KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS

William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


TERRITORIAL HISTORY, Part 10

[TOC] [part 11] [part 9] [Cutler's History]

THE ELECTION, MARCH 30, 1855 (Part 1).

Prior to the election, under the influences named, the border Missouri counties, from Andrew County on the north to Jasper County on the south, and as far east as Boone and Cole Counties, had been thoroughly aroused and organized through the Blue Lodges for an incursion into the Territory. Companies were thus sent into every Council District in the Territory, and into every Representative District but one, being so distributed as to control the election in each district. They came openingly, in defiance of law, with the avowed purpose of voting, and for no other purpose. They were equally outspoken as to their determination to make Kansas a slave State. They were armed, and came with provisions and tents. They overpowered and intimidated the resident voters to that extent that only 1,410 legal votes were case in the Territory, out of 2,905 enumerated in the late census.

The details of this second shameless outrage are given in the report of the Congressional Investigating Committee a year later. From it the following facts are gleaned, all of which are corroborated by the sworn testimony of witnesses:

First District - Lawrence. - One thousand men came in, in wagons and on horseback, on the evening preceding and the morning of the election. They encamped in a ravine near the place of election. They were armed, and under the command of Col. Samuel Young, of Boone County, Mo., and Claiborne F. Jackson, of Missouri. N. B. Blanton, one of the Judges of Election appointed by Gov. Reeder, testified that, being first offered bribes, and afterward threatened with hanging, he did not appear at the polls to act as Judge. Robert A. Cummings was appointed in his place, Col. Young claiming that, "as the people of the Territory had two Judges, it was nothing more than right that the Missourians should have the other one to look after their interests." Mr. Cummings was selected to represent the said Missouri interests, as he had stated that "every man had a right to vote, if he had been in the Territory but an hour." The Missourians wore white ribbons in their button-holes as an emblem of innocence, and to distinguish them from the hated "Abolitionists" who lived in Lawrence. The mode of voting through the Territory is shown by the following: Mr. Page, one of the Missouri raiders, on offering his vote, was required by J. B. Abbott, one of the Judges, to take the oath prescribed by the Governor's proclamation. Pending the dispute, Col. Young offered his vote, refusing to take the prescribed oath, but swearing that he was a resident of the Territory. He told Mr. Abbott that it was none of his business whether or not he intended to make Kansas his future home. The fact that he was a resident then was sufficient. His vote was received whereupon he announced to the Judges that it would be useless to swear any other men from Missouri, as they would all swear as he did. Mr. Abbott resigned on Mr. Young's announcement, and a Mr. Benjamin being elected in his place, the travesty of an election went on through the day. Several residents were driven from the polls. Late in the day, the residents came up in a body and voted.

The Missourians, many of them, left for home as soon as they had voted, although some remained until the following day. The various excuses given by the raiders in justification of the outrage are thus stated in the report:

"They said they came to the Territory to elect a Legislature to suit themselves, as the people of the Territory and persons from the East and North wanted to elect a Legislature that would not suit them. They said they had a right to make Kansas a slave State, because the people of the North had sent persons out to make it a free State. Some claimed that they had heard that the Emigrant Aid Society had sent men out to be at the election, and they came to offset their votes; but the most of them made no such claim.

"The Missourians said there would be no difficulty if the citizens did not interfere with their voting; but they were determined to vote, peaceably if they could, but vote anyhow. They said each one of them was prepared for eight rounds without loading, and would go to the ninth round with the butcher knife."

Of the army encamped at Lawrence, it was discovered that all were not needed at that precinct, and several companies, of 150 to 200 each, were sent off, on the morning of the election, to the neighboring precincts of Tecumseh, Hickory Point, Bloomington and other places. Enough remained, however, to outnumber the legal voters at Lawrence three to one. They had full control of the polls till late in the day, marching up to the polls in companies of 100, and depositing their votes unchallenged, after the Board of Judges had been reconstructed and Co. Young had paved the way for them.

Second District - Boomington. - The Judges, Harrison Burson, Nathanael Ramsay and Paris Ellison, opened the polls in due season, at the house of Mr. Burson, as appointed. The Missourians appeared early in the morning, numbering from 500 to 600, in wagons and on horseback, well armed and with banners. They were under command of Samuel J. Jones then holding the Federal office of Postmaster at Westport, Mo.; a Mr. Steeley, of Independence, Mo.; and Claiborne F. Jackson, who, with his command, had come over from Lawrence, where he had encamped the evening before with his men. They at first held a mock election for Governor of the Territory, a short, distance from the polling place, which resulted in the election of Rev. Thomas Johnson, of Shawnee Mission. Soon after the polls were opened, Jones (afterward appointed Sheriff of Douglas County) marched his crowd up to the window and demanded that they should be allowed to vote `without swearing as to their residence. Two of the Judges, Burson and Ramsay, declined to receive their votes. The history of the ensuing election, as given in the committee's report, was as follows:

Claiborne F. Jackson addressed the crowd, saying that they had come there to vote; that they had a right to vote, if they had been there but five minutes, and that he was unwilling to go home without voting; which was received with cheers. Jackson then called upon them to form into little bands of fifteen or twenty, which they did, and went to an ox wagon filled with guns, which were distributed among them, and they proceeded to load some of them on the ground.

In pursuance with Jackson's request, they tied white tape or ribbons in their buttonholes to distinguish them from the "Abolitionists." They again demanded that the Judges should resign; and upon their refusing to do so, smashed in the window, sash and all, and presented their pistols and guns to them, threatening to shoot them. Some one on the outside cried out to them not to shoot, as there were Pro-slavery men in the house with the Judges. They then put a pry under the corner of the house, which was a log house, lifted it up a few inches and let it fall again, but desisted on being told there were Pro-slavery men in the house. During this time the crowd repeatedly demanded to be allowed to vote without being sworn, and Mr. Ellison, one of the Judges, expressed himself willing, but the other two Judges refused; thereupon a body of men headed by (Sheriff) Jones rushed into the Judge's room, with cocked pistols and drawn bowie-knives in their hands, and approached Burson and Ramsay. Jones pulled out his watch and said he would give them five minutes to resign in or die. When the five minutes had expired and the Judges did not resign, Jones said he would give them another minute and no more. Ellison told his associates that if they did not resign, there would be 100 shots fired in the room in less than fifteen minutes, and then, snatching up the ballot box ran out into the crowd, holding up the ballot box and hurrahing for Missouri. About that time, Burson and Ramsay were called out by their friends, and not suffered to return. As Mr. Burson went out, he put the ballot poll-books in his pocket and took them with him, as he was going out, Jones snatched some papers from him, and shortly afterward came out holding them up and crying, "Hurrah for Missouri!" After he discovered they were not the poll-books, he took a party of men with him and started off to take the poll-books from Burson. When Mr. Burson saw them coming, he gave the books to Mr. Umberger and told him to start off in another direction so as to mislead Jones and his party. Jones and his party caught Mr. Umberger, took the poll-books away from him, and Jones took him up behind him on a horse and carried him back a prisoner. Afterward they went to the house of Ramsay, and took Judge John A. Wakefield (the Free-state candidate for Representative) prisoner, and carried him to the place of election, and made him get up on a wagon and there made a speech; after which, they put a white ribbon in his button-hole and let him go. They then chose two new Judges and proceeded with the election.

Most of the Missourians started for home in the afternoon, a few, some forty, remaining until the next day "to guard the ballot box." A protest against the election in this district was sent to the Governor. The returns sent him were lost by the Committee of Elections of the Legislature. The report states that not over one in thirty of the votes cast were by legal voters.

Third District - Tecumseh. - Missourians from Clay, Jackson and Howard Counties, began to arrive as early as March 28. They were armed, had tents, and encamped near the village. They continued to arrive and join the encampment until the morning of election day, when they numbered nearly four hundred. They swarmed about the house of Mr. Stinson, the voting place appointed. Samuel H. Woodson, of Independence, Mo., took possession of the Judges' room before their arrival, and commenced preparing poll-books and tally-lists. The Judges were Rev. L. D. Stateler, Rev. H. B. Burgess and Rev. H. N. Watts. Woodson remained in the room, with many of his followers, while the Judges made ineffectual attempts to organize. The Judges disagreed as to the form of the oath to be taken by themselves, as well as that to be administered to those offering to vote. Burgess, a Free-state man, stood out in favor of the oath prescribed by the Governor, the others being willing to modify it to suit the necessities of the occasion. Failing to organize, the crowd gave them ten minutes to open the polls or leave. At the expiration of that time they left. New Judges were appointed by the Missouri crowd, and the election proceeded. The resident voters mostly left the ground without voting. Although the report states that the settlers of the district were Free-state, four to one, the election was carried ten to one by the Pro-slavery voters.

Like outrages, varying only in detail, were perpetrated in every precinct where required to assure the desired result. In some districts, the Judges were Missourians; in others, the candidates elected were residents of that State, and in no district except the Seventeenth, in which the Pro-slavery party had a majority, was the election conducted and the returns made according to law.

Hon. David R. Atchison, who had done more than any other man to organize the raid, went into the Eighteenth (Nemaha) District. The report says:

Previous to the election, Gen. David R. Atchison, of Platte County, Missouri, got up a company of Missourians, and passing through Weston, Mo., went over into the Territory. He remained all night at the house of Arnett Grooms, and there exhibited his arms, of which he had an abundance. He proceeded to the Nemaha or Eighteenth District. On his way, he and his party attended a nominating convention in the Fourteenth District, and proposed and caused to be nominated a set of candidates in opposition to the wishes of the Pro-slavery residents of the district. At that convention, he said that there were 1,100 coming over from Platte County, and if that was not enough, they could bring 5,000 more; that they came to vote, and would kill every d----d Abolitionist in the Territory.

On the day of election, the Missourians under Atchison, who were encamped there, came up to the polls in the Eighteenth District and voted, taking the oath that they were residents of the District. The Missourians were all armed with pistols and bowie knives, and said there were sixty in their company. But seventeen of the votes case there were given by citizens of the district.

The following tables show the full returns of the election, as well as the number of fraudulent votes cast at each precinct, as shown in the report of the Congressional Committee:

ELECTION BY COUNCIL DISTRICTS - MARCH 30, 1855.
===============================================
Number of Council District: 1.
Election Districts or parts comprised: 1, 4, 17.
No. of Voters in District, by Census: 466.
No. of Councilmen: 2.

PRO-SLAVERY CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: Thomas Johnson Ed. Chapman

Votes in each Election Districts: District 1, 780; District 4, 78; District, 17, 42. Total Vote: 900.

FREE STATE CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: Joel K. Goodwin S. N. Wood

Votes in each Election District: District 1, 255; District 4, 2; District 17, 16. Total Vote: 273. Scattering Votes: 10. Total Votes Cast in each District: 1183. No. of Legal Voters who Voted: 356. No. of Illegal Votes Cast: 827. No. of Councilmen Elected by Illegal Votes: 2. -----------------------------------------------

Number of Council District: 2. Election District: 2. No. of Voters in District, by Census: 212. No. of Councilmen: 1.

PRO-SLAVERY CANDIDATE FOR COUNCILMEN: A. McDonald

Votes in each Election District: 318. Total Vote: 318.

FREE STATE CANDIDATE FOR COUNCILMEN: J. A. Wakefield

Votes in each Election District: 12. Total Vote: 12. Scattering Votes: None. Total Votes Cast in each District: 330. No. of Legal Voters who voted: 25. No. of Illegal Votes Cast: 305. No. of Councilman Elected by Illegal Votes: 1. -----------------------------------------------

Number of Council District: 3. Election District or parts comprised: 3, 7, 8. No. of Councilmen: 1.

PRO-SLAVERY CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: H. S. Strickler

Votes in each Election District: District 3, 370; District 7, 211; District 8, 17. Total Vote: 598.

FREE STATE CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: A. McDonald William F. Johnson ---- Rice

Votes in each Election District: District 3, 4; District 7, 23; District 8, 17. Total Vote: 44. Scattering Votes: 3. Total Votes Cast in each District: 645. No. of Legal Voters who Voted: 94. No. of Illegal Votes Cast: 541. No. of Councilmen Elected by Illegal Votes: 1. -----------------------------------------------

Number of Council District: 4. Election Districts: 5. No. of Voters in District, by Census: 442. No. of Councilmen: 2.

PRO-SLAVERY CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: A. M. Coffee David Lykins

Votes in each Election District: 680. Total Vote: 680.

FREE STATE CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: M. G. Morris James P. Fox

Votes in each Election District: 158. Total Vote: 158. Scattering Votes: 17. Total Votes cast in each District: 855. No. of Legal Voters who Voted: 225. No. of Illegal Votes Cast: 630. No. of Councilmen Elected by Illegal Votes: 2. -----------------------------------------------

Number of Council District: 5. Election District: 6. No. of Voters in District, by Census: 253. No. of Councilmen: 1.

PRO-SLAVERY CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: William Barbee

Votes in each Election District: 343. Total Vote: 343.

FREE STATE CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: (None)

Votes in each Election District: 0. Total Vote: 0. Scattering Votes: 0. Total Votes Cast in each District: 343. No. of Legal Voters who Voted: 100. No. of Illegal Votes Cast: 243. No. of Councilmen Elected by Illegal Votes: 1. -----------------------------------------------

Number of Council District: 6. Election Districts or parts comprised: 9, 10, 11, 12. No. of Councilmen: 1.

PRO-SLAVERY CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: John Donaldson

Votes in each Election District: District 9, 23; District 10, 29; District 11, 328; District 12, 16. Total Vote: 396.

FREE STATE CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: M. F. Conway

Votes in each Election District: District 9, 50; District 10, 63; District 11, 3; District 12, 26. Total Vote: 142. Scattering Votes: 2. Total Votes Cast in each District: 540. No. of Legal Voters who Voted: 195. No. of Illegal Votes Cast: 345. No. of Councilmen Elected by Illegal Votes: Blank. -----------------------------------------------

Number of Council District: 7. Election Districts or parts comprised: 14, 18. No. of councilmen: 1.

PRO-SLAVERY CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: John W. Foreman

Votes in each Election District: District 14, 417; District 18, 61. Total Vote: 478.

FREE STATE CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: None

Votes in each Election District: 0. Total Vote: 0. Scattering Votes: 0. Total Votes Cast in each District: 478. No. of Legal Voters who Voted: 0. No. of Illegal Votes Cast: 0. No. of Councilmen Elected by Illegal Votes: 0. -----------------------------------------------

Number of Council District: 8. Election District: 14. No. of Voters in District, by Census: 215. No. of Councilmen: 1.

PRO-SLAVERY CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: W. P. Richardson

Votes in each Election District: 234. Total Vote: 234.

FREE STATE CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: John W. Whitehead

Votes in each Election District: 68. Total Vote: 68. Scattering Votes: 0. Total Votes Cast in each District: 301. No. of Legal Voters who Voted: Blank. No. of Illegal Votes Cast: Blank. No. of Councilmen Elected by Illegal Votes: Blank. -----------------------------------------------

Number of Council District: 9. Election District: 15. No. of Voters in District, by Census. 208. No. of Councilmen: 1

PRO-SLAVERY CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: D. A. M. Grover

Votes in each Election District: 411. Total Vote: 411.

FREE STATE CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: None

Votes in each Election District: 0. Total Votes: 0. Scattering Votes: 1. Total Votes Cast in each District: 412. No. of Legal Voters who Voted: 80. No. of Illegal Voters Cast: 332. No. of Councilmen Elected by Illegal Votes: Blank. -----------------------------------------------

Number of Council District: 10. Election Districts or parts comprised: 13, 16. No. of Voters in District, by Census: 468. No. of Councilmen:

PRO-SLAVERY CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: R. R. Rees J. J. Eastin

Votes in each Election District: District 13, 233; District 16; 896. Total Vote: 1129.

FREE STATE CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILMEN: B. H. Twombly A. J. Whitney

Votes in each Election District: District 13, 6; District 16, 60. Total Vote: 66. Scattering Votes: 0. Total Votes cast in each District: 1195. No. of Legal Voters who voted: 162. No. of Illegal Votes Cast: 1033. No. of Councilmen Elected by Illegal Votes: Blank. ===============================================

[TOC] [part 11] [part 9] [Cutler's History]