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


[TOC] [part 14] [part 12] [Cutler's History]

THE ELECTION, MARCH 30, 1855 (Part 4).

Below is the account of the destruction of the Parkville Luminary, before mentioned, with Mr. Eastin's editorial comments, as published in the same paper from which the foregoing extracts were taken:

Inasmuch as all manner of reports have been rife in our city of the destruction of the office and material of the Parkville Luminary, alias Dog Star, by a number of Missourians, we have taken especial pains to learn the facts of the case. The following telegraphic dispatch, which has been kindly furnished by a friend of ours in Weston, we transfer to our columns for the benefit of our readers:

"PARKVILLE, PLATTE CO., MO., April 14, 1855.

"A large number of the citizens of Platte county assembled here to-day; sent a committee to Messrs. Parks & Patterson, informing them that at 12 o'clock they would visit their office. Precisely at 12, the crowd commenced pulling down the Luminary press, and forming a line, with a man carrying a pole at the head, with the word Luminary' written on the top, over which waved the hemp flag, they marched to the river, where the press was deposited. Resolutions were read to the editors, Messrs. Parks & Patterson, requiring them to leave the place immediately. Patterson required to leave in three days, and Parks allowed three weeks to wind up his business. If they do not comply with the resolutions, they were promised a coat of tar and feathers, and, after being rode through the place on a rail, consigned to the Missouri River! Excitement great."

The Luminary was destroyed by the Missourians in retribution for a vile, false and unjust charge made against them through its columns - speaking of the result of the late Territorial election. We quote from its obnoxious article:

"There is virtually no law in Kansas, and no security for life and property, save in the sense of honor and justice cherished by every true pioneer. This may save the country from bloodshed; but the Government is held up to ridicule and contempt, and its authority disregarded - Judges of election have been displaced and others appointed; the polls have, in some instances, been guarded with pistols and bowie-knives, and some of those elected are going to the Governor, swearing that, if he does not give a certificate of election immediately they will cut his throat from ear to ear.' Is the flag of our country to be no longer protected? Or are individuals or companies to declare we will, and it must be so, without regard to law? Is this what the authors of the Nebraska-Kansas bill meant by Squatter Sovereignty?"

Every one knows that the polls in no district throughout our Territory were guarded with pistols and bowie-knives, but, on the contrary, every one - Pro-slavery, Abolitionist and Free-soiler - was allowed to vote without molestation. The returns of the election clearly proved the Dog-Star's charges to be unfounded. As to the threat that the Luminary says was made the Governor, in case of his refusal to grant certificates of election, we have only to say, it is a palpable lie, and we venture to say that Gov. Reeder would, if asked, give it his most unqualified denial. We know of no language which will more fully describe the iniquity, falsity and injustice of the charges embodied in the Luminary's editorial, than a passage in Lucy Stone's denunciation of the Fugitive Slave Law - "An act so black that no language can describe its blackness."

Will you leave Parkville, gentlemen, or take the tar and feathers?

The gentlemen left.

The Herald of Freedom (Lawrence), April 7, thus reviewed the situation from the Free-state standpoint:

We asserted some time ago that Kansas would be a free State, let Missourians bluster as much as they would, and we renew that assertion with more confidence than ever. At the taking of the census in February last, every election district in the territory was found to have a respectable majority of voters from the Free States. Had it been otherwise, does anybody suppose our Pro-slavery neighbors on the other side of the line would have deemed it necessary to have incurred so great an expense to import voters by the thousand to gain a political ascendancy?

Another election will be held in due time, and those who purpose settling here permanently, and desire to contribute their share toward making Kansas a free State, should hurry forward as soon as possible. If, by any means, the slave power shall obtain and ascendancy in the Legislature, laws the most revolting to freedom will be enacted. No person will be allowed to participate in future elections unless he is the owner of slaves.

This was the reason so great an effort was recently made to make the Legislature a unit by sending a large number of mercenaries into every election district in the Territory. If they lacked a two-thirds vote, the executive veto might defeat their cherished plans. They were conscious of this, and acted accordingly. Thanks to the intrepidity and firmness of Gov. Reeder in saving us from the tyrannical misrule of those who have no earthly business with the legislation of Kansas unless they come as actual settlers, with an INTENTION of remaining among us permanently.

Another editorial from the same paper read as follows:

Our news from the Governor at the Shawnee Mission is down to Friday noon. The state of matters there had assumed a pacific aspect, and no apprehensions of violence to any one were entertained. It is represented that a committee from Missouri waited upon the governor and told him he had the choice of one of three things: "To sign the certificates of election in fifteen minutes, to resign, or hang." The response was ready: "Gentlemen, my mind is made up without further advisement: I shall "hang." The fact that the Governor is still living is conclusive evidence that it was deemed risky business to attempt mob violence on the Executive of Kansas. He had friends in the crowd who would have been at home in a practical enforcement of this threat.

The outrages of the election were also condemned in bold and aggressive terms by John Speer, then publishing the Kansas Tribune at Lawrence.

Outside of the two papers published at Lawrence, neither the Executive nor the Free-state party had any newspaper support in or near the Territory, and to Gov. Reeder such support only aggravated his difficulties, as neither of the papers were in affiliation with the Democratic party to which he belonged, and were, although not altogether harmonious at home, both published in that hated hot-bed of Abolitionism - Lawrence.

The only paper outside of Lawrence near the field of operations that had dared to protest against the outrages was the Parkville Luminary, and its destruction was the penalty.

It is noticeable that, in all the articles published by the Pro-slavery press at this time, there is to be found no word of apology for the outrages, and no attempt at extenuation. Such unanimity of shamelessness was never known before, and forces the belief upon the unprejudiced reader that, underlying this apparent abandonment of every principle of justice, and the contempt of all established precedents of law, was a sincere conviction of right, which, although in no degree palliating the offense in the mind of the reader, may enable him to read the story of unmitigated wrong with something of the spirit of charity for the perpetrators.

The Investigating Committee, in its report of the causes of the invasion, says:

"The alleged causes of the invasion of March, 1855, are included in the following charges, viz:

(1) That the New England Emigrant Aid Society of Boston was then importing into the Territory large numbers of men merely for the purpose of controlling the elections; that they came without women, children or baggage, went into the Territory, voted, and returned again.

(2) That men were hired in the Eastern and Northern States, or induced to go to the territory solely to vote and not to settle, and by so doing to make it a free State.

(3) That the Governor of the territory purposely postponed the day of election to allow the emigration to arrive, and notified the Emigrant Aid Society, and persons of the Eastern States, of the day of election before he gave notice to the people of Missouri and the Territory.

That these charges were industriously circulated; that grossly exaggerated statements were made in regard to them; that the newspaper press and leading men in public meetings in Western Missouri (aided in one case by a chaplain of the United States Army) gave currency and credit to them, and thus excited the people and induced many well-meaning citizens of Missouri to march into the territory to meet and repel the alleged Eastern paupers and Abolitionists, is fully proven by many witnesses."

The committee further states that "neither of these charges was sustained by proof;" nevertheless, there was certainly corroboration of the exaggerated statements sufficient to establish their truth in the minds of the excited, and not exceedingly intelligent, inhabitants of Western Missouri.

The objects of the Emigrant Aid Society, as set forth in their report, which has been given before, comprised that of "planting a free State in Kansas, to the lasting advantage of the country," and it was further recommended, in the same report, that, whenever the Territory should be organized as a free State, the Directors should dispose of all their interest there, and "select a new field, and make similar arrangements for the settlement and organization of another free State of this Union." The Missourians had good reason to believe that this most dangerous agency for the thwarting of their designs, wishes and expectations of making Kansas a slave State, backed by abundant capital, and managed by outspoken enemies of their favored institution, was in successful operation. Every Eastern paper heralded the forming or departure of new parties. The following notice is a sample of many.

From the Journal and Courier, Lowell, Mass., March 26, 1856: "Some thousands of emigrants are now at St. Louis waiting for the opening of Kansas navigation; 500 arrived at Alton on their way on Friday, and as many more were expected on Saturday; 600 are ready to start from Cincinnati; while from that city last week 130 Germans with their families, household goods, stools, fruit-trees, etc., marched in true German style with their fine band of music on board the steamer and started. In Kentucky, an association of some hundred of temperance and anti-slavery men are to set forth soon to found a city on the Kansas River with the beloved name of Kansas. A similar company of 500 families is expected to start by detachment from Wayne County, Ind. The waves of emigration are rolling mightily.

Dr. Robinson started with the first Kansas party in 1855, from Boston, March 13. It consisted of nearly two hundred persons - men, women and children. It was his laudable intention to get his party through before the election came off, and he succeeded. They reached Kansas City on the 24th, and were all in the Territory on or before the 30th. The departure of this party was noted in the Eastern papers, commenting on which the Squatter Sovereign fired the heart of Missouri with the following:

We are credibly informed that quite a large number, probably several hundred, of these purchased voters are now on their way up the Missouri River, consigned to Messrs. Park & Patterson, Parkville, and other consignees at different points for distribution in lots to suit, subject to the order of A. H. Reeder, Esq., President of the Underground Railroad, in Kansas Territory. A still larger number are said to be in St. Louis, ready for shipment on the first boat. We hope the quarantine officers along the borders will forbid the unloading of that kind of cargo.

A cargo of rotten oranges once introduced death by thousands in Philadelphia (in the shape of yellow fever). A more horrible disease, and one followed by many deaths, we fear, may be the consequence if this mass of corruption, and worse than leprous loathsomeness, is permitted to land and traverse our beautiful country.

It is charitable to believe that, ignorant of the facts, the majority of the Missourians who overran Kansas at the election of March 30 were honest in the belief that they were performing a duty they owed to their own State, in defense of her vital interest, being put in jeopardy by unfair methods on the part of the Emigrant Aid societies and kindred Free-state organizations; and that, with the light they had, they found full justification in the words of a Missourian, who, being asked if, as such, he thought he had a right to vote in Kansas, replied: "As much as a man from Massachusetts - why not?"

It should, however, be remembered that the impressions on which they acted were in the main false. Neither the New England Emigrant Aid Society, nor any other Northern association, ever sent a pauper to Kansas, or any other person for the mere purpose of voting. They assisted Free-state emigrants, not only to go to Kansas, but to settle and live there, as, under the laws of the land, they had a right to do. Gov. Reeder stated, under oath, that he neither postponed the election nor gave premature information as to the appointed time to Eastern parties. His testimony on that point is as follows:

The precise day of election was never fixed by me or communicated to any one else, at home or abroad, until about the 6th of March, when I was writing the proclamation. * * * * The first men to whom the precise day was made known, after I had determined it, were Daniel Woodson and John Halderman (both Pro-slavery men), which was on the 6th or 7th of March, and it was at once made public by them and myself. I did not hesitate at any time to state to persons around me of both parties all that I could know myself in relation to the day of election, and I did not communicate it to the Emigrant Aid Society or their agents, or any one else, except perhaps to some persons in the State of Missouri.

[TOC] [part 14] [part 12] [Cutler's History]