Before Marshal Donaldson had issued the proclamation copied in our last chapter, the citizens of Lawrence had forwarded to Gov. Shannon the following:
WHEREAS, We have most reliable information of the organization of guerrilla bands, who threaten the destruction of our town and its citizens; therefore
Resolved, That Messrs. Topliff, Hutchingson and Roberts constitute a committee to inform His Excellency of these facts, and to call upon him, in the name of the people of Lawrence, for protection against such bands by the United States troops at his disposal.
To this the Governor made the following reply:
EXECUTIVE OFFICE, May 12, 1856.
GENTLEMEN: Your note of the 11th inst. is received, and in reply I have to state that there is no force around or approaching Lawrence, except the largely constituted posse of the United States Marshal and Sheriff of Douglas county, each of whom, I am informed, has a number of writs in his hands for execution against persons in Lawrence. I shall in no way interfere with these officers in the discharge of their official duties.
If the citizens of Lawrence submit themselves to the Territorial laws, and aid and assist the Marshal and the Sheriff in the execution of processes in their hands, as all good citizens are bound to do when called upon, they will entitle themselves to the protection of the law. But so long as they keep up a military or armed organization to resist the Territorial laws and the officers charged with their execution, I shall not interpose to save them from the legitimate consequences of their illegal acts.
The following is a list of the notabilities that were in command of the army that was to serve as the posse of Marshal Donaldson, David R. Atchison in command of the Platte county riflemen of Missouri; Capt. Dunn, of the Kickapoo Rangers; Gen. B. F. String fellow, Robert S. Kelley and Peter T. Abell having charge of the recruits from Atchison; Col. Wilkes, of South Carolina; Col. Titus, of Florida; Col. Boone, of Westport, Mo., and Col. Buford, of South Carolina. More than three-fourths of this army was composed of non-residents of Kansas.
A third time the citizens of Lawrence called a public meeting, and this time they appeal to Marshal Donaldson. They say, "We beg leave to ask respectfully, what are the demands against us?" They repeat their oft-repeated assurance that they will submit to arrests, and demand protection against the gathering mob from the men representing the authority of the General Government. Marshal Donaldson only replied with jeers and insults. The people of Lawrence were indeed in evil case.
The beleagured citizens saw themselves shut in by armed bands, engaged in murder, robbery, and plunder; and this time they appealed to the Investigating Committee, now gone to Leavenworth; but that committee had no power to help them. Col. Sumner could not help them, unless the Governor should speak the word; and Shannon was dumb.
Lane had gone East; Robinson was a prisoner; Ex-Gov. Reeder had fled, disguised as a common laborer; and others were in hiding; and perforce the management of affairs had to be given into the hands of new men. A Committee of Public Safety was chosen, and this committee determined on a policy of abject submission and non-resistance. A committee of volunteers from Topeka offered their assistance, but were told: "We do not want you." Pusillanimous as Gov. Shannon was, he found he had a man to deal with more pusillanimous than himself, in the person of S. C. Pomeroy, chairman of the Committee of Public Safety. Citizens of Lawrence left in unspeakable disgust. The people of the Territory looked on in amazement. The boys jeeringly called the Committee of Public Safety "The Committee of the Public Safety Valve."
The writer had given his testimony before the Investigating Committee while they were yet in Lawrence. A number of South Carolinians had been present while this testimony was being given, and they had protested in a towering rage, "We will shoot Butler on sight." It was evident the town had to be given up to the tender mercies of this mob of ruffians. There was nothing to be gained by remaining, and the writer, sick at heart, went back to Atchison county; but he afterwards returned to see the blackened ruins of the desolated town.
On May 21st the monster posse, led on by Marshal Donaldson and Deputy Marshal Fain, gathered around the doomed city. The town was quiet—unusually so. Deputy Marshal Fain went into the city and arrested G. W. Deitzler, G. W. Smith and Gains Jenkins, on the charge of treason. The Marshal went to the Free State hotel, that they were soon to batter down, and got his dinner, and went away without paying for it. And now the opportune moment had arrived for the final denouement. Sheriff Jones—the mourned and lost and murdered and much-lamented Sheriff Jones—whose tragic death had fired the hearts of all the Missouri border, now put in an appearance and showed himself a mighty lively corpse, and led his posse into the town. The flag of the lone star of South Carolina, blood-red, and on which was inscribed the motto, "Southern Rights," floated beside the Stars and Stripes. The monster posse, with loaded cannon, marched into the city and in front of the Free State hotel, and the "Committee of the Public Safety Valve" was called for. Mr. Pomeroy came forward and shook hands with Sheriff Jones—should not gentlemen shake hands when they meet? Sheriff Jones demanded the arms of the people, otherwise he would bombard the town. Mr. Pomeroy went and dug up the cannon that had been buried, and surrendered it to Jones. But further than this he could not go: the people had their arms, and intended to keep them. Then they tried to batter down the Free State hotel with cannon. Failing in this, they tried to blow it up with powder; and, failing in that, they burned it down. They also destroyed the two printing presses, burning the buildings, and then sacked the town.
Sheriff Jones was beside himself with joy. In frantic excitement he said, "I have done it! I have done it! This is the happiest moment of my life! I determined to make the fanatics bow before me in the dust and kiss the Territorial laws, and I have done it! The writs have been executed. Boys, you are dismissed." It will be doing Senator David R. Atchison, Ex-Vice-President of the United States, a kindness to conclude simply that he was drunk, otherwise he displayed utter savagery and barbarism. He inculcated gallantry to ladies, but said: "If you find any woman with arms in her hands, tread her under foot as you would a snake." The Caucassian white woman of Lawrence had no more rights of self-protection than the slaves of a South Carolina rice plantation—they were wholly and absolutely at the mercy of their masters!
We have no comments to make on the work of this drunken rabble; but there is one man that must be held to a terrible responsibility before the judgment-seat of posterity. Gov. Wilson Shannon was not drunk: and it is to be presumed he had read that Constitution of the United States which he had so often sworn to support. He knew, therefore, that this document stipulates:
1. "That the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed;" yet he showed a fixed purpose to deprive the Lawrence people of their arms.
2. The Governor knew that the Constitution guarantees "freedom of speech and of the press" to the American people; yet the burning of these printing presses was an attack on the freedom of the press.
3. The Constitution guarantees that "in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial." Property of large value was destroyed because its owners were charged with high crimes and misdemeanors; yet the owners of this property had never been given a trial.
4. Gov. Shannon alleged that it was treasonable for the people of Kansas Territory to frame a State Constitution without an enabling act from Congress; yet California had done this very thing, and under that Constitution had been admitted as a State.
5. He treated the Free State men as traitors, because they would not admit the legality of the Lecompton Territorial Legislature. But the majority of the Investigating Committee held the same view with the Lawrence people, and Congress affirmed the same judgment in permanently unseating Mr. Whitfield as Territorial delegate to Congress.
Would that men could remember that there is a hereafter; that to-morrow forever sits in judgment on to-day. There are three men most conspicuous in the sacking of Lawrence. Let us look at them in the electric light of the awful to-morrow. Since the Kansas struggle had begun David R. Atchison had made himself the most conspicuous figure. He was the representative of the John C. Calhoun school of Southern politics, and from the hour of the destruction of Lawrence he was to disappear from public view, as absolutely as that Free State hotel which was burned by his orders; yet he did not die—he was simply buried alive out of the public sight. He was done with the nation, and the nation was done with him. He went back and lived on his plantation in Western Missouri, where he was forgotten. It is said he loved his slaves so well, and petted them so much, that they became masters on the plantation, and not himself. He lived to see Kansas a free State, with almost a million of inhabitants, and fairly taking the lead of Missouri in the elements of education, enterprise, and the highest civilization.
We have seen the crawling servility with which Gov. Shannon served the "Law and Order" party; yet in less than three months he was to see his office as Governor go up in smoke, as these burning buildings had gone up in smoke. Mr. S. became frantic when he saw the carnival of bloodshed and murder, of riot and robbery, that had been brought about by his means. Dr. Gihon, the incoming Gov. Geary's private secretary, reported that Mr. Shannon fled the Territory in fear of his life. When the troubles were over he came to Kansas and sought the pity and forgiveness of that city he had turned over to the tender mercies of a mob of ruffians. It need not be said that he could have done no better, for his successor, Gov. Geary, had only to speak a word and this tumult of disorder was instantly hushed.
As the years went by the people could not believe that a man that displayed so many good and amiable qualities could have been a party to such outrages as characterized his administration. He died in Lawrence very much respected.
Sheriff Samuel J. Jones strutted his brief hour on this stage in which the play had been both a bloodcurdling tragedy and a comedy; and now he was to step down and out. In the last act he had said, "I have done it!" And he had done it! He and his fellow conspirators, whether of high or low degree, had set in operation a train of causes that should issue in abolishing throughout the United States that institution of slavery they had so frantically sought to establish in Kansas.
Joseph said to his brethren, "You meant it for evil, but the Lord meant it for good." Sheriff Jones and his fellow conspirators were in the Lord's hands, but they did not know it.
When the news came of the sacking of Lawrence, the great mass of the squatters had not yet lost faith in the nation, nor had they lost hope that justice would be done, tardy though it might be; but the utmost limits of human endurance were fast being reached. There were, however, many that had already gone beyond this point, and they returned an answer that made the hearts of the people stand still with horror. It was the answer of a wild beast that had been hunted to its lair, and that turns with savage ferocity on its pursuers. It was an answer framed not in words, but in deeds. It said, "We have come to an end. We have been robbed of the rights guaranteed to us by the Kansas-Nebraska bill. We have been robbed of the rights of American citizens. We have been given the alternative of abject and degrading submission or of extermination. And now we make our answer. We will return blow for blow, wound for wound, stripe for stripe, and burning for burning. Murder shall be paid back with murder, robbery with robbery; and every act of aggression shall be paid back with swift and terrible retaliation." It must be remembered that at that time news traveled slow, and that it was slow work to take men from their ordinary farm life and organize them into bands of soldiers, and it was some days before "Old John Brown, of Osawatomie," appeared on the scene of conflict with a company of men. Of this company his son, John Brown, Jr., was captain. But the "old man" had come too late. He was terribly excited, and denounced as a set of cowards the "Committee of the Public Safety Valve" that had dug up the hidden cannon and had surrendered it to Sheriff Jones. Captain Brown and his company determined to return. Old John Brown selected a squad of six men to go on a secret expedition. Of these, four were his own sons, and one was his son-in-law. His son, Captain Brown, was unwilling that his father should go, and when the old man would not be persuaded, he cautioned him, "Father, don't do anything rash." "Old John Brown" took old man Doyle and two sons and two other men in the dead hour of night and put them to death. The facts of this awful deed have never been made public—there has never been a judicial investigation. It is said that Doyle and his sons were desperate characters, and were in the act of driving off Free State men; but nothing is certainly known.
And now it appeared that the whole country south of the Kaw River was full of armed Free State guerrilla bands. They rose up out of the earth as if they had been specters—their blows were swift, terrible and remorseless. They visited and robbed the houses of Pro-slavery men, as the houses of the Free State men had been visited and robbed. They stole the Pro-slavery men's horses, stopped them on the public highways, and repeated in every detail and in every act of violence the cruel atrocities that had been so long perpetrated on themselves. They showed no partiality—if they stole the horses of Pro-slavery men, they also stole Gov. Shannon's horses, and the Governor posted over the country with a squad of soldiers to find them. The town of Franklin, six miles from Lawrence, that had been a rendezvous for the "Law and Order" robbers, and out of which they issued to visit Free State settlers' houses, rob Free State men on the public highway and make raids on Lawrence, was cleaned out. H. Clay Pate, leader of a "Law and Order" company of militia, went to hunt John Brown and put him to death as he would go to hunt a wild beast. An African lion hunter, when questioned, "Is it not fine sport to hunt lions?" replied, "Yes, it is fine sport to hunt lions, but if the lion hunts you it is not so fine." H. Clay Pate went to hunt the lion, and found the lion was hunting him. John Brown attacked Pate with an inferior force, dispersed his command, and took him prisoner, together with twenty-eight of his men, and kept them in an inaccessible fastness which he made his hiding place. A number of Pro-slavery men fled from the Territory, telling everywhere a blood-curdling story of hard and cruel treatment. The people of the State of Missouri were filled with rage and horror, and its presses groaned with frantic appeals to the people to rise in their might and avenge the blood of their murdered brethren. Hitherto they had witnessed with perfect composure the savage butchery of the Free State men, and the outrage of Free State families; but now the case was bravely altered. It was their ox that was being gored.
Gov. Shannon passed as usual from the extreme of insolence to the extreme of helpless imbecility, and called on Col. Sumner to come forward and put a stop to this riot of confusion, blood-shedding and violence. The Governor really wanted Col. S. to disarm only the Free State guerrillas; but Mr. S. made a more liberal interpretation of his orders, and proceeded to disarm all armed bands in the Territory. He visited Old John Brown's hiding place, told him he must consider himself under arrest, and intimated to Deputy Marshal Fain that he was at liberty to arrest these men, who were under charge of murder. But the Marshal replied that he had no arrests to make. Marshal Fain had no stomach for the business of lion hunting. It is said that Col. S. gave Marshal Fain a piece of his mind that was more explicit than polite.
Col. Sumner ordered John Brown to give up his prisoners, and disband his men. John Brown expostulated with him, that it was not right to require him to do this, while the country was full of armed bands of Pro-slavery militia and guerrillas. Col. S. agreed to disband and disarm all companies of persons armed, and then John Brown agreed to comply with his requests. Gen. Whitfield was in the vicinity, and at the request of Col. S. agreed to remove his men from the Territory; but while doing this they continued the business of riot, robbery and murder.
Thus wearily passed the month of June of 1856, on the south bank of the Kaw River. The coming Fourth of July was looked forward to with intense interest by both parties, and on the north side of the Kaw River, as well as on its south side. The Fourth of July was the day on which the Legislature, elected under the Free State Constitution, was to meet at Topeka; and on that day, and at that place, a mass convention of all the Free State men in Kansas had also been called to meet and agree on their future policy. Col. Sumner had at least done this good service, that the highways were clear, and traveling was safe; but not knowing what might happen, the men generally carried their muskets hidden in their wagons. The writer of these "Recollections" went to Topeka with the Free State men of Atchison county. At this convention it appeared that there was the greatest possible divergence of judgment as to the best policy for the Free State party to pursue. There was nothing of the noise and bluster that characterizes a drunken mob; they were sober and quiet men; nevertheless, they evidently labored under an intense and burning excitement. Some were for war, bloody, relentless and unforgiving war; others advised a more pacific policy. If the reader can imagine the savage determination with which the old Scotch Covenanters turned at bay when hunted into their mountain fastnesses by their bloody persecutors, then he will have some idea of the spirit that animated a great part of that assembly. Two companies of soldiers, handsomely equipped, armed and drilled, one from Topeka and one from Lawrence, were drawn up in front of the Topeka House, where the Free State Legislature was to meet. It is probable that this crowd of men assembled at this convention could have laid their hands on five hundred muskets hidden away in their wagons, in ten minutes.
Meanwhile Col. Sumner had quietly drawn up his company of dragoons just outside of the crowd. In front of the dragoons were two loaded cannon, and by them grimly stood soldiers with burning fuse. While the members of the convention were discussing among themselves their proper policy, United States Marshal Donaldson came forward, accompanied by Judge El-more, and taking possession of the stand from which the speakers were addressing the people, Judge El-more read a proclamation from the President and from acting Gov. Woodson, commanding the Legislature to disperse.
To this Col. Sumner had appended the following note: "The proclamation of the President and the orders under it require me to sustain the Executive of the Territory in executing the laws and preserving the peace. I therefore hereby announce that I shall maintain the proclamation at all hazards."
This act of Marshal Donaldson was fiercely denounced as an impertinent intermedding with other men's business. The general drift of the reasoning was as follows: "Our act in framing a constitution and in electing a legislature is not treasonable nor revolutionary. There is no law against it: consequently we are breaking no law. It is, moreover, something that has to be done at some time by the majority of the citizens of this Territory, and we hope to be able to convince Congress and the President that we are that majority. If we had undertaken to set in operation a government in contravention to the one now recognized by the President, then might there have been some apology for this interference; but we have done nothing of the kind."
The writer will say to the reader that Gov. Walker, an ex-Senator from Mississippi, and the ablest Governor Kansas ever had, admitted afterwards that this reasoning of the Kansas squatters was perfectly correct. But however this might be, here was a patent fact. Here was Col. Sumner with his United States dragoons, and he was a man to obey orders; and what were we going to do about it? Should we fight, or should we not fight? The writer submitted the following resolution:
Resolved, That this Convention expresses its determination not to resist the United States troops.
The resolution was carried, and a committee was sent to Col. Sumner to inform him of its adoption. His answer was one to draw the hearts of the people to himself: "I knew," said he, "that you were loyal to the old flag."
Our readers will be incredulous that such a resolution should be needed, or that there should be any division of sentiment as touching its adoption. It is for this reason we call this incident up. It is that the reader may understand how strained was the state of feeling of many of the Free State men. They had spent the past months fighting, and they, in their own minds, associated the United States troops with the oppressors of Kansas Free State men.
When Mr. Sumner went into the Legislative hall to disperse the Legislature, he spoke as tenderly as a woman. He said: "Gentlemen, this is the most painful act of my life But I must obey orders, and you must disperse." When he wheeled his dragoons to march away the boys cheered Col. Sumner. They cheered the old flag and the United States soldiers, but they gave such groans for the Lecompton Legislature as, it was said, frightened the dragoons' horses.
There was now no further cause that the writer should tarry longer, and he immediately mounted his horse and rode towards home, with a heart heavy with the thought of all the distempers that had come on unhappy Kansas.
We have already told how the campaign was opened, in the spring of 1856, in Atchison county, in a letter which we at that time addressed to the editor of the Herald of Freedom. This paper was printed at Lawrence, on the printing press destroyed by the "Law and Order" mob. The weekly issue in which this letter was published was passing through the press on the day the town was sacked, one side having been printed, the other side being yet blank. Then the Border Ruffians came into the town, broke up the press and threw it into the river, and tumbled the half printed weekly issue into the street. The above-named article was on the printed side, and was read by the whole crowd, and they were terribly angry. If the writer had been in town he certainly would not have escaped alive, if this mob could have found him. As it was, their curses would not be edifying reading in a Christian newspaper. Lecompton could not give its friends food or lodging. It had been located in an out-of-the-way and inaccessible place; its proprietors were Sheriff Jones, Judge Lecompton, and men of that ilk, and business men avoided the place as if it had been smitten with a pestilence. The people of the surrounding country were generally Free State men, and the South Carolinians could not choose, but were forced to return to Atchison. They had been angry and impatient when their friends in Atchison had constrained them to do things up in such "milk and water" style, and in Lawrence they had been held back in the same manner, and they returned in a savage temper. Should a cowardly Yankee be allowed to defy them, and scoff at them, and call them "bull-dogs and blood-hounds," with impunity? and now, with this man they had to have a settlement.
We have already seen how the contending factions spread murder and violence south of the Kaw River; but from May till September Leavenworth county became a "dark and bloody ground." Immediately after the Fourth of July, Col. Sumner had been, because of his too great leniency to Free State men, superseded in command at Fort Leavenworth by Persifer F. Smith, a man whose heart was hard as a rock of adamant toward the Free State people, and under his eyes Leavenworth city and county were given up to blood and robbery.
In Atchison county, from the beginning of these border troubles to the end of them, not one man's life was taken, and yet David R. Atchison, Gen. B. F. Stringfellow, and his law partner, Peter T. Abell, were the leading members of the Atchison town company. Robert S. Kelley and Dr. John H. Stringfellow also maintained unchanged their bloody purposes. We find in the Squatter Sovereign, under date of June 10th, the following editorial, and this displays its uniform temper:
The Abolitionist: shoot down our men, without provocation, wherever they meet them; let us retaliate in the same manner. A free fight is all we desire. If murder and assassination is the programme of the day, we are in favor of filling the bill. Let not the knives of the Pro-slavery men be sheathed while there is one Abolitionist in the Territory. As they have shown no quarters to our men, they deserve none from us. Let our motto be written in blood on our flags, "Death to all Yankees and traitors in Kansas."
Why, then, were not these bloody counsels made good by deeds? Our circumstances were peculiar. It will be seen above that it was only the Yankees and Abolitionists in whose bodies the knives of the "Law and Order" party were to be sheathed; and the Yankees in the country were only a handful of men, and were therefore powerless; but between them and these bloody-minded chieftains was interposed a barrier that proved insurmountable. The great mass of the squatters were just from the other side of the river. Sometimes a son had left a father, and crossed the river to get a claim; or a brother had left his brother, or a girl had married a young man in the neighborhood, and as the young folks were poor, they had left the old folks and had gone to seek their fortune in the new Territory. Of course the old folks would still have a care for the young couple. They were in easy reach of each other, and would still visit back and forth. Now who does not see that to touch any one of these was to touch all? It was like touching a nest of hornets. The reader will observe that these people had no quarrel with the people of the South: they were bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh. Neither had they any special quarrel with Southern institutions; only this, that they would rather live in a free State. They did feel that way, and they could not help it. But in one thing they had been sorely wounded. In the invasion of Kansas, and in the carrying the elections by violence, their personal rights had been invaded, and they did resent that. And now here were some Yankee neighbors whom they knew to be kindly and peaceable people, and whose help they needed in building up their churches; and yet these were to be murdered or driven out of the Territory for nothing! and it touched their Southern blood. It was neither just nor right, and they would not allow it; and in such an issue there would be a common bond of sympathy on both sides of the river. Moreover, such men as Oliver Steele, Judge Tutt and the Irvings and Harts and Christophers had grave misgivings what would be the final issue of this system of murder and violence that had been adopted to make Kansas a slave State.
And so it was that the leaders in this conspiracy, right here in this city and county of Atchison, which was their headquarters, found themselves strangely embarrassed and handicapped. Their will was good enough, but how to carry out their purpose?—that was the pinch. A private assassination was a thing that looked easy enough at the first sight, but it might turn out that they had undertaken an ugly job for themselves.
A meeting of the Disciples was held at the house of Archibald Elliott in the month of June. It was called quietly, and no noise made about it. There was a large attendance, and it was evident that if we could hold regular meetings great good would be done. But the neighborhood was soon filled with alarming rumors. It was said that a company of South Carolinians were seen to go into a grove of bushes, about nightfall, where the writer would be expected to pass, and that they were seen to emerge from the same place the next morning. One event, however, adjourned our meetings without date. There was a man living in the western part of the county named Barnett, who was a man of considerable attainment, and had been a member of the Christian Church. But he was given to drink. His wife, however, who was an excellent Christian woman, remained steadfast to the church, and Barnett, as he saw his hold on the church and his hope of heaven slipping away from him, clung the more loyally to his wife, as though her Christian excellencies would save them both. At her request he invited me to preach a sermon at his house, and I consented. But when the South Carolinians in Atchison heard of it, they sent an insulting message to Barnett that they would come and shoot me. Barnett's Southern blood was all on fire. Who were these men that had come to Atchison county to ride rough-shod over him in his own house? He sent a message equally defiant back to them, that if they did come he and his neighbors would shoot them. But there was one man in the county that needed to have no nervousness as touching his reputation for personal bravery. That man was Caleb May; and he interposed and said: "Let us wait patiently for more peaceful times. The Son of man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." But this adjourned without date our meetings.
One incident must illustrate the strained and peculiar condition of affairs in Atchison county. Archimedes Speck lived on the Stranger Creek, several miles below the residence of the writer. He was a man of magnificent physical development, and was a pronounced Free State man. His wife's people originally came from North Carolina, and she was proud of her Southern blood; and the husband and wife did not come to Kansas to be run over by anybody. Yet they were eminently peaceable people, if let alone. These gentlemen in Atchison had determined to disarm the Free State people living in the country; and Mr. Speck, being a Free State man, open and avowed, they called on him, but he was not at home. They therefore asked his wife: "Has your husband a rifle, musket, or fire-arms of any kind?" She brought out an old Queen Anne's musket, as rusty and worn as if it had been in service ever since the Revolutionary war. But while they were inspecting the rusty old thing, whether it was worth carrying away, she took from a closet a bran span new double-barrel fowling-piece, and, putting her finger on the trigger, she said, "Now, sir, if you do not lay down that musket and leave the house, I will shoot you." If this gentleman had suddenly roused up a female tiger, he would not have been more terror-stricken than when he found himself facing this woman, blazing with scorn and irrepressible resentment, and he concluded he did not want the rusty old musket, and did not ask to examine the other one.
Mr. S. had threatened to flog one of his Pro-slavery neighbors who had insulted him, as he alleged, and the man went to Atchison and made oath that he was in fear of his life, and the Sheriff was sent out with a warrant to arrest Mr. Speck. But at this time Leavenworth county was full of murder and bloodshed; guerrilla parties, both Free State and Pro-slavery, were fighting in many parts of the Territory, and Lane had returned, and was leading the Free State men in this warfare, and had threatened with many oaths to wipe out Atchison, and there were rumors that he was already near at hand. And so, to provide against all contingencies, the Sheriff was accompanied by a posse of forty armed men, who took with them a cannon which had been loaned to Atchison by the people of Missouri.
Mrs. Speck received the Sheriff graciously, explained to him that her husband was absent, but would soon return, but to all questions as touching his present whereabouts, she shook her head mysteriously and refused to explain. The thing looked suspicious. Was it possible that Lane was even now in the neighborhood? and the Sheriff went back to his posse to hold a council of war. He had stationed them on a high bluff on the north bank of the Stranger Creek, and, looking across the wide timbered bottom to the opposite bluff, they could dimly see a large number of objects approaching through the brush-wood. What could it be? Was it Lane coming to attack him? And now two horsemen emerged from the brush and rode on a full gallop down the bluff.
"It is Lane! It is Lane!" they cried. "Let us ride back to Atchison and get ready to defend the town," and on a gallop they skedaddled back to Atchison.
Mr. Speck had been with some of his neighbors to bring home a herd of cattle. An old cow had broken from the herd, intending to get back to her former grazing ground, and Mr. Speck and his neighbors had ridden full gallop to head her off. On reaching home, and learning of the visit of the Sheriff, he went at once to Atchison to give bonds to keep the peace; and to make all things square, he took with him the rusty old musket and proffered it to the gentleman that had been so solicitous to get it. Mr. Speck assured him that Mrs. S. was now willing he should have it, and would not shoot him if he took it.
These gentlemen had been making money out of pocket. They had been frightened out of their wits by a spunky woman; and forty armed men, with a loaded cannon, had been stampeded and made to run pell-mell into Atchison by a herd of cattle and two or three men on horseback, riding at full gallop after an old cow.
These men had undertaken to do a wicked thing, and had been made ridiculous in doing so; and this contributed largely to that revolution in the public opinion of the county, which had been going on for eighteen months, and which at the last compelled a radical change in the policy of these "Border Ruffian" leaders. But this again gave the chiefs of this conspiracy abundant experience that it pays to do right, and that a good Providence had brought them prosperity and honor by defeating their original counsels and turning them into foolishness.
But first we must tell of the carnival of riot, ruin, and robbing that had been going on in other parts of the Territory.
The Squatter Sovereign, in its issue of July 1st, made the following announcement:
The steamer, Star of the West, having on board seventy-eight Chicago Abolitionists, was overhauled at Lexington, Mo., and the company disarmed. A large number of rifles and pistols were taken at Lexington, and a guard sent upon the boat, to prevent them from landing in the Territory. After leaving Lexington, it was ascertained that they had not given up all arms, but still held possession of a great number of bowie knives and pistols, which were probably secreted while the search was going on at Lexington. At Leavenworth City, Captain Clarkson, with twenty-five men, went on board of the boat and demanded the surrender of all the arms in the possession of the Abolitionists. Like whipped dogs they sneaked up to Clarkson and laid down their weapons to him.
The men thus robbed of their arms give the following version of the matter: They say that at Lexington they were taken by surprise; that their arms were not accessible to them, and that there was nothing to do but to yield. But that a pledge was made to them, that if they would give up their arms, they should be allowed to proceed peaceably to Kansas. They furthermore state that at Kansas City Col. Buford came aboard the boat, accompanied by a company of soldiers; that David R. Atchison and Gen. B. F. Stringfellow came on board, and that after the boat had left the landing these gentlemen informed them that they would in no wise be allowed to enter the Territory; that after the boat had stopped at Weston, they should be taken back to Alton; but that if they would not accept this arrangement, "they should be hung, every mother's son of them."
At various times the Squatter Sovereign and Leavenworth Herald report similar outrages. The latter paper reports, July 5th, the sending back seventy-five emigrants that had come upon the steamer Sultan. In reference to this occurrence, the Squatter Sovereign makes the following remark:
We do not fully approve of sending these criminals back to the East, to be reshipped to Kansas—if not through Missouri, through Iowa and Nebraska. We think they should meet a traitor's death; and the world could not censure us if we, in self-protection, have to resort to such ultra measures. We are of the opinion that if the citizens of Leavenworth city, or Weston, would hang one or two boatloads of Abolitionists, it would do more towards establishing peace in Kansas than all the speeches that have been delivered in Congress during the present session. Let the experiment be tried.
The Missouri River was thus blockaded against the incoming of emigrants from the free States, and this created intense excitement throughout the North. The result was, that the immigration to Kansas, instead of being diminished, was largely increased; but it changed its direction, and Iowa City became the entrept for the incoming tide of free State settlers, which now sought an overland route through Iowa and Nebraska, and began to reach Kansas about the 1st of August.
The leaders of the Pro-slavery party made a pathetic appeal to the people of the South to send a corresponding class of emigrants; but the appeal was feebly responded to. Slave-holders would not come, because their slaves would be insecure; and now slave-holders felt that they had small cause to come to fight a battle that was not theirs.
Gov. Shannon held the scepter of power with a more and more feeble hand. He was going to resign, and he was not going to resign. But whether he did or did not resign, the substance of power had already passed into the hands of his secretary, Mr. Woodson, who was hand and glove with his fellows in this conspiracy to make Kansas a slave State.
Meantime Col. Sumner had been superseded in command at Fort Leavenworth by Persifer F. Smith. Col. Sumner had obeyed orders like the brave soldier that he was, but he had shown too much sympathy for these victims of oppression in the discharge of his shameful duties.  He did his appointed work, but he did not do it with an appetite, and he had been succeeded by a man that felt no more pity toward the Free State people than the wolf feels for the lamb out of which he makes his breakfast. The consequences of this state of affairs began soon to appear. The Missouri River had been blockaded. Trains sent to Leavenworth from Lawrence and Topeka were robbed on the public highway of the merchandise and provisions with which they were loaded, and these interior Free State settlements began to feel the sharp pressure of hard necessities, while they a third time saw companies of so-called "Law and Order" militia occupying various points in the Territory which these men proceeded to fortify, and from which they could overawe the inhabitants and make raids on the citizens; and thus the old business of robbery, murder, spoliation and oppression was again begun.
And now this new immigration of a squatter soldiery, who came bearing their muskets in one hand and their implements of husbandry in the other, and were perfectly indifferent whether it should be work or fight, came pouring over the Nebraska line and into Kansas Territory. A feeble attempt was made to stop them, but it amounted to nothing. They were not now on a Missouri River steamboat. Jim Lane came with them. He remained incognito a few days, and then threw off his disguise, and Capt. Joe Cook was Jim Lane. And now the old, hard rule of the law of Moses, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," was again the law of Kansas. It was, "You have robbed us, and we will rob you; you have subsisted yourselves upon us, and we will subsist ourselves on you; you have blockaded the Missouri River, and waylaid our freighting trains, and pillaged them of their freight, with intent to starve out the Free State people, and all that belongs to you and yours shall be free plunder to us."
The places that had been fortified by this "Law and Order" militia were one by one stormed and the garrisons driven off. Franklin was a second time attacked and its occupants taken prisoners. Col. Titus had fortified his residence in the suburbs of Lecompton, and here he kept a company of men that made raids on the surrounding Free State inhabitants. This fort was taken by assault, and Col. Titus and his men were taken prisoners, while Major Sedjwick, with a company of United States troops, was encamped only two miles away. The citizens of Lecompton were frightened out of their wits, and Gov. Shannon was found under the bank of the Kansas River, badly demoralized, and trying to get across the river on an old scow, and thus escape the danger. He came the next day to Lawrence, accompanied by Maj. Sedjwick, to make peace and negotiate an exchange of prisoners, He announced this as his last official act, and exhorted the people in a speech he made to them, to live in peace with each other, while they shouted in angry retort, "Give us back Barber and the men that have been murdered under your rule."
But in spite of all these reverses that had come upon the "Law and Order" party, they still had faith that Providence is on the side of the heaviest battalions, and that they would yet succeed in driving out these Free State rebels; and they proceeded to raise, along the Missouri border, a larger army than it would be possible for the Free State people to raise. Did they not have on their side the President and his Cabinet? Was not Congress on their side? Was not Persifer F. Smith, Commandant at Fort Leavenworth, at least indifferent to all their deeds of violence? And more and better, Woodson had succeeded Shannon as acting Governor, and it would be a bad day that should not see the full fruition of their hopes.
But there was one thought to mar their otherwise perfect joy, just as Providence always pours a drop of bitterness into every cup. A Governor unfriendly to their purposes might be appointed, and it became them, therefore, to make hay while the sun was shining. They, therefore, addressed the following pathetic appeal to the people of the South:
We have asked the appointment of a successor who was acquainted with our condition; who, a citizen of our Territory, identified with its interests, familiar with its history, would not be prejudiced or misled by the falsehoods which have been so systematically fabricated against us.
In his stead we have one appointed who is ignorant of our condition, a stranger to our people; who we have too much cause to fear will, if no worse, prove no more efficient to protect us than his predecessors.
With, then, a government which has proved imbecile, has failed to enforce the laws for our protection, with our army of lawless banditti overturning our country—what shall we do?
Though we have full confidence in the integrity and fidelity of Mr. Woodson, now acting as Governor, we know not at what moment his authority will be suspended. We can not await the convenience of the incoming of the newly appointed Governor. We can not hazard a second edition of imbecility or corruption.
We must act at once, and effectively. These traitors, assassins, and robbers must be punished; must now be taught a lesson they will remember.
It is, then, not only the right, but the duty of all good citizens of Missouri and every other State to come to our assistance, and enable us to expel these invaders.
Mr. Woodson, since the resignation of Governor Shannon, has fearlessly met the responsibilities of the trust forced upon him, has proclaimed the existence of the rebellion, and called on the militia of the Territory to assemble for its suppression.
We call on you to come, to furnish us assistance in men, provisions, and munitions, that we may drive out the army of the North, who would subvert our government and expel us from our homes.
Gov. Shannon left the Territory a disgraced and ruined man. He had proved himself, both to the Free State party and the Law and Order party, a broken staff that pierces the hand of him that leans on it. Mr. Woodson, who took his place as acting Governor, showed himself hale fellow well met with such spirits as Sheriff Jones and Judge Lecompte; and this faction made piteous appeals to the Great Father at Washington to give them a man after their own heart, and this they found in John Calhoun, Surveyor-General of Kansas and Nebraska, whose official patronage made him a man of considerable influence, and whose freighting outfit, kept for his peculiar business, would have made him eminently useful to this party in the transportation of military stores. But their appeal had been denied them, and instead of Surveyor-General Calhoun, Mr. Geary, of Pennsylvania, had been appointed.
That great party, of which the President was the official head, was convulsed with such internal feuds and contentions, consequent on these very Kansas troubles, as threatened its existence. A Presidential election was pending, and attention must be paid to this fact, rather than to the desperate schemes of this Kansas faction. John W. Geary was, therefore, announced as the appointee of the President. Mr. G. came with high claims to public favor. He had passed through the Mexican war with honor; he had discharged high public trust in California with such fidelity and skill as won for him a distinguished reputation. He was the friend, and almost the neighbor, of the incoming President, James Buchanan, and he enjoyed the confidence of the outgoing President, Franklin Pierce; and was closeted with him and with his Secretary of State, Mr. Marcy, before leaving Washington. That nothing might be wanting to his success, he spent a day at Jefferson City, Mo., with Gov. Sterling Price, and with him arranged to have the blockade removed from the Missouri River.
Mr. Geary met at Glasgow, Mo., the retiring ex-Governor, and Dr. Gihon reports that he was fleeing in terror that his life would be taken by the men for whom he had been such an abject tool.
While these parting ceremonies were being performed a steamboat bound down the river, and directly from Kansas, came along side the Keystone. Ex-Governor Shannon was a passenger, who, upon learning the close proximity of Gov. Geary, sought an immediate interview with him. The ex-Governor was greatly agitated. He had fled in haste and terror from the Territory, and still seemed laboring under an apprehension for his personal safety. His description of Kansas was suggestive of everything that is frightful and horrible. Its condition was deplorable in the extreme. The whole Territory was in a state of insurrection, and a destructive civil war was devastating the country. Murder ran rampant, and the roads were everywhere strewn with the bodies of slaughtered men.
Dr. Gihon afterwards published a small volume of 348 pages, from which the preceding extract has been taken. The work is entitled "Governor Geary's Administration in Kansas." This work does not bear the sign manual of Gov. Geary, but as it was written by the Governor's private secretary, it must be taken as an authentic statement of what these gentlemen saw with their own eyes, and heard with their own ears, as touching the condition of things in the Territory. Dr. Gihon gives the following testimony concerning the troubles in and around Leavenworth and their cause:
After the removal of Shannon on the 21st of August, when Secretary Woodson became acting Governor until the arrival of Gov. Geary in September, the belligerents had matters pretty much their own way, and the ruffians improved the time, under pretense of authority from Woodson, to perpetrate with impunity the most shocking barbarities.
During this time Gen. Smith received much censure from the Free State people. Emory, Wilkes, Stringfellow and others were driving these from their homes in Leavenworth, and many of them fled in terror for protection within the enclosures of the fort; when the General caused hand-bills to be posted over the grounds commanding them to leave before a certain specified time, and gave orders to his subordinates to enforce this command. These unfortunate people, among whom were men of the highest respectability, and even women and children, were compelled, some of them without money or suitable clothing, to take to the prairies, exposed at every step to the danger of being murdered by scouting or marauding parties, or at the risk of their lives effect their escape upon the downward-bound boats. Some of these were shot in the attempt upon the river banks, whilst others were seized at Kansas City and other Missouri towns, brought back as prisoners, and disposed of in such a manner as will only be made known at that great day when all human mysteries will be revealed.
Captain Frederick Emory, a United States Mail Contractor, rendered himself conspicuous in Leavenworth at the head of a band of ruffians mostly from Western Missouri. They entered houses, stores and dwellings of Free State people, and in the name of "Law and Order" abused and robbed the occupants, and drove them out into the roads, Irrespective of age, sex or condition. Under pretense of searching for arms, they approached the house of William Phillips, the lawyer who had been previously tarred and feathered and carried to Missouri. Phillips, supposing he was to be subjected to a similar outrage, and resolved not to submit to the indignity, stood upon his defense. In repelling the assaults of the mob, he killed two of them, when the others burst into the house, and poured a volley of balls into his body, killing him instantly in the presence of his wife and another lady. His brother, who was also present, had an ana broken with bullets, and was compelled to submit to an amputation. Fifty of the Free State prisoners were then driven on board the Polar Star, bound for St. Louis. On the next day a hundred more were embarked by Emory and his men on the steamboat Emma.
At this time civil war raged in all the populous districts. Womi n and children had fled from the Territory. No man's life was safe, and every person, when he lay down to rest at night, bolted and barred his doors, and fell asleep grasping firmly his pistol, gun or knife.
Emory's company were all mounted on "pressed" horses, the owners of some of which were present to point out and claim them; but as there existed no courts or judges from whom the necessary legal process could be obtained, and as Gen. Smith would not listen to their complaints, they had no means by which to recover their property.
Emory and his company held their headquarters at Leavenworth City, whence they sallied into the surrounding country to "press," not steal, the horses, cattle, wagons and other property of Free State men. It was during these excursions that Major Sackett, of the United States Army, found in the road near Leavenworth City a number of the bodies of men who had been seized, robbed, murdered and mutilated, and left unburied by the wayside.
On the 17th of August, 1856, a shocking affair occurred in the neighborhood of Leavenworth. Two ruffians sat at a table in a low groggery, imbibing potations of bad whisky. One of them, named Fugert, bet his companion six dollars against a pair of boots that he would go out and in less than two hours bring in the scalp of an Abolitionist. He went into the road, and, meeting a Mr. Hoppe, who was in his carriage just returning to Leavenworth from a visit to Lawrence, where he had conveyed his wife, Fugert deliberately shot him; then, taking out his bowie knife, whilst his victim was still alive, he cut and tore off his scalp from his quivering head. Leaving the body of Hoppe lying in the road, he elevated his bloody trophy upon a pole, and paraded it through the streets of Leavenworth. On the same day a teamster, who was approaching Leavenworth, was murdered and scalped by another human monster.
A poor German, when the scalp of Hoppe was brought into Leavenworth, was impudent enough to express his horror of the shocking deed, when he was ordered to run for his life—in attempting which a number of bullets sped after him, and he fell dead in the street.
In the month of August, 1856, a company of so-called Territorial Militia established themselves at Hickory Point, Jefferson county, about twenty miles north of Lawrence, and proceeded to make raids on the Free State settlements. In one of these raids they pillaged the village of Grasshopper Falls, robbing the stores of their contents. Gen. Lane and Captains Harvey and Bickerton determined to attack and dislodge these marauders. But on the 11th of September Gov. Geary, having arrived at Lecompton, issued a proclamation ordering all armed bands of men, whether known as Territorial Militia or Free State Guerrillas, to disperse and retire to their homes. Gen. Lane determined at once to leave the Territory, and sent a message to that effect to Capt. Harvey, who had arranged to unite his command with that of Gen. Lane in an attack on Hickory Point; but the messenger failed to meet Harvey, who made the attack alone and captured these robbers. But Harvey's men were in their turn taken prisoners by a company of United States troops and were conveyed to Lecompton and kept during the winter as treason prisoners. But while the Free State forces were thus being scattered, disbanded and taken prisoners, by virtue of Gov. Geary's proclamation, an army of 3,000 men had been enlisted in Missouri and along the border towns, and were marching to destroy Lawrence and wipe out the Free State settlements. Delilah bound Samson with cords, then said, "The Philistines be upon thee, Samson"; and so these "Law and Order" leaders saw the Free State forces dispersed by the Governor's proclamation, and then thought to bring on the helpless settlements the whole power of this Missouri invasion. But we will let Mr. Geary's private secretary tell the story in his own way:
But the most reprehensible character in the drama being enacted was the Secretary of the Territory, then acting Governor. More than three weeks after Gov. Geary had received his commission and Secretary Woodson had every reason to believe that he was on his way to the Territory, that weak-minded, if not criminally defective, officer issued the following proclamation:
WHEREAS, Satisfactory evidence exists that the Territory of Kansas is infested with large bodies of armed men:
Now, therefore, I, Daniel Woodson, Acting Governor of the Territory of Kansas, do issue my proclamation declaring the said Territory to be in a state of open insurrection and rebellion, and I do hereby call upon all law-abiding citizens of the Territory to rally to the support of the country and its laws.
Not satisfied with the proclamation, which of itself was sufficiently mischievous, he wrote private letters to parties in Missouri calling for men, money and munitions of war. This proclamation and these letters called together thousands of men, mostly from Missouri, with passions inflamed to the highest degree, and whose only thought was wholesale slaughter and destruction.
It was the fixed purpose of Secretary Woodson to keep Gov. Geary in ignorance of the extensive preparations that were being made to attack and destroy the Free State settlements. As yet the Governor had not seen Woodson's proclamation. Governor Geary issued the follow-orders:
ADJT. GEN. H. J. STRICKLER:—You will proceed without a moment's delay to disarm and disband the present organized militia of the Territory.
Notwithstanding the positive character of these orders they were utterly disregarded. Suspecting that treachery was somewhere at work he forthwith dispatched confidential messengers on the road to Westport to ascertain, if possible, what operations were going forward in that vicinity.
Messengers were constantly arriving from Lawrence bringing intelligence that a large army from Missouri was encamped on the Wakarusa River and was hourly expected to attack the town. As these men were styled Territorial Militia and were called into service by the late acting Governor Woodson, Gov. Geary commanded that officer to take with him Adjutant-General Strickler with an escort of United States troops and disband, in accordance with the proclamation issued, the forces that had so unwisely been assembled. Woodson and Strickler left Lecompton in the afternoon, and reached the Missouri camp early in the evening.
Here Woodson found it impossible to accomplish the object of his mission. No attention or respect was paid to him by those having command of the forces. The army he had gathered refused to acknowledge his authority. He had raised a storm, the elements of which he was powerless to control; neither could the officers be assembled to receive the Governor's orders from the Adjutant-General. The militia had resolved not to disband, the officers refused to listen to the reading of the proclamation—they were determined upon accomplishing the bloody work they had entered the Territory to perform. Nothing but the destruction of Lawrence and the other Free State towns, the massacre of the Free State residents, and the appropriation of their lands and other property, could satisfy them.
Mr. Adams, who accompanied Secretary Woodson to the Missouri camp, dispatched the following:
LAWRENCE, 12 o'clock Midnight, Sept. 14, 1856. To His EXCELLENCY, GOV. GEARY:
SIR:—Secretary Woodson thought you had better come to the camp of the militia as soon as you can. THEODORE ADAMS.
Before this dispatch reached Lecompton the Governor had departed with three hundred United States mounted troops and a battery of light artillery, and arrived in Lawrence early in the morning, where he found matters precisely as described. Skillfully stationing his troops outside the town, in commanding positions, to prevent a collision between the invading forces from Missouri and the citizens, he entered Lawrence alone, and there he beheld a sight which would have aroused the manhood of the most stolid mortal. About three hundred persons Were found in arms, determined to sell their lives at the dearest price to their ruffian enemies. Among these were many women, and children of both sexes, armed with guns and otherwise accoutered for battle. They had been goaded to this by the courage of despair.
Gov. Geary addressed the armed citizens of Lawrence, and when he assured them of his and the law's protection they offered to deposit their arms at his feet and return to their respective habitations. He bade them go to their homes in confidence, and to carry their arms with them, as the constitution guarantees that right, but to use them only in the last resort to protect their lives and property and the chastity of their females.
Early in the morning of the 15th, having left the troops to protect the town, the Governor proceeded alone to the camp of the invading forces, then within three miles and drawn up in line of battle. Before reaching Franklin, he met the advance guard, and upon inquiring who they were and what were their objects, received for answer that they were the Territorial Militia, and called into service by the Governor of Kansas, and that they were marching to wipe out Lawrence and every Abolitionist in the country.
Mr. Geary informed them that he was now Governor of Kansas, and Commander-in-chief of the Territorial Militia, and ordered the officer in command to countermarch his troops back to the main line, and conduct him to the center, which order, after some hesitation, was reluctantly obeyed.
The red face of the rising sun was just peering over the top of Blue Mound, as the Governor, with his strange escort of three hundred mounted men, with red shirts and odd-shaped hats, descended upon the Wakarusa plain, where in battle array were ranged at least three thousand armed and desperate men. They were not dressed in the usual habiliments of soldiers, but in every imaginable costume that could be obtained in the western region. Most of them were mounted, and manifested an unmistakable disposition to be at their bloody work. In the back-ground stood at least three hundred army tents and as many wagons, while here and there a cannon was planted ready to aid in the anticipated destruction. Among the banners floated black flags, to indicate the design that neither age, sex nor condition would be spared in the slaughter that was to ensue.
In passing along the lines murmurs of discontent and savage threats of assassination fell upon the Governor's ears, but heedless of these and regardless, in fact, of everything but a desire to avert the terrible calamity that was impending, he fearlessly proceeded to the quarters of their leader.
This threatening army was under the command of John W. Reed, then and now a member of the Missouri Legislature, assisted by ex-Senator Atchison, Gen. B. F. Stringfellow, Gen. L. A. Maclean, Gen. J. W. Whitfield, Gen. George W. Clarke, Gens. William A. Heiskell, Wm. H. Richardson and F. A. Marshal, Col. H. T. Titus, Capt. Frederick Emory and others.
Gov. Geary at once summoned the officers together, and addressed them at length and with great feeling. He depicted in a forcible manner the improper position they occupied and the untold horrors that would result from a consummation of their cruel designs; that if they persisted in their mad career the entire Union would be involved in a civil war, and thousands and tens of thousands of innocent lives be sacrificed. To Atchison he particularly addressed himself, telling him that when he last saw him he was acting as Vice-President of the nation and President of the most dignified body of men in the world, the Senate of the United States, but now with sorrow and pain he saw him leading on to a civil and disastrous war an army of men with uncontrollable passions, and determined upon wholesale slaughter and destruction. He concluded his remarks by directing attention to his proclamation, and ordered the army to be disbanded and dispersed. Some of the more judicious of the officers were not only willing but anxious to obey this order, while others, resolved upon mischief, yielded a reluctant assent.
It is now one-third of a century since Kansas began to be settled. Great as has been the progress of the States of this Union within this period, the progress of Kansas has been exceptionally and peculiarly so. Its chief glory is not in its large agricultural and mineral resources; it is not in its railroads and lines of telegraph; it is not in the rapidly increasing population of educated men and women, but it is in this, that it was not only the first State in the nation, but the first Commonwealth in the world, to solve the problem of the drink evil, the giant curse of Christendom, by incorporating prohibition into its fundamental law.
In union there is strength. Jesus said so. He said, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation." And so evidently does this principle commend itself to the common sense of men, that we have engraved on our national ensign the motto, "E Pluribus Unum" —one out of many.
How did such growth in Kansas come to be? Not in division, but in union. We have thought it would do us good to look squarely in the face that hard, cruel, and bloody period when it seemed the business of the people to cut each other's throats. But cutting each other's throats does not create such growth as we have had in Kansas.
Two peoples came together in Kansas, one from the South and one from the North. They were of one original stock, but circumstances had intervened and made them two peoples. For two years this bloody strife had been going on. It is said that in revolutions men live fast. It was two years, if we count the time by the revolutions of the earth around the sun, but if we count by the experience men had gained, it was many years.
Dr. Gihon tells that when Gov. Geary disbanded this Missouri army on the Wakarusa, there grew up a marked antagonism of sentiment among its leaders. He says: "Some of the more judicious of the officers were not only willing but anxious to obey this order, whilst others, resolved upon mischief, yielded a very reluctant assent." There was really a large majority that accepted the result with hearty good will, but there was also a small and malcontent minority determined on mischief.
Gen. B. F. Stringfellow, because of the vehement zeal with which he had addicted himself to the enterprise of making Kansas a slave State, had won for himself a national notoriety. He had staked life and good fame and everything on the final issue of his work, yet himself and his law partner, Peter T. Abell, went back from the Wakarusa never to lift a finger again in that business. Mr. S. is a high-spirited, hot-blooded, proud-spirited Virginian. His law partner, Col. Abell, had a temper as unbending as Andrew Jackson, and did to the day of his death hold a faith in the institution of slavery as abiding as John C. Calhoun. But he was a wise and a just man, and both himself and Mr. Stringfellow recognized the fact that, with such a population as had come into Kansas, its becoming a free State was only a question of time; and both these men were too sagacious to be found fighting against fate. Mr. S. had always relished a joke, and, when rallied by his friends on his sudden abandonment of this enterprise, he facetiously replied: "Yes, I did try to make Kansas a slave State; but I could not do it without slaves, and the South would not send slaves, and so I had to give it up." From the time these gentlemen returned from the Wakarusa there was a general softening of the asperities of feeling of the people of Atchison and vicinity, and one year after they were prepared to announce to the Free State people, "You deal fairly with us, and we will deal fairly with you"—and they made their words good by deeds, for they took Free State men into partnership with themselves in the management of the Atchison Town Company.
But by this change Robert S. Kelley found "Othello's occupation gone," and the control of the Squatter Sovereign passed into the hands of John A. Martin, now Governor of Kansas, and "Bob Kelley" shook off the dust of his feet and walked away, respected for his bravery and for his outspoken honesty and sincerity, even by those that did not love him.
The writer will tell of his last interview with the South Carolinians in a future chapter of these Recollections.
Peter T. Abell and Gen. B. F. Stringfellow were State's rights men in their political opinions, and, therefore, according to the light that was in them, owed their allegiance to the State of Kansas; and from that allegiance they never swerved to the breadth of a hair. Still, the people of the South were their brethren, and they gave to them their profoundest sympathy during that bloody struggle that was to decide whether the South should be an independent nation. Let us admit that this did put these gentlemen in a strait betwixt two, like Paul, the Apostle, but they never swerved to the right hand nor to the left.
We have, with some particularity, drawn out the history of the two most distinguished of the Southern leaders, because that, with slight change, it would be the biography of a great number of citizens of Kansas that came from the South. Now, who does not see that here is the basis of hearty co-operation, whether in the church or in the world, of men from the South or from the North? provided always we can take into our hearts the law of love: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets."
In further illustration of this remark we will relate an incident concerning a Disciple, who will come prominently before us in the formation of our first missionary society. Spartan Rhea was from Missouri, and belonged to a family intensely Southern in their convictions. He was commissioned a justice of the peace by the Territorial authorities. A horse had been stolen by the Kickapoo Rangers from Gains Jenkins, of Lawrence. Gov. Geary requested Bro. Rhea to recover the horse, and he did so with some peril to himself, and made a journey to Lawrence to restore the animal to its proper owner. He sought to make it evident that the men of his party wanted justice done.
But Dr. Gihon also tells us that there was at the Wakarusa a small faction of irreconcilables, who, if they could do nothing else, could at least curse.
"Gen. Clarke said he was for pitching into the United States troops rather than abandon the objects of the expedition. Gen. Maclean didn't see any use of going back until they had whipped the Abolitionists. Sheriff Jones was in favor, now that they had sufficient force, of wiping out Lawrence and all the Free State towns. And these and others cursed Gov. Geary for his interference in their well-laid plans.
"The broad ground assumed by these rabid leaders of the Pro-slavery party in Kansas was, that an equilibrium of the slave power must be maintained at any sacrifice in the American Union, and this could only be effected by increasing the slave States in proportion with the free. Whilst, therefore, the South was willing to give Nebraska to the North, they demanded that Kansas should be ceded to the South. It was of little consequence what number of Northern men located in Kansas—they had no right to come unless with the intention to make it a slave State."
This malcontent minority did, therefore, become a dangerous and revolutionary faction, entertaining criminal purposes, which they were ready to carry out by desperate methods. They were also in possession of dangerous elements of power. They controlled the Territorial Legislature, and all the Territorial judges were parties in this conspiracy. Dr. Gihon testifies that "every federal officer in the Territory, and every Territorial officer from the supreme judges to the deputy marshals, sheriffs and clerks, were wedded to the slave power, and pledged at all hazards to its extension."
But daylight had already begun to dawn. Some of the wisest Pro-slavery men in the Territory were beginning to call a halt, and to say: "We will travel no further in this road in which we are being led by these desperate and scheming adventurers."
Gov. Geary had won ripe and rich honors from the people of this nation in the official positions he had heretofore held, and which he had discharged with such eminent ability. The position of the Governor of Kansas, as seen from afar, and under the glamour that surrounded it, was a position of high honor.
Every child has heard the story of old "Blue Beard," how that, having married a number of wives who had mysteriously disappeared, he courted and married a beautiful young lady, possessing every accomplishment that can give grace and attractiveness to a woman, and had carried her to his castle, where she should have at her disposal an unlimited amount of money and be served by obsequious servants, and stand on a level with all the fine ladies and gentlemen in the land. Old Blue Beard gave to her the keys unlocking all the rooms in his castle, but said to her, "There is one key, unlocking one door, into one room, and into that room you must in nowise enter." But, overcome by her woman's curiosity, she did unlock that door and enter that room, and there she beheld the horrid sight of all the murdered wives of the wicked old Blue Beard, hanging and rotting on its walls, and now this was also to be her sad fate.
Kansas was becoming the graveyard of Territorial Governors. Reeder and Shannon had already lost their official heads. Within six months Gov. Geary's head was also to drop into the basket. Three more governors were to succeed him, each one of whom should in his turn lose his official head. Gov. Geary's position was indeed very like that of the wife of the wicked Blue Beard, only that she had certainly some advantages over the Governor. She had a great and fine castle, rich and costly dresses, many servants ready to come and go at her beck and call, and the company of great lords and fine ladies; but when Gov. Geary came to his castle, his private Secretary shall tell us what he found:
Lecompton is situated on the south side of the Kansas River, upon as inconvenient and inappropriate a site for a town as any in the Territory. It was chosen simply for speculative purposes. It contained, at the time of Gov. Geary's arrival, some twenty or more houses, the majority of which were employed as groggeries of the lowest description. It was the residence of the celebrated Sheriff Jones, who is one of the leading members of this town association, and was the resort of horse-thieves and ruffians of the most desperate character. Its drinking saloons were infested by these characters, whose drunkenness, gambling, fighting, and all sorts of crime, were indulged in with impunity.
Here was congregated, and here was the headquarters of, that band of desperate men, who were in a conspiracy to make Kansas a slave State at whatever cost of blood, of fraud, or violence. Here the Territorial Legislature met to enact their bloody code of laws, and here the Territorial Judges held their courts, which were a burlesque on the very name of a civilized and Christian jurisprudence; and here, also, were kept the treason prisoners, while atrocious murderers were not molested, because they were "sound on the goose question."
We have already told how Harvey's men, that had attacked and taken prisoners the "Law and Order" robbers that pillaged the defenseless village of Grasshopper Falls, were themselves taken prisoners by the United States troops. These were tried for treason in the Pro-slavery courts, and were condemned to various terms of imprisonment, varying from six months to six years. They were kept in a wretched, old, tumbledown house, without doors or windows, during the bitter cold of a Kansas winter, guarded by "Law and Order" militia, exposed to every insult, wallowing in filth, and eaten up with lice. But there was one circumstance to mitigate their hapless condition—their jailer was a good-hearted, honest Kentuckian, who had humanity enough to pity them, and bravery enough to do what he could to mitigate the hardships of their lot. Their hard-hearted judges had condemned them to wear a ball and chain; but Gov. Geary refused to provide balls and chains for them, and the honest Capt. Hampton refused to fasten these symbols of degradation on the limbs of men he knew to be decent American citizens; and thereat Sheriff Jones became furious. The facts of the case were just these: All the people were, so to speak, fighting. The Governor issued his proclamation. These Hickory Point "Law and Order" militia were simply robber banditti, and Captain Harvey and his company thought they ought to be "cleaned out," and proceeded to do so, and this act, though intrinsically it was a righteous act, yet technically, laid them open to the law. This happened on the 12th of September, but up to the 14th of September 3,000 "Law and Order" militia, coming into Kansas as outside invaders, refused to be disbanded by the Governor's proclamation, and both before and after continued the business of murder and robbery. Yet this was nothing, because these were "Law and Order" men. The other was treason, for these were Free State men fighting for their homes and firesides. But Capt. Hampton saw the matter just as it was, and acted accordingly. Dr. Gihon testified of these treason prisoners, "These prisoners were not all rough and desperate adventurers. Some of them were gentlemen of polished education."
The sunlight may sparkle and shimmer on the surface of the foul and putrid marsh, noxious with offensive and poisonous exhalations—so Dr. Gihon throws a kind of grim and ghastly humor over his narrative of the repulsive and brutal surroundings of himself and Governor Geary during the winter they were imprisoned at Lecompton. The Doctor tells the following story at the expense of a Southern gentleman:
A good anecdote is told by a gentleman from one of the Southern States, in regard to these Free State prisoners, when under the charge of Captain Hampton. Having expressed a desire to see these robbers and murderers, as he styled them, the Governor directed him to the prison.
He immediately started, and looking in vain for anything that resembled a prison, he approached two men who were enjoying themselves with a game of quoits.
"Can you tell me," he inquired, "where the prison is where these robbers and murderers are confined?"
"That's it," said one of the men, pointing to a house near at hand.
"What! that old building, falling to pieces, without either doors or windows?"
"That is the only prison we have here," replied the man, deliberately pitching his quoit.
"Well," said the Southern gentleman, "I want to see these prisoners."
"I am one of them," said the quoit-player, "and that is another," pointing to his companion.
"What! you convicted felons? You the terrible murderers about whom I have heard so much?"
"Yes, we are certainly two of them. The others are gone over to the House of Representatives, to hear the members abuse the Governor."
"But," says the old gentleman, "they don't allow convicted murderers to go about in this way, without a guard to watch them?"
"O! yes," says the man interrogated; "they used to send a guard with us when we went over to the Legislative Halls, to protect us against violence from the members, but they found that too troublesome, so they gave each of us a revolver and bowie-knife, and told us we should hereafter be required to protect ourselves."
"But why don't you run away? There is nothing to prevent you."
"Why, to tell the truth, we have often been persuaded to do that, but then these rascally legislators have been threatening to assassinate the Governor, and we have determined to remain here to watch them and protect him."
The old gentleman had no desire to see any more of these thieves, murderers and assassins.
There are those who find a Spanish bull fight or a civilized American boxing match very enjoyable events. Such men would have found great enjoyment in one incident that served to enliven the monotony of the winter's residence of the Governor at Lecompton. There was one Sherrard who came from Virginia. He was of a good family, but strong drink had been his ruin. He had been appointed by the Legislature Sheriff of Douglas county in place of S. T. Jones, who for some reason was to go out of office. The Governor refused to commission this Sherrard because he was a drunkard, a brawler, and a cursing, swearing, gambling ruffian and bully. This made Sherrard furious, and Sheriff Zones and all his crowd of bullies were furious with him. Then Sherrard tried to raise a row by insulting individuals in the personal service of the Governor. This failing, Sherrard spit in the Governor's face; but Mr. Geary, mindful of the dignity of his office, and that it did not become the Governor of Kansas to get into a brawl with a common blackguard, walked straight on. Afterwards Sherrard, who kept himself crazy drunk, provoked a general affray in a large company of men, in which pistols were fired in every direction; when John A, W. Jones, the young man on Gov. Geary's staff whom Sherrard had assaulted a few days before, shot him in the forehead.
One circumstance at last brought to a sudden close Gov. Geary's term of office. When he had disbanded the three thousand "Law and Order" militia that were to attack Lawrence, that part of them known as the Kickapoo Rangers were returning home by way of Lecompton. One of this number went into a field where "a poor, inoffensive, lame young man" named David C. Buffum was plowing, and demanded his horses. Buffum protested against this robbery, but the wretch shot Buffum and took the horses. The unhappy man gave the following account of the matter:
"They asked me for my horses. I told them I was a cripple—a poor lame man—that I had an aged father, a deaf and dumb brother, and two sisters, all depending on me for a living, and my horses were all I had. One of them said I was a Abolitionist, and, taking me by the shoulder, he shot me."
Gov. Geary was returning to Lecompton, and hearing of what had been done, he called with Judge Cato at Buffum's house, and by the Governor's direction Judge Cato took the dying man's deposition. Gov. Geary was terribly shocked, and said to himself, "I never witnessed a scene that filled me with so much horror." Mr. Geary sent a detective on the track of the Kickapoo Rangers, and found that the murderer was one Charley Hayes, living in Atchison county. He had the horses still in his possession. The Governor ordered his arrest, and the Grand Jury found a bill against him of murder in the first degree. Meantime the Free State men came to the Governor making a bitter complaint of the persecutions they were suffering. They said, "Our relatives and friends are arrested and confined for weeks and months in a filthy prison, not fit for dogs to live in, and are kept without proper food or clothing, and are not allowed to give bail even for bailable offenses; while murderers of the other party are allowed to go at large and no attention is paid to them." They said, "The murderers of Dow, Barber, Brown, Phillips, Hoppe and Buffum, have not even been arrested or examined."
The Governor replied that he had already ordered the arrest of Hayes, and that a grand jury of Pro-slavery men had found a true bill against him, and that Hayes should be tried for his life. But while he was yet speaking a messenger brought word that Judge Lecompte had released Hayes on bail, and that Sheriff Jones had gone on his bail bond, a man notoriously not worth a dollar; and this when the crime of murder in the first degree, for which Hayes had been indicted, was not a bailable offense. The Governor was terribly indignant, and ordered Hayes to be re-arrested. But while he was absent at the land sales at Fort Leavenworth, Judge Lecompte a second time set this wretch at liberty. Mr. Geary was provoked beyond endurance, and wrote to the President that he would not remain in office and allow such a scoundrel to be kept in a position to pervert the ways of justice. President Pierce nominated C. O. Harrison, of Kentucky, to take Lecompte's place, but for some unexplained cause the appointment was not confirmed in the Senate, and Judge Lecompte retained his place, and in unspeakable disgust Gov. Geary resigned, making his resignation take effect on March 20, 1857. Thus he had spent a winter in the chamber of death of the wicked old Blue Beard, but did not lose his official head till spring.