was a question of right and wrong. He was for destroying slavery because to do so was an act of justice-right.

The admission of Kansas marked the end of the first battle for freedom. This nation will never be able to pay the Kansas pioneers who stood in the breach and fought this first battle. They were fighting not only for Kansas, but for the Union. They understood well what Lincoln meant when he said the Union could not endure half slave and half free. It was plain to them that Kansas was the crucial point and the crisis in this struggle for liberty for the Union. They did not fail. We have seen what horrors they endured to establish the principle fought for. The Free-State men of Kansas are immortal and their names should be preserved in granite and bronze. Their sacrifices are, of course, understood, and, in a way, duly appreciated. But the day will come when the glory of their deeds will be expressed in monuments and memorials, rising as beacons to light up the way of liberty for the world.

The question as to who was entitled to the honor for making Kansas, has often been discussed - who should have credit for making her free - what people won the first victory for freedom in this Union. Something has already been said on this subject in previous pages. The New England element of Kansas claimed this honor to the exclusion of all other people, and those connected with the Emigrant Aid Company endeavored to make it appear that that body was entitled to all the credit. It is a momentous question. No State nor any man should be robbed of the part borne in this struggle. Fortunately the statistics enabling us to arrive at a reasonable estimate of the part played by the different states, have been preserved. In his Chicago speech on the 31st of May, 1856, General Lane made the statement that nine-tenths of the people in Kansas had come from other than New England states. The men in the Topeka movement were largely from the Ohio Valley. Twelve of the thirty-seven delegates were from the South. There were only four from all New England, - two from Massachusetts. The following table is repeated from a former chapter:

Kentucky5 Maryland1
Indiana2 Massachusetts2
New York4 Pennsylvania6
Illinois1 Virginia1
Ohio5 England1
Maine2 Ireland1
South Carolina2 North Carolina1
Tennessee2   

The delegates who formed the Wyandotte Constitution numbered fifty-two. Here is how the Roll appears:

Ohio14 New York5
Kentucky5 Maine2
Indiana6 Virginia1
Massachusetts2 Scotland1
Pennsylvania6 Germany1
New Hampshire3 Ireland1
Vermont4 England1

From the Ohio Valley States there were thirty-one delegates, and but eleven delegates from all New England.

The model for the Wyandotte Constitution was that of Ohio. Ohio had taken her constitution largely from that of Kentucky, and Kentucky had modeled her constitution on that of New York. A close study of the Journal of the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention will not warrant the assumption that the New England men, as individuals, exerted any greater influence in the deliberations than those from any other section. The fact is, that the Wyandotte Constitution is a genuinely, thoroughly, Western document. It was formulated by Western men.

In the census of 1860 the nativity of the people was recorded. There was a total population of 107,206. 12,691 of these were born in foreign countries. The remaining 94,515 were American born. Here is how they were divided. Study this table:

1Ohio11,617 11Tennessee2,569
2Missouri11,356 12Wisconsin1,351
3Kansas Children10,997 13Massachusetts1,282
4Indiana9,945 14North Carolina1,234
5Illinois9,367 15Michigan1,137
6Kentucky6,556 16Vermont902
7Pennsylvania6,463 17Maine728
8New York6,331 18Connecticut650
9Iowa4,008 19Maryland620
10Virginia3,487 20New Jersey499

It will be observed that there were nearly as many North Carolinans in Kansas as there were people from Massachusetts. All New England had only 4,208 people in Kansas. D.W. Wilder, who was himself a native of Massachusetts and a graduate of Harvard College, had this to say of the settlement of Kansas.

The South was divided into great plantations, controlled by rich planters and worked by slaves. The poor white man had few opportunities. He had long been moving into Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois to get a free home for himself - moving by thousands. He came to Kansas, usually as a free-state man. He was silent at first, slow to talk, but he voted against slave labor to compete with his; he fought for freedom in Kansas, and, later, for national freedom. The richer class of Southerners were pro-slavery; the poor men who wanted homes were often anti-slavery. The actual home-seekers - the poor squatters on the quarter-sections - were the men who made Kansas free. They came chiefly from Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Neither in the early days nor in the later days have the New Englanders been more than a handful. Kansas is a Western state, and always has been. The Western and Southern settlers did not talk about the sinfulness of slavery; they despised the negro; and many of them were transformed into anti-slavery agitators who "did care for" the negro, by the "Kansas branch of the National Debating Society."

He is the first writer to investigate this particular subject. and no one ever questioned his fairness as a historian.

These Western settlers of Kansas were but one generation removed from pioneer life. Their fathers had settled Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Western Pennsylvania, and Virginia. They knew how to get a living from the soil in a new country. They were men who could seat themselves along the streams, build log cabins, make their own furniture, break the prairie wilderness, open fields, and get a living from the land. To primitive agriculture they added trapping, hunting, freighting and fishing. They depended very little on towns and trading centers. Their wives and daughters could spin the thread and weave the cloth from which clothing was made. Those coming from New England were artisans - brass-moulders, varnishers, wood-carvers, hair-dressers, teachers, iron-moulders. There were some farmers and carpenters among them, but farming in New England was very different from redeeming a wilderness. The soil of Kansas had to be civilized, tamed. It was with the greatest difficulty that trees could be made to grow on the prairies. George W. Martin, long Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, has often told this writer that five crops of trees were planted on the townsite of Junction City before any finally lived. Mr. Wilder rightly says that Kansas is a Western state and always was a Western state. It was the predominance of Western people in her pioneer population which gave General James H. Lane his ascendancy in Kansas political affairs. He understood the Western manner of thought and speech, having been himself reared on the frontier.

There is a Kansas term which has no counterpart in any other state. It is "The Kansas Language." It originated in Territorial times. The highest compliment which can be paid to a Kansan is to say that he speaks the Kansas language. It was often so said of General James H. Lane.

No one would detract one atom from what Now England did for Kansas. It is repeated here that she did much in the way of leadership. The founding of Lawrence was the one thing accomplished by New England people which had a decided influence in the Free-State cause. Repeatedly, waves of Ruffianism rolled up against that town. It was twice destroyed, but it was never discouraged. Its spirit could not be broken. Its determination could not be conquered. This spirit, did not result from the people of any section, hut was born of the battle for human liberty. It is today a fair city, typical of all that is best in American life, a great monument to the pioneers of Kansas and their immortal achievement.

And, so, Kansas is the child of the West. Her spirit was forged in the white heat of battle from the refined principles evolved by a free people migrating to a new land to build a beacon to light up the way of Freedom. She shines as the brightest star in that galaxy which is the hope of the world.

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A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans , written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 2000.

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